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Ellen Bale, Learning Care Group

Ellen Bale
Director of Marketing
Learning Care Group
1/26/10

When did you start at Kaplan?

I joined Kaplan Higher Education [as Executive Director of Marketing] when it was launching its online high schools. The idea was to cater to kids with special needs — athletes, entertainers, advanced students, pregnant teens, etc.

Our competitors included University of Phoenix, Knowledge Care Group’s IQ Academy and K12.com.

Kaplan started in test prep then expanded to online universities. We acquired brick and mortar colleges and started a tutoring biz in California. The company was bought by the Washington Post sometime around 1984.

How important was testing and tracking at Kaplan?

Being a new business unit, we tested and tracking everything. [We ran] PPC [pay-per-click], radio, newspaper, and had partnerships like with the Chris Everett Tennis Academy in Boca.

We used unique 800#’s and URLs for each placement. Our back-end tracking through Salesforce.com had unique identifier appended to records all the way through the process.

We tested microsites vs. the main site. [It turned out] people wanted more content. Lead-form focused sites didn’t covert as well.

Choosing to enroll your kid in online high school is a very emotional decision. We conducted virtual open houses. Parents wanted to see the curriculum so we created a Webex.

How have you applied what you learned at Kaplan to your current role at Learning Care Group?

I brought 20 years of experience to LCG and am [now] working to instill a [test-and learn] culture. I’m obsessed with driving measurable results. It takes the power of persuasion to rally consensus.

Companies that are struggling are easiest to sell through new tests and tracking implementation. It’s harder to get companies doing well to try new things.

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