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Creating a Centralized Email Solution for Higher Education

Quick Take:

UVA partnered with Merkle to develop a solution to streamline email communications across the university’s various organizations and engage students, faculty, and alumni with targeted communications.

Challenge:

The University of Virginia is a public research university in Charlottesville, Virginia, founded in 1819 by U.S. President and Declaration of Independence author Thomas Jefferson. In its third century of operation, UVA offers students opportunities to “challenge convention, break barriers, and pursue the greater good.” To do that more effectively, UVA partnered with Merkle to develop a solution to streamline email communications across the university’s various organizations engaging with students, faculty, and alumni.

Every day, billions of emails are sent directly to the trash folder because they don’t meet consumer needs or interests. UVA had many of its schools, departments, sports, and alumni organizations reaching out to its constituents without a clear strategy for tracking what people were interested in or what was working. Together, UVA and Merkle collaborated to solve this challenge.

Approach:

Merkle focused first on a plan to best migrate all UVA email communication to Salesforce Marketing Cloud, an enterprise marketing platform that could grow with the university. UVA had a good understanding of its subscriber audience and had crafted several personas to drive personalization in messaging and segmentation. This guided Merkle as it built an organizational process for onboarding all UVA organizations to the platform.

Merkle leveraged its vast Salesforce expertise to migrate and set up the first five business units for UVA within Marketing Cloud to meet the needs of the UVA personas. The agency configured each instance of Marketing Cloud, migrating assets and conducting IP ramp-ups to ensure inboxes receive emails.

UVA then used Merkle-provided guidelines to onboard its many additional business units with the agency offering consultation and strategic support.

Meanwhile, Merkle developed a preference center for all UVA email subscribers to customize and manage the types of emails they wish to receive. Because the preference center is dynamic, it showcases the unique attributes of each business unit and can grow with additional business units in the future.

Using the data collected – including behavioral tracking and engagement scores – in Salesforce Marketing Cloud, UVA developed nurture campaigns, automated journeys, and ongoing messaging relevant to its subscribers.

Results:

The University of Virginia and Merkle completed the Salesforce Marketing Cloud implementation, moving the university’s organizations to a centralized platform for email communication. Currently, UVA has 26 active business units with plans to onboard more in the future. In the first year as partners, UVA sent a total of more than 46 million emails and expects to send more than 50 million moving forward.

As one of the nation’s leading institutions, UVA continues to pursue innovation for the greater good. Now, it can do that with streamlined communications, personalized to every alumnus, parent, or friend checking their email following graduation.

Keys to success

  • Merkle migrated all UVA email communication to Salesforce Marketing Cloud, an enterprise marketing platform that could grow with the university
  • The agency developed a dynamic preference center for all UVA email subscribers to customize and manage the types of emails they wish to receive
  • Using the data collected – including behavioral tracking and engagement scores – in Salesforce Marketing Cloud, UVA developed nurture campaigns, automated journeys, and ongoing messaging relevant to its subscribers

Discover how we did it. Contact us today.

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