CASE STUDY: TRAINING
Educate 360 Increases Customer LTV and Cross-Sell Revenue Using the Thought Industries Platform
Educate 360 moved off a homegrown LMS to create exceptional experiences for its learners, automate event management with Salesforce, provide role-based learning paths, and increase cross-sales within its family of brands.
Educate 360 consists of distinct training brands in the U.S. and Europe, specializing in the cultivation of essential skills for Management & Leadership, Data Science, and IT. Programs cater to technology-driven and innovation-focused organizations, offering a blend of instructor-led and on-demand training, coaching, and consulting services.
The scope of Educate 360’s operations has grown significantly in recent years, with nearly 100,000 learners taking advantage of 900-plus unique courses and over 5,000 open-enrollment ILT/VILT sessions. The company partners with 99 of the Fortune 100 companies to offer skills training that critically impacts employees’ career growth.
Educate 360 is a growth-oriented organization that has been focused on increasing customer lifetime value and recurring revenue streams, driven by cross-selling within their ‘house of brands’ model. As Amy Farber, Educate 360’s Chief Strategy & Commercial Officer, put it, “Growth is core to our ethos. We’re constantly thinking about how we can scale our business in the most efficient and effective ways.”
Amy Farber, Chief Strategy & Commercial Officer
Educate 360 needed a modern learning platform that could help them:
- Create exceptional learning experiences across brands
- Scale their event management
- Automate repetitive, labor-intensive processes
- Increase cross-sell revenue and customer lifetime value.
The company has fully embraced the Thought Industries solution to increase already high learner satisfaction resulting in:
- 95% of students recommending Educate 360 to their peers
- Automating event management via its Salesforce integration
- Scaling their course offerings to 900+ unique course offerings and 5,000+ ILT/VILT sessions per year
- Significantly increasing in-platform student cross-sell revenue since initially launching Thought Industries.
Educate 360 was founded using a homegrown LMS platform to power their training efforts, but as company growth accelerated, they found their homegrown solution was not meeting the demands of the business. The learner experience was dated, the ability to surface related content across brands was non-existent, monetization opportunities were limited, updates required significant development time, and managing the rapidly growing number of learners and courses was extremely manual. They needed a modern learning platform that could help them scale their commercial learning business, creating exceptional learning experiences across brands; automating repetitive, labor-intensive processes; and increasing cross-sell revenue and Customer Lifetime Value opportunities in-platform.
With customers as their main focus, Educate 360’s top priority was upgrading their learner experience, which was heavily reliant on post-classroom supplemental study materials. Those resources served an important need, particularly for their exam preparation courses, but learner expectations were increasing every day, and the company knew they could do better through enhanced interactivity with their content. “Our learner experience looked very dated before Thought Industries — it didn’t reflect the quality of what we were providing our students,” said Amy Farber, Educate360’s Chief Strategy & Commercial Officer.
With the right native authoring content tools, they knew they could improve the interactivity of their learners in the platform, creating a stickier experience and helping achieve customer lifetime value goals.
The company’s prior learner experience was initially focused around a single brand and a single product. As they expanded, more and more development time was needed to make the system fit their expanding product offerings and the scale of the business.
Being such a growth-oriented organization, Educate 360 was looking for a learning solution that could help them automate repetitive tasks and scale efficiently. With plans to expand both organically into new product offerings, as well as inorganically with the acquisition of additional brands, they needed a solution that could grow with them.
While their homegrown system met many of their initial needs, as they grew they found that many tasks needed to be automated and they required a learning platform that would seamlessly integrate with their operations management system, Salesforce. This integration was critical to efficiently managing the volume of courses, students, and logistics that went into a consistently positive customer experience.
With so much valuable content available across brands, removing silos and exposing learners to cross-brand content was not only good for learners, it also made good business sense. Increasing customer lifetime value could add significant value to the business by driving down overall customer acquisition costs and increasing cross-brand purchasing was a key lever to support that goal. But their homegrown LMS was limiting their ability to get that done.
“A big part of our overarching strategy as a company with a ‘House of Brands’ model is that a customer comes in for a Project Management Academy course, is exposed to Excel training from our IT brand, New Horizons, and thinks, ‘I need to improve my Excel skills,’ and then they go and take that class. Our aim is to take a single brand student and convert them into a multi-brand customer.”
