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How to build a personalized student recruitment experience – Part 2

We recently tackled why personalization is an important tactic to attract today’s college bound students. But how do you gain the insight needed to build a personalized student search experience? By using data and automation to collect it with speed and at scale. A data-driven plan will help you develop a more comprehensive and insightful understanding of your candidates that yields better engagement and higher enrollment.

Purchased vs Declared Data

While traditional list buying approaches provide some basic data about a student such as name, address, email, graduation year and optional survey data, this only scratches the surface of who a student is and what they are looking for in a college. Do they prefer a large or a small campus? Something close to home or far away? What price point are they looking for? What subject(s) do they want to study? What type of campus experience are they looking for? And there is much more insight to be gained beyond these basic data points.

Technology has given students a voice in their college search process. Apps, web forms and more provide the ability to collect student data and preferences to maximize the efficiency and reach of any marketing or recruitment program. This self-contributed, first party data or “declared data” can be a game changer. This allows for two important things:

  1. A better way to identify and qualify candidates early in the recruitment process – before an application is submitted.
  2. A deeper nurture process that can span the college search journey to enrollment, and beyond.

The more insight you have on each candidate, the more you can tailor the experience to reach successful outcomes.

Creating a successful personalized college search experience

A personalized experience needs to appeal to the individual, not a broad audience. If the content served up matches the student’s criteria, it increases the probability of continued engagement and the likelihood that a student will consider the college. To be successful, the decision of what content to serve must be automated and instantaneous. That can only be accomplished if you understand the student’s preferences well enough to do so.

Email personalization is widely adopted but most marketers stop there. According to the Value of Personalization Report, just over half of marketers utilize dynamic content, failing to embrace more advanced personalization. For example, notifications via text, email or apps. But personalizing digital and mobile content is the key to engagement. The same report also noted that machine learning personalization delivers a 21 percent revenue increase. Machine learning maximizes captured data by diving deeper into student search preferences, serving up dynamic content, and enabling personalization at scale.

Data and personalization should form the foundation for shaping a student’s journey with your college or university. It impacts how they perceive and interact with your brand, and how your brand anticipates and responds to the student prospect needs. It should span across the consideration, action, and decision cycle. The goal is to have relevant and meaningful interactions, and deliver engaging experiences, throughout the journey.

Student Search Personalization in Action

So, what does a personalized college search experience look like?

If I’m a prospective student candidate that has indicated interest in your college and sign-up for a tour: I might receive valuable information and suggestions prior to a campus visit, and check-in from my phone. Using a chat app, I may work with a virtual host to plan activities during my visit. Some of those personalized services utilize machine learning to improve the student’s overall experience. These interactions are not only convenient but can be highly customized.

All of this data can be used to continue to personalize the communications after the visit. For example, I can receive communications on applying for early decision or submitting my deposit after I am accepted by simply tapping a “deposit now” button on a mobile app. Simple, personal, and immediate.

Learn how CiEngage can help you deliver a personalized mobile experience to students searching for college, and help you identify and engage with quality candidates.