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March 16

“Automagic” Customization: Leveraging School Website Personalization to Cultivate More Leads


by | Mar 16, 2023 | Featured, Podcast, Tools

Everyone wants to be treated as an individual. But especially for Generations Z and Alpha, school website personalization is an indispensable tool for cultivating prospective students for your comm flow. 

In previous conversations on The Higher Ed Marketer podcast, we’ve learned just how important personalized marketing is to Gen Z students.

Growing up with massively customized commercial services like Amazon, prospective students come to school websites looking for that same personal feel. 

Unfortunately, most school websites offer the same content to every visitor regardless of their age, ethnicity, or origin.  

But imagine a personalized website experience that adapts in real-time to the home region of prospective students who visit your homepage.

We’ve seen the potential of geocaching with popular mobile applications like Pokemon Go

What if you could employ similar technology to customize your school website’s visitor experience?

GeoFli's Kyle Pucko shares how school website personalization can help you contextualize your message for different audiences who visit your school website. Kyle Pucko, Owner of GeoFli, tells us how colleges and universities can harness this exciting tech to enhance personalization on their websites.

What does GeoFli do?

I was really excited about this conversation with Kyle because of the incredible school website personalization tool he and his co-founders created. 

What GeoFli does is it allows anyone, regardless of technical background, to change and replace your existing website content based on location. 

For example, somebody visiting the University of Montana’s website from California is going to see different content than somebody visiting that same website from Michigan or New York. 

So you could show different testimonials for out-of-state students versus in-state students. 

You could show scholarship information to Californians that visit your site versus in-state tuition information for in-state students. There are lots of applications.

The Importance of School Website Personalization

For me, this is a great idea, but why is school website personalization important for higher ed marketing?

Why do marketers need to bother with customizing content based on the preferences, needs, and location of a site visitor?

I think it’s important for a lot of reasons. It’s segmenting the same way you would segment emails. 

If somebody gets an email from the University of Arkansas, and that person lives in New York, and it’s the same email blasted to everybody nationwide, you’re going to get a lower response rate. 

But if you personalize it to your prospective students, [you’ll get a better response rate].

In other words, segmentation through school website personalization leads to better response rates from those visiting your website. 

The contextualized nature of customized messaging helps people of different backgrounds understand the value proposition of your school from their unique perspective. 

Here’s an incredible example of this that Kyle shared.

I recently saw a Northern Arkansas marketing campaign that said, “When your family asks you why you’re moving to Arkansas, here’s what you say.” [Basically it was saying,] “Here’s why you’re doing this.” 

We see [the preference for personalized messaging] everywhere, across generations.

Why is it important to personalize messaging well? Because it feels more relevant [to the prospective student]. 

Using School Website Personalization to Create Powerful First Impressions

It’s amazing how in today’s higher ed marketing we can do something that’s extremely targeted, extremely relevant. 

In a previous podcast with Bob Johnson, he talked a lot about the idea of taking the information we know about people and customizing their experience based on that. 

In that conversation, he was talking about it in the context of leads in the comm flow. 

But when we’re looking at school website personalization, we’re talking about contextualizing your messaging from the very first impression that they have. 

Almost every study tells us your school website is the number one first impression that people have about your school. 

First impressions are powerful. 

Imagine arriving at a website as a prospective student and your first impression comes in the form of alumni, testimonials, or other social proof from somebody that’s where you’re coming from.

Everybody wants to feel understood, even before the school really knows them. 

School website personalization is an effective way to show your website visitors just how much you “get them.”

Helping Outsiders Become Insiders

One of the biggest problems we face in enrollment marketing is that many of those who’re marketing the school were once students of the school. 

This is an advantage because they intuitively understand what your school is all about. 

But it’s a disadvantage as well, because they’re “insiders” who’ve probably lost touch with how it feels to be an outsider. 

Your messaging needs to help outsiders become insiders. 

School website personalization really does this well. In our talk, Kyle gave an example of this. 

Take an international student as an example. 

Colleges have tons of information about international enrollment, international applications, but when somebody visits their homepage, they see the same thing that everybody else sees.

Wouldn’t it be cool if they [saw on the homepage] a button that says, “Interested in our TOEFL exam requirements? Click here!” 

And that message disappears if you’re visiting from the United States.

Another example is in the case of sports. 

Athletics is one special department that provides symbols for school spirit

But school spirit by its very nature is an insider thing, so putting school spirit messaging on your homepage for everyone might not be relevant for those on the outside.

[When I arrived at] the University of Montana for the first time, I knew nobody. So I was looking at it from the point of view of a first-time visitor to the town. 

When I would read marketing messages like, “Go Grizz!” (which is the football team here), it didn’t really resonate with me. I didn’t get it. I wasn’t a huge Grizz fan at the time. 

Of course now I am but, you know, 10 years ago, when I started, “Go, Grizz!” meant very little to me. 

So if we’re sending [messaging] to New Yorkers, or to people in Seattle, “Go Grizz!” might not mean that much to them. 

Maybe we should have a different message for out-of-state students. 

Let’s shout “Go Grizz!” from the rooftops to people who know it [in-state], chances are they have relatives that went to the university. 

But out-of-state, you can throw that playbook out the window. GeoFli gives you the opportunity to also have multiple playbooks.

Discover more when you listen to the podcast!

Like all of our blog post reviews of The Higher Ed Marketer podcasts, there’s so much more to learn in the podcasts themselves.

Listen to our interview with Kyle Pucko to get even more insights into:

  • Why personalization in school websites matters (4:38)
  • Use cases for geocaching landing pages by region (15:52)
  • The future of online customization after third-party cookies (22:06)

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Featured image via geofli.com

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