How to Make Your University Website More Engaging
It’s an interesting irony that the more consumers live within a digital world, the more personal they want that world to feel. It’s no longer enough for a website to be a facsimile of menus and tabs. Websites have to be responsive, intuitive, dynamic, with a distinct personality threaded through the content.
In higher ed, this type of online experience is more important than ever. Sure, institutions have to differentiate themselves, but most importantly have to send the message from the very first click that they value the student experience. How can they show that value? How can they efficiently meet the needs of prospective students from so many backgrounds seeking so many career paths? The answer is simple: Personalization.
Personalization: Providing a Unique Customer Journey
First, let’s get on the same page when it comes to what we mean by personalization. Specifically, we’re talking about the website experience and its related content. The idea is that you tailor that experience to each visitor so they are served dynamic content relevant to their needs and interests.
It doesn’t take a seasoned marketer to know that this practice moves the needle. 98% of marketers claim that personalization is crucial for building customer relationships (we think the other 2% must be selling widgets); and relationships with your customers–especially in higher ed where the commitment is so monumental–have never been more important to consumer behavior. Gen Zers in particular, while suspicious of brands in general, are willing to champion those that provide an experience worth their attention. Earning that brand affinity requires work, but, through personalization, it’s both rewarding and surprisingly cost effective.
Myriad recent marketing studies show that a more personalized experience is a more effective experience for all parties involved. The vast majority of visitors to a website actually expect and embrace personalized content as part of their usual online retail journey–it’s just their habitual shopping process. This is the content standard that university websites are compared to when customers browse for a future education.
On the business side, the value that personalization brings is nearly overwhelming. Just pick your metric: Conversion rates, acquisition costs, revenue, marketing spend efficiency, consumer sales–personalization positively impacts them all. In the language of higher education, that means more high-quality leads and (eventually) enrollments for less money.
The trend toward increased personalization has been strengthening for years, but lately it’s been kickstarted by a few factors. Various circumstances (the pandemic included) have enmeshed people even further into a responsive online world that caters to their unique expectations–think social media apps and streaming services with algorithms that keep the dopamine hits coming. Also Gen Z, the supposed denizens of the internet, actually embrace individualization and online human contact to the point that businesses are scrambling to employ more responsive communication strategies.
Personalization, essentially, has never been more essential. This begs the question, if personalization is efficient, cost effective, and valued by the audience, why aren’t more institutes of higher learning getting more personal with their digital communication?
Perceived Barriers to Personalization
Manpower: Sometimes a personalized experience involves a human touch. The problem is, within university marketing and admissions teams, human hands can be pretty busy. Between advising sessions and lead follow-up employees aren’t always on call to support things like live chats. They also might not have the time and technical support to install and train on complex tools. Starting in a new, more personalized direction, can seem like a daunting task for overstretched teams. Fortunately, there are some innovative solutions that can help no matter the size of your team.
Halda’s Solution: Halda is a software company that seeks to transform the student experience on university websites through personalization tools. Students offer information–the topics they’re interested in, their questions, their major, etc.–then Halda delivers layers of personalized content that address their needs and interests. It’s an efficient, user-friendly way for prospective students (and their parents) to engage with your content–no navigation necessary. And the best part is, the tool runs itself. Prospects get a personalized experience without sacrificing your people-power.
Data Collection: There are some work-arounds to this dilemma (more on that later), but websites have historically struggled to gain accurate visitor data and track their journey through the web content. This is especially difficult when it comes to personalizing content. After all, how can you personalize content if you don’t have good data on the visitor?
Halda’s Solution: Halda crafts a personalized website experience based on information students offer about themselves. Helpful prompts encourage interaction and self-disclosure, then the tool uses that information to structure a tailored content experience. Students respond positively to this effort on behalf of their website experience. 300%-500% more prospects are willing to share their information to gain a more personalized touch. And while the content you serve will likely help persuade them, the effort to meet their needs in the first place is often what they appreciate most.
Content Creation: Serving personalized content is great, but what if that content doesn’t exist? When it comes to prospective students, universities have a lot of programs to cover and interests to meet. Creating a well of program-specific content from which to draw may require a team of content creators that some colleges simply haven’t invested in.
Halda’s Solution: There doesn’t need to be some robust network of blogs, pdfs, and email funnels to serve prospects a stream of personalized content. While the Halda personalization tool can integrate all those materials, it can also pull content directly from your website. As long as you have a website with information prospects are looking for, Halda’s tool can serve it to them in bite-sized, digestible chunks based on what they are looking for. Basically, if your website is a buffet, Halda goes ahead and makes the plate–and your prospects never have to skip over that questionable Salisbury steak.
Tools like Halda’s generate results, plain and simple. For a better web experience, prospects are willing to tell more about themselves. Then that personalization continues as they move through the funnel toward enrollment. It’s why Halda clients have seen their lead volumes increase by anywhere from 50%-200%, while conversion rates jump from anywhere between 300%-1000%. It’s just a better experience for everyone involved, from the customer to the marketing team.
Think Halda could help personalize your company’s web experience? We’d be happy to show you how. Contact one of our representatives for a free demo. Learn more about how our tools could get that pesky needle moving in your direction.