Education First Increases Submissions by 20% using Adobe and Decibel Insight

Jack Maden
by Jack Maden

Education First, established as a small entrepreneurial start up in 1965, is now the world's leading private international education company. The team at Education First had a good idea of how visitors were interacting with their digital properties, but not why they were behaving in a certain way: they experienced a lack of transparency into the customer experience. 

The Need for Deeper Insights

To hear digital marketing analyst Helena Boada tell it, it started with a simple question. Years ago, she was working with the content management team at Education First (EF), and she was tasked with switching out images across 52 versions of the website. It was a time-consuming, manual task, and she started thinking, “How do we know that one image performs better than the other?”

Boada was given access to the company’s Adobe Analytics license and started testing different assets and tracked the results, eventually using the data to optimize click-throughs across the division’s digital properties. Still, it wasn’t enough. The data wasn’t matching focus group findings, and Boada decided that she needed to dive deeper into the data Adobe Analytics was collecting and learn exactly how visitors were behaving.

“I really wanted to know what was going on out there,” she said. “It’s one thing to look at the numbers, but you really need to know what’s happening on the other side.”

A Data-Driven, Yet Highly-Visual Approach

Initially, Boada used Crazy Egg, but the tool’s basic functionality only whetted her appetite for detailed web analytics data. She arrived at Adobe Summit that year determined to find a complementary solution to Adobe Analytics that would give her detailed insight into customer experiences. She talked to several Adobe partners and realized that the best option was Decibel Insight, a web analytics solution that reveals exactly how users behave on websites and focuses on helping brands better understand customers’ digital pain points.

“I needed something that would fit our basic needs immediately as well as expand and grow with our capabilities,” Boada said.

According to Boada, integration between Decibel Insight and Adobe Analytics was seamless and easy through a wizard that walked her through each step. Within minutes Helena was able to learn in granular detail how her Adobe audience segments were behaving on the website by watching individual session replays, checking the performance of web forms and viewing aggregated heatmaps.

Now, in addition to unique visitors, repeat visitors and clicks, Boada uses Decibel Insight to enhance the capabilities of Adobe Analytics by tracking new, more robust metrics such as form submission rates, types of form submissions, time spent per visits and the performance of individual partners. Reports from Decibel Insight and Adobe Workspace Reports are run each month and sent to stakeholders throughout the division and company. Together, the reports give decision makers a data-driven yet highly-visual way to determine what is working and where there are bottlenecks for customers.

Education First heatmap.jpg

Education First identified areas with high attention using Decibel Insight's Attention Heatmap and added CTAs in those areas. As a result of this change, lead generation improved by 20%. 

“Building a beautiful website that looks nice is just the start, it has to work for both the user and the company,” Boada said. “And we need hard proof that our digital marketing efforts and resources are being optimized fully.”

Adobe and Decibel Insight in Action

Boada recently launched new landing pages for all traffic directed from paid search results. The previous pages were simply a digital version of a brochure that listed each product in a list. It wasn’t customercentric, argued Boada, using insights collected from Decibel Insight to show that customers reacted better to personalized experiences.

At the same time, Decibel Insight revealed that some pages were getting a lot of attention from visitors— people scrolled all the way through, spent time reading the copy, etc.—but clicks on the call to actions were low. Boada ran some A/B testing through Adobe Target on different versions in several regions and found some interesting data resulting from recorded Decibel Insight heatmaps. Every region has a different behavior, you only truly understand that when you analyze the insights provided by Decibel Insight.

Small tweaks on the copy were able to increase form submission rates by 20%.

Education First comparison-1.jpg

A comparison of the old site on the left with the updated site on the right. Education First added additional CTAs in high attention areas.

“Decibel Insight complements Adobe a lot. It’s easy to just look at the numbers in Adobe without thinking what’s happening behind the scenes. Decibel Insight lets us reassure the decision makers that we have proof of a bottleneck in the customer experience.” Boada said.

“It’s not something we can show them with a number or an Excel spreadsheet," she continued. "We need to be able to show them actual customer behavior. Here they spend a lot of time on our site but aren’t clicking a button. Here they’re hovering over white space. So let’s put a button there. That is so valuable to understanding exactly how people are interacting with our sites and how we can improve their experience.”

Greater Insights = More Conversions = Higher Revenue

According to Boada, greater insight into the customer experience allows EF to direct website visitors through the correct door on their way to purchasing a study abroad package. With hundreds of options, it’s easy for customers to be overwhelmed and made less likely to follow through with a study advisor. Giving customers a unique experience that makes it easy to find the right educational product for them can make a huge difference.

“Having more leads in our system means that we can get more bookings at the end of the day,” Boada said.

The success has drawn attention from other EF divisions who may be thinking about using data analytics to create marketing efficiencies and drive an increase in conversions. Decibel Insight is likely to be implemented across other EF divisions and products.

And to think, it all started with a simple question.


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Jack Maden
Written by Jack Maden

Jack is Digital Manager at Decibel, the best digital experience intelligence platform around! He also runs philosophy break.