Higher Education Lead Generation: How Aggressive Is Your School’s Website?
Are your school’s online lead generation strategies passive or aggressive? Find out where your website’s conversion tactics sit on the passive-aggressive spectrum shown below.
But before you assess your website, I want to remind that aggressiveness isn’t always bad. If it helps, you can think of more aggressive conversion mechanisms as more assertive. And as is often the case with recent high school graduates, a bit of assertiveness can be very helpful when steering them towards good decisions.
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Lead Generation Tactics And Ideas
So where does your school’s lead generation efforts fall on the spectrum? Does the list make you feel like you’re doing too much? Too little?
Invoking your prospect’s emotions can have a huge impact on your school’s lead generation strategies. Why? Because decision-making is almost entirely dictated by our emotions. Just ask Antonio Damasio, neuroscience professor at USC.
Decisions start with a person’s intuitive gut-feeling — how does the item in question make them feel? Once somebody has made that determination, he or she rationally balances the pros and cons supporting the decision. But the initial presumption — how they first feel — is difficult to rebut so you always want to make a good first impression.
But don’t think this means your school’s digital recruitment strategy has to focus on happiness. Fear and anger are very important emotions in the right context. If your prospect should be upset at what the other guys are doing, then that’s what you want to play up.
How you present information to a prospect can have a tremendous amount of influence over his or her decision. Overwhelm the prospect and any feelings of self-efficacy are quickly eroded.
The famous words of Steve Krug loudly reverberate inside the minds of all your prospects — “Don’t make me think!” If your prospect loses confidence in their ability to navigate and control the information, they’re gone and looking for more suitable alternatives.
Guide your prospect along the path. How much you need to assert yourself as their guide will vary, depending the circumstances. But know that if you try to drag them with you, they’ll resist being told exactly what to do.
And if your school’s website isn’t responsive, then you need to update it. Mobile is more than just a passing trend among prospective students and Google has been doing everything they can to remind websites about that fact.
How you display and structure pricing obviously has huge implications on your prospect conversion rate. While this topic is of much greater significance to companies and industries where price competition is vigorous, it still applies to higher education lead generation.
Prospective students are often left to compare prices on their own because schools tend to prefer to compete on quality rather than price. By overtly stating price in a digestible, comparative way, schools can easily win this consideration.
Offering immediate assistance from a human being during complex decisions is a good tactic. Information costs are at a premium, so the more they have to rely on non-human experiences the more likely they are to get frustrated abandon the process. And while we’ve made great strides, nothing answers your questions quite as clearly as an informed human being.
The only real question for live chat as a lead generation mechanism is whether the chat window should be reactive or proactive. Reactive uses (i.e. prospect-initiated live chat) are generally preferred because it allows the prospect to remain in control. Proactive uses (i.e. your team forces the chat window to open) can be interruptive and scare away more prospects than they capture.
Despite the obvious importance of website copy, schools regularly neglect content marketing and put it at the bottom of their online enrollment plan. One can certainly sympathize with budgetary constraints, bureaucratic bickering, and all the other overriding themes of academia that contribute to the neglect. However, you can’t let that prevent you from making some kind of effort.
If you need help justifying the importance of content strategy in higher education marketing, you can easily split test minor changes to demonstrate repeatable, sustainable gains just waiting to be discovered. Split testing copy is no different than what you’d want to do for every conversion category we listed so far. I’m only listing it now because the ability to quickly and easily split test is most likely unknown to some marketing and communication professionals.
“Pop-up” conjures some intensively negative feelings for most people. Many of you are undoubtedly reading this section with your teeth gritted and thinking “I’d sooner put dancing baby GIFs on our school site than a pop-up!”
Despite the extremely negative connotation, pop-ups work for lead generation. Period. Don’t believe me? Try one out and then dig into the data.
But you have to remember, not all pop-ups are created equal. More important than whether or not to use a pop-up is where, when, and how you use the pop-up.
The best examples of pop-ups aren’t what you’d consider a pop-up at all. They’re “exit intent surveys”, “navigation wizards” or some other buzzword for “pop-up”. So before you discount this lead generation tip, it’d be wise to explore some of the options available.
Website content tailored exclusively for individual visitors is the holy grail for most marketing and communications professionals. Those custom experiences would be fantastic for lead generation if you could do it for each and every one of your thousands of prospects. But that’s not technically (or physically) feasible at the moment.
While 1-to-1 experiences are still out of our grasp, there’s plenty of other customization techniques higher ed marketers can add to their lead generation strategies. HubSpot’s CoS offers one of the best examples of what’s currently possible; with it, you can have the same webpage display entirely different content to different visitors.
Just imagine the conversion rates for a homepage that primarily displays enrollment information to prospective students, alumni information to graduates, and so on and so forth.
However, as you probably already knew (or guessed), conversion mechanisms relying on customization are generally neither cheap nor easy to implement and maintain. But some variations, like an input-based pop-up survey, are relatively simple to do and worth your time regardless of resources and budget.
If you’re interested in adding HubSpot’s marketing automation to your school’s lead generation process, then click here to learn how our services can help.
Calls-to-action (CTAs) are vital for any type of persuasive communication — offline, online, in-person, remote, etc. But for website efforts, they take on a special level of importance.
As we touched on when discussing formatting, guiding your user towards the webpage’s objective (and further down your funnel) is critical to success. CTAs help us accomplish that and are vital for your success. Testing out new and different CTAs is a fantastic way to rapidly boost lead generation efforts.
The ease in which prospects can navigate through your site will determine how far and fast they explore. As mentioned before, the goal is to avoid making your prospect think — just let them effortlessly “do”.
Part of navigation optimization is limiting your prospect’s options; squeezing them towards one objective. But at other times, you may need to integrate related content options to satisfy a wide range of potential objectives.
Need Help With Lead Generation?
Get in touch with our team of digital marketing consultants today if your school’s online lead generation tactics are lacking. We specialize in conversion rate optimization for higher education and can help you create a student-centric website that provides visitors with exactly what they want.
You can learn more about our higher education website usability solutions by clicking here.