It’s impossible to overstate the importance of personalization in your recruitment efforts. In fact, any strategy about how to increase student enrollment has to include at least some consideration of how you can make the experience more personally relevant for your students.
That’s backed by an increasing amount of research. In a Concept3D study surveying 500 high school seniors and 500 current first-year students, we found that:
- More than two-thirds of both audience segments prefer receiving personalized messages from their educational institutions of choice.
- 72% of high school students and 73% of first-year college students expect educational content customized to their unique needs and preferences.
- 86% of high school students and 87% of first-year college students noted the importance of a personalized admitted student weekend in helping their decision and readiness to enroll.
- 92% of high school students and 94% of first-year college students felt personalized services during their first few weeks helped or would help them transition into college more smoothly.
Statistics like these underscore the importance of personalization strategies for more enrollment at every institution. Fortunately, the question of how to increase student enrollment through personalization can be answered with a few specific tactics and strategies designed to maximize your impact on your future students.
1. Ask About Preferences Early in the Funnel
First, and perhaps most importantly, any effort spent on how to increase student enrollment—including personalization—has to begin early in the admissions funnel. In this case, that means finding out relevant information about your prospects as early as possible.
Chances are, most prospects enter your database with just basic information about their name, contact information, and desired entry term. You might also ask for a potential major, which already presents a personalization opportunity. But if you want to build personalization strategies for more enrollment, you must ask for more.
For example, you can use your RFI form to learn more about the types of information they’re most interested in receiving from you, from financial aid to student life and academics. You can ask not just about potential majors but also about interests outside the classroom. The more you learn about your prospective students early on, the more successfully you can use the strategies for how to increase student enrollment listed throughout this guide.
2. Create Personalized Drip Campaigns
Based on the information you’ve gathered early in the funnel, you can begin to build more dedicated drip email campaigns. Research shows that consumers across age groups become more likely to read emails targeted to their interests. You can now leverage this option as one of your core personalization strategies for more enrollment.
For example, consider the opportunity presented by someone who has let you know they want to receive more information about financial aid. You can now:
- Send them an initial email inviting them to check out your financial aid resources or schedule a consultation with a financial aid advisor.
- Time a follow-up message that outlines the scholarships you offer to make an education at your school more affordable.
- Send another follow-up that invites students to apply. Include a personalized call to action letting them know about the financial benefits of applying early.
- Send an email around the FAFSA deadline reminding them to complete the form for full aid consideration.
Students in this segment have already indicated their interest in all of these topics. Because of that, they’ll become more likely to open them and take action. You’ll also build goodwill from an audience now trusting you to have their best (and most relevant) interests in mind.
3. Build Personalized Web Content
Most guides on how to increase student enrollment increasingly focus on website personalization, and for good reason. Case studies consistently show just how big of an impact this tactic can make, from an increase in website engagement upward of 300% to dramatic increases in event attendance and applications.
You can personalize your web content in one of three ways:
- Connect your CMS directly with your CRM, offering custom content based on information you’ve gained in your inquiry forms.
- Offer personalized content based on browser information. For example, you can show different content to audiences whose browser shows they’re visiting your website from another state or country.
- Offer the opportunity for students to choose their website experience based on the type of student they are. For example, they may be able to select that they’re a prospective student to get customized navigation, landing pages, and home page visuals.
Learning how to increase student enrollment isn’t always easy. This step will take significant work. But it can also pay off immensely, with 74% of consumers now frustrated if websites they visit don’t offer any type of personalization.
4. Personalize Your Calls to Action
A variant of the above strategy, personalizing your calls to action means making adjustments based on the stage of the funnel your prospects are at. On its surface, it’s straightforward enough. Students who have never heard about your school might need a nudge toward requesting information or visiting campus. At the same time, admitted students will be more interested in knowing where to deposit.
But in reality, making these connections is not always simple. It requires both attention to detail and strong data connections between your CRM and digital content management systems. But when it’s done, it can become a powerful tool when looking for answers on how to increase student enrollment. According to HubSpot, personalized CTA buttons outperform their counterparts by 202%.
5. Integrate Mass Customization in Your Texting
Texting has become an increasingly core part of recruitment communications, in part because of how well prospective students tend to respond to it. But unfortunately, it’s also easy to misuse the platform as a way to simply push out mass announcements to a passive audience time and time again.
Instead, consider building personalization into your texting efforts. Potential opportunities include:
- Incorporating texts into your segmented drip campaigns, as mentioned above
- Including personalized tokens in your messaging, like the students’ first name or intended major
- Two-way texting capabilities that invite students to have individual conversations with a counselor
The last option tends to be most successful in how to increase student enrollment. But it’s also the most difficult to set up. It requires both the right pool to allow counselors to manage their texting communications in a single platform and the ability to still send mass texts without them seeming like they’re not individualized. Still, when set up correctly, it can become an immensely powerful personalization tool.
6. Consider Selective Chatbot Applications
Never underestimate the power of a chatbot. Numerous studies show that Gen Z loves this particular technology more than any other generation, with 20% fully preferring their digital experience with a brand to begin here.
Implemented the right way, a chatbot has immense potential. It can provide quick and relevant answers to common questions about anything from financial aid to future visit events. But it only works when these conditions are met:
- It’s used selectively.
- You only employ it where it makes sense.
- The transfer to a human responder like your admissions counselors is quick and seamless.
For example, consider the possibilities of a chatbot living not on a website but in your texting solution. Now, the above-mentioned responses from your prospects can go directly to the bot to manage the most common questions. Only those deserving further attention move on to a counselor for a more considered response.
7. Personalize Your Interactive Maps
Tools like your interactive campus maps are opportunities to build personalization strategies for more enrollment. For example, you can build custom layers specifically for events like your open houses or move-in weekend that allow narrow audience segments to find exactly what they need when they need it.
But it also goes beyond those custom layers. Personalization in indoor mapping, for example, is just starting to enter the collective conscience of higher education recruiters and campus managers. Live data feeds, machine learning, and smart maps are only some of the technological possibilities to make your indoor maps as relevant as possible to every individual visitor looking to find their way around your spaces.
8. Build Comprehensive Personalized Experiences
Finally, it’s time to bring any question on how to increase student enrollment through personalization full circle. In an ideal scenario, the above strategies are not just isolated efforts. Instead, they combine to form larger, more comprehensive experiences that treat every student as an individual through all communications and promotional channels.
That may sound like a pipe dream. But it’s increasingly possible thanks to technology like My Campus Experience. As the ultimate digital welcome package, personalized virtual experiences on multiple channels drive more engagement, interest, and enrollment actions.
The resulting possibilities are nearly endless—and especially relevant for building event experiences. For example, you can build more personalized virtual connections to your prospective student events or orientation, treating each student as an individual to deliver an unforgettable campus and enrollment journey.
Of course, you still need a reliable technology partner to reach that point, which is where Concept3D comes in. In addition to experiences like My Campus Experience, we also offer interactive maps, virtual tours, and calendar features designed to build more relevant digital touchpoints with prospective students. Ready to learn more? Contact us today to start the conversation.