by Bob Campagnuolo and Jonathan Steele, principals, GDA Integrated Services
If we change our perspective on student search (as described in Part I of this article) and re-focus instead on using search messaging to build visibility and awareness of colleges and universities (as described in Part II of this article), we can apply new metrics to measure the success of our efforts.
A well-designed microsite/landing page packs all the content in which prospective students are most interested in one place (successful outcomes, quality of academics/majors, financial aid and scholarship availability, internships, etc.) Of course, the microsite also includes multiple links to appropriate content on the institution’s main website.
A search-specific microsite not only allows the college to control the conversation with prospective students, but also – and most importantly – it provides the college with the ability to track and measure the students who actively interact with the content, whether or not they “respond” via a traditional response mechanism (such as completing a form).
Using a personal URL provided in search communications as an ID for each student, colleges can leverage web analytics to determine how much and how long each student interacts with the content. We no longer have to depend on the student to inform the college of his or her interest. Colleges can track which pages/topics they view and the length of time they spend on each page of the site.
This is a far more accurate measurement of a student’s level of interest in an institution than whether or not they complete a request-for-information form. By rating prospective students based on their levels of interaction, colleges have a new group of prospects to mine. They may in fact know more about these students than they do about the other students in their prospect pool.
Of course, the microsite is still designed to encourage students to complete or update an information form pre-populated with their personalized information. Students who interact with the content and complete the form are without doubt among the top tier of prospects.
Using our proprietary database and web analytics, GDAIS has been able to capture 4 times the volume of search students interacting with microsite content, when compared to the previous year’s search responders.
Email messages provide colleges with the ideal platform to communicate with prospective students. Given the low cost, they can send multiple emails to each student. Also, the student only has to click on the personal URL to access the microsite instead of entering the information manually in his/her browser, as is necessary with a paper search mailing.
While colleges can definitely identify more best-fit students using the strategies GDAIS has recommended in this article, many students will still continue to fly under the radar and avoid identifying themselves and joining the prospect pool.
However, there are still students on your search lists – who neither respond traditionally nor interact with your microsite – whose profiles closely resemble students who have previously enrolled in the past. These students who predict at a high rate of interest should be added to your inquiry pool and treated like any other likely prospects, or you can create a custom communications flow to encourage these students to interact with the college.
Most GDAIS clients who have used our predictive model have enrolled just as many first source Predictor students, if not more, than first source search students.
GDA Integrated Services would be happy to explain more about our approach to search and to help you develop the components of a successful Student Search campaign.
For more information or to see how we may assist in your Search planning, contact: