Personalize to Increase Enrollment

Christina Diecidue

Marketing Project Coordinator

Nurture Students in a Personal Way

It’s exciting when prospective students and their parents visit your website and fill out a form to receive more information. Now is your time to shine!

But, not all prospective students are the same. If you send them all the same message, only a handful of prospects will relate to it. Before students and their parents invest tens of thousands of dollars into a particular college or university, they expect the institution to understand their basic needs.

According to HubSpot, clickthrough rates (CTRs) are higher when a first name is included in the subject line of an email. This demonstrates that personalization is beneficial when trying to reach your audience, which in this case, includes parents, school counselors, graduating students, alumni and prospective students. In order to send personalized messages to your audience, you must segment your email list.

The purpose of segmentation is to deliver personalized content that fits your user’s needs. Like any business, your higher ed institution has a wide variety of prospects who are all very different and want unique things from your school. Blanketing all of your prospects with the same message comes off as being lazy and is often ineffective.

Let’s dive into a few of the ways that you can personalize your content to increase enrollment.

Know Who You’re Talking To

When getting your feet wet with segmentation, the first step is to know who you're talking to. If you want to reach students interested in psychology, sending them an email about your engineering program isn’t going to build trust.

Thanks to segmentation, you can track online behavior and design sign-up forms that ask for the most important information. An easy way to start this process is by requesting a name and email. Also include a drop-down menu that lists parent, student or guidance counselor. This gets you enough information to start sending emails.

As you gather more information from your prospects, segment them and distinguish their characteristics. Use these lists to send out emails based on specific interests and the goals you want to reach (i.e., more diverse student population).

Use Progressive Profiling

It takes time to gather information from your prospects. They aren’t going to give you everything upfront, and that’s understandable. Luckily, you don’t have to collect all the details in the first form. By using progressive profiling, you can pre-fill an offer form with the lead’s data and then ask them to fill out one or two more fields in subsequent interactions.

The benefit to progressive profiling is that you may continue to collect vital information without asking for more work from your leads. By nudging them along at the right time and in the right place, you can increase conversions, save time, collect more valuable data and avoid repetition.

Update Your Database Regularly

There is another phase in this process that HubSpot refers to as the “awareness stage.” It’s probably the most challenging for segmentation, but that doesn’t mean you can’t segment prospects in this phase.

The awareness stage is the first stage in the buying cycle where the customer identifies the need for a product and your ability to fill it. But, the customer hasn’t identified themselves at this stage, which is why segmentation is challenging.

In your case, it’s the student or parent realizing that college is the next step after high school. But, you don’t know much about the prospect at this point, so you’ll have to move slow.

Start by targeting teens who are interested in science and post GIFs or memes on your social media channels. Use hashtags or links back to science-related content on your college’s blog or website. Collect the information you can, such as where the content was seen and which devices were used. This gets the leads into your database.

As you collect more information about your leads, you can update them in your database. Some will continue to move through the funnel - into the consideration and decision stages. This is where you’ll be able to segment leads into the proper groups and send them information that fits their needs.

Conclusion

Gathering the right data from your contacts is the first step in segmentation. But it’s not the entire picture. Once your leads are segmented into various groups, you need to send them the right content. Your content should speak to the different personas and offer the right information at the right time. This personalized content will move prospects closer toward filling out an application.

About the Author: Christina Diecidue

Christina Diecidue is the Marketing Project Coordinator at SEMGeeks.  She holds a B.S. in Business Administration, with concentrations in marketing, advertising, and web design from Rider University.  Known to be a meticulous worker, Christina values each client's individual goals and works to meet their digital strategy needs accordingly.  With valuable knowledge in higher education, alumni engagement, and leadership, she provides an array of skills to the SEMGeeks team.  In her free time, Christina can be found binge watching repeats of Friends and spending time with her family.

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