Highly Personalized Higher Ed Website Experiences w/ Jason Fiorotto and Eric Hazen

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Jason Fiorotto, CMO at Modern Campus, and Eric Hazen, Web Marketing Manager at Ferris State University, join the podcast to talk about the technical requirements and privacy questions involved in turning our higher ed websites into best practice ecommerce destinations.

... are starts to alter and they'll go and look for the institution that offers that. You're listening to enrollment growth university from Helix Education, the best professional development podcast for higher education leaders looking to grow enrollment at their college or university. Whether you're looking for fresh enrollment growth techniques and strategies or tools and resources, you've come to the right place. Let's get into the show. Welcome back to enrollment growth university, a proud member of the connect eedu podcast network. I'm Eric Olsen with Helix Education, and we're here today with Jason Fiarado, Cmo at modern campus, and Eric Hasen, Web Marketing Manager at Fair State University. Jason, Eric, