Ten Ways to Personalize the Admissions Website

<p>Admissions marketing and recruitment is constantly evolving. From college fairs to conversions, the number of spinning plates can seem endless. This article aims to highlight strategies in website personalization that don't feel intrusive or interruptive. With GeoFli, college admissions offices can take control of their segmented audiences and surface content relevant to the various prospective student cohorts existing geographically.&nbsp;</p>

The Problem

The college website is the most influential and impactful marketing tool for any enrollment team. If done right, when the admissions office sends direct mail or email campaigns, they’re segmented based on location: out-of-state student email communication is different than in-state. Yet, when it comes to the college website, the experience for prospective students is one of ambiguity, irrelevance and one-size-fits-nobody. Changing website content is a time-consuming headache with time-consuming hoops and technical obstacles.

The Solution: GeoFli

Location Library: Personalize content for prospective students from Virginia.

Website visitors from Virginia can sign up to meet a counselor at a college fair.

Radius Targeting: Change Website content for visitors within a 100 mile radius of Richmond.

Richmond: Website visitors can sign up to meet an admissions counselor and local alumni.

Custom Draw: Change website content for website visitors from the Southeast.

Southeast: Students from this area come to Barnaby to study Agriculture Science.

A prospective student visiting your website from New York should see different featured students, relevant tuition information and location-specific admissions travel than someone visiting from California. GeoFli makes this possible. Now, when your admissions team is on the road in Chicago, a parent or student visiting your admissions page from a 100 mile radius of Chicago will see personalized content: “Admissions Counselor Rachel is scheduling interviews in Naperville, Schaumburg and downtown Chicago. Sign up to meet for coffee!”

Case Study: Barnaby University

We received permission to use Barnaby University as our example in this article. And by permission we mean it’s a fake university that our co-founder Nick Shontz built to use as an example. You can apply, you can request more information and you can read a message from the president but don’t try to visit campus because, well, it doesn’t exist.

1. Alumni Events

When a website visitor from Chicago visits your alumni page, what do they see? How do they connect with local alumni? Can a prospective student from Chicago be introduced to successful alumni in the area? Make that happen. In the image on the left, If the alumni office is hosting a reception for all the alum in the Washington DC area, that might be something to promote for website visitors from that area. Website visitors might be thinking “I wonder if anyone from Washington DC ever attended Barnaby?” Now, you can personalize the admissions homepage to show that “yup, there are a bunch of alumni in the area and there’s even a meet.” Out-of-state parents might especially appreciate seeing the network of alumni: “maybe my kid will move back after graduation!”

2. Campus Visitors

Virtual tours are great, but getting users to campus is the goal. Nothing beats experiencing campus-life first-hand. How are you changing the message for out-of-state or out-of-region website visitors to incentivize a campus visit? Perhaps on the campus visit page, the language could include some airport or transportation options for students coming from major feeder cities: Getting here from Seattle. Getting here from Phoenix. It could also include reviews of students that visited campus from those areas.You might include a testimonial “I visited from Seattle having never seen Colorado before. I was blown away not only by the scenery surrounding Fort Collins, but also the friendliness of the people.”

3. Transfer Colleges

What are your top five feeder schools? Below is a polygon around Pullman, WA and Moscow, ID. This represents a GeoFli region capturing any website visitor that lands on www.barnabyuniversity.org from that polygon. Why Pullman and Moscow? Washington State University and the University of Idaho! A high percentage of website visitors to your website from this area will be currently enrolled college students. Do you have a transfer specific counselor in your admissions office? Introduce them on the admissions homepage as the expert in helping award credit to coursework taken at other universities and helping you make a smooth transition from college to college.

GeoFli.com Custom Draw Feature

"Hi my name's Luke. Thinking about transferring? I'm an expert in helping students transfer as many credits as possible so that hard work doesn't go to waste. Contact me today."

