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How to Improve Your University’s Website for Enrollment

By collegemktgrp | December 3, 2020 | Universities

College student enrollment has been declining over the years. Before 2020, rising tuition costs was largely to blame. This year, the ongoing global pandemic is forcing students to consider alternatives to higher education as campuses close their doors and move to remote learning.

With the rise of COVID-19, campuses across the country have been unable to host campus tours and provide a personal touch to their recruiting efforts. It’s now more important than ever to make sure your university’s digital marketing efforts are at the top of their game.

More than any other generation, today’s prospective college students will conduct online research of your school. And when making a decision about which college to attend, the first stop on a prospective student’s checklist is likely your university’s website.

Is your university website mobile-friendly? Does it use chatbots to answer important questions, and is your content optimized with helpful admissions keywords and phrases?

If your University website is lacking any of these important features, you may be holding yourself back from optimizing your online student enrollment.

Discover more ways to make sure your university’s website is optimized for college student enrollment in 2021.

Make sure your school’s site is mobile-friendly

Prospective students are most likely visiting your school’s site on their phone: research shows that 98% of Generation Z own a mobile device and use it daily.

That means first and foremost, your website should be specifically designed for students visiting on their phones.

If your website isn’t mobile-friendly, students and their parents will likely leave your site without finding the important enrollment information they’re looking for.

Here are a few of the key features of a mobile-friendly website and how they can keep prospective students engaged:

Expandable Menus

  • Students don’t want to sift through multiple pages to find what they’re looking for.
  • An expandable menu helps prospective students quickly find relevant information.

Larger Buttons

  • Mobile-friendly websites take into account the fact that students are using their fingers and thumb versus a mouse to click on links. That means designing pages with larger icons and links to pages.
  • Eliminating the need to zoom in on a link is a sure way to keep students from drifting away to another school’s site!

Consolidated Content

  • When it comes to visiting a website on a mobile device, less is more.
  • Gen Z’s attention span is about 8-seconds, so simplifying wordy content is a surefire way to keep prospective students engaged with what your campus has to offer.

Larger Font Sizes

  • Phone screens are considerably smaller than computer or laptop screens.
  • Many visitors tend to just scan mobile websites, catching roughly 20% of all words.
  • To boost readability, make sure your font size is at least 16 pixels.

User Experience Is Key

User experience isn’t just how your website looks. It’s about the overall experience for prospective students and their parents.

That means you need a website with a sleek design that’s interactive with easy-to-navigate pages and high-definition images. The University of Michigan, the University of Chicago, and the University of Notre Dame are a few of the schools that rank high when it comes to user experience, and have all won awards for their college websites.

Some schools — like Brown University — devote years to user experience research of their website.

Another key feature to ensure a successful user experience is to focus on areas other than student recruitment.

Even though first-time college students make up the bulk of college campuses, it’s important to consider other demographics that visit your website, too. These include older adult learners, international students, and prospective employers.

Instead of just posting information about the admissions process, you can highlight the other features of your campus like:

  • Location-specific scenery and impressive campus architecture
  • Post-graduation employment outcomes
  • World-class research and community involvement
  • Non-academic aspects of the student experience

Improve Enrollment Conversions with a Chatbot

According to Drift, students are 10 times less likely to follow up with colleges and universities if they don’t receive a response to their questions within 5 minutes. That’s not a lot of time!

Using a chatbot is a definite way to keep prospective students engaged while they’re on your site. By using a chatbot, prospective students’ frequently asked questions can quickly be answered with predetermined text based on common keyword sand phrases.

If a question can’t be answered by the chatbot, the student can be transferred to a live representative or a general admissions email box for a follow-up response.

Chatbots can also help with the retention of current students. Georgia Tech is one of the first universities to utilize a chatbot in the classroom, reporting a 90% engagement rate and 80% of students rating the chatbot as a 4 out of 5.

When figuring out which college to attend, many students want to know that they’ll be taken care of the entire time — not just when enrolling. Tapping into the power of a chatbot can be the deciding factor for a student considering your school.

Drive Organic Traffic with Enrollment-Focused Blog Topics

Universities that post blogs consistently can generate 88% more leads than those that don’t.

Blogs can be a powerful tool for your school to showcase your campus and connect with prospective students. They can highlight campus or department-specific events that show how your school stays involved in the local and national community. They can also feature guest posts from famous alumni or even a highlight of a beloved campus mascot.

MIT has several blogs written from a student perspective that offer direct, relatable experiences to other students. Meanwhile, Tufts University’s admissions staff write blogs that demystify the admissions process, which can be confusing for students and their families alike.

Consistently posting long-form, high-quality blogs is also a tried-and-true method to boost your school’s organic SEO rankings. Which brings us to our final site optimization strategy.

Increase Organic Traffic Through SEO

Reports show that more than 90% of people use a search engine when looking for information on the internet. And 75% of people don’t look past the first page of results.

Here are a few common SEO strategies that you can add to your enrollment marketing plan:

Drive Traffic to Your Site with Email Marketing

There’s a lot to consider when it comes to your school’s digital enrollment marketing strategy. Making sure your school’s website is optimized can determine whether a student decides to attend your campus or look elsewhere.

An impressive website and social media game aren’t the only factors to think about in your marketing plan.

Email is another important way to amplify your content and drive college students and their parents to your site.

Discover the best ways to use email for college student enrollment marketing >

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