Leveraging Personalization to Drive Strategic Marketing Initiatives

Illumination by Modern Campus

In today’s consumer world, students expect institutions to deliver a similar seamless, personalized experience to that of Amazon. This means delivering the right content at the right time. 

Personalization is a non-negotiable for today’s modern learner. 

In the sixteenth episode of Illumination by Modern Campus, Eric Hazen, Web Marketing Manager at Ferris State University, highlighted higher ed’s need to shift recruiting tactics. 

“There’s not enough students to go around and a ton of people competing for them,” he said. 

The competition is not only among other institutions but also with non-traditional educational opportunities that require less time and money for students to earn a certificate or badge. 

But what’s missing from these non-traditional offerings is connection.

“Our brand perception research has told us that a huge portion of what students like about Ferris is that we have that personalized vibe,” Hazen said. 

Students are looking for their institutions to show how much they care about them as individuals, not as a cohort. It becomes a game of show and tell. 

“The tools that Modern Campus is bringing out now are allowing us to show instead of tell in a way that we haven't been able to do before,” Hazen said. 

In this competitive marketplace, it’s focusing on a richer experience that aligns with the rest of the consumer industry. 

As Hazen points out, thinking about students as customers may be uncomfortable for some higher ed professionals, but it doesn’t have to be. 

“If you start thinking about them as somebody that you're here to serve, things change a little bit,” he said. 

To best serve the modern learner, it starts with your digital presence—something most traditional institutions have not strategically focused on. 

“Higher ed has not moved into a place of prioritizing the user experience,” Hazen said. 

By creating a great digital experience, institutions can begin to move the needle toward a student-centered approach. 

It begins with designing a website that focuses on the prospective student. This means providing the right content for the right learners at the right time

Marketing teams need to ensure that their website is accessible and engaging to any prospective student. But for other departments across the institution, it’s about seeing the website through a different lens. 

This creates tension around who the target audience should be for the website. 

What’s needed are personalization tools that allow you to curate content for a specific audience based on their engagement with the website. This allows the institution to deliver the personalized experience for the many audiences they serve. 

“Known user personalization is going to be really game-changing,” Hazen said. 

By collecting user experience data, institutions can connect with students on the same level that Amazon provides. Students feel like more than just a number and are more likely to stay with an institution that is tailored to their needs. 

And that tailored, personalized experience needs to start from the moment someone reaches your website.

“There are things current students know about us that prospective students don’t,” Hazen said, “This is a story that we’re not telling well enough to prospective students.” 


Full Episode

Student Experience Website Personalization

Last updated: February 1, 2021


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