Optimize your Website and Improve University Admissions

optimize website

With private colleges spending an average of $2,433 to recruit each new student and up to 5% of turnover on marketing, the focus on what is working and what is not is under the microscope of every Head of Admissions.

Your website is your hub and your most important communication tool when recruiting college students. Your content and social media efforts are driving traffic to your website, and how you engage and communicate with potential students is going to have a dramatic effect on your university admissions performance. Each institution will have different goals that range from increasing number of applicants, increasing quality, and improving yield, but there are a number of steps you can take to optimize your website and reach your full potential.

Do your Research & Create Personas

Creating personas will help you identify what matters most to each group, how best to communicate, what content they like, where and when to find them, and how to identify an ideal persona when they engage. There are the obvious ideal personas – including prospective students, parents, teachers, and guidance counsellors – but every school is different, so take time to complete in depth research.

Search Engine Optimization

Yes, it still matters. You are creating great content – ensure it’s having maximum impact and it can be found through organic search. Take time to analyze and look at the keywords that your personas use, have the right tags, and work towards building your external referral links so your content rises to the top!


Design your website to allow your personas, prospects, and applicants to self select and find the content that matters most to them. Tailor your links on your home page, create customized content for each persona, and tailor your calls to action for maximum engagement.

Personalize Content

By now we’re used to Netflix and Amazon personalizing our content and it becomes a base level expectation when we interact online. The three core areas to look at are:

On-Page: There are a number of software packages that allow you to deliver personalized content to recurring visitors, and you’ll have to decide how sophisticated to go. As a minimum, there are static ways to deliver a personalized experience on a page. If someone converts on a landing page, the following confirmation page could include another offer that is highly aligned or relevant to the one just used to convert.

Social Media: Ensure that you have a social monitoring strategy. Once you know what is resonating with your followers you can replicate this and increase engagement. Don’t fall into the the trap and automize this process as it can often look like spam.

Email: Email is often the easiest content to personalize and very effective. Personalized emails increase open rates by 29% and click through rates by 41% which will have a big impact on engagement.

Track your Prospects and Retarget

You need to get to grips with how your prospects engage, what content that they like, and what matters most. It starts with calls to action that are tailored to them. To maximize your data, consider implementing a CMS or CRM. If you are developing an inbound marketing strategy, Hubspot maybe a natural choice. If you know what your prospects have looked at then you can take it to the next level with retargeting. This can be a mix of display, social, search and email retargeting – keep engaging to ensure your institution is top of mind.

Keep up with New Technology

There are always new ways to engage and communicate and if you are not keeping up to speed with developments, what does this say about your institution? A new development that currently stands out is virtual college tours. The stats from Youvisit.com show that the average user spends over 10 minutes viewing a virtual tour and that afterward, applicants are 22% more likely to visit the school and take a physical tour.

Optimizing your website to engage and delight your users will ultimately improve your admissions process and rates. Taking time to constantly optimize and iterate your offering is essential, as university admissions become more and more competitive. It is only by doing this that you will have the data to see what it working and what is not. When you get it right, it will be a seamless discussion that is rewarding for both the applicant and the institution.