Behind the 2017 CollegeXpress Curtain

Carnegie Higher Ed Jan 23, 2018 Carnegie Higher Ed Persona The Visionary Frontrunner

On the surface, CollegeXpress is part of the toolkit that colleges and universities use to fill the top of their funnels each year. It’s a lead generation platform that sent over 600,000 unique students and five million inquiries to Carnegie Dartlet clients in 2017. Starting with a singular magazine 30 years ago (PC&U), CollegeXpress has become truly ingrained in the fabric of the college and scholarship search, and each year we’re getting better and better.

There’s more to this platform though. In fact, it’s just the tip of the iceberg. In the last year, CollegeXpress has made strides in brand awareness, content, and social personality in order to create an environment catered to our users. The more trust, the more resources, the more seamless experience a user has, the more likely they are to return and engage and, ultimately, make college choices.

The CollegeXpress influence is real

We know this because as we look back at client data of applicants, we can match back students in our database to those who applied and even enrolled. CollegeXpress was so present in the Class of 2017 that 75% of applicants for client schools of data we received had been touched by e-mail outreach or direct-to-home mailings (our print magazines) or were engaged online with CollegeXpress. In some cases, students didn’t only engage with one of those touch points but two or more (i.e., they received an e-mail and magazine). And those touch rates prove a strong ROI when it comes to enrolled students.

What we learned about our users in 2017

CollegeXpress users have a purpose. Because it is a content-heavy site, our users are looking for resources that not only guide them through the college and scholarship search for where they are in their journey, but also for content that is written with real-life experience; content that can speak to them in a way that they can relate. One of CollegeXpress’s proudest attributes is our student writers program. This allows students from high school and college to share their experiences with their peers, no matter where they are in the process. We’ve also been incredibly lucky to have expert writers from admission and financial aid offices to explain processes and what college administrators are looking for in applicants. It’s through this mix of students and experts that CollegeXpress offers very balanced, thoughtful, and comprehensive content. With 16 million pageviews in 2017, we know our content is being consumed and time is being invested into finding the best colleges possible for the user.

What else blew us away about our users in 2017? They are a group of individuals who are smart, talented, and want to take on the world and make a difference. If you don’t believe me, you should look at a recent YouTube post that was part of a giveaway where we had over 500 students comment on the nonprofit they would create and why. It’s truly inspiring. These are our users. These are your future students.

CollegeXpress by the numbers

If you’re a numbers person, the following statistics should be exciting to see. In 2017, CollegeXpress had six million sessions and 16 million pageviews. Our organic traffic was up 11%, and our pages load time improved by over 20%. What this means: we’re reaching more students and more content is being consumed. It also shows our understanding of the age range we’re working with (13–21), knowing that any pages that take longer than just a few seconds will ultimately lead to a bounce off the site.

Reaching more students than ever

2017 also marked a year where we made several strategic partnerships to widen our reach to students who might not be part of the College Board system just yet. We’re reaching households that might be untouched and are able to build the CollegeXpress brand without any noise of other brands in the mix. We’re also reaching younger students in order to get them into your pipeline sooner.

The future of CollegeXpress

Plain and simple: CollegeXpress is the only college and scholarship search that is content-focused with a social personality. We are our users’ (your future students’) trusted nerdy friend whom they look to for advice and resources; a brand they can relate with and then develop trust to give us (and your institution) their click.

CollegeXpress came out of the gates in 2018 strong with the release of College Board names, making it one of our best years in recent history and a record-breaking year in terms of leads by client. Be sure to watch CollegeXpress over the next few months, as the team is working on enhancements that not only benefit your institution, but our users as well.

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