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Archive for the ‘Conversion Optimization & Usability’ Category

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10 Steps to Choosing the Right Imagery for Higher Ed

By | June 10, 2014

Imagery is one of the first things prospective students see when they arrive at your website or landing page. Even if you aren’t able to hire your own professional photographer, paying close attention can help you make a memorable and accurate first impression on students. Find out how to choose the right images for higher ed websites – even if you’re limited to stock photography:

  1. Choose imagery that reflects your school’s brand. This will help your visitors to immediately identify who you are and what you do. Pay special attention to lifestyle, demographics and even color pallet. The more ways in which you can align your imagery with your brand, the better.
  2. Pay special attention to color, vibrancy and style. Form a consistent, site-wide look by seeking out images that go together. Look for photos that will maintain a uniform color pallet and vibrancy. To be sure your imagery doesn’t compete with your call to action, look for photos with more muted tones.
    bus
  3. Include photos of people. Human faces tend to form a stronger connection with students than non-living objects, but even implied humanistic characteristics can work.
  4. Choose photos that display emotion. A connection can often be enhanced through empathy formed from an emotional response. When students experience certain emotions, their ability to be persuaded can often increase.
  5. Choose normal, everyday people. Stray from using models that look like they’re models. To form a stronger connection, choose photos of people who seem relatable or approachable.
    hotteacher
  6. Avoid the typical “stock” photo look. Try to choose photography that looks natural and not staged, posed or cliché. Staged photos can make you look phony or insincere, especially when you’re trying to build trust.
    librarian
  7. Avoid imagery that isn’t believable. Don’t use photographs that look unnatural or overly Photoshop-ed. Choose photos that appear crisp, in-focus and professional yet realistic.
    college
  8. Tell a story. Choose photos that offer a deeper message than merely a visual. Resist the urge to make the story too literal, but don’t tend toward overly generic either. Aim for a happy medium, leaving just enough up for interpretation to connect with the majority of your audience.
  9. Pay attention to images that could be subjective. A photo has the ability to completely change the meaning of a headline or other copy. Be sure your copy and imagery work well together.
    studentpointing
  10. Pay attention to directional cues within the imagery. There are many subtle cues in imagery that may seem subliminal, yet have a crucial effect on where users focus. Take advantage of cues such as line of sight, forward motion, pointing, or even the direction in which a model is facing to direct attention toward your call to action.

How do you choose the right imagery for higher ed? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

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Get deep analysis and take advantage of the latest marketing trends in higher education:

EDU-2014_Qtly_Standard_CTA

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Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO) and Why It’s Important in B2B Lead-Generation

By | May 6, 2014

What is CRO?

Conversion rate optimization (CRO) is a process of increasing the percentage of users to convert when on a website, landing page or email.

The biggest benefit of CRO is that it helps increase more revenue for a company’s online needs.

  • MAXIMIZE Return-on-investment (ROI)
  • Generate more sales or leads with the same amount of traffic
  • Enhances website and gives a competitive edge

Evaluating a page’s or site’s sales funnel can uncover opportunities to reduce anxiety and friction for the user. What sometimes catches people off guard is that even the smallest change can greatly increase conversions on a page. In fact, there have been tests that prove that simply changing the color or the wording on a button (call-to-action) can increase conversion rate by as much as 200%.

In the world of B2B conversions, the great thing about CRO is that it helps all marketing work better. Driving people to your site or landing page is not cheap. If you don’t give them an easy and exciting path to what they need, they will most likely not come back.

CRO Is More than Just Testing Color

CRO is more than just analyzing numbers and testing colors and layouts. It is all about the needs/wants of the customers and finding out where the website or landing page fails to fulfill that need or want. There are quick wins in most everything, and CRO is not an exception. Implementing some easy fixes to a site or landing page can yield significant increases in conversion. On the other hand, to get the full ‘lift’ potential, some investigation is required, such as:

  • Persona research
  • Who are the visitors? Finding the right people
  • What is/are the action ‘funnel(s)’?
  • What are the goals?

CRO is and should be top-of-mind for all companies that have a digital presence, be it B2B, lead-gen, e-commerce, etc.  The impact that it can have on maximizing ROI in itself is why everyone should have CRO on the top of the list for B2B lead-generation.

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Navigating the Sea of Marketing Changes to Boost Enrollments

By | March 21, 2014

Is your school’s website too cool? Yes, I said it. Teenagers and college-aged students (who take the cost of education seriously) don’t want to waste their time on a website that favors style over substance. And that might be costing you money if you’re like many university websites.

Additionally, the way prospects look for schools is different these days, from mobile browsing to asynchronous and around-the-clock research. This can be a problem—in a recent study, 48% of prospective students didn’t realize that a university offered the program that they were looking for even when it did—or it can be your competitive advantage.

