To forge meaningful connections with your target audience and drive the right students to a particular course, learning program and institution, personalization should be at the top of your priority list.
Personalization, in its various forms, presents valuable ways of targeting and connecting with students on an individual level, delivering relevant content as well as brand messaging that prompts positive action, as opposed to leaning on generalized marketing efforts.
Studies suggest that 79% of consumers will only engage with an offer if it’s been personalized based on their previous interactions, and this mindset should be applied to the educational market to target potential students.
To help enhance your personalization initiatives, we explore 3 powerful forms as well as their value in the modern world.
1) Demographic personalization
One of the most widely adopted and consistently effective forms of personalization is by using demographics.
By identifying your target audience for a particular course and analyzing in-house data, it’s possible to tailor content, advertising campaigns, and social media communications that resonate with potential students at times of the day or week that they’re likely to be most engaged.
With today’s budding student body more diverse than ever before, more universities and educational institutions are drilling down into demographic data to pinpoint their audience on a deeper level to deliver content and campaigns that speak to budding prospects on a level that presents personal value.
As there's no such thing as ‘one-size-fits-all’ in the digital age. By using demographic data to segment your target audience into specific groups, you will be able to extract more value from insights and spark the kind of engagement that encourages enrollments.
To help you source demographic data, here’s a checklist for your reference:
- Define specific challenges, roadblocks or goals in a collaborative environment.
- Determine key data sources and segment insights according to your specific challenges, aims and goals.
- Decide which data sets (age, sex, location, preferences, hobbies, skills, educational level, etc.) will be most pivotal to your campaign.
- Obtain new demographic data though social polls, surveys and targeted research.
- Create a customer journey map and use data visualization tools or techniques to create a timeline or narrative that is easy to navigate and digestible to all key stakeholders within your institution.
- Set relevant KPIs to track and measure your performance over time.
2) Dynamic personalization
Centered on delivering content or product suggestions based on geographical location, current weather conditions or other browsing activities, this dynamic form of personalization will evolve based on the conditions around it.
Today’s students respond best to convenience, transparency and relevance based on what they're doing at a precise moment in time. Here, brand messaging might be based on preferences or demographic data, but it has the ability to shift and evolve with change.
78% of local mobile searches result in offline purchases. So if you're able to apply this methodologyyou can spark local engagement and drive people to a campus or physical touchpoint where they’re likely to convert from a prospect to an enrolled student.
While this isn’t based on the educational sector, Spotify’s ‘It’s Been Weird’ campaign is worth mentioning as it offers an excellent insight into the power of dynamic, location-specific environmental personalization.
By drilling down into demographic data and user-generated insights such as the listening preferences of users in different segments of the world, Spotify delivered personal messages that sparked a deep, personal level of engagement at different times in their browsing journey (and on different mediums or platforms) and was also able to deliver curated playlists and personalized videos via social media.
This incredible create personalization-centric campaign not only resulted in 10,000,000 video views, but it generated over 669,000social media shares and engagements.
By analyzing and integrating a wealth of demographic data in addition to metrics and insights, and using these insights to create dynamic content that fosters maximum engagement, it’s possible for educational institutes to forge real bonds with prospective students - the kind of which that will result in enrollments. And, Spotify’s innovative content marketing campaign is a testament to that very notion.
3) Behavior-based personalization
Behavioral personalization focuses on what a customer does, rather than who they are or the environment surrounding them.
This branch of personalization, by its nature, remains relevant at all times, therefore, offering educators a better chance of delivering content that is likely to present real value to a prospective student at crucial times of the decision-making process.
It’s possible to take three key approaches:
- Offering course or content recommendations based on past activity.
- Delivering content and messaging based on where they are on their consumer journey or in business terms, where they are sitting in the sales funnel.
- Providing content and browsing recommendations based on the activities and preferences of similar prospects.
It seems that a number of institutions or educational brands have yet to fully explore personalization of this kind - but this is likely to change.
Behavioral personalization has the power to not only retarget former students based on their browsing behaviors but help to tailor prospect or applicant journey by helping to make suggestions or deliver content that will speak to the individual on an intimate level - fostering engagement, value and trust in the process.
To demonstrate this concept, here is an example from the clothing brand, Thread.
This thriving retailer’s website is essentially based on behavioral personalization, asking new visitors to specify their favorite brands, preferences and styles and using this information to deliver personalized content as well as recommendations.
In addition, the more the user navigates the site, the more it will personalize the content and products it offers throughout their journey.
This effective use of personalization, alongside other innovative initiatives of this kind, has earned the brand a continual annual growth as well as $37.9 million worth of funding to date.
By adopting approaches like this, educational institutions stand to offer maximum value to prospective, existing and former students which in turn, will result in continual growth, evolution and development.
Today’s student, regardless of their age, background or educational goals are more intuitive, inquisitive and value-driven than ever before.
If you as an education specialist want to drive engagement then offering a truly personalized experience is becoming a necessity.
Trial these pivotal approaches to personalization, making sure to track and measure your results.
What may work for one institution may not fit another, but developing initiatives to reach out to prospective students on a meaningful level that addresses their specific needs you will soon land on a strategy that will not only help you increase your enrollment rate, but attract the students that will help your organization scale and evolve in-line with your core goals, values and beliefs.