How Wiley Education Services Reduced Cost-per-Acquisition by 25% with Uptempo

“Because Uptempo automatically aggregates the data associated with our media buys and results, we no longer grapple with numbers that don’t add up due to human error. This has given us more confidence in our data and helps us more effectively decide where to spend our future marketing dollars.”
– Erin Ashcraft, Media Operations Manager

The Task: Maximize Profitability

When profitability hinges on marketing investment effectiveness, an accurate and timely understanding of how investments lead to results is critical. However, it’s nearly impossible to achieve this objective when investments are managed in numerous, separate spreadsheets and disconnected from results data. That was the situation facing The Learning House, Inc., a private organization providing a range of services that enable learning institutions to efficiently and affordably develop and deliver online programs. Uptempo enabled Learning House to automate many manual processes and connect the dots between investments and returns so it could make more effective decisions on its media spend. When the connections between investment and results were clearer, improvement was possible. With the help of Uptempo, Learning House reduced its cost-per-acquisition by at least 25 percent across all clients.

Optimizing the Impact of Media Buys

For more than a decade, Learning House (now Wiley Education Services) has helped colleges and universities create, manage and grow high-quality online degree programs and courses. One of the services it offers is lead generation, which it accomplishes by executing both online and traditional media to build brand awareness and generate student inquiries.

As the Media Operations Manager, Erin Ashcraft is in charge of recording the media spend and reporting across university partners. To determine the effectiveness of these investments, she needs to understand the cost to get a student to enroll and start in a university program. Her goals are two-fold: to secure the best exposure and ROI for universities by analyzing and optimizing media buys and campaigns, and to keep the cost-per-acquisition low to maximize profitability.

Hamstrung by Spreadsheets and Manual Processes

While plenty of data was gathered to track program and campaign investments for multiple university partners, that data was kept in a number of separate spreadsheets, making it challenging to aggregate and analyze data as needed.
The responses to campaigns and programs are tracked in a CRM; to compare investments to impacts, data had to be pulled from a spreadsheet, a report had to be downloaded from the CRM system and then the two data sets had to be merged in a separate spreadsheet. Not only did this manual process require a significant time resource and leave open the possibility of error, it severely limited the ability to analyze the data, since acquiring the data itself was so cumbersome.

With growth and client acquisition a priority for Learning House, the current process was unsustainable.

“We wanted more granularity so the media buying team could better manage its investments,” Erin said. “I didn’t like having only half the answer in the form of spreadsheets. I wanted the full answer and I wanted easy access to it.”

Selecting a Sophisticated Solution: Uptempo

Charged with developing a shortlist of potential vendors and solutions, Learning House’s IT department vetted its options and recommended Uptempo. As Erin was evaluating Uptempo, she was pleased with the ease and range of configurability

“Many organizations make media purchases over an extended period, but we often buy month to month. We also need to track investments at multiple levels across 50 or more schools at any given time. Uptempo fits our process and was simple to modify as needed, even on the fly,” Erin said.

Erin set up Uptempo to track campaign metrics, school programs, program verticals, types and sub-types. She even uses Uptempo to track the results of A/B tests on campaign variables including subject lines, images and more. Compared to when she relied on spreadsheets as her only tool, Erin now has substantially greater control, agility and visibility.

Enabling a High-Performance Media Department

Erin exports data such as email opens, clickthroughs and revenues from Learning House’s SugarCRM into Uptempo. Marrying results data with the investment data in Uptempo enables her and the company’s executives to make strategic decisions about future spend and partnerships. For instance, Learning House can now easily see the entire annual budget as a whole and by school, year over year. It can also easily determine which media vendors are delivering the most value.

During media planning meetings, media buyers simply pull up vendor reports from Uptempo to decide on future allocations by vendor and by school. In the past, it took Erin a day or two to compile a spreadsheet with the same information. “Creating reports and views within Uptempo has helped us unleash more value from our data, such as making more effective decisions,” Erin said.

In fact, the ability to easily analyze data and pivot in response has helped create a high-performance media department within Learning House. This has enabled Learning House to reduce cost-per-acquisition by at least 25 percent since implementing Uptempo.

“Because we operate on a revenue share with our university partners, getting students into programs at the lowest possible cost is essential to our business model. Uptempo empowered us to achieve this significant reduction by making it easy to analyze our data and make informed decisions about where to focus future investments. And because so much of this is automated, our lean team can scale to support more schools as our company continues to grow,” Erin said.

Gaining Confidence in Data

In the past, Learning House judged a media vendor’s performance mainly on the number of leads it delivered. While that is a useful metric, it doesn’t tell the whole story. Learning House also needed to compare cost-per-acquisition and cost-per-start to media investments.

With Uptempo, Learning House can do this on the fly and drill down to granular levels for a sophisticated understanding of its investments and returns.

“Because Uptempo automatically aggregates the data associated with our media buys and results, we no longer grapple with numbers that don’t add up due to human error. This has given us more confidence in our data and helps us more effectively decide where to spend our future marketing dollars,” Erin said.

And the best part, no more spreadsheet miracles are needed!

Tapping into Added Value

Going forward, Erin anticipates generating even more granular reports from Uptempo, including one for investments in order to drive interest in specific programs like nursing and master’s degrees.

“Uptempo is essential to my job because we rely on Uptempo’s automation for so much,” Erin said.