3 Ways Web Personalization Can Help Your Higher Ed Website

Carnegie Higher Ed Jan 16, 2018 Carnegie Higher Ed Persona The Visionary Frontrunner

Web personalization isn’t a new practice. Retail sites like Amazon and news sites like The Boston Globe use Web personalization to identify users, enhance experiences, and optimize conversion rates. You’ve likely seen personalized content before. For example, Amazon offers personalized content in the form of recommended items based on a user’s browsing and purchase history, while The Boston Globe employs paywalls after users read a certain number of “free” articles. All Web personalization efforts begin by tracking user behaviors to find patterns, attributes, and needs among the audience—needs that are remedied with customized content tailored to the unique qualities of the user such as location, engagement, number of visits, etc. Customized content can be helpful to the user and beneficial for stakeholders, especially in higher education. Here are three ways web personalization can help your higher ed website.

1. Increase event attendance by increasing visibility

Suggesting program-specific events to an interested audience can help increase event visibility and attendance. One university recently used custom content to promote an admission event for their MBA programs. A target audience was created based on user location, number of visits, and pages viewed. Stakeholders noticed an increase in event registrations within the 24 hours the customized content went live and an uncharacteristic increase in registration activity so far out from the event.

Most importantly, of the users who interacted with the custom content, 38.8% hadn’t viewed event pages at any point in their browsing history. By targeting the right users based on behavior, custom content was able to increase not only attendance but event visibility to a considerable portion of a target demographic who otherwise wouldn’t have been aware of the event.

2. Make CTAs relevant

Use user data to your advantage and strengthen your calls to action by making messaging relevant to the interests of users as displayed in their browsing history. One university customized their “attend an information session” messaging based on which program users were most engaged with. The messaging that was tailored to the program (i.e., “Learn more about our MBA program. Attend an information session”) had an average 11.94% conversion/click rate compared to the general “request information” messaging rate of 4.65%.

Web personalization is essential when it comes to moving users through the funnel. If a user has already submitted a Request for Information form and attended an information session, start offering them messages to apply. Alternatively, serve information-focused messaging to new visitors and on-campus event messaging to users near your event location.

3. Collect qualified feedback through surveys

Being able to track and analyze data for trends and patterns is the first step to Web personalization, but the best way to learn about your audience, build accurate personas, and learn how to create effective campaigns in the future is to ask direct questions. Surveys are a great way to learn more about your target audience while also identifying highly engaged profiles. Consider serving a new visitor survey to learn more about what type of education prospective students are looking for and what their key motivating factors are, and use that information to build future customized content and campaigns.

Surveys are the best way to find answers to specific questions. One university implemented an exit survey to users who submitted an application, asking them to rate the application process and identify any difficulties or issues they experienced. An open-ended question was also included, asking applicants “what was the biggest factor in your decision to apply?” Feedback from this particular survey included mentions of the presence of a specific program, professor experiences, and feedback from alumni. Deciding factors for enrollment may surprise you and can be leveraged to craft future campaigns, messaging, blog posts, and more.

Web personalization is a powerful tactic marketers use to increase conversions and keep user experience both relevant and meaningful by catering to the unique qualities of varying audiences. The examples described above just scratch the surface of the various forms Web personalization can take and ways it can be used to reach your institution’s goals.

If you need help getting started on a Web personalization strategy for your college website, talk to us today!

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