Why a Static Higher Ed Website is a Doomed Website

Your marketing team spends a ton of money driving traffic to your higher ed website. As they should, since we’re living in an increasingly digital world. But what if all that money ends up being a waste? The harsh reality is, if your site isn’t updated regularly and optimized for engagement, your school is bound to get lost in the shuffle.

It’s a challenge for higher ed marketing teams to continually update their website design and content. There’s a never ending list of to-dos on the list, and often not enough staff to do them. Plus, not everyone can go into a CMS and make updates without at least some level of training. Even if you do have experience, if your CMS itself isn’t scalable or able to accommodate new initiatives, the task of consistently updating your site becomes unmanageable.

No matter the barriers, in order for your website to be a successful marketing tool, it must be regularly refreshed with relevant content and design elements. After all, a higher ed institution’s website should unfailingly serve as the cornerstone for all digital and real world marketing efforts- and one that remains static will be left behind.

Keeping Your Higher Ed Website Updated Keeps You In the Race

There are many reasons why keeping your higher ed website design and content updated should be a priority. It’s not just about making it look pretty. If you want a competitive advantage over other schools, it’s important that you stay apprised of who your target demographic is and how to build your site around your overall enrollment strategy. Let’s get into it.

Support Specific Campaigns and Other Marketing Cases

Unlike in the early days of the world wide web, higher ed websites simply don’t function the same as print media anymore. In the earlier days of the internet, pages were cut into sections and built out of static code. Making even minor adjustments to published pages was either a slog or altogether impossible.

Fortunately for marketers, most sites are now built on a Content Management System (CMS). This makes it easier for users, with basic training, to change content and create custom page layouts without any coding required. It also streamlines the process so that marketers can build landing pages specifically designed to support a marketing campaign.

For example, if you were running a multi-channel campaign inviting students to a campus event, it might make sense to create a custom landing page using similar branding and messaging in order to invoke a sense of continuity across all campaign materials.

Using the same visual elements creates exactly the kind of cohesiveness needed to bridge the gap between your ads and your website, keeping students engaged. Without a scalable website, these kinds of quick, on the fly updates become major bottlenecks.

Boost Engagement With Targeted Users and Prospective Students

It’s much easier to increase engagement on your site when the landing page has relevant content. Think of it this way: The prospective student who makes their way to your website from, say, a Google ad, found your ad by searching Google with a specific intent. If you update your landing page so it’s consistent in tone and message with the Google ad, the prospect’s intent will often be fulfilled. Their needs are met, their questions are answered.

One thing that marketing teams often overlook is that small updates can make a huge difference. Take calls-to-action (CTAs). There should be (but often aren’t) different CTAs at different stages of the academic cycle. For example, in the spring and summer, prospective students and their parents tend to schedule campus visits. The CTA may be to schedule a tour or speak with a campus rep. And during the fall, the CTA might be to check off a list of application materials required for upcoming deadlines. In December and January, they receive word on their admissions status and are considering their options. Nudge them with a CTA to schedule a follow up with a campus rep, or another campus visit.

Outside of creating relevant content, it’s these tweaks and adjustments that can contribute to a lower bounce rate and ultimately increase your enrollment numbers.

Create Opportunities to Rank Website Content in SERPs

They say the best place to hide a dead body is on the second page of Google search results. Don’t be that dead body.

Google has a process for determining where websites land on their SERPs, and its AI is more sophisticated than ever before. First, Google crawls the website’s content, analyzing the it’s relevance (e.g.,On-site SEO). But, it doesn’t just identify keywords. It analyzes the context of these words, in addition to user engagement. You want to ensure that site visitors are finding the content they are looking for so they engage and interact with your site naturally.

Say a prospective student searches for a “liberal arts scholarship program.” If others have found your website using the same search phrase, and clicked through several pages before submitting a form, Google will see this engagement and be more likely to rank your website higher for the same search in the future.

This is because Google will have, over time, recognized and ranked your site as one that not only has information about this search query, but also gets engagement from those searches. Moreover, your website visitor will likely stick around, exploring the site and inch closer to that enrollment funnel.

When you continually provide information on a topic that fosters engagement, you’re more likely to stay on Google’s radar.

Ensure Your Website is Anything But Static

As we mentioned earlier, updating a website regularly is a challenge if you don’t have the resources to do it. Here’s where Rowland can help. We are a higher education digital partner with extensive experience in the industry. Along with filling in capability gaps, we build and maintain iterative higher ed websites that can help you achieve your recruitment goals.

Websites should never be set-and-forget. Rather, they should operate as one piece of a larger, data-driven marketing strategy that evolves with your target demographics’ needs. Let us help you get there. Reach out.

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