Part 2: Students Say Your Website Can Make or Break Their Enrollment Decision
By: Laura Sheehan
Part 2: How to help students find your website
The beauty of inbound marketing is that it gives us the capacity to attract right-fit students to your institution. Rather than putting up a billboard and hoping they drive by, see it and respond, we can draw them in.
How? By knowing what information students seek and how they search; by creating authentic and engaging website content that matches their search terminology and inspires them to take the next step.
For example, most students will start their college search by googling a specific major. They typically include superlatives in their search terms (“best nursing program” or “top business administration degree.”) Adding these superlatives to website copy will increase traffic.
According to Ruffalo Noel Levitz’ 2019 E-Expectations Report, students search via:
- Academic programs (44%)
- Quality & ranking (21%)
- Location (15%)
- Student life & athletics (11%)
- Name of school (10%)
Students often view the homepage as a jumping off point, a table of contents that directs them to the information they’re seeking. At the University of Saint Francis, we created a homepage that serves this function: the primary feature is a search box, along with success messaging and calls-to-action. In its first quarter, the top action on the homepage was clicks on the Apply button.
The Importance of Academic Program Pages
Because most students search for a particular major, they enter the site via an academic program page. Catching their interest here is essential in moving them through the funnel. Successful program pages include:
- Overview of program with a link to the academic plan (this cannot read like the course catalogue)
- A success testimonial from current student or alumni
- Real-world experience (internships, clinicals, fieldwork, etc.)
- Conversion form
- Data on career potential and earnings
- Special opportunities (e.g., research, travel, labs/facilities)
The point is: every academic program page needs the capacity to convert the student into an inquiry or applicant; every program page must sell the program’s personal and professional value — which brings us to the topic of content.
Nothing can replace good content. If your web copy is stale, boring, out-of-date, uninspiring or too long, there’s no dressing it up. (Number 1 higher education website mistake: redesigning the site with the same copy and navigation). Yes, redoing the entire website with new content is daunting, but it doesn’t have to be done all at once and you can start with high traffic admissions pages.
So, what now? Contact us for a conversation. Start with:
- An evaluation of your current website’s enrollment-generating capacity, along with a
- Plan to implement new strategies, content, architecture, and design that can be done in website sections or throughout the site.
Higher education websites are literally our business. It’s what we know.