We live in a world of amazon dot com expectations; audiences expect a digital experience to be fast, relevant and provide continual value.
In a post-pandemic world, meeting this expectation is more critical than ever. Today, the only way now to effectively grow and engage audiences is through digital channels.
Audiences will instinctively connect the quality of their digital experiences at a University website, with their expectations of attending.
Nearly 70% of current students cite the school’s website design as the primary influence on their decision-making, yet most colleges fail to meet basic usability standards as desired by students.
Therefore, the quality of the University's digital web presence will determine the success of its digital strategy and competitiveness within the marketplace.
Helping Learners Chart Their Course
The University website should be a place where a diverse set of prospective students can envision their future and how to make it a reality. The site must connect with audiences seeking a non-traditional pathway and connect them to a community of supportive and like-minded resources.
Opening the door to creative fields for those seeking opportunities can have a transformative effect on an entire community. The site should enable and empower those in supportive and stakeholder roles to help grow the higher education institution's reach and audience.
These would include international students, prospective students, graduates, parents, teachers and partners.
A More Competitive World for Post-Secondary Institutions
Competition for enrolment, particularly for domestic students, has become a challenge for many post-secondary institutions, considering that skill shortages continue to exist for many of our top industries, such as healthcare, information technology, agriculture, and manufacturing.
Stigmas and misconceptions have deterred students from enrolling or participating in higher-level of education. To combat this message, institutions must ‘rethink’ how they communicate and provide outreach to potential students.
Students today are not limited by linear career development where they choose one job title for life. Instead, they want to find inspiring challenges to work on, and then determine what they need to learn to be able to do that.
Institutions that can help students create these unique paths will differentiate themselves. By putting students’ stories at the center of their recruitment efforts, these institutions will send them a clear message: who you are and what you want matters.
The Pandemic is Accelerating Pressure for Change
Furthermore, the current global healthcare crisis is challenging recruitment models and strategies. Colleges and universities can no longer depend on in-person events, information sessions, or campus visits to establish a connection with potential students. At the same time, online learning options have increased competition for students.
Today, the website is one of the first engagement points prospective students have with a post-secondary institution. Your online presence is fundamental to capturing attention and generating enthusiasm.
Most importantly, the website plays a critical role in forming the initial personal connection between institution and student. Thus, the rationale for enhancing the existing digital presence becomes ever more pressing.
Technology is a Double-Edged Sword
Technology has had a positive impact on improving higher education communications. However, technology has also been a double-edged sword. Due to the high volumes of content published daily, audience expectations have changed at an unprecedented pace.
As a result, it is more difficult to engage audiences in meaningful ways via digital channels, content strategy is shifting. Today, impactful digital communications must have:
- Edge - Able to cut through all the noise and capture attention.
- Specificity - Personalized messaging that is easily relatable and repeatable.
- Lift - Messaging that connects to the heart and the mind of the audience.
We have also seen a shift in the way people consume digital content. Audiences have moved from desktops to new internet-enabled technologies, such as home automation (Alexa, Google Home), mobile applications, VR/AR, and wearable technology.
For many communication teams, adopting these emerging technologies is unattainable given current tools, resources, and available time.