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Your Dam Website: 5 Reasons Grad Students Aren't Converting on Your Site


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A website is an institution’s greatest marketing asset. Yet most colleges and universities admittedly have websites that lack in areas essential to converting graduate student prospects at various stages in the funnel. From a lack of visibility in organic searches to content and layouts that hinder user experience, some websites can be more of a barrier than an asset for information and conversion. In this webinar, we’ll identify five potential issues causing your site to function more as a dam than a resource and review solutions to help you transform it into a free flow of accessible information optimized for conversions.

Presenter: Mark Cunningham

Published in: Social Media
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Your Dam Website: 5 Reasons Grad Students Aren't Converting on Your Site

  1. 1. #CarnegieConf#CarnegieConf Mark Cunningham EVP, Business Development Your Dam Website: 5 Reasons Grad Students Aren’t Converting on Your Site @cunningham527 @CarnegieDartlet @TXGAP #nagaplearns #txgap2018
  2. 2. #CarnegieConf So much time, money, and effort spent just getting them to your website
  3. 3. #CarnegieConf
  4. 4. #CarnegieConf 98% Leave a website without completing a conversion 80% Abandon a conversion without completion 49% Typically visit a site 2-4 times before converting
  5. 5. #CarnegieConf 100%of the students that apply to your school have visited your website
  6. 6. #CarnegieConf Is Your Website A Barrier?
  7. 7. #CarnegieConf • Can they find your website? • Can they find what they’re looking for on your site? • Does your content answer their questions? • Is it easy to request more information? • Is it easy to apply? • Is it easy to deposit and enroll?
  8. 8. #CarnegieConf • Find the information they are looking for. • Fill out a request for information form. • Sign up for an open house. • Apply to our school. • Enroll for classes.
  9. 9. #CarnegieConf 1. SEO 2. User Experience 3. Forms 4. Personalization 5. Not Ready
  10. 10. #CarnegieConf 1. SEO
  11. 11. #CarnegieConf GMB lets you control a prime piece of real estate in the search engine for branded searches—be sure to maximize on that! Google My Business—Great for Branding!
  12. 12. #CarnegieConf In just two months… • 73 users that interacted with La Verne’s properties filled out an RFI! • 13 users that interacted with La Verne’s properties submitted an application! Google My Business
  13. 13. #CarnegieConf You may have many for different locations, schools, or even departments. Claim All of Your GMB Properties
  14. 14. #CarnegieConf • 2,000% increase in interactions in just 5 days! • 8,361 users interacted with the property from a non-branded search After Claiming and Optimizing Marquette’s Graduate School Property…
  15. 15. #CarnegieConf This is a post Google Posts are great for advertising upcoming events or application deadlines at no cost! Google Posts
  16. 16. #CarnegieConf SEO and User Experience Go Hand-in-Hand Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
  17. 17. #CarnegieConf Making users want to click on your result when you do show up. Providing useful information that matches what users are looking for. Having a good user experience to navigate, learn more, and request information. SEO is Also About...
  18. 18. #CarnegieConf 2. User Experience
  19. 19. #CarnegieConf awareness consideration RFI application consideration deposit enroll Is it Easy for Prospects to Move Through the Funnel on Your Website?
  20. 20. #CarnegieConf 123 Highly engaged users viewed 123 pages on average before applying Tracked activity on the MBA pages of a university’s site over 3 months: 11.4 Applicants visited the site an average of 11.4 times before applying (with the help of a ‘application fee waiver’ personalized interaction)
  21. 21. #CarnegieConf
  22. 22. #CarnegieConf In a recent study from the Nielsen Norman Group on university websites, 48% of users didn’t realize the university offered the program they were looking for even when it did.
  23. 23. #CarnegieConf Don’t make users navigate through school or college pages to find their major. They likely don’t know what school or college their major falls under! Where’s the program I want?
  24. 24. #CarnegieConf
  25. 25. #CarnegieConf Do Internal Links and Side Menu Bars Point in the Right Direction?
