Helping a Leading Online Education Provider Secure New Relationships and Build Partnerships
ed2go, part of Cengage Group, is the industry leader in affordable online learning for adults. With over 24 years of providing quality education, they partner with academic institutions, corporations, nonprofit organizations, and workforce development boards to empower individuals to achieve and exceed their goals. Their flagship product is a fully online catalog of non-credit courses that align with local and national workforce demand.
ed2go’s team is composed of education and technology experts who are highly trained in developing immersive, online educational programs. They excel in the online education space — providing advanced training opportunities to over two million learners — but were looking for new ways to reach those who need training in the form of lead generation. By partnering with the right marketing agency, they learned that they could unlock proven sales and marketing experiments.
As a rapidly growing organization, ed2go had a large base of academic partners and more recently, non-profit institution partners. As they continue to grow and develop a stronger understanding of the market needs in the nonprofit space, Belkins stepped in to help with researching and making initial connections with non-profit organizations. When ed2go approached Belkins, they had encountered challenges in a few key areas:
- Conducting cold outreach inconsistently. Cengage Group, ed2go’s parent company, had an ambitious annual goal of forming multiple new partnerships in the workforce space. To meet this goal, ed2go needed to reach out to organizations with workforce development training programs. However, their sales and marketing teams had multiple areas that needed their attention. ed2go concluded that they needed outside assistance finding leads and conducting consistent email outreach.
- Looking for increased sales acquisition in-house. To ensure they were connecting with multiple nonprofit agencies, ed2go needed a steady flow of leads each month. They wanted to focus on building relationships with new and existing partners rather than identifying them, so ed2go wanted to hire an experienced firm to manage the process of lead generation for them.
What We Did
As a leading appointment-scheduling agency, Belkins’ SDRs knew what to do. We needed to adjust an ideal customer profile (ICP) until we hit the sweet stop, research leads extensively, and develop email templates that get opens, clicks, and replies. These steps can take some time, but when you commit to settling for nothing below perfection, you get amazing results. Here’s what we did and why it affected the outcomes in greater detail.
Calibrating an ICP
ed2go discovered companies with workforce development training programs are the best fit-audience. When we took on the case, we saw that the highest response rates came from nonprofit organizations. Having analyzed their past clients and partnerships, we created an ICP and started reaching out to leads. Later, based on ed2go’s feedback, we adjusted their ideal customer profile until it started producing results.
Perfecting cold email templates
We developed first-touch email templates that help us quickly identify if the organization we’re reaching out to will be a good fit by asking if they provided direct workforce training. If yes, we would suggest they expand their career training initiatives. If we get no response, we continue emailing them for some time, offering case studies and other relevant materials. Effective email content goes hand in hand with persistent follow-up.
Main Challenges We Faced
From the get-go, our partnership with ed2go delivered. This client was open to new approaches and highly receptive to our suggestions, and we took heed of their wishes. Let’s now stress a couple of moments that made it all possible:
- Target audience. The main challenge we faced was finding organizations with some form of a training program, whether internal or external. Once we spent a few weeks further defining the company’s ICP, we found a knack for finding great leads.
- Right titles. To make email outreach campaigns effective, you must reach out to the right audience. To achieve the max efficiency of the prospecting process, Belkins team members usually have plenty of follow-ups. And our account managers honed their attentiveness to schedule calls with the correct sales team members each time.
The partnership between Belkins and ed2go worked like clockwork. Belkins’ professionalism allowed the team to fine-tune their approaches, and within days, we were delivering terrific results. With the help of our experts, the client is receiving high-quality booked calls and is seeing an improvement in overall sales pipeline speed. Our top three achievements in 9 months include:
- 120 quality calls with qualified prospects;
- +60% increase in open rate achieved;
- Lowest rate of re-scheduled calls and no-shows.
- Hassle-free projects do exist. Although there can be many uncertainties in finding the right individuals and organizations to connect clients with, trusting the process will go a long way. When the client is receptive and open to your suggestions, you gain confidence and, as a result, become more productive. The ed2go case made us realize that our partnerships proceed much more smoothly when partners and vendors have good chemistry and align on goals from the start.
- Ambitious goals are to be supported with strategic thinking. The more ambitious your goals, the more strategic thinking they require. That’s why at Belkins we are big fans of setting concrete plans but not forgetting the little details that make all the difference. Although helping clients secure new relationships and build partners implies rules and algorithms that make it straightforward, there is plenty of room for the unexpected. Errors do happen but trying drastically different strategies is where we learn quickly. Despite working within the same industries, our projects are never the same.
- Let your value proposition shine through. The mistake we usually see in email campaigns is not putting enough effort into the value proposition. If you know your lead research is robust and your product will certainly help your leads, don’t be stingy about telling them why! Share the details! Don’t forget that people are busy and answer when it’s right for them. Follow-up and carefully monitor feedback. If the numbers don’t match your goals, keep working on refining the message to ensure it reflects the appropriate product positioning and addresses the client’s pain points. Always ensure your value proposition is seeping through your messages.