Digital Personalization: What It Means for Higher Ed

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Usability, Web Design

Digital Personalization: What It Means for Higher Ed

Your school has been on lock down for months, but even before the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of prospective college students was already in decline. So what’s a marketer to do when enrollment is in jeopardy?

If the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s how valuable your institution’s website is to staying connected with your various audiences. When students, faculty, donors, alumni, and parents needed information and encouragement, they turned to your school’s website for answers and even reassurance.

That’s why it’s so important for your website to be up to date, relatable, and full of helpful information. One way to do this is with digital personalization.

Digital personalization complements the material aspects of a personalized student journey by being immediate, intuitive, and highly customized, with dynamic content that changes based on a prospective student’s prior data input.

In this post, you’ll learn the answers to these questions:

  • What is personalization?
  • What is digital personalization?
  • What do students want?
  • Where do I start with creating and implementing a digital personalization project for our school’s website?

There’s no better time to think of implementing a well-planned, well-executed digital personalization project. Doing so provides a strong foundation for building a successful marketing campaign for your school, one that attracts and engages prospective students—and ultimately boosts enrollment.

Download Personalizing Your School’s Digital Presence How a CMS Makes It Easy today!

 

What is personalization?

Personalization is one of the most interesting trends to elevate the student experience since the creation of school websites. Comprehensive personalization of your college or university website considers the individual student at every step of the recruitment, admissions, enrollment, and on-campus process—and it’s a project that extends well beyond the scope of your website. For example, it includes signage at parking spaces; personalized, scripted messaging from campus recruiters to prospective students when they visit campus; follow-up letters from departments to students who express interest in a certain program; and even phone calls from alumni who majored in a student’s area of interest.

A comprehensive personalization project will overhaul every step of the student engagement journey to ensure that students are addressed individually with personalized attention and messaging designed specifically for them.

Implementing Digital Personalization: Schools That Do It Right | University of North Dakota

OU Campus user University of North Dakota’s website allows students to self-select an area of study that leads them to learn more detailed information about specific degrees.
OU Campus user University of North Dakota’s website allows students to self-select an area of study that leads them to learn more detailed information about specific degrees.Image courtesy of University of North Dakota


What is digital personalization for higher ed?

Online, digital personalization complements the campus-wide efforts of comprehensive personalization with digital messaging such as website home pages and texts personalized with the prospective student’s name and content tailored specifically to that individual student’s interests. Digital personalization uses data to inform the targeted choices it makes to identify and then personalize messaging to individual students. Comprehensive digital personalization goes as far as collecting data from student geolocations, public IP addresses, and customized searches to create this type of targeted messaging.

What are students looking for when it comes to personalization?

Students, no matter what age or how much experience, appreciate when they feel supported and encouraged in their academic journey. They want answers to the most pressing questions—and they want them fast. In fact, students in the 2019 E-Expectations® Trend Report indicated that while they liked seeing their name and interest reflected in brochures and emails, they appreciated websites that provided more information about their career and major such as academic programs, classes, and future jobs and salaries.

The 2019 E-Expectations Trend Report found that while students like to see their name on printed materials, they’re more concerned that a college website has the information they want and need about academic programs.
The 2019 E-Expectations Trend Report found that while students like to see their name on printed materials, they’re more concerned that a college website has the information they want and need about academic programs.

 

For example, in the case of digital personalization, a first-generation student appreciates that your website recognizes their unique demographic by providing a link that guides them to resources that aid them in the admissions and enrollment process. They like being directed toward program pages with information on scholarships and special programs.

Think of how your school can provide digital engagement for students at each stage in the student enrollment cycle. This allows students to have control of the information they want, when they want to access it. This is especially important given the challenges posed by the pandemic.

Furthermore, while digital personalization can deliver intuitive content based on a student’s prior searches, only the way you word your content and ensure its accuracy can make students feel noticed and their needs acknowledged.

Use a lifecycle management solution that plays nice.

A digital personalization project is much easier to manage when using a student lifecycle management solution such a Destiny One® Workforce and Community Solution (WCS). Destiny One WCS is pre-configured with best practices and selected, pre-loaded data to deliver a superior customer experience and operational efficiency.

 

So where do I start with creating and implementing a digital personalization project for our school’s website?

So how can you provide a personalized feel to your school’s digital presence that satisfies a prospective student’s need for necessary content, but also maintains privacy and keeps costs down?

We recommend using personas to craft content and pathways for specific audiences. They provide a level of personalization that is comfortable and helpful, without the headache and costs of undertaking a full-scale website personalization project.

You’ll get a comprehensive overview of digital personalization and what it can do for your college or university when you download our white paper Personalizing Your School’s Digital Presence: How a CMS Makes It Easy.

Conclusion

In the end, the type of personalization you choose depends on the financial, staff, and time resources you have on hand. While there are many steps to digital personalization, keep the goal of your project front and center: the student, faculty, and staff that you serve. The last thing you want to do is tie your team up with a time-intensive, complicated project when your audience could be better served in other ways.

Ready to learn exactly how to use personalization to your school’s benefit? Download our white paper Personalizing Your School’s Digital Presence: How a CMS Makes It Easy.

Download white paper

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