  26. 26. #CarnegieConf It doesn’t say this program is offered online or on nights or weekends, so I guess I’ll check out other schools… Is All Pertinent Information Communicated on Your Website?
  27. 27. #CarnegieConf
  28. 28. #CarnegieConf The top content prospective students look for on a college website…
  29. 29. #CarnegieConf • Do you offer the program I’m looking for? • How long does it take to complete? • What are the career outcomes? • Are there online, weekend, or night classes? • Is the program accredited? Academics
  30. 30. #CarnegieConf • What is the cost of tuition? • Are there scholarships available? • How do I apply for financial aid? Costs
  31. 31. #CarnegieConf • How can I visit campus? • How can I request more info? • Can I talk to someone at the school? • How do I apply? • What documents do I need to apply? Enrollment
  32. 32. #CarnegieConf • What resources are nearby? • Are there satellite campuses? • How do I get to campus? • Is there public transit to get around? Location
  33. 33. #CarnegieConf • Are you communicating all that you can? • Are you answering current and prospective student questions? • Are you looking in your Google Analytics and Search Console accounts to see your current users’ behaviors? Do a Content Audit
  34. 34. #CarnegieConf • What are the required courses for the Biology program? • Are assistantships available for the master’s in English program? • What jobs can I get with a Chemistry degree? • Can I complete the MBA degree online? Perform keyword research and look in your Google Analytics and Google Search Console to understand what prospective students are looking for.
  35. 35. #CarnegieConf Prospective students are searching for: “Masters in Green Energy” But your program name is: “Masters in Renewable Engineering.” • Your program doesn’t show up with a search for “Green Energy,” • They assume you don’t offer the program they’re looking for • Bye-bye, they move on to looking at other schools! Consider this scenario:
  36. 36. #CarnegieConf “Masters in Green Energy” 10–100 monthly searches “Masters in Renewable Engineering” < 10 monthly searches
  37. 37. #CarnegieConf 3. Forms
  38. 38. #CarnegieConf
  39. 39. #CarnegieConf OR
  40. 40. #CarnegieConf Are Your Mobile Forms Responsive?
  41. 41. #CarnegieConf Mobile searches now surpass desktop.
  42. 42. #CarnegieConf
  43. 43. #CarnegieConf Test your site at:
  44. 44. #CarnegieConf Clear call to action, above the fold on desktop and mobile Limit required form fields to 5 or fewer Clear program highlights and differentiators Landing Page Best Practices
  45. 45. #CarnegieConf
  46. 46. #CarnegieConf 4. Personalization
  47. 47. #CarnegieConf 90%of visitors who access a website are not identified
  48. 48. #CarnegieConf Generic homepage Homepage customized to a user that has visited the MBA page 5+ times
  49. 49. #CarnegieConf Personalized Content for Users That Are Highly Engaged with the MFT Pages
  50. 50. #CarnegieConf Over 1/3 of users that clicked on event based “Custom Interactions” had never been to the organic events page. 37%
  51. 51. #CarnegieConf Custom Form Specifically for MBA
  52. 52. #CarnegieConf Custom Messaging for Highly Engaged Users That Haven’t Visited Campus Yet
  53. 53. #CarnegieConf 5. They’re Not Ready Yet
  54. 54. #CarnegieConf Retargeting
  55. 55. #CarnegieConf Bucket and Segment Your Website Traffic • General admission pages • Specific program pages • Open house event registration • Student search landing pages • Apply page • Financial aid page • Accepted students
  56. 56. #CarnegieConf Pro Tip Have different Retargeting ads based on pages visited to be relevant and drive conversion.
  57. 57. #CarnegieConf 1. SEO 2. User Experience 3. Forms 4. Personalization 5. Not Ready
  58. 58. #CarnegieConf will you be sharing the slides?
