Schooling the competition.

Deakin University attracts students with personalised journeys created using Adobe Experience Cloud.

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Students: 53,000

Victoria, Australia

Used data insights

to more effectively target prospective students


Adobe Experience Cloud >

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Adobe Audience Manager ›


Engage prospective students throughout a lengthy consideration process

Stand out from the competition by personalising the student experience

Cross-channel marketing and advertising integration and orchestration


Generated nearly a million dollars in additional revenue by focusing on unfinished applications

Used data insights to more effectively target prospective students

Created personalised digital experiences at scale

Enabled marketing and creative teams to focus on strategy and drive innovation

Researching to make the right decision

Choosing the right university is a big decision that can occupy prospective students for as long as two years as they research options, visit campora, compare programmes and prepare applications. To attract top students, universities need to keep in touch in meaningful ways and guide students through this crucial decision-making process.

Deakin University knows how important it is to provide students with positive experiences from the first moment they visit its website through to enrolment. As one of Australia’s top universities, it consistently earns high satisfaction rates from graduates, who readily acknowledge the institution’s commitment to putting students first.

Gemma Anderson, Head of Performance and Growth at Deakin University, explains, “Students don’t come to us for a piece of paper. They come for the experience, whether it’s online or face-to-face learning and it begins the moment they start evaluating their options.”

One of the main challenges for universities competing for students is to provide stellar, cohesive experiences throughout what can be a long selection phase. Over a period of up to two years, it can be difficult to attribute how much influence each activity, such as ads, website visits and in-person meetings with career advisors, has on a student’s decision.

Another challenge is targeting the right audience—namely, students who are likely to be accepted and are prepared to succeed at Deakin. In addition, as the university looks to differentiate itself from other schools and encourage more students to enrol, there is a growing need for personalised interactions with candidates.

“If we send application guidance to a prospective student who is still researching options, it’s just going to be noise,” says Anderson. “We need to understand the student’s needs and send relevant content at just the right times to support the decision-making process.”

To create a personalised experience that moves the right students smoothly toward application and enrolment, Deakin University adopted Adobe Advertising Cloud, Adobe Analytics, Adobe Audience Manager and Adobe Target—all solutions within Adobe Experience Cloud.

“Because it’s all integrated, Adobe Experience Cloud helps us to understand what students need and keep in touch to them in a personal way—in everything from advertising and email to our website and face-to-face interactions,” says Anderson.

“Adobe Analytics helps us stitch data together across touchpoints to form a full picture of each prospective student.”

Gemma Anderson

Head of Performance and Growth, Deakin University

Data is the best teacher

Knowing that choosing a university is a personal process, Deakin University uses Adobe Experience Cloud solutions to understand students better and build a more cohesive journey. Data is at the heart of this effort.

Adobe Analytics helps us stitch data together across touchpoints to form a full picture of each prospective student,” says Anderson. “Combining those data points helps us to decide which advertisements we want to trigger, so they mesh seamlessly with students’ overall experiences as they interact with us.”

Adobe Analytics and Adobe Audience Manager collect data from Deakin’s website, marketing automation tool and CRM system and feed it into Adobe Advertising Cloud DSP and Search—anchoring the university’s advertising strategy across devices to the larger student experience. The goal is to make every student touchpoint logical and useful.

“When a prospective student clicks an ad, he should see a landing page with the same messaging. Likewise, a newly enrolled student should stop seeing ads encouraging him to apply. By eliminating the silos in our marketing, Adobe Advertising Cloud makes it easier to design smooth journeys, helping us increase applications and enrolment,” says Anderson.

Marketers put Adobe to the test

When it comes to real-world results, Deakin University has already seen success in several areas. For example, Deakin University found a great way to nudge students through the application process. The marketing team started by identifying people in the CRM system who started an application but didn’t finish. It then pulled that CRM data into Adobe Audience Manager, correlating it with website activity in Adobe Analytics to see where those people resurfaced.

From there, the university was able to construct a bespoke, cross-channel experience specifically designed to encourage applicants to complete the process. The marketing team served up a tailored website experience with Adobe Target. It ran paid search and retargeting ads through Adobe Advertising Cloud. And it extended the experience through email channels as well.

“By delivering a seamless, targeted experience with Adobe Experience Cloud, we increased the number of students who completed applications and generated close to a million dollars in additional revenue,” says Anderson.

Making the gradient with performance and creativity

To help ensure that search marketing campaigns perform well and are cost effective, Deakin’s marketing team relies on features in Adobe Advertising Cloud Search powered by Adobe Sensei, Adobe’s artificial intelligence and machine learning technology. Performance Optimisation automates bidding to maximise returns on the university’s defined goals, while Spend Recommendations helps marketers allocate budget efficiently.

Deakin University has also begun using Adobe Advertising Cloud Creative to strike a balance between ad performance and creativity. With so many variants to produce for different media platforms and formats—from Facebook and YouTube to news publications—keeping creative fresh and innovative can be a challenge.

“We want to find opportunities to be more daring with how we carry out our campaigns while staying focused on performance,” says Anderson. “With Adobe Advertising Cloud Creative, we can automate many tedious tasks and allow the creative team to focus on distinctive design and copy—so we can make the most of the advanced media targeting we’ve put in place.”

“Adobe helps us innovate and question the status quo. We love trying new things, so digital marketing and data-driven marketing are very much in our DNA.”

Gemma Anderson

Head of Performance and Growth, Deakin University

Continuing education for the marketing team

With a unified foundation to build personalised experiences for prospective students, Deakin University is positioning itself for continued growth and success. The organisation aims to use Adobe Advertising Cloud to refresh its always-on programmes and optimise performance with help from Adobe Analytics, Adobe Audience Manager and Adobe Target.

The team is also eager to continue exploring AI capabilities through Adobe Sensei. “With AI, we hope to anticipate the intention to apply in each student as well as their likelihood of getting accepted, so we can continue to hone our marketing campaigns,” says Anderson. “The potential for task automation is exciting as well. When we can automate things like tagging and image recognition through AI, the team can focus more on strategy and big-picture thinking.”

The Adobe tools are a source of inspiration for Anderson and her team. “Adobe helps us innovate and question the status quo,” notes Anderson. “We love trying new things, so digital marketing and data-driven marketing are very much in our DNA.”

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