Updating Florida's Oldest Catholic College

Saint Leo University Online

Saint Leo University Online - Updating Florida's Oldest Catholic College

Saint Leo University balances tradition (a longstanding Florida bricks and mortar campus, and 120-year-old Benedictine roots) with ever-changing ventures in online, distance and military education.

Conventional Wisdom

Most online offerings — for-profit or non-profit — settle for a largely impersonal, transactional engagement with prospective students. Rather than seek any real market differentiation, most online programs instead keep the enrollment funnel wide and full, seldom screening for 'right fit' and accepting high failure, low retention rates. What the industry refers to, matter-of-factly, as "churn".

Elliance Perspective

We encouraged the client to take stock in a time of market and regulatory change, and consider the ways that Saint Leo University stood to benefit from a more relational, "right-fit" approach to seeking and addressing online prospects. Elliance posed a three-tiered strategic approach aimed at attracting prospects with better academic foundations, and stronger financial and family support. While we drove demand from different quarters, we also encouraged the client to move away from separate messages and pages for civilian and military audiences to a shared, mutually reinforcing web experience. Elliance further challenged Saint Leo to behave less like for-profits and more like reputable institutions such as Drexel and Penn State.

Elliance Approach

Elliance enabled Saint Leo University to speak in one voice to all of its audiences, supporting the idea that online learning unites diverse students around a common goal —degree completion, graduation and a leap forward in their careers and life. The new online website brings military and civilian, undergraduate and graduate, domestic and international, religious and secular prospects into a shared experience. Elliance eliminated administrative layers and barriers, and made the prospect view of options seamless. Next, we applied right mix of persuasion and information design to guide prospects through all of the relevant user tasks. Elliance is helping to guide Saint Leo University from transactional recruitment model, toward a better — more interesting — balance of student-centered tools and knowledge, brand story and conversion prompts to both grow enrollment in short-term, and deepen trust and alumni engagement over the long haul.


By speaking in one brand voice to religious and secular, civilian and military, graduate and undergraduate audiences, Saint Leo University has found a way to elevate its online programs above the commodity line to a more premium position. Investments made in enrollment operations and fulfillment, combined with a new web presence, have changed the conversation between admissions counselors and prospects. Audience integration for online programs continues the school's longstanding emphasis on access to quality education, for anyone, anywhere. The website is now ranked on Google page 1 for all the targeted programs including two of the toughest keywords in higher education space: "online MBA programs" and "criminal justice degree online". Saint Leo is now keeping company with giants in online education like Penn State and Drexel University.


In a crowded field of online providers, Saint Leo University has embraced its longstanding bricks and mortar presence and Benedictine identity as a significant point of differentiation.

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