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How Molloy University Converts Transfer Students with Targeted Personalization

How Molloy University Converts Transfer Students with Targeted Personalization
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Stephen Ostendorff, Dean of Admissions at Molloy University, wanted interactions with future students to start from a place of empathy.

“I want students to see that we understand–when it comes to finances, jobs, time, flexibility–that we know their lives are complex. I want them to know we can answer those questions for them and be up-front about it.”

Halda’s personalization tools, he found, were the best option for answering those questions as soon as students land on a webpage.

“Halda is a great tool–the proof is in the numbers. I’ve worked with Lance and Dallin (Halda CoFounders) quite a bit through the NAGAP and NYGAP world. I knew it existed and I wanted to do it.”

Ostendorff quickly identified personalization tools as a way to circumvent the distractions that can disrupt a prospective student’s  experience on a higher education website.

“A lot of companies design a website around the user, but higher ed is a bit different.” Ostendorff explains. “There are a lot of users to cover. You’ve got alumni, donors, faculty, administration, and then you’ve got the students. So they design a webpage that’s almost organizational structure instead of student-, or customer-structured.”

He knew that website design would struggle to clearly communicate empathy for his future students.

“We didn’t want students to have to go through hierarchical levels of information. Halda allows me to work around the competing priorities of the website to feed students information that’s critical to them in a way that they’re used to seeing every day.”

Getting fast results with a personalized student journey

“We launched our first Halda interaction on July 1st just on our transfer page. At one point we were looking at a 7%-8% conversion rate; and from July 1st until Labor Day when our semester starts, 14 of our enrolled students filled out that form–all transfers. Right now, that represents hundreds of thousands of dollars in tuition revenue just in the 1st year, a significant return on investment…And Halda has already helped enroll 8 students for 2024.”

These interactions have empowered Ostendorff to make a huge impact on a target student population that’s often difficult to reach. “We have seen our number of transfer students steadily decline over the past few years. This last semester we increased by over 60 students, and 14 of those converted because of an interaction with Halda.”

Now, he’s looking to expand that personalization to connect with other potential students.

“Giving students what they’re looking for early is crucial, which is why I like it as an option for veterans, too. At Molloy, if you’re a full yellow ribbon, your tuition is fully covered, but veterans don’t see that until they’ve already applied and sent in all this stuff. Halda can give them that information quickly, and eventually I want to do the same thing for graduate students.”

Making an immediate student connection

Molloy’s fast and dramatic enrollment results with Halda are a refreshing validation of the effort it took to get the personalization tools on the website.

“We started having conversations in July of ‘22 and launched in July of ‘23” Ostendorff explains. The lag in implementation stemmed from what he describes as “A historical, and sometimes irrational dislike of pop-ups in relation to user experience (UX)”

Halda’s tools appear as a website overlay that gives students the opportunity to interact with specific information. Communicating that value took time, according to Ostendorff.

“The original way people looked at pop-ups was as a value-add for the company, not for the customer. But now, these interactions are a value-add for the customer.” Ostendorff continues, “We’re giving them something in return for their time. We’re telling them their scholarship opportunities in exchange for their information. This is how students are used to interacting every day on platforms like Instagram.”

Through targeting, he can also make sure that students get the kind of interactions they’re looking for. “Transfer students are only going to see a notification if they’re on the transfer page. And they can click out of it whenever they want. Then if they want to re-engage there’s the Halda Hub waiting for them at the bottom of the page with a bunch of content options.

Data and support build a better student experience

An unexpected, but no less appreciated, aspect of his relationship with Halda has been the data provided in the app.

“What Halda has allowed me to do–and I'm just going to continue gushing over it–is get that information I don’t have access to.” Ostendorff continues, “I now know that our transfer page has been visited 6,000 times in two-and-a-half months. I had no idea.”

Then he gets to see exactly how that traffic is interacting with the page. 

“I’ve got a 5.5% conversion rate on that traffic, and I know they’re going back to that page because I can see them returning to submit their information on the Hub. People are finding what they want and are giving us their information.”

And when he has some new ideas on how to create those experiences, he knows he has partner support to make those happen.

“In a world of growing and merging higher education marketing companies–these really large organizations that charge for every service–we’ve lost the personal touch. That’s not who Halda is.” 

“If I have an idea, I know that my Halda rep, is gonna help me get it to market.” He describes a relationship that he can count on to get things done. “Halda helps us put all the pieces together, from generating the content to putting all the pieces together within the form. You don’t get that service at a lot of places anymore.” Ostendorff continues.

According to Ostendorff, this is a massive advantage for enrollment teams that feel like they’re in a constant shake-up. 

“Teams like ours are in a constant state of turnover, so this is humongous for us. The relationship is personal, it’s face-to-face, there’s no nickel and diming. It’s fantastic.”

This helps him create an empathetic experience that respects each student’s time.

“Ultimately, I think it’s about providing students with the information they’re looking for at their moment in the search. I don’t want to find out about the scholarships they’re eligible for after they’ve already paid a $45 application fee and submitted transcripts. They’d like to know earlier if this is worth their time. And what we’re doing is giving them the information to decide whether this is worth their time earlier in the process, which is driving up applications and enrollment.”

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