  59. 59. FACEBOOK AUDIENCE OPTIONS • Behavioral • Retargeting • Look-Alike • Engagement • List TARGET AUDIENCE • Undergraduate • Parents • Graduate • Transfer • Continuing Education GOOD FOR • Branding & Awareness • Inquiries • Event Registration • Applications ADVERTISING OPTIONS Engagement Audiences Extend your reach with campaigns that automatically engage new leads or those who have previously interacted with your content using Facebook’s engagement audiences. Generate Leads Lead generation ads provide an optimized, pre-populated inquiry or registration form, making lead generation seamless across devices. Canvas Ads Bring your content to life with an in-feed, full-screen mobile experience. Combine videos, photos, carousels, and engaging content to capture the complete attention of your audience. INSTAGRAM AUDIENCE OPTIONS • Behavioral • Retargeting • Look-Alike • Engagement • List TARGET AUDIENCE • Undergraduate • Graduate • Transfer GOOD FOR • Branding & Awareness • Inquiries ADVERTISING OPTIONS Audience Development Instagram uses the same powerful targeting options as Facebook, ensuring you’re reaching your precise target audience. Instagram Stories Ads Complement your in-feed ads and bring your school’s brand to life with Instagram Stories. Placements Native placements on Instagram are naturally a part of a user’s in-app experience. LINKEDIN AUDIENCE OPTIONS • Behavioral • Retargeting • List TARGET AUDIENCE • Graduate • Professional/Executive GOOD FOR • Branding & Awareness • Content Promotion • Inquiries • Event Registration ADVERTISING OPTIONS InMail Develop highly targeted audiences and deliver personalized content through LinkedIn’s messenger. With strict delivery caps, your message is delivered directly in an uncluttered, professional context. Drive Leads Lead generation ads provide an optimized, pre-populated inquiry or registration form, making lead generation seamless on mobile. Text Ads Enhance your Sponsored Content and InMail efforts. Drive new customers to your website or landing page with these Pay-Per- Click ads. Social Media Networks TM
  60. 60. TWITTER AUDIENCE OPTIONS • Behavioral • Retargeting • Followers/Look-Alike • List TARGET AUDIENCE • Undergraduate • Graduate • Transfer • Continuing Education GOOD FOR • Branding & Awareness • Content Promotion • Event Registration ADVERTISING OPTIONS Keyword Targeting Deliver timely messages to users based on what they’re talking about at that very moment. Tailored Audiences Create highly relevant Retargeting campaigns by uploading your list of emails or targeting your current website visitors. SNAPCHAT AUDIENCE OPTIONS • Behavioral • Look-Alike • Engagement • List TARGET AUDIENCE • Undergraduate • Transfer GOOD FOR • Branding & Awareness • Inquiries ADVERTISING OPTIONS Predefined Audiences Choose from over 300 pre-set audiences, which are based on what Snapchatters care about, what they buy, what they watch, and where they go. Placements Ad placements on Snapchat are naturally a part of a user’s in-app experience. Social Media Networks TM 978-692-5092 Carnegie Dartlet 2 LAN Drive, Suite 100 Westford, MA 01886
  61. 61. PANDORA AUDIENCE OPTIONS • Behavioral • List TARGET AUDIENCE • Undergraduate • Graduate • Transfer • Parents GOOD FOR Branding & Awareness ADVERTISING OPTIONS Visual Support to Audio Ads Audio ads are accompanied by a Display unit. The Display ad only shows when a user is taking action, ensuring the highest level of engagement. Tailored Audiences Choose from 1,300+ audience segments, including expanded demographics such as life stage and household income. No Audio File? That’s Okay! You can provide a previously recorded audio file to Pandora, or you can write a script and they’ll record the audio free of charge. SPOTIFY AUDIENCE OPTIONS • Behavioral • Retargeting • List TARGET AUDIENCE • Undergraduate • Graduate • Transfer • Parents GOOD FOR Branding & Awareness ADVERTISING OPTIONS No Audio File? That’s Okay! Like Pandora, Spotify will provide an audio file free of charge if you don’t have one readily available. Target With Confidence Every action on Spotify is associated with a logged-in user, allowing advertisers to know exactly who is listening across mobile, table, desktop, and connected devices. HULU AUDIENCE OPTIONS • Behavioral TARGET AUDIENCE • Undergraduate • Graduate • Transfer • Parents GOOD FOR Branding & Awareness ADVERTISING OPTIONS 100% Ad Completion Since ads on Hulu aren’t skippable, you’re only charged for 100% ad completion. Clutter-Free Ad Environment There is lower ad inventory available on Hulu, as the platform limits how many ads are shown to their viewers. This helps increase the ad recall and engagement. Easily Target Parents Hulu allows you to target parents by identifying user accounts that have streamed kid-friendly content and targets these viewers while they’re watching non-kid content. Streaming Media TM 978-692-5092 Carnegie Dartlet 2 LAN Drive, Suite 100 Westford, MA 01886
