Case Study 1: Online Education

Client 1 is an online University, which acquires students through direct response marketing as well as an in-house content network.   Their revenue comes from students enrolling and progressing through the program.

The company is VC-backed, growing 100%+ per year, and is now big enough to benefit from a more thorough analytic approach.

Why They Contacted Me:
They wanted to grow more quickly by investing more in marketing.  Unfortunately, they weren’t sure how efficient and profitable they were being with the campaigns already underway.  The board of directors also wanted better visibility around how much money they should raise and what the resulting cash flow will be.

Because of rapid growth, the company hadn’t yet built the analytic capabilities nor dedicated the time from their existing staff.  They brought me in to jumpstart their analysis while they remained focused on their growth objectives.

Some of their key questions were:

  1. What is the profitability of an enrolled student?
  2. What is the ROI for each marketing opportunity?
  3. How do we know when market performance changes?
  4. For money spent on marketing this month, when do we see enrollment revenue?
  5. How can we project future period revenues?

What I did:

  • Evaluated quality of source data
  • Analyzed lifetime value of enrolled students
  • Calculated ROI of individual campaigns and partnerships
  • Created intake curves (time lag from marketing spend to enrollment)
  • Developed model to project enrollments and revenues
  • Recommended steps to improve data infrastructure


  • Raised additional funding from investors
  • Terminated underperforming marketing partnerships
  • Able to identify good/bad marketing sources quickly
  • Know what they can pay to acquire a student
  • Predict revenues and cash needs more accurately
  • Able to project revenues and profitability in future years by flexing marketing assumptions
  • Launching new school partnerships and degree programs