Lately, we have been getting a lot of enquiries from the Universities based out of North America regarding a gradual decline in the engagement numbers on their Degree Pages since the beginning of the year 2013. It is not only impacting the Lead Generation numbers on their website but, it has also raised the CPA across different marketing channels. To tackle this problem, almost 65-70% of these Universities had invested heavily in the Site Redesign in the last 18 months, and had gone for a major overhaul of their Site Information Architecture and designed the new layouts for their Degree Home Pages, Individual Degree Pages, Lead Generation Forms and even designed the intuitive and engaging Program Finder widgets but, despite this significant investment, the results are not that significant.
Recently, we did an analysis on few Universities in our portfolio and looked at the acquisition and engagement behaviour of the prospective students on these University websites. During our analysis, we evaluated various elements of the Degree Pages along with the engagement behaviour of the students with the associated pages and widgets on the website such as: program finder, degree home page, related degree pages, alternative degree programs, their back and forth between Home Page and Degree Pages and many other flows during the students sessions on the website. As an outcome of that comprehensive analysis, we came up with few hypothesis for testing, which we executed on these University websites by leveraging enterprise testing solutions such as; Optimizely and Adobe Target.
Below mentioned are few test hypothesis we would like to share with you for your consideration, and in case you need additional clarification or, want to have a dialogue, feel free to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
If you offer both Online and Campus Degree Programs then, please be explicit about that on your Degree Pages and if possible, mention it above the fold. Testimonials and Recorded Videos from the Alumni play a very important role in building credibility and add weight-age to the selection process, and if possible, showcase this Video above the fold on the right.
Try to highlight your value proposition in bulleted points instead of long paragraphs, and if possible, add some CMS driven content elements on the page to showcase your value proposition in a graphical manner.
A lead generation form on the RIGHT-hand side of the page and above the fold generates better conversion rate than the LEFT and BOTTOM of the page.
We have read the Survey Responses of various students in the public Consumer Complaints portal, and lot of Alumni have expressed their concerns around the quality of the course and the credentials of the professors who take those classes so; try to mention a brief profile of your professors along with their pictures on the Degree Pages and make sure; they have expertise in a vertical in which they take the classes because, often times students complain of the fact that; they have been taught by a professor who had no clue about the vertical.
Try to condense the length of your Degree Pages because, approx. 85-90% of the clicks are concentrated around above-the-fold links, and if you have deployed a heat map tool like CrazyEgg or ClickTale on your website, you can quickly validate this point on your own. And also, don’t forget to check the Scrollmap and Confetti reports.
Position your REQUEST INFO and CHAT links above the fold on the top right-hand side, and if students want to quickly search for the availability of the course in their nearby campuses, give them a finder widget above the fold.
In order to create urgency, don’t forget to talk about the Course Start Date and the number of students who have already enrolled.
If you have a degree program in your portfolio which has been endorsed by a known celebrity, talk about that on your Degree Page and also, try to position it as a Banner AD on your Home Page below the HERO Spot on the LEFT.
Lastly, test out all the above ideas before you roll-out on your website and like other Universities, if you get a significant % of traffic on your website via. The organic channel then starts with Landing Page A/B tests and target the organic traffic first.
In case you have other interesting experiences to share with our readers, please feel free to add your comments below.