~ Amy Farber, Chief Strategy & Commercial Officer, Educate 360
Initially with the launch of Thought Industries the company was focused on the basics: making sure learners could access the courses and the resources that they initially purchased. But, the opportunity to expose related content to learners, based on their role and professional needs, became a rallying cry for the entire business.
As Educate 360 grew, the B2B or enterprise portion of their business continued to scale. They were dealing with large, sophisticated organizations, many of whom have established learning and development departments. Meeting the needs of those clients, whether it’s SCORM integrations or creating some custom experiences for their employees, was yet another revenue opportunity. The need for a different learning platform, one that could handle all of these sophisticated use cases, became clear.
Russ Smith, Chief Information Officer
~ Amy Farber, Chief Strategy & Commercial Officer
Educate 360 upgraded from a homegrown LMS to Thought Industries in 2022, and the results were immediate. Since adopting Thought Industries, the company’s learner volume has increased by nearly 10x, cross-sell revenue has increased by 48% since initial launch, and they’ve achieved key automation and operational milestones.
Automating the management of their extensive course catalog required a platform that could integrate with Salesforce, their system of record, and offer Single Sign-On to create a seamless user experience across brands. With Thought Industries, what used to be done with homegrown and difficult to maintain databases is now done via automation, saving the company countless hours as the number of learners and courses expands at a rapid rate.
“Having the Salesforce to Thought Industries sync is critical for us,” said Ms. Farber. “We use it to make sure that we have an appropriate number of students per course, splitting sessions that are oversold to keep student counts at a manageable number. We can now do that with an automated process that doesn’t require us to go in and touch every course every time we need to make a change or add a session.”
Focusing on the automation of course management has supported a boom in learners and courses, with 900-plus unique course offerings and over 5,000 unique ILT/VILT sessions per year on the platform. Thought Industries native authoring tools have helped them deliver a more engaging experience for their learners, and student satisfaction scores are moving up, helping to increase already far higher than the industry average student satisfaction scores with 95% of Educate 360 students having expressed their willingness to refer a colleague or friend to one of their courses.
Another improvement using Thought Industries, which was not necessarily anticipated, was a reduction in questions to Educate 360’s customer service team. Learners know where to go next and where to access their resources, in a self-serve way, rather than reaching out to Support for answers.
Learners looking to achieve industry-recognized certifications are seeing greater success thanks to the role-based, visual learning paths that are offered through Thought Industries. These learning paths have helped students make sure that they’re doing what is recommended, and sets them up for success to pass their exam on the first attempt.
Educate 360 also found improvements offering a blended learning experience: in the live, classroom environment instructors reference resources and materials that live online within the Thought Industries platform. The company is looking to scale blended learning more broadly and consistently across its 900-plus course catalog using Thought Industries’ tools.
Moving to Thought Industries’ modern learning platform has resulted in a high volume of both courses and students – and that amount of activity has resulted in significant revenue gains. Since moving to Thought Industries in July of 2022, Educate 360 has seen a material increase in sales within the platform. Students either initially bought a course from the company through a sales representative, or came in through one of Educate 360’s websites, and had a positive experience with the initial purchase that they went on and made an additional purchase of another relevant class. This is precisely the cross-selling behavior the Educate360 was hoping to see, and they are seeing it happen at a higher volume each month that they are live on the Thought Industries platform.
Thought Industries has also been a valuable selling point for the company’s enterprise sales team. They have a track record of working with 99 of the Fortune 100 companies. Meeting the needs of those clients, whether it’s SCORM integrations or creating custom experiences for their employees, became a priority.
A major factor in helping Educate 360 to win some enterprise business was Thought Industries’ multi-tenant solution, Panorama. The opportunity to offer a co-branded Panorama instance to host the client’s instructor-led courses, distribute related course materials, and cross-promote a curated set of on-demand courses in related areas was a huge selling point. This, coupled with the native reporting functionality in each Panorama instance, has helped the company seal the deal with a number of enterprise clients, resulting in over half a million dollars in revenue. And this is just the beginning.
“Having the Salesforce to Thought Industries sync is critical for us. We use it to make sure that we have an appropriate number of students per course, splitting sessions that are oversold to keep student counts at a manageable number. We can now do that with an automated process that doesn’t require us to go in and touch every course every time we need to make a change or add a session.”
~ Amy Farber, Chief Strategy & Commercial Officer, Educate 360