Modern interactions between organizations and users are driven by engaging online experiences.  People want personalization — to feel understood and recognized — and higher education audiences are no exception.


The shift to digital experiences has forced organizations across industries to create more interactive, personalized content for their users and customers. Most consumers (91%) are more likely to support a brand that provides offers and recommendations that are relevant to them and that remembers them. This trend goes beyond commerce and is highly influential in the college recruiting experience.


In the world of higher education, students want to feel a personal connection to a school before they apply. And these connections are driven by the initial digital interactions that lead them down their decision-making journey, usually through a college’s website and general online presence.


So, what strategies can you integrate to improve your approach? Here are the top three reasons personalization is effective specifically for higher education settings and steps you can take to address the need for more intimate connections.


1. Personalization attracts prospective applicants


Modern students want modern messaging from their college choices, and that means amplifying personalization. High school seniors want to feel like they will “fit in” with the college they choose, which is a major life decision that will impact their careers for years to come. It’s thus incredibly important that they feel a connection on a personal level. 


Incoming freshmen are part of a generation that’s accustomed to personalization in daily activities and experiences, like online video streaming and social media advertising. For example, Instagram shows them ads that are directly related to their interests and browsing history, and platforms like Netflix and Hulu recommend movies and TV shows that align with what they’ve already watched.


This generation expects the same level of personalization from their experiences with potential universities and colleges. They want to know right away what makes a school unique from browsing the website. They want to be offered personal experiences that reflect their searches and degree interests. 


When a university’s digital presence can engage and inspire a student, and those experiences are paired with personalized content, powerful associations are made. For example, once a user has already viewed a specific program page, an action can trigger more customized content like a video, an email, or further information blasts about their preferred department. 


With personalization, your institution is more likely to generate serious interest and make stronger connections. 


2. Data collection and feedback


Gathering and analyzing data is another important way that personalization helps higher education institutions. Surveys help you understand much more about the people looking at your website and content. 


Ask website visitors what kind of program they’re looking for or what stage they are in the search process. Create clear, direct questions that will give you straightforward answers to paint an accurate picture of your audience.


Surveys can also tell you:


What motivates students to answer a survey
What factors lead them to apply to certain schools
Whether the website or landing page is functional and easy to use
What motivates users to ask for more information from a school
What roadblocks they experience when looking for information online

Asking for feedback gives your audience a voice and helps you gather and evaluate important information about how you’re doing. When users feel like what they think matters, they feel like their opinions are valued, which is an important part of successful personalization.


3. Focusing on an applicant’s journey


Personalization techniques also help you focus on the entire journey a prospective student is taking to make a decision about college. The typical journey, or funnel, a student embarks upon to choose a college involves these steps:


Awareness and research
Consideration and outreach
Decision and application

As a student moves through these stages, the applicable personalized content should be triggered. This requires knowledge of which parts of the website a student will interact with during each stage. 


Create content that will be relevant to each step in that funnel. For example, when a student is in the consideration and outreach phase, send a targeted notification that they can schedule a meeting with a counselor or schedule a school tour.


By focusing on a given student’s precise point in the journey, you can display more relevant, personalized content that will inspire them to act and eventually turn into an educated applicant.


Why work with KWALL?


When you need assistance creating a personalization strategy for your website, the team at KWALL is ready to help. We can provide an entire site audit to give you visibility into the effectiveness of your online information. We understand how important personalized content is for modern higher education institutions to connect to their student and parent audiences. 


Contact the KWALL team today to learn more about how we provide powerful web experiences to higher education institutions. 


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