Increase User Engagement On College Websites
Details Every College Website Needs to Boost User Engagement
Everyone has one. The coworker who can’t seem to get to the point. Ask them a question, and they’ll answer with unrelated information or a rambling story that makes everyone tune out. If this person were a website, you’d click away as quickly as possible. Yet, so many organizations build websites that are the digital equivalent of that colleague, then wonder why their user engagement is so low.
Potential Students Are Seeking Out More Information
The number of total visitors to college and university websites may be shrinking, but visitors are engaging with more web pages per visit, as our Benchmarks 2023 report reveals. From 2021 to 2022, the number of pages visited increased by 40%. It seems prospective students are doing their research.
Overall, colleges and universities seem to be doing a good job of engaging students on their sites. The average bounce rate on desktops has decreased by more than 8 percentage points since last year. But there are still opportunities for improvement.
4 Methods to Increase User Engagement
Colleges and universities that want to engage potential students need to give those students the information they’re looking for. This might sound obvious, but getting it right takes deep knowledge of the potential student and their needs.
1. Define and Cater To Student Personas
Different potential students are looking for different information when visiting a college or university website. Some may be looking for how this credential can advance their career, others are seeking detailed course information. Use student personas to figure out what questions students are likely to be asking and create content that offers them answers.
Here are a few personas worth building content for:
- Working adults who are seeking credentials to advance their careers
- Traditional students transitioning from high school to college
- Graduate degree seekers
- Undergraduate degree seekers
- Credential seekers who need shorter, more focused programs
- First-generation college students
- Returning adult students
Each of these potential students will need different information to make their enrollment decision. Some programs might also create personas for military or veteran students, students who are also parents, or BIPOC students. Whoever you’re trying to reach, the most effective messaging is sincere, relatable, and personalized.
2. Build and Optimize Career Focused Content
The number one reason students seek out credentials is job-related. Either they want to advance their careers, transition to a new role, or increase their income. So, building content around career-related questions can keep users engaged.
As much as possible, address career placement, salary expectations, and career services to help students feel confident that the credential will help them reach their professional goals. Career guides are one way to do this. They can answer the most frequently asked questions students have about the program.
Answer these questions with an eye toward securing a Google featured snippet. Short, clear answers are good candidates for snippets. If including further detail, ensure that the initial answer is compact and includes relevant keywords. Developing this kind of quality content helps websites gain authority and builds student trust in the brand.
Another content type worth investing in is day-in-the-life style content. This can help students visualize what their study experience will look like. Highlight some of the most popular courses and those with high search volume, and don’t forget to show how these courses align with what employers are looking for.
3. Prioritize and Optimize Content
Providing enough information is important. But, it needs to be the right information. Get too far in the weeds, and students are less likely to stay on the page. Stripping out non-essential information leaves makes the information students need easier to find. This can increase dwell time and user engagement because it makes visiting the website a more pleasant experience.
The layout and structure of the content are as important as the information you provide. Consider adding a Quick Facts section to program pages instead. It can list essential details like duration, credit hours, format, cost and start dates.
Reviews and social proof also count as essential information because they help build trust and overcome barriers to conversion. User-generated content like student testimonials and reviews can help.
4. Open Up Multiple Channels of Communication
Dwell time and engagement are ultimately just means to an end. The real goal is to help students make the decision to enroll. Although the average student will do a lot of research before reaching out to an admissions advisor, they should be able to easily make contact when the time comes.
Make sure that Request of Information forms are easily accessible and ask only for essential information. Give clarity into what value filling out the form will give them, what will happen next, and how that helps them meet their goals.
Alongside forms, offer students multiple ways to connect with enrollment teams, including chatting, texting, email and phone calls. These kinds of choices allow students to feel in control of their decision process.
The right information at the right time can keep students on the page and influence their decision-making. Let EDDY help your website stop rambling and get right to the information students are looking for. With our focus on User Experience and tailored conversion rate optimization strategies, you can keep students engaged with your website so they’ll move on to the next step.