With all that goes into the enrollment lifecycle, websites are often overlooked areas that could be doing more work to bring you qualified prospective students. Usually, this is because university websites are just asked to do too much and the goal of attracting new students gets lost in the shuffle.
We discuss website best practices along with ten other areas that are essential to mastering enrollment in our free eBook Enrollment Marketing Management.
Now, let’s look at five ways to optimize your website and help you recruit more students.
Simple and Responsive Design
As much as 50 percent of your website traffic (or more) comes from mobile devices. That means most of your visitors are viewing your site on screens less than 6 inches. Your website should feature simple navigation with 5-8 menu items and a design that will automatically adjust to fit a mobile browser.
Be Clear About Costs
Many schools bury their cost calculators deep within their websites with the hope that students will fall in love with the school and money will become no object.
Simple cost calculators like this one at Williams College make it easy for students to determine if this college is a good financial fit right away. And because it’s located on Williams’ admissions pages–presumably some of the first pages a prospective student will encounter–students can easily find it.
Express your ‘ROE’
Students and parents want to be assured that the education they’re investing in will lead to great jobs after graduation. Colleges need to find ways to express the outcomes of their alumni to convey their value to students. Return on Education or “ROE” content can include alumni testimonials, stats about graduates, third-party research about salaries and outcomes for young alumni and more. It should be a part of your prospective-facing web pages, which include your homepage and admissions and financial aid pages.
Website visitor research indicates visitors abandon slow loading websites. Ensuring your images are optimized for the web and content loads quickly is absolutely critical to making a good first impression to prospective students. Test your site’s load speed with a free test at WebPageTest.org. The site provides free fine-grained detail for web developers, but as an admissions professional you get get a good idea if your site is loading quickly. Aim for a loading time of fewer than 7 seconds for any visual elements “above the fold” (that is, the part of the website immediately visible on the screen without scrolling). For more research about page loading times, check out this 2017 report (opens as PDF) by Google.
Use Landing Pages for Paid Search
College websites are asked to do a lot and to cater to the needs of many different audiences, including prospective students, current students, faculty, staff, and alumni. That’s more demands than a homepage can meet.
So It’s no wonder that many schools choose to send paid traffic to landing pages that are separate from their homepage. University homepages just have too many opportunities to get lost and the messaging on departmental and sub-pages can lack consistency and be challenging to use. Once your prospective students have made contact with an admissions counselor, then they can be guided to financial aid, admissions, and other relevant pages.
We’ve rounded up 11 essential best practices to help you convert more prospectives into enrollments. Don’t miss our free eBook Enrollment Marketing Management from Education Dynamics.