Conversion Optimisation – Taking the initiative when communicating with students
There are some points during the enrolment and application process where the relationship between you and your students can feel like a waiting game. You might feel powerless, simply hanging on for their next move and anticipating their decision. In actual fact, there is so much you can do to encourage and support your prospective students all throughout their road to enrolment and increasing the chances of that final commitment to your institution.
So what is conversion optimisation all about?
It might seem an obvious point, but it’s a crucial one: you’ve got to start by thinking about your students.
Real engagement with your students can only be achieved with true understanding of who they are, what they want, and in turn how you can affect their decision about where they want to study.
Understand the student journey through to enrolment, and the different ways in which each stage represents a barrier to progression, where the students could potentially drop out.
The Two T’s – Tracking and Testing!
It’s so important to track your student through each stage of their journey to enrolment. There are key questions you should be asking yourself – at which stage of the journey are they? What communication would be most useful and persuasive to them at this time? What channels are best suited for this communication?
Track your students, and test alternative engagement that could impact progression – in this way you can adapt, learn and improve, preventing any enrolment stagnation.
Fostering a testing culture
If you have identified limitations and aren’t happy with your present conversion rates, then why stick with your current communication methods? Surely best practice would be to find ways of improving?
Analyse the way you interact with students. Adjust these through whatever means you can, whether introducing subtle or dramatically different changes. Test on and measure the outcomes of this, and analyse your results. If conversion rates are better, adopt the changes! But don’t settle for this – there is always room for improvement, so begin the cycle of testing, analysing and adapting all over again.
Prepare to be surprised…
There are so many different elements to student decision making, some of which can be easily overlooked, or even downright unexpected. We work with over 10,000 institutions worldwide and engage with millions of students each year. Through our extensive experience and communication with thousands of students and the tracking and testing we carry out ourselves, our knowledge and expertise is constantly expanding in breadth and depth.
For example, we found that once students have their conditional offer, there is a 100% lift in engagement when html emails are swapped with plain text ‘personal’ emails. We also found that emails sent to African students are opened at a rate 25% higher when sent at 4pm – surprising perhaps, but it works!
One of the great benefits of working with as many diverse universities as we do here at Hobsons is the experience we gain when it comes to tailoring our services to universities based on their unique characteristics.
We are all learning constantly. Because technology changes as time goes on, communication does too. With changes in the higher education sector brought about by politics and policies and new findings from research and reports, priorities change. The reasons for students committing to their chosen university are multifaceted, and as diverse as the students themselves. No two students are the same.
However what we have also learnt is that there is so much you can be doing as an institution. Because no two institutions are the same either, and you need to communicate your unique brilliance to your prospective students – and persuade them that they should commit to you above all other study options.
Conversion top tips:
- Understand your prospective students and their needs
- Track your students through their enrolment journey
- Test your communication methods, and take action when things can be improved
- Be open to learning and change
Always remember that there is no time like the present and your institution can always be taking action to innovate, change and improve your conversion rates.
You can learn more about optimising your conversion rates here. For help, tips and advice, and to learn more about the services we offer here at Hobsons, get in touch.