EDU-2014_Qtly_Standard_CTAWhat does your university get out of its website (and marketing)?

  • Are you blowing budget on wasteful paid search advertising, or are you beating Google’s industry average of $4.36 per click?
  • What kind of click-thru rates do your ads see?
  • Are you getting found in organic search results by prospects in the early research stages?
  • Are your email messages taking advantage of fast, automatic loading of images in Gmail, a favored platform of your would-be students?
  • Have you tapped into the ripe potential of Bing Ads’ still immature marketplace for education keyword bidding?

These questions are just the beginning. See what else you should be thinking about as an education marketer in our 2014 EDU Standard.”

 

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How and Why You Should Give Buyers What They Want

By | February 25, 2014

Attention, service providers! To some of you, this is preaching to the choir, but I think a new Hinge study (via MarketingProfs) can teach those of you in accounting, marketing, legal, consulting, or tech firms how you should be “selling” yourselves.

 1,000 buyers stated the most commonly used resources for evaluations of professional services were:

  1. Service providers’ websites (81%)
    Translation: Make sure your website is in tip-top shape, from user experience to conversion potential to resourcefulness.
  2. Online search (63%)
    Translation: SEO and content marketing are going to help you get found, whether from organic or paid search results.
  3. Asking friends/colleagues whether they’ve heard of the person/firm (62%)
    Translation: Making a (good) name for yourself is essential.
  4. Using social media (60%)
    Translation: Obviously an extension of #3, you need to be aware of what questions people are asking about the services you provide … and what they’re saying/asking about your company.
  5.  Talking to references provided by the seller (55%)
    Translation: Keep customers happy ecstatic, and they will want to share that enthusiasm with others.

In light of these areas I would like to add that the original root words for sell mean “to serve,” as noted by renowned sales author Jill Konrath—who recently conducted a workshop at Fathom.

The notion of customer service being important may seem cliche or obvious, but extending its reach to the sales realm has serious ramifications. I would argue that the underlying question behind everything your business does to create new customers or retain existing customers should be:

Are you truly serving? 

In other words, are you meeting unmet needs and providing answers to questions even unasked? From every interaction a customer has with your business, from first point of contact to ongoing communication as a longtime loyal advocate, are you making them feel great about what you do?

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How & Why to Use Testimonials in Higher-Ed Marketing

By | January 30, 2014

Female college studentsWhen students face the decision of which school to attend, they not only require more information than needed for lesser decisions. They also often conform to others’ opinions. It’s a big decision that involves big research. And adolescents tend to look to their peers for cues concerning the correct decision. Adolescents are especially actively seeking social proof to assist them in decision-making.

Higher ed marketing professionals can help connect prospective students with the confirmation they require to find the right school. We often attempt to persuade them with well-written value propositions and flattering claims about the institution, but students are probably skeptical if your school is always complimenting itself.

If you’re not supplementing your content with confirmation or social proof, some prospective students will altogether dismiss what your institution has to say. One of the best and easiest ways to counter this is through the use of testimonials. Testimonials validate any claims by providing evidence from actual students or graduates that the institution’s message is indeed accurate.

When utilizing testimonials:


Choose testimonials that provide evidence that back your claims.

The testimonials should support and enhance your institution’s message.

Provide varied perspectives.
Testimonials should be carefully chosen to represent a variety of unique and specific details. Avoid using generic or impersonal comments that can be perceived as having the same voice or holding no authenticity.

Choose personas that will connect with prospective students on a personal level.
By utilizing testimonials from students or graduates who are most like your target audience, those testimonials become easily relatable and build a trusting rapport.

Focus on the student/graduate experience and success rather than your institution.
Make it less about the school and more about the student. How are current students and graduates benefiting from attending the school?

Provide personal details.
Revealing details about the person sharing a testimony, such as name, academic program, graduation year, or a photo of the student whenever possible, can add great value. Show your prospective students who the writer is and why their opinion matters. Otherwise, the person’s opinion might hold little significance.

Use short video testimonials in addition to written testimonials.
Video can add a lot to the authenticity of testimonials. It helps by putting a face and personality behind the opinion, helping the viewer to form a stronger personal connection. Avoid a scripted demeanor to maintain authenticity.

Add testimonials to other content.
Rather than clumping all of your testimonials together on one dedicated page, include them at various touch points whenever a little bit of coaxing might be needed. Your school can improve conversion optimization by placing testimonials near lead-gen forms or other calls to action.

How have you seen success with testimonials? Share your tips in the comments.

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Learn about how to nurture across the student life cycle and earn $26 for every $1 invested in marketing automation:

Nurturing Across the Student Life Cycle

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