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Saigon South International School

Investing in the Future

In late 2019, Saigon South International School (SSIS) decided to implement Finalsite’s inbound marketing suite and, within two months, they had it successfully up and running. Historically, SSIS had a very high rate of acceptance to enrollment, so the school prioritized inquiry to application for their first workflow.    

“With the inbound marketing process, we have gained a level of sophistication and professionalism through branded and beautiful emails, the efficiency of email workflows, and most of all, our ability to sell the value of our school by showing all the great things we offer and not just telling prospective families,” said Katie Rigney-Zimmermann, Director of Admissions, Marketing, and Communications. “Our team of three processes over 800 applications a year, so by integrating OpenApply and Finalsite, we are working smarter, saving time, reducing errors and improving the impact of our marketing efforts.”

SSIS website homepage on a macbook and iPhone

At a Glance

Saigon South International School (SSIS) is one of the oldest international schools in Vietnam, with over 1150 students from ages 3 - 18 representing more than 40 nationalities.  With a rich history dating back to 1997, SSIS has earned a reputation for its robust college preparatory program and excellence in teaching and innovation.

Start Simple and Expand

George Marshall, Digital Marketing Manager, was tasked with implementing Finalsite Workflows.

“It seemed daunting at first, but we spent time brainstorming content, mapping out the workflow and deciding what would trigger each workflow," George said. "It’s a lot of effort and I would advise schools to start simple. However, the work is so worthwhile because once it is set, you can set it and forget it!” 

New inquiries were the focus of their first workflows but they were able to creatively tweak it and create three variations to accommodate other inquiry sources.  SSIS started with the following workflows:

1. New inquiries from OpenApply
2. Old inquiries that were not being nurtured
3. New leads from Facebook ads
4. Leads from a school directory website listing

Branded Emails That Have an Impact

Katie stated, “We love the Messages module as it enables us to easily craft engaging emails which include videos, calls-to-actions and images. Our core messaging in these emails is:

  1. What is the application process?

  2. What are SSIS’s key differentiators?

  3. What are our core values?

  4. How our facilities enable students to thrive.

SSIS also stressed how they love the analytics behind the software. Early on they saw how one email was not performing as well as others so they made a few tweaks and saw immediate improvements in engagement.

Saigon South International School website meet the dragons


From inquiry to applicant


Saved for SSIS staff


Open Rate
Across all email campaigns

Immediate Return on Investment 

"Having the data to back our move to the inbound method is crucial for our admissions efforts but also for senior leadership," Katie said. "Within a few months of implementation, we captured the following data and expect to see these numbers improve over time." 

Results from 2 workflows:

  • 145 inquired in OpenApply with 88 eventually applying

  • 611 previous inquiries were nurtured and 36 of those applied

  • Average of 50% open rate and 15% click-through rate across campaigns

  • Over 25 applicants applied directly from the apply link in the email

MacKenzie Hovermale from OpenApply said, "OpenApply is excited to be able to offer our schools the opportunity to closely integrate their admissions and marketing processes through a robust inbound marketing platform like Finalsite."

At the time of launch, just before the COVID crisis, they made the wise decision to add into a workflow all of their previous inquiries who had never been nurtured. This yielded an additional 36 applications very early in the admissions cycle. These inquiries, who might have never converted otherwise, allowed SSIS to keep on track for the year, despite significant applicant drops during February and March. 

“We are rethinking how we do things and the best way to disseminate information to new families and teachers," Kate said. "We are brainstorming ideas for workflows for new parents to engage them before they even arrive on campus. We are also looking at re-enrollment workflows so that we continue to sell the value of our school and remind parents of all the great things taking place here and reminding them why they chose us in the first place!”

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