As a leader in the higher education industry, Higher Ed Growth has first-hand knowledge of the challenges that schools and partners encounter with their inquiry generation goals. Last year, HEG was approached by a partner who owns multiple websites directed towards education prospects. Although the sites were attracting high amounts of traffic from outbound marketing, conversions were on the decline as form drop-off rates increased. HEG decided to study these sites’ advertising and web forms to determine why visitors were not converting.
The main problem that HEG identified was the use of link-outs to generate inquiries. In this case of link-out advertising, visitors who clicked on education display ads were directed away from the initial site and transferred to a separate landing page to fill out an inquiry form and receive results. This method causes friction for the user at multiple points. Taking a user to a separate landing page creates a disjointed experience as the branding, creative and layout change between sites. Also, although the user is transferred to another site, their information is not, forcing them to re-enter required form data. These additional pages, clicks and steps cause user indecision and distrust, decreasing likelihood of conversion.
These websites were also using inline frames (IFrames) to capture user information. While IFrames do not transfer visitors to other websites like link-outs, the user experience is equally fragmented. The ad creative and form are inserted onto the domain without consideration of the existing site design, resulting in visitor uncertainty of the website and increasing drop-off rates.
In addition to negative user experience and reduction in conversion rates, HEG found that link-outs and IFrames require the website owner to relinquish control of the user. This web owner could not update third party advertising creative to ensure cohesiveness with the sites. When he could place pixels on web forms to track conversions, the tracking was unreliable, leaving him unable to make optimizations. Although he was generating traffic for domains, this partner had little to no control of website monetization. After reviewing these issues, HEG realized that a more efficient process for online inquiry generation was necessary to increase website conversions and revenue.
Higher Ed Growth developed EDU Server in response to the disadvantages of link-out and IFrame campaigns. This product was easily integrated into the partners’ website, and studied for effectiveness.
To combat drop-off rates resulting from link-outs, HEG embedded the advertising and data collection into one seamless process on the website. As a result, the user is able to view ads and enter information without ever being redirected to another site or page. In order to continue a theme of unity between the sites and advertising, EDU Server gives complete control of creative to the website owner. The owner can customize the content, layout and design of the ads and forms, increasing cohesiveness and brand trust.
Maintaining the idea that a web owner should have control of their website traffic and advertisements, this product also gives the owner the ability to target visitors by demographic. This allows them to display relevant ads and information to the audience, increasing click-through rates. Unlike link-outs and IFrames, EDU Server records user data entered on the site through events such as registration. When the prospect selects an offer all of their information is pre-populated, so the user is not asked for the same information they have already provided. Within 1-2 clicks, the prospect can input their information, receive results and request information from schools without any friction points.
To support EDU Server and maintain a seamless process, HEG leverages its proprietary inquiry management technology, Enrollment Advisor (EA). When a prospect submits their information, the data is sent to EA, which qualifies the prospect and uses an intelligent matching algorithm to respond with eligible school programs for the site to display. The user then selects which programs they are interested in, and EA sends their information to the chosen schools.
EA also alerts if a prospect is unqualified for schools, reducing return rates for the web owner. Prospects can then be easily routed to other offers or funnels as decided by the web owner. EDU Server is able to incorporate scoring services, LeadiD and TCPA consent in order to ensure transparency. Additionally, all aspects and attributes of inquiries are tracked and stored by the system and are available to the web owner. This best-in-class technology allows the partner to optimize traffic and advertising, allowing him to efficiently monetize the websites.
When Higher Ed Growth’s partner used link-outs and IFrames to generate inquiries, the websites were converting about 0.6% of visitors, with a Revenue per Impression of $0.15. Within a year of using EDU Server to improve user experience and tracking, this web owner saw a rise in conversions to 2.3% and Revenue per Impression increased to $0.56. This increase in both conversion of revenue of over 270% demonstrates the effectiveness of the EDU Server technology. By creating a seamless, simple and customized experience for visitors, this service increases click-through rates, conversions and revenues for web owners. Higher Ed Growth looks forward to helping more partners reach their inquiry generation goals with EDU Server.