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Personalization That Converts, Is SEO Dead for Higher Ed?, and the Transfer Student Journey Continued

Personalization That Converts, Is SEO Dead for Higher Ed?, and the Transfer Student Journey Continued
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Welcome to Halda Insights, our newsletter full of in-house research, marketing & admissions strategies, and AI nuggets. As always, our own research is in bold. Enjoy!

Issue Preview:

-Webinar to launch our complete Undergrad Engagement Report

-The power of calling students by name

-Know your prospects, convert your prospects

-Keep the transfer pipeline flowing

-SEO changes incoming...what does it mean for higher ed?

Undergraduate Data Webinar (Hosted with RNL)

Welcome to the Data Discussion! We invite you to join us for a webinar next Tuesday, May 28th at 2 EST, where we'll drop and discuss our complete report on undergrad engagement throughout the enrollment funnel.

We’ll be hosting alongside Ruffalo Noel Levitz, who helped us conduct the research and build the report, to provide a holistic picture of what your students are looking for as they move toward enrollment. Here’s a preview of what we’ll cover:

  • Student expectations when it comes to personalization
  • Shifting student priorities when pursuing an undergraduate degree
  • Favorite student communication channels
  • What’s holding today’s students back from going to college

We couldn’t be prouder to bring you insight that helps you do your job. We hope you’ll join us next Tuesday for the culmination of months of work!

The power of "Dear (First Name)"

83% of prospective undergraduate students think it’s important for schools to include their first names in communication.

In enrollment marketing circles, "Dear (First Name)" emails followed by generic content get plenty of eyerolls–especially when the people using them act like they count as sophisticated personalization.

Perhaps we shouldn’t be so flippant.

43% of prospective undergraduate students claim this small gesture is “very important” to their communication with admissions. For a few reasons, this makes sense. Small details reflect extra effort that students–especially those coming of age in this hyper-personalized world–appreciate. Also, interacting with institutes of higher education is intimidating. Even a simple gesture of recognition goes a long way to making the relationship feel more comfortable and informal.

The deeper signal from this survey response, however, is that students want to feel seen and known. From "First Name" emails to correctly-sized swag to tailored follow-up videos, don’t miss chances–especially scalable ones–to let your future students know that they are the stars of the higher ed show.

To convert prospects, you must show that you know them

84% of prospective undergraduate students think that when admissions teams make contact, it’s important that they appear to know them and their specific situation.

This addresses a deep level of personalization that’s tougher to pull off, but remarkably important when it comes to moving future students toward enrollment. Unfortunately, for admissions teams spread thin and worn out, working up a profile on every student before follow-up is a huge ask.

Still, it’s best to make sure those initial drip campaigns are as segmented as possible based on factors like funnel stage, top priorities and concerns, and program of interest (67% of undergrad prospects report that addressing their specific program of interest in communication is “very important”).

Find efficient ways to populate prospects’ interaction data and personal information within your CRM–Slate Ping does a solid job of this–and ensure you can efficiently bucket your prospects based on key details.

Also, make sure your RFI is optimized to collect the most relevant follow-up information (Halda helps with that). Otherwise you won’t build communication strategies that make your prospects feel you’ve invested your time and effort in them.

Building a healthy transfer pipeline

With FAFSA fallout and other factors affecting the predictability of enrollment classes, we’re finding that more and more schools are exploring a traditionally under-engaged student market: Transfer students.

Transfer students make up an increasingly large portion of enrollment classes across the country. Creating a tailored website experience that engages them directly consistently boosts transfer enrollment. Here are a few strategies we’ve learned in building this engagement:

  • Address concerns head-on: Transfer students have been around the block, so don’t beat around the bush. These are experienced buyers who want specific information. Try to make that information as available as possible.
  • Ask what they need: Transfers have often had a difficult and fascinating journey. Give them space to tell their story so you can address their needs.
  • A little support goes a long way: Transfers don’t often feel like prized recruits when it comes to higher ed enrollment, so giving them some support quickly helps solidify a personal connection.

And if you want to go deeper into the transfer journey, check out our blog on optimizing the transfer experience.

Talk transfers with us: HERE

Is SEO dead for Higher Ed?

With the arrival of Google’s AI-summarized responses, there’s a lot of hand wringing over what this means for the state of SEO. Fortunately for higher ed, SEO strategies still seem to have strong efficacy when it comes to reaching your target audience.

First, the Google AI is only triggering when the AI is confident it can deliver a solid response. Many questions pertaining to higher ed bypass that AI trigger, and the SERPs look just about the same as always. If and when the AI-response does appear, it’s likely drawing from the school's website and linking back to the specific page.

Considering how convoluted the higher ed website experience can be, this kind of efficient information delivery could even drive more traffic to the right pages. The fact is, long-term, we don’t know what these AI-driven SERPs will mean for student recruitment, but we think that higher ed is positioned much better than most industries.

By the way, even as we release our Undergrad Report, the Graduate Engagement Report is still as relevant as ever. Download it here, and get a sense of the full student journey.

Thanks for checking in with Halda Insights! We hope you'll stay tuned for more data and AI nuggets!

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