If your institution has relied primarily on in-person admission counselor interactions or scheduled campus visits, you have missed a critical opportunity to boost enrollment at your institution. It is also very important to remember that the first interaction with your institution probably isn't going to be filling out an application, although stealth applicants do exist.
Here are five ways to turn your campus website into an avenue to increase enrollment by opening up the top of your marketing funnel.
1. Make Academic Programs and Majors Prominently Visible
Make links to your academic programs prominent on your homepage. According to the 2011 E-Expectations Report, 40% of prospective students say the first link they look for on a school's website is academic programs and majors. If prospective students can't easily identify what programs your school offers, they will move on to the next potential school on their list, and you'll have lost a chance to increase enrollment. Bonus points if you provide easy access from mobile devices, as well.
2. Feature Career & Salary Information
Some students, particularly returning students, might not yet know what they want to major in. However, they do know they want to find profitable work once they graduate. Especially in today's economy, students need to see a direct link between their education and prospective careers and salaries. Including information about how degrees line up with specific careers and the potential salaries of those careers will engage prospective students in your institution and keep them moving through your online marketing funnel.
3. Highlight Unique Program Elements
As prospective students progress through your website, remember that your ultimate goal is to get them to apply. Viewing your academic offerings and seeing a connection between those programs and a career goal just isn't enough. You have to clearly demonstrate to students what makes your programs so special.
Make it obvious to students what they will get out of attending your school that they won't get from the other schools on their list. Are there online course options available? What about internships or career placement help? Do you have new facilities or research opportunities? You must highlight these unique program elements specific to your school to engage the prospective student even further with your institution and offer a points of differentiation between you and other potential colleges. Offer downloadable content offers with information that highlights these special elements for each your programs, and use a form to collect prospective students' information in return for the download.
4. Offer Peer Feedback
At a certain point in the marketing funnel, you'll have hooked your prospective students. You have the program they want leading to a career they're interested in with unique elements that make your program different and special. Make the personal connection with prospective students now by offering them the chance to speak with current students who share their interests. These peer connections can make a prospective student feel like the institution is invested in them as an individual. Plus, a current student is more approachable and is perceived to have less bias than an admissions counselor, whose job it is to sell the school. Current students are there to learn, not sell. Take advantage of these most powerful brand advocates.
5. Provide Fast Facts
Finally, offer a list of quick facts to prospective students. Include information such as the credits needed to graduate, specific course requirements, estimated costs, internship opportunities, and other pertinent information prospective students need and want to know. This last bit of information will lead students to make contact with the university and begin the enrollment process.
Taking the time to meet prospective students at the top of your marketing funnel and making that first web contact will have a larger impact on increasing enrollment than waiting for students to visit your campus. Part of your job as a marketer is to nurture prospective students along to the point where they are ready to work with an admissions counselor. These five conversion tactics should give you ideas you can use to start this nurturing process.
Originally published Nov 9, 2011 8:00:00 PM, updated February 01 2017