Does your school spend too much time every day, week, or month creating, sending, and replying to emails? More importantly, how much time could be saved if your school could automatically send emails to alumni, applicants, inquiries, parents, and students?
If those two questions are important to your school, then Finalsite's industry-first marketing automation software is the solution you've been searching for.
Finalsite Workflows is an add-on for Messages that allows schools to market smarter and more effectively, save time in every department, increase conversions, and improve email engagement with an automatic series of emails that sends current constituents or prospective parents the right content at just the right time.
Workflows is jam-packed with a ton of exciting and useful features, options, and tools to make it easier than ever to connect with your current and future school community.
The module also launches in just under a month (April 15), so let’s not waste any more time and dive right into why you should be excited about Workflows, some of what the module has to offer, and how your school can use Workflows to work smarter, not harder.
Why should our school use Workflows?
Great question! Let’s answer that question by explaining how Workflows fits into the inbound marketing methodology. Inbound marketing is the process of using digital marketing tools — including SEO, PPC, social media, email, and your website — to attract, recruit, and retain families at your school.
Our Independent School inbound marketing Benchmark Report found that 67 percent of the 270 schools that responded to our survey know what inbound marketing is, while 80 percent of those schools said they already have an inbound marketing strategy in place. However, few schools are using all of the fundamental aspects of an effective inbound marketing strategy — one of the most important ones being marketing automation.
Only 25 percent of surveyees said that they have used some form of marketing automation.
So back to the original question at hand: Why should our school use Workflows? The simplest answer is that marketing automation means your school can reach more current constituents and prospective families without hiring additional staff.
Marketing automation can lead to a 14.5 percent increase in productivity and a 12.2 percent decrease in marketing overhead. 77 percent of marketers said automation led to an increase in conversions, while 75 percent said the single largest benefit of marketing automation was the amount of time saved. Finally, four out of five marketers said marketing automation led to an increase in leads.
Time savings, increases in leads and conversions, and more productivity all sounds pretty awesome, right?
Download our free datasheet to learn even more about Workflows!
How do I enable and use the Workflows module?
The first step is to make sure that your school has Composer, Resources, and Messages enabled. Then, Workflows allows your admissions, advancement, and marketing teams to easily create automated email campaigns with a WYSIWYG editor to nurture and engage families from the first steps of the enrollment and application process all the way to the end.
Workflows are perfect for sending important, bite-sized pieces of information to current constituents and prospective families over a predetermined period of time. Automating the process of sending out hundreds of emails not only saves you time, but it also prevents your recipients from being flooded with an overwhelming amount of information all at once. That way, you can ensure recipients receive the latest information at just the right time.
Use Workflows to turn inquiries into applicants, welcome new families and staff members, promote upcoming events, share senior class strategies, and send out regular summer reading reminders. These are just a handful of creative, immediately impactful ways your schools can use the Workflows module to work smarter, not harder.
What does the Workflows module include?
Workflows includes a deluxe suite of tools, features, and options to make email marketing automation as quick and easy as possible. But before we go into some of the individual components of Workflows, let’s take a step back and look at an example of a fully-fleshed out, real-world workflow your school might use.
At a quick glance, the branches on this workflow tree can seem fairly complicated, but take a minute to follow each branch to its conclusion, and you’ll find that this “New Parent Workflow 2018-19” is actually incredibly simple to build and easy to understand.
Building workflows in our new Workflows module is a lot like building with Legos. Look at one of those incredibly-expensive Lego sets from afar, and it can seem impossible to figure out how the set or model was built. But move a few steps closer and you can easily see how all the individual pieces were put together to build the complex whole.
Begin by creating your emails. These emails are created within the Messages module in the Workflows Messages tab. Building a message in the Workflows Messages tab works exactly the same as building any other Messages email.
Once you’ve planned out and created all the messages you want to send, head back to the Workflows module to begin building your workflow. You’ll start by manually or automatically adding individuals or groups to the workflow by clicking the Entry Trigger at the top of every new workflow. Automatic triggers are based on group membership, with new subscribers added whenever they meet the selected criteria. Static Triggers only enroll subscribers to an active workflow when an admin manually adds them.
For example, as new students are entered into your school’s Constituent Manager and Group Manager, they can be automatically added to a workflow designed to welcome new students to school before the first day of class, as long as they are entered into the Group selected in that workflow’s Entry Trigger.
As you build out the workflow, you’ll have the option to add branches based on whether or not the recipient opened the message, or whether or not the recipient clicked a link within the message. The latter option is incredibly useful for tracking how often your recipients are interacting with the links you’ve included in your messages.
