In 2015, private four year institutions spent $2,000 per new student acquisition. Two year public institutions used fewer staff for their recruitment and admissions operations, using a ratio of 225 students to 1 full time equivalent. With the rising costs of tuition increasingly in the public eye, and colleges insisting on more return for less spend, goals tied to admissions are under more pressure than ever. What can be done to shrink the cost of marketing dollars while simultaneously increasing yield of those already in your CRM? One area to take a closer look is the user experience or UX.
Perform a User Experience (UX) Audit
The best audits are highly detailed, with more than one user studying the performance and usability of a site. Consider using a group of individuals with complementary strengths: one who is a “visual learner,” another data-driven. One male, one female, one a traditional student, one non-traditional. However you choose to mix the users, let diversity do what it does best – informing you about the perspectives of different types of people. Translate their feedback to guide improvements for your UX.
Areas To Examine
How does the user enter the eco-system? Regardless of entry point, a clear path to finding more information or applying online should be visible. This means an established hierarchy of visuals that includes type size, colors, button shapes and sizes, and other graphic visuals. If the user is on a mobile device, especially a smartphone, are they able to reach those areas upon entry, and within each scrollable area of the page?
Clear and useful should be the goal for every user interaction. Special attention should be paid to areas that attract the highest traffic, and also those that you wish to be your conversion points on the site.
Begin by determining your Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). A question to ask yourself: what interactions can I measure? Perhaps the metric is signups for campus visits, a request for more information, or a gated download. The path to conversion for a first time student is 9 months or more, so remember that these measurements should be made as the student progresses through the system, not upon entry. Google Analytics offers custom dashboards and reports, and can track visitor behaviors for you, making gathering data for your decision even easier.
If you have access to heatmaps or other materials that describe page interactions, there’s even more insights at your disposal! What images are most compelling to your visitors, where does the cursor absentmindedly hover? There are so many ways to measure engagement and each can tell you something more about your audience.
In the education space, the goal is and will always be finding the right-fit student, and enticing them to apply and ultimately enroll. How you interact with them and on what device they can access your information will dramatically impact the conversions on your website and the ultimate yield your institution experiences.
With the rising costs of tuition increasingly in the public eye, and colleges insisting on more return for less spend, marketers with goals tied to admissions are under more pressure than ever.