4. Top-Feeding High Schools

Zip Codes of regions with more than five enrolled students in the last five years. Great visual for deciding what areas of the state or country to target first. Image source: Google

Same as above, draw regions around your top feeding out-of-state high schools. Use historical data and filter by enrolled students and zip codes. When you find zip codes with ten or more students in the last five years, draw a region and focus the content. Include information about virtual tours on the homepage or when the counselor for that territory will be in their area.

5. International Prospective Students

If one of your goals is increasing international recruitment, changing and replacing language on your website’s call-to-action buttons or enrollment application information is a great way to personalize and create a relevant user-experience. Think of the resources and input required to produce those great international viewbooks and marketing materials. Include a PDF to those materials or a digital copy on the homepage for anyone visiting outside the united states. Surface the TOEFL tutorial video or steps to anyone visiting outside the US.

6. Information Sessions

If you have a “where are our counselors traveling” or “find your counselor page” you can easily remove steps in the signup process by featuring those receptions, interviews and college fairs based on geographic location. The Minneapolis NACAC college fair is one of the biggest in the country. Let folks from Minnesota know your college will be attending. Better yet, let them know that you’re available during that really long break in between student and parent sessions. Create a simple signup page that all users can be directed to: RSVP Your Spot for the Minneapolis Information Session: Register Here! Filter form completions by location and assign counselors to reach out and set up a time.

Bay Area: Counselors can change their territory. Promote regional events.

Seattle Coffee Meetups: In-person meetings are what makes travel worth it.

Chicago: Anyone visiting your site from Chicago will meet Rachel and hear her success story.

7. Successful Alumni

Choose five alumni from different parts of the country. Feature them and their location to show your alum are doing great things and they are doing them in more places than just your region. This sends a strong message to out-of-state visitors, especially parents that wonder about the national recognition of your college or university.

Change and replace content for website visitors in three simple-to-use ways

8. Featured Students

Choose five current students from five different parts of the country. This awesome content already exists, you just have to find the right place to showcase for a relevant geographic audience. Perhaps the visit campus page?"There were a lot of colleges between Barnaby and California, but nothing compared to my visit to campus." Hear Jenny’s Story.“Sure the chemistry program is world renown, but ultimately the thing that separates Barnaby from any other university is the people.”

9: Geographic or Demographic Based Scholarships

Do you have specific scholarships designed for different regions or created to attract diverse student populations? Native American Tuition Waivers, Western Undergraduate Exchange programs and in-state scholarships can be surfaced for anyone visiting from those locations.

10: Historical Program Features

Using historical enrollment data exports, find the person in your office that is pretty good in Excel and challenge them with these questions using the export from the last five years:Create a list of out-of-state zip codes with more than 25 enrolled students in the last five years: what are the top feeding zip codes? Personalize content for the recruiters traveling there. Are there new regional opportunities we haven’t thought about?What is the most popular major by state? Do students from Texas study science at a higher percentage of enrolled students than students from California? Feature science program information to students from Texas. “I came from Texas to Barnaby to study the sciences. I’m blown away by the caliber of the professors.”Average application date by state: maybe East Coast applies earlier than West Coast and there’s an opportunity to increase urgency for West Coast visitors so your enrollment team can close that gap.

Bonus: Landing Page Personalization

Build an online marketing machine measuring everything from cost-per-enrolled student (in marketing dollars) and the percentage of website visitors to take a desired action: schedule a campus visit, request more information or apply online. Sometimes, there are just too many links on a page. It’s distracting. Create a page that’s going to be lead focused: “Request more information.”With this marketing asset, you can change and replace content, change the featured stories and use all of the ideas listed above on a single page.To do this, create an experimental landing page. The URL used in brochures, emails and promotional material to prospective students is a good start. You can also link to this page on your homepage.When a prospective student lands on the page, you want to personalize that experience but you don’t want to make 50 different URLs. Connect the form directly to your enrollment CRM.Example using Barnaby: Brochures and prospectus are sent out to prospective students around the country and around the world with the same URL. Students on the east coast visit the URL and see different messaging than students in the Midwest.

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