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How UW-Tacoma Converts First-Gen Prospects with Personalized Website Content

How UW-Tacoma Converts First-Gen Prospects with Personalized Website Content
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“We’re almost at 60% first-generation college students.” Explains Navia Winderling, Assistant Director* of Admissions at UW-Tacoma. “Students going through the admissions process by themselves for the first time can find it daunting and overwhelming. There’s just so much information. But now Halda pops up and they can get a program plan or find out immediately if they’re eligible for a scholarship.”

This empathetic approach greets students with the information they need to feel good about moving forward at that specific moment. 

“We always try to work with students from the standpoint of a warm handoff. We’re almost like big brothers and sisters to our students, because so many of them are new to this process. Halda gets them the information to start that process. It’s the first step to saying ‘Let’s create a program plan for you. Let’s find out what you need, what you want to know, and what’s most important to you.’”

UW-Tacoma's Website Lead Gen with Halda


She identifies where her students need support, and finds ways to provide it–ideally at scale. 

“The website is great, but a lot of people don’t want to scroll the website to search for information. People see Halda’s Program Plan DLP and say ‘Holy cow, I can just get the information I need right now’–that’s a big deal.” 

This, according to Winderling, has improved the way students make that initial connection with UW-Tacoma. “Students respond immediately to the idea that this interaction is gonna help them.”

In her eyes, Halda does a lot to humanize UW-Tacoma for students who might be intimidated by their process and powerful brand. “We’re part of a tri-campus system, and our oldest institution is the University of Washington in Seattle–which is incredibly competitive. People see that purple W and say ‘I can’t do this’.”

“You get a UW degree and the same academics, but the experience at Tacoma is so different,” Winderling elaborates. “So it’s nice to have a Halda DLP that meets prospects where they are and says ‘Hey, connect with someone right now’. Then I can look at people who have interacted with Halda and start to build that connection.”

An empathetic approach with enrollment results

“Everything we do revolves around getting qualified leads,” Winderling explains. That’s one of the advantages of tailoring each interaction to the specific visitor.

When Winderling personalizes the experience, students tend to respond. They share who they are to get in-the-moment value in their school search. “I just ran a query on the back end, and found that of our 5,513 total one-time inquiries, 4,368 of them are first-source leads from Halda. That’s 79%!” Winderling says enthusiastically.

"We used to spend a lot of money on name-buys, and we weren't getting qualified leads with that money. Now we're spending a comparable amount on Halda and getting tangible information." -Navia Winderling

That was in July of 2023, right before final Fall enrollment numbers rolled in. Since working with Halda, those personalized interactions have led to 1,067 admitted students for UW-Tacoma over the past year, with conversion rates for many interactions at well over 5%.

She attributes much of this lead capture effectiveness to Halda’s quick and helpful interactions with website visitors.

“We used to spend a lot of money on name-buys, and we weren’t getting qualified leads with that money. Now we’re spending a comparable amount on Halda and getting tangible information that helps us identify exactly what students need.” explains Winderling.

Fortunately, personalization doesn’t end at effective lead capture.

Turning initial connections into down-funnel interactions

This human, personalized touch sets the foundation for a meaningful long-term relationship with prospects.

 “Understanding what they’re interested in allows us to provide huge value to them.” elaborates Winderling. This value often takes the form of personalized follow-up that builds a relationship with each prospective student. 

Even students who don’t initially submit their information, however, are served a personalized Hub when they return to the site. This provides them with tailored information that picks up the conversation where they left off.

“We have the Hub on every page. I love it because it follows them, and they eventually complete it,” she explains. “I think the Hub works so well because we address specific subjects like scholarship eligibility. They have money questions and they want answers, so that’s one of our best performing DLPs.

These types of interactions enable UW Tacoma to set the tone of communication that’s authentic and relatable. “Our students are comfortable interacting with us when they’re looking for a way to connect.” This sets the stage for a comfortable relationship moving forward.

Connecting Departments on Campus

These positive student-centric results were a predictable product of working with Halda, but Winderling has been pleasantly surprised by what Halda has done for her campus culture and cooperation.

“Halda has changed everything about how we talk to our partners on campus and share information with our academic programs.” Winderling explains. Before Halda, it was hard to get everyone on the same page when it came to student outreach.

“Our campus isn’t on a central CRM–and that’s tough. We have all these shadow systems across campus where information lives, but we in Admissions don’t have access to it.” Halda provided a way to get in touch with those students.

“Putting a Halda DLP on individual program pages that caters specifically to those students has allowed us to provide information about those programs while gaining information about those students. Then we put them in our communication flows.”

Of course, being a good neighbor depends on transparency and sharing.

“We give our programs specific information about the students who are interacting. I’ve also built  dashboards for those programs so they can see exactly how things are progressing.” This allows them to build a strategy for student outreach based on trust and cooperation. 

“It’s huge. Now we, as a campus, are operating as a team. The programs know who’s getting our first-touch emails and other parts of our communication. 

Ultimately, Halda has transformed how UW-Tacoma builds relationships with potential students and within its own on-campus community. “It’s really built a new level of trust with our campus partners that we’re really excited about.”

This unanticipated camaraderie is a natural extension of prioritizing specific individuals’ needs–whether that’s the needs of the student or the faculty. Navia Winderling has a natural feel and appreciation for meeting people where they are. Halda gives her the power to extend that personalization to as many people as possible with scalable personalization. But without her talent, zeal, and innovation, that personalization can only go so far.

*Navia Winderling has since moved on from UW-Tacoma, but Halda still works closely with the university in a similar fashion.

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