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Content Personalization: The Low-hanging Fruit #PAR2

Kat Liendgens from Hannon Hill (@katliendgens) led a standing room only discussion of the importance of content personalization techniques to address some of the unique challenges facing higher education. She shared a staggering statistic that 38% of colleges failed to meet their enrollment goals by May 1 last year and offered several options for tailoring content to the diverse audiences who visit college websites.

While there are many ways to connect with visitors, the ability to create an engaging web experience means that web creators can lead people through a site and optimize their experience.  Future students are likely to visit a website several times and will often make up their minds about a school before they apply.

Prospective students visit websites 5 times before they make a decision. Definitely taking that stat back to work #par2 #heweb19

A key takeaway was a discussion about the level of personalization that can be offered.  Implicit is the most basic, using cookie type of data, but explicit and known data can also be used.

Liendgens  went on to show a sample college website called Cascade University where she changed content to pull a “visitor” deeper into the site using implicit data and tracking cookies. After clicking to learn more about biology, the program pages section was updated to having a science themed photo when refreshed. A geotag from outside the region pushed content about living on campus and select out-of-state scholarships. Selecting parent themed content pulled a news story about family weekend.

During the Q&A the issue of privacy was raised and Liendgens said that all sites should include the disclaimer about how cookies are collected and used. She stressed that much of the simple personalization can be generic and based on immediate actions, but if digging deeper that all vendors should be clear about how to delete data if requested. She pointed out that many prospective students are willing to allow data collection to receive better content but that privacy policies should be reviewed regularly for compliance.

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By Catherine Donnelly

Catherine Donnelly helps to manage social media and web content for the Interdivisional Marketing & Communications – Enrollment Management creative marketing and digital communications group at the University at Buffalo. Previously she served as the Integrated Marketing Communication Manager for Roswell Park Cancer Institute. Her background is in technical writing and editing with a strong focus on healthcare and university marketing, content management and video production.