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When talking to Universities about their digital presence, we are often asked to demonstrate that Indigo will bring more than design and technical services to the table during a digital transformation exercise. It is essential for us to be proactively forward thinking about what our clients in the Higher and Further Education sector will benefit from in the short, medium and long term, and we thought we’d share some of our insights so that if you are thinking of commissioning a digital agency to work with on your digital transformation project, you may find inspiration and new aspects to consider.
For example, one of the key strategies for Higher and Further Education institutions is to integrate personalisation into their website build.
8 Indigo Insights on website personalisation for Universities and Colleges:
- Establish Personalisation Boundaries
- Start Simple
- Device Tailoring
- Define users
- Make it easy
- Go under the radar
- Mine for behavioural nuggets
- Perma beta testing
Establish Personalisation Boundaries
It’s crucial to get the balance right between what’s possible with personalisation (a lot!), and what will genuinely benefit both the potential student and the University. Rushing into using personalisation technologies can result in a ‘spammy’ experience which can have a negative impact on conversion rates. Remember, the ultimate objective is to help students decide your University is the best one for them, not to bombard or overwhelm them with sales messages.
Add data sources to student profiles in the first instance, starting with referrer (and perhaps campaign data), then introduce website behaviour patterns, progressing to offline data.
Responsive website development goes far beyond ‘making it work’ on different device types. Indigo recommends that the entire user journey is tailored to different devices, along with the personalisation elements. One of the main website bounce culprits is difficulty navigating so every journey is created as equal, yet different.
The personalisation journey is defined via splitting up target markets into specific personas. We begin this by basing this on the user’s IP address for location, visitor path journey and frequency of visits. This will allow us to analyse, learn and react accordingly. Personalised ‘welcome back’ messaging along with a personalised hierarchy of content based on their previous visit helps the overall user experience, guiding them towards interests, courses, amenities and places relevant to them.
Making it Easy
Utilise data as much as possible, for example identifying top course searches and local area based searches and making sure these are page prominent and easy to reach. Changing categories and menus to fit in with student behaviours rather than categorising by internal criteria which means nothing to customers is key to achieving maximised student user experience and conversion activity.
Go under the radar
Listening to historical and live data is imperative to ensuring a successful conversion cycle throughout a University website. The homepage will obviously be a very prominent page of the website but course pages, attractions and activities might have a broader impact in some cases. For example, if analytics lists the nearby coastline as being the most popular location based attraction to your University, use coastline images as backgrounds in key areas of the sites. This forms part of a personalised experience and yet contributes towards an ‘under the radar’ conversion technique.
Mine for behavioural nuggets
Personalised web analytics will reveal actionable insights into individual prospects, for example:
- Students’ personal preferences and current course/content interests
- Where students stand in the decision making, enrolment life cycle
- When they are most susceptible to being persuaded or converted
- When timely action must be taken to retain them
- Which courses & offers will be seen as most relevant and persuasive
These insights can be transformed into target marketing initiatives at every stage of the student visitor life cycle.
Perma Beta Testing
Consider the site as a moving target. Times, technologies, devices, browsers and ultimately people change. Continuing regular testing helps to cultivate the website organically through this process, always working alongside such changes.