10 Higher Ed Website Personalization Ideas & Examples

10 examples of higher education website personalization being used to drive student enrollment by increasing yield and inquiries.

Since 2017, we’ve been developing and implementing website personalization campaigns for colleges and universities. The impact of these campaigns is two-fold — increased audience engagement and increased inquiries, applications, and deposits:

  • In a 3-week campaign, Cambridge College touched 2,400 prospects and generated 5 new, first-touch applications.

  • Bryant University engaged 46% of their international prospects with a personalization campaign and generated 6 new deposits.

  • Roger Williams University found prospects who engaged with a website personalization campaign to be over 300% more engaged on the website.

  • One school saw inquires increase from 1.5% to 15% for their military segment when website personalization was added.

  • Pace Law School used personalization to drive registration for their open house events, and saw a 60% increase in attendance.

  • Miami Herbert Business School used personalized calls-to-action to increase leads and drive sign-ups for webinars.

Let’s look at actual examples of how website personalization can help you meet your admission goals.

Increasing International Yield — Website Personalization Examples

Recognizing that the website is central to the prospective student journey, Bryant University developed a yield campaign to influence international admits, liberal arts admits, and female admits. For the international prospects,

Bryant changed the homepage content and calls-to-action to relate to the admit.

Example 1: the generalized admissions and financial aid content is swapped out with specific information about the international content.

Personalization example

Example 2: The homepage for typical undergraduates shows a life on campus gallery because our research showed that traditional undergraduates on first visit to the website want to see photos of the dorms, activities, and dining options (pictured below).

collage of student photos

When the site is visited by an international prospect or admitted student, the photo galleries are replaced with images that resonate more with this audience: images of city life near Bryant (which is more desirable for international students) and the main airport — which is a key question that international prospects ask about.

collage of city photos

Example 3: As part of the overall content strategy for the site, Bryant and OHO developed a large library of student, alumni, and faculty profiles. When the personalization engine is able to identify an international prospect, the site selects and displays profiles of international prospects.

student profile

Example 4: When the site can identify a prospective or admitted student from China, the standard calls to action on the site are swapped out with Chinese language buttons that took prospects to unique content for Chinese applicants.

Personalized CTAs

Collecting New Inquiries with Website Personalization

To reach their prospective students, Roger Williams University developed a series of website personalization ideas that would engage prospects at the top of the admissions funnel. The prospective students are all adult learners and focused on specific degree programs. Given their customer behavior, we were able to easily segment audiences by their area of academic interest and provide prospects with a personalized experience in their first website visit.

Example 5: If a prospects explores the paralegal programs on the website and returns to the homepage — in the same visit — we provide a customized experience. The hero image swaps out with an image of a paralegal, and the supporting sub-heads reference the paralegal program.

sample landing page

Example 6: Further on down the homepage, without personalization there is a generalized link to “Find Your Program.”

Personalized photo

In the personalized version, this panel is replaced with a direct pathway to return the prospective student to the paralegal programs and the image is swapped out to give a visual cue that we’re talking about legal education.

personalized CTA

Example 7: Another key audience for RWU is military families. As part of the overall site redesign, content for prospective students from the military was added to the main navigation. If a prospects browses a number of these pages in the “Military” section, the prospect is added to the military segment. Immediately, the homepage is customized to highlight RWU’s commitment to, and programs for, military families. Personalization helps engage these prospects since analytics illustrates that military users are unlikely to return to the website for a second look if the program or experience is not immediately apparent.

personalized homepage
additional personalization


Website Personalization Ideas for Driving Applications

Example 8: Cambridge College uses website personalization to increase the number of applications. For highly engaged users — as determined by time on site, browsing a specific program, and multiple visits to the site — the site suggests to a user the next step in the prospective student journey: apply.

Next steps

Prompting Deposits with Website Personalization

Example 9: Pace University Law School is using a website personalization tool with integration into their CRM to allow the website to know exact prospects that have been admitted. Armed with this information, the website can automatically prompt just the admitted students to submit a deposit.

Acceptance pop-up

Increasing Participation in Open Houses

Example 10: In addition, Pace Law is using the geo-targeting aspects of website personalization to show prospects in a specific set of zip codes local admissions events.

Personalized ad

Why Website Personalization in Higher Education?

We see three main strategic reasons for using personalization in higher education:

  1. The website is at the center of the prospective student journey — if you want to influence a prospect, the website is the place to do it

  2. Website personalization is the only way to reach stealth applicants

  3. It’s the natural extension of your content strategy

I’ve written in other places about the impact of personalization in higher education enrollment strategies and if you’re looking for more website personalization ideas and examples be sure to check out this article as well with 13 other ideas.

This article was originally posted in 2018.