When a college wants to boost student enrollments, the standard marketing response is to pour money into awareness campaigns that drive traffic to the school’s website.
While this strategy isn’t entirely wrong-headed, too many colleges (and their marketing partners) make a critical mistake: they don’t optimize their website to give visitors an effective experience when they arrive. If prospective students encounter a website that’s disorganized, unintuitive, or lacking key information, increased traffic won’t translate into higher conversion rates. It’s simply a waste of your school’s budget. I often say, “Don’t pitch until you have a catcher behind the plate.”
An effective website takes prospective students on a journey to enrollment that’s relatively frictionless, intuitive, and comprehensible. That journey takes time: student consideration time for an online master’s program can be 18 months or more. The information gathering process should be calibrated accordingly.
For example, one tactic is to reduce barriers to entry by simplifying lead capture forms (first name, last name, email is a good place to start). Focus on bringing prospective students into your lead funnel. You’ll have an opportunity to get detailed information from them later in the consideration process. Other tactics are to build your remarketing sophistication and social channel content strategy for those who don’t leave lead information.
Optimize Based On Effort and Impact
There’s a whole host of activities you can do to optimize your website, but you can’t (and shouldn’t) do everything at once. Not all optimization activities are created equal—and some yield better results than others.
When MindMax works with schools to optimize their lead funnels, we evaluate potential tactics on an effort/impact axis.
High Impact, Low Effort. Any activities in this category are the low-hanging fruits of your lead funnel. Start with these types of must-do activities to make meaningful strides toward increasing your conversion rates.
- Put your lead form “above the fold” on your website
- Connect your lead form to an email drip campaign using marketing automation software
- Provide live chat on most of your website
High Impact, High Effort. Tactics in this category can be effective but take significant resources. Analyze and evaluate before moving forward, and consider focusing on one or two larger projects at a time.
- Set up a CRM (Customer Relationship Manager)
- Onboard new marketing automation software
- Establish an outbound calling program
- Develop a personal remarketing campaign
Low Impact, Low Effort. Tactics in this category don’t take significant resources, but they may not yield significant gains, either. Analyze and evaluate before moving forward.
- Reorganize the content on your website
Low Impact, High Effort. These activities are hard to do and won’t have a major effect on enrollments. They’re not the real reason your conversion rate is low. Avoid at all costs.
- Change your school’s logo or tagline
Convert Traffic into Enrollments
Most digital marketers emphasize the amount of traffic they can drive to your school’s website. However, very few evaluate meaningful traffic, which relates to how many visitors convert into students. If you want to increase student enrollments, you need more than just traffic: you need high-quality traffic that converts.
MindMax’s Enrollment Intelligence Tool (EI) makes it easy to access key marketing data and analyze it effectively. EI captures important metrics such as website traffic, traffic to lead conversion rates, and lead to enrollment conversion rates—all in a custom dashboard built for your institution.
This daily access to insights and expert advice enables schools to maximize their enrollment results. With their data in hand, schools can make real-time adjustments to their marketing outreach, identify anomalies that indicate areas for improvement, and allocate their resources efficiently.
If you’d like to learn more about how EI can help your school maximize enrollments, email Courtney Holt at email@example.com for more information.