Building a “Model” Education Marketing Program That Keeps Pace with Educators

Blackboard engineered an innovative marketing program powered by micro-targeted data that identified superintendents new to their jobs

Having worked for education technology companies for 15 years, I’ve had the good fortune to serve, educate and – most importantly – learn from hundreds of dedicated educators from across the country. And as a marketer, I’ve always strived to leverage the data and tools at my disposal to build models based on key personas, and segment lists to deliver relevant, valuable information to educators at the right time.

But in the K-12 industry, emerging trends about turnover and teacher burnout increase the challenge of identifying and segmenting the right contacts. One statistic that has always stayed with me was the churn rate of school district superintendents – according to the American Association of School Administrators (AASA), the average tenure for a superintendent is five to six years. And the annual turnover rate for superintendents is near 15 percent.

This shakeup results in thousands of superintendents in new positions and districts every year. These superintendents present opportunities for consultative companies to help them quickly acclimate to their new environment, accelerate wins and demonstrate value – after all, these district leaders typically don’t have much time to make gains on their agenda.

The real challenge for marketers was identifying these superintendents as soon as they made a job change. When they switched districts, their email address, phone number and other contact information changed. This made it virtually impossible to track personnel when they moved from one district to another. Or so we thought ….

Blackboard shared this challenge with the data team at Agile Education Marketing, who were able to develop a custom data output based on criteria Blackboard established to identify potential churn within customer accounts. Agile applied this criteria to their personnel database, which resulted in highly targeted lists of specific superintendent movement from one district to another. Through some trial and error, it was discovered that the lists could be updated on a periodic (quarterly) basis. These lists became the primary data source for the marketing and sales “plays” that Blackboard ran, offering to consult with recently established superintendents to enhance their new district’s communication and community engagement efforts.

Because the data could be refreshed each quarter, these programs became evergreen – refreshed every three months with updated lists from Agile. The lists served to focus outreach and fed into the Account-Based Marketing initiative Blackboard adopted.

The initial results were encouraging; several consultations were scheduled within the first few weeks of outreach using the custom lists. The refreshed data resulted in additional meetings on the calendar for our Account Executives. The program received the support of the sales leaders, who enthusiastically reinforced it with their teams. (That kind of synergy between Sales and Marketing doesn’t always exist so that was an unexpected and valuable benefit of this project.)

Bottom line: the collaboration between Blackboard and Agile resulted in a marketer’s dream project – a highly-targeted approach that was refreshed throughout the year with new lists. It’s the ultimate example of recycling: our Account Executives could use the same talking points, content and offers with each new list we received. As a marketer, my job was made easy – wait for the new list to be issued, then remind my teams to start their outreach again. Given the increased workload most marketers have, programs that recycle themselves are the model of efficiency, and efficiency can be a digital marketer’s best friend.


You need to be logged in to leave a comment. Please Sign-in/Sign-up.

About the Author

Chris Buecksler is currently the Director of K-12 Marketing for Blackboard. He has over 15 years of experience working to introduce educational technology and communication tools into school districts across the country. He is an experienced digital marketer, specializing in campaign development and execution, content marketing, demand generation and marketing automation. He resides in Minneapolis, Minnesota and coaches softball and little league baseball in his free time.

EdIntel: Education purchasing insight

[wpdreams_rpp id=0]

Stay in the know with Selling to Schools