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    From Stealth to Student: A Guide to Lead Capture for Education Websites

    Posted February 28, 2024, 3:43 pm by Mark Kremer
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    The white whale for an education website is (and probably always will be) stealth traffic. Those curious visitors–the products of tireless SEO, social media hustle, and smart digital ads–are finally poking around on your site, but you still can’t see exactly who they are.

    Sure, you can cookie them, you can pixel them, but those are imperfect ways to get a real sense of your prospective students and families. The ideal form of lead capture is (and probably always will be) for your website visitors to tell you who they are. Here’s a step-by-step guide that outlines the best ways to make that happen.

    Create a website for your prospects

    The fastest way to turn curious website visitors into bouncing non-returners is an experience that doesn’t feel like it was built for them. We know that schools have a lot of different audiences, but if your top-of-fold content is all about alumni, current students, and faculty achievements, there’s a good chance your prospects will feel like second-class digital citizens.

    Student testimonials, recruitment events calendars, quicklinks to key content–all of these are signals to prospects and their families that they have come to the right place. And that initial feeling is the first step to real connection. This is equally important for summer program and college websites, where showcasing upcoming info sessions, program dates, and reviews can make a significant difference.

    Limit the clicks

    The higher ed bounce rate is a less-than-stellar 55%, so every extra click is just another pothole in an already bumpy website journey.

    What’s the main culprit? Information that’s so hard to find that prospects get discouraged and give up. According to Halda’s in-house research conducted with over 150 K-12 and higher ed partners, 87% of those prospects never make a return visit. You have 2 minutes to make not only a first impression, but your only impression. Are you filling that impression with as few clicks as possible?

    Offer in-the-moment value (that’s Hyper-personalized!)

    In this fast-paced, uber-personalized world, people expect instant gratification and simply aren’t wired to fill out long-winded questionnaires with information they’re not even sure is needed. They want in-the-moment suggestions that are tailored to their specific interests. Essentially, they want things to feel like Netflix or Amazon.

    And this approach converts even better if you combine that content with some kind of payoff. For instance, promise students an on-the-spot personalized list of ideal programs, and they’re more likely to tell you about their interests. There are sophisticated personalization tools that do things like this, depending on what you’re looking for. This efficient give-and-take moves students further down the funnel while respecting that they’re going out on a bit of a limb.

    Clarity is kindness

    Just as no two students are the same, their questions also vary, and websites for educational programs should aim to answer these efficiently. The fact is, factors like finances, schedules, and admissions guidelines are deal-breakers for students and families. Up-front, clear answers to those key questions help eliminate top-of-mind concerns so students and families can move forward with confidence.

    We’re not suggesting you slap a price tag on your homepage. You need space to show your value. However, tools like scholarship calculators and admissions previews start those awkward conversations in accessible, positive ways.

    It’s also respectful to your prospects and their families. If they simply don’t meet the criteria for your school or program, don’t waste their time!

    Don’t get lazy on branding

    If you do buy an add-on or engagement tool to boost website interactions and conversions, the student experience still needs to feel seamless. Before you buy a product or go live with it, make sure you can mold it to match your branding and style as closely as possible. Then deploy it in places that align with your communication strategy.

    Tools should also offer different designs and display options that fit the experience you want to offer based on your brand and target audience. If they don’t, you’re probably going to want something with a little more flexibility.

    If I could leave you with one takeaway it’s this: Meet prospects where they are with content that’s easy to consume and they’ll reciprocate by sharing who they are with you.

    At Halda, we’ve seen this strategy increase lead capture anywhere from 2x-10x. Our personalization tools turn each student’s website journey into a tailored experience that feels personal. Then we use sophisticated data architecture to track lead sources and how they translate to enrollments. It’s all part of our mission to understand and serve the student. Serving the student, after all, is how to build healthy institutions.


    Want to learn more about helpful tools to serve your students? Visit halda.ai today.

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    Mark Kremer