You can track workflow activity in the Activity tab accessed at the top-right of the Workflows screen. Use this view to get a more detailed look at how users have interacted with your workflows. See when users were enrolled (and by whom), which messages and links they have opened, and whether or not users have completed the workflow.
Site admins can freely choose to activate or deactivate individual workflows by toggling the blue button at the top-right of the module screen. Schools can create as many workflows as they want, and save them for future use, but only a limited number of workflows can be active at a single time. Make sure you turn off workflows that aren’t actively being used!
Workflows also features the option to add enrollment management integration with Ravenna for US admission systems, or integration with OpenApply for international admissions systems. Selecting either option integrates parents and students into Finalsite’s Constituent Manager whenever a user makes an inquiry in either system.
Lastly, Workflow Goal allows site admins to establish a completion goal for each workflow that automatically marks users as having completed the workflow once they’ve reached the goal. For example, in an Inquiry to Applicant workflow, a user can be marked once they submit an application on your website.
Site admins can also manually unsubscribe users from the workflow through the Activity tab.
How can my school use Workflows?
Your school undoubtedly sends out dozens, if not hundreds, of marketing emails every month. That’s fantastic! But just think about how much time you spend designing, building, testing, and sending those emails. All that time quickly adds up and subtracts from other, equally-important marketing tasks you might otherwise have to abandon or put on hold for a later date.
That’s where the real magic of Workflows comes into play. Workflows frees up your busy schedule by having you spend a little more time at the beginning to build your complete email marketing campaign to ultimately free up significantly more time down the line thanks to the complete, step-by-step automation of email marketing.
For example, let’s take a look at one of the workflows that we think will become the most common after launch: nurturing inquiries to become applicants. The process of sending follow up information to prospective families who have submitted an inquiry to your school can become a major time sink. Workflows offers a simpler, better, more time-efficient way to handle inquiries.
With OpenApply or Ravenna integration, prospective families can be added to an Inquiry to Applicant workflow after they fill out an OpenApply or Ravenna inquiry form on your website since these users can be added to a group in Group Manager. Once in the workflow, these families automatically receive new emails on a time schedule you define based on actions they take within the workflow.
For example, the first email these families receive could thank them for inquiring about your school the day after they submitted their inquiry. You can then branch the workflow into two separate paths: one path for families who opened the first email, and another path for families who did not open the first email.
For families that opened the first email, you can continue to send them helpful information about choosing the right school, what makes your school so special and unique, and even an email with a link to the “Apply Now” page after several steps in the workflow.
For families who did not open that first email, you can send them a friendly reminder after a few days about future open houses or other events your school might host that offers newcomers another chance to check out your school.
All of these steps, no matter how many or how few you’ve added to the workflow, are completely automated. While each workflow takes longer to create than a single email, you’ll save an unbelievable amount of time down the line since you’ve eliminated the need to manually send several follow up emails to every individual who inquires about your school.
And that’s just one way Workflows will save your school time. You will save even more time once you start adding multiple workflows to your email marketing efforts. Create as many workflows as your admissions, advancement, and marketing teams can think up. You can also save additional time by repurposing and reusing workflows for similar events.
For example, let’s say your school created a workflow to automatically send emails to remind current constituents about the school’s 80th anniversary celebration. You no longer need to keep that workflow active once the event has come and gone, but that doesn’t mean you need to delete the workflow.
Instead, repurpose the workflow for another promotional marketing campaign down the line, such as a graduation reminder workflow. Simply create new emails for the graduation workflow to replace the anniversary emails, and adjust the time intervals in which the emails are sent and the constituents you’re sending emails to, if necessary.
Repurposing workflows that are no longer needed is just one extra way to save time. And as the two above examples show, not every workflow needs to be incredibly complex with multiple branching paths to be useful. Both workflows are simple linear chains of emails, but they still help save time that would have been spent on creating and sending emails for every step in the workflow.
Schools, now more than ever, need a way to perform automated marketing tasks to stay connected with their ever-growing school communities. That’s the exact need Workflows was designed to fill. Workflows was created with the express purpose of saving your admissions, advancement, and marketing teams time and energy along every step of the email marketing process.
We look forward to hearing and seeing how your school has saved time with our new Workflows module once it releases on April 15.
Until then, I’ll leave you with the wise words of Guy Kawasaki, Canva Chief Evangelist.
“If you have more money than brains, you should focus on Outbound Marketing. If you have more brains than money, you should focus on inbound marketing.”
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
As Finalsite’s Product Marketing Specialist, Andrew writes blogs and creates videos to share information about all the latest and greatest Finalsite products. Andrew has more than 10 years of video production experience and a journalism education from the University of South Carolina. He is excited about bringing his experience and expertise to Finalsite.