2021 Q1 StudentBridge Business Update
The Sales Team had yet another record sales quarter to start off the year, hitting 110% of our bookings target. We signed 50 customer contracts.
We started the year with a strong pipeline and, along with high enthusiasm in the market, closed 152% of our January bookings target resulting in a new monthly sales record - which is never expected in January, historically our weakest month!
In February, bad weather impacted our customers’ business, and we fell a little short - achieving 75% of target, although we remained firmly ahead on a YTD basis. We quickly bounced back in March with 106% of a much steeper goal and finished the quarter 10% ahead going into Q2.
In particular, we were buoyed by our CSMs who contributed to over 300% of their expected sales with existing customers in the form of platform upgrades, solution upsells and additional Creative Services. A great sign that our customers are happy and look to increase their relationship with StudentBridge.
In order to build upon our sales momentum, we hired a new Account Executive and also promoted a top-performing BDR to Account Executive, bringing our total number of AEs to 5.
The BDR team consistently exceeded all of their monthly targets to start the year, sourcing and adding 94 sales opportunities to our pipeline. In addition, we closed 18 deals in Q1 that were sourced by the BDR team. We also hired an additional BDR to backfill our recently promoted BDR.
We head into the rest of the year with our largest pipeline ever, so the team remains quietly confident that there will be no slow down in momentum. We do however expect some challenging periods while the newly reduced headcount in school enrollment departments start to tackle their first full recruitment season since COVID started.
At the end of February, we launched a new StudentBridge website. The new site was designed to be modern, fully responsive and focused on driving more qualified leads. We also integrated online scheduling which has resulted in meetings being scheduled within 24 hours. In Q2, we are increasing our SEO and SEM efforts to increase site traffic and generate a larger number of qualified leads.
We continued to improve our content leadership efforts with focused marketing campaigns centering on VisiTOUR, Video and Virtual Events. In Q1, we generated over 3K leads and 42 MQLs. We also launched the StudentBridge Partner Program and began planning for our first annual Virtual Partner Conference to be held in June 2021.
We have hired a new Marketing Manager to focus specifically on digital marketing and boosting our lead generation initiatives in Q2. We are also seeking to hire a Marketing Director with higher ed experience to lead the team. If you know anyone, please pass them along!
With many campuses opening back up for Spring filming, our crews spent Q1 preparing for a busy Spring season where we will operate 4 crews until the end of the semester. The Project Management team continued to grow with the addition of a new Project Manager and a new Content Coordinator. The team is now actively managing approximately 90 partner programs totaling approximately 175 concurrent projects. In Q1, the team successfully launched 61 partner solutions.
Over the past 12 months, we have hosted almost 100 virtual events from open houses, to admitted student days, to orientations. Our partners are going to continue to offer virtual event experiences even when they return to in-person events due to the increased reach and engagement results they have seen. Our virtual event partners are conducting an average of 3.4 events per year and we expect this increase during the coming year.
Only our well-defined process allows us to meet this demand and support scale, while maintaining unusually high gross margins in TES.
For the Product & Technology team, Q1 primarily concentrated on enhancements to the StudentBridge Platform, which supports our Virtual Campus Experience, Interactive Campus Maps and Events solutions while delivering incremental improvements for VisiTOUR as well. We started with a major overhaul of our accessibility features with an eye toward continuing to deliver an industry leading experience for keyboard navigation and voiceover users. We also continued to improve the experience for our site implementation team through an overhaul of our internal administration tools. Finally, we released a new feature allowing schools to create Personalized URLs for their solutions.
We also supported the launch of a pilot program of CampusBubble, a social network service, with Fairleigh Dickinson University. We are tracking results and evaluating next steps. We contracted with eHire/Make Build to conduct a comprehensive technology assessment and provide options for staff augmentation to achieve our product deliverables for the remainder of the year.
Last but not least, we also welcomed an Application Support Engineer to the team to serve as the first point of contact for support, issues and technical questions as we look to build up our onshore technical team and really accelerate our continued drive to offer a leading SaaS platform.