Our Insights

What immediate changes can Universities make to drive greater prospective student conversion?

10 min read
Post by
Gerard Farrell - CEO

The COVID-19 pandemic is having a major impact on industries and businesses worldwide and in particular the higher learning industry in Australia. The need for communication and commerce through online mediums are now more imperative that ever, in order to combat the current restrictions.

For universities, the website and technical services has become the primary channel which allows higher learning institutes to continue recruitment, delivery and servicing of prospective and current student needs. However, website optimisation budgets have been cut and capital infrastructural projects have been shelved. So, how can conversion optimisation, including the enhancement of the website user experience be achieved considering budget and resource restrictions? How can you drive a greater number of prospective students to choose your university over others while also considering that location is now less important? The answer lies in your website content.

Why does content play such a crucial role?

Expectations of what Higher Learning institutes must do to meet prospective students needs reach far beyond providing Virtual Open Days. Too many prospective students are concerned their job prospects post study have been significantly reduced due to an economic downturn (67%).  Prospective students want more free online course content (57%), a greater ability to manage their study from their online student platform (38%) and overall more communication from Higher Learning institutions on how their daily student life will be affected (37%). Universities need to provide a greater amount of more precise content in the right places, which allays concerns, answers key questions and reassures them that your Higher Learning Institution is the right one for someone like them.

(source: Global Reviews Pandemic impact study on Australian University sector July 2020)

From the findings of our June 2020 Digital Sales Effectiveness benchmark - which we detail in an upcoming webinar - when we look specifically at the performance of the homepages of 13 different Australian Universities in building a sense of trust, we can see the influence relevant and well executed content can have in driving a positive perception of the University.

The following chart shows the impact of the University of Queensland using just one ranking message on the homepage in building a sense of trust in comparison to Macquarie University who talk about student employability, facilities and types of degrees.

QU goes even further by promoting a university of social inclusion, giving greater real estate on the homepage to student outcomes and also promoting student testimonials directly on the homepage. All of these elements go on to give CQU a leading score against 12 competitors in driving a sense of trust from their homepage.

Macquarie Include content on ranking, student employability, facilities and types of degree.

On the homepage CQU provide a social equality messages…

The message about student outcomes and employment prospects is more important now than it ever was which is supported by our earlier findings. It is important to remember that content which encourages a prospect to choose you over a competitor must be reinforced at every appropriate opportunity. That RMIT do not do this on the course detail page, along with relevant industry facts and figures associated with this course drives down their overall score and ultimately sees them securing the lowest overall performance in our digital sales effectiveness benchmark, whilst also being the only university whose performance has gone backwards over 2 consecutive measurement periods.

RMIT course details page is missing “why choose us” content, job prospects and industry facts and trends that are associated with the course.

For the same course, Victoria University give more specific detail on potential job prospects. Expected salary is also shared as well as a link to a Job Outlook tool to help visitors make an informed decision.

University of Newcastle also provide content on why to choose this course, and this university.

For university websites information and the ease of access to information can hugely influence the choices prospective students make and which university they apply for. Successful content management is key to success and can be quickly and easily achieved. Content changes are generally low cost and can be implemented without the need of a third party. Intercepting prospective students with relevant, timely and compelling content will make a difference between them choosing your university or searching for courses elsewhere.

To find out more about how content can drive greater prospective student conversions on Australian University websites register for our upcoming webinar on the 5th of November at 11.00am AEST.

Register for Webinar