  62. 62. TM Landing Page Best Practices What is a Landing Page? Technically, a landing page is any webpage that someone can “land” on. But for marketing and advertising purposes, a “campaign landing page” refers to a specific standalone page with a single laser-focused objective, such as generating leads with a short form. These landing pages should only receive traffic from specific campaigns and should be designed with conversion optimization in mind. 1. Match Page Headlines and Ad Copy The landing page headline and advertisement wording should complement each other and be consistent. Strong consistency increases conversion rates and can reduce CPCs (Cost Per Click) by increasing ad quality scores and relevancy. 2. Write Clear and Concise Headlines As one of the first things a visitor will read, the landing page headlines should not confuse or bore but compel a visitor to take a closer look. Addressing a specific point that is related to the content of the website will catch a reader’s attention more than having a vague and uninteresting headline. 3. Include a Form If lead generation is the goal of a campaign, the landing page should include a prominently placed embedded form that is user friendly on all devices. Only capture the minimum amount of information needed to contact a lead. First name, last name, and email address are the suggested fields. Studies have shown conversion rates can be up to 40% lower when a fourth field is included. Avoid form fields like birth date and graduation year. 4. Keep It Above the Fold The space a visitor sees without having to scroll is where the most important parts of the webpage should be. Place the call-to-action button above the fold and in a location where the viewer’s eye will scan. Never have the button or form in a place where it has to be searched for. 5. Make Buttons and CTAs Stand Out Identify the keywords people interested in your institution might be searching for and use words such as “learn more,” “apply now,” or “visit today.” A conversion button should stand out and be placed right below a call-to-action, or have the call-to-action as the button. Nonetheless, the button should be big, bright, and above the fold. 6. Think Mobile First More and more users are relying on their mobile devices versus traditional computers, so it’s more important than ever to think mobile first. This means ensuring your webpage is responsive and mobile friendly, your content is clear and concise, and your forms are as short as possible. 7. Taking Advantage of Trust Indicators For an effective way of building trust, incorporate testimonials, reviews, press mentions, guarantee seals, and third-party trust and security certification (Better Business Bureau, VeriSign, etc.). 8. Use Media That Relates to Copy Implementing motivational speeches and campus images into a home page can have a positive impact on viewers, as well as give prospects an extra push to look further. Including a relevant video has shown to increase conversion rates by up to 80%! 9. Go Easy on the Links Links connecting the user to a bunch of other sites or pages will distract them and have a negative impact on conversions. Lots of links may make sense on a regular home page, but on a landing page, simplicity is key. We recommend including just a link to your privacy policy. 10. Always Be Testing Optimize a landing page for conversions over time. Run A/B tests and change copy, images, and calls-to-action to see what resonates most with users. In addition to A/B testing—where a baseline control sample is compared to a variety of single-variable test samples in order to improve response rates—testing two completely different site designs against each other will also be beneficial in the long run. 1 2 3 4 5 8 Technical Specifications 1. Save images optimized for web. Use compression tools to keep file size down and page speed up. 2. Avoid bloated code. Fewer lines of code for faster load times help significantly when the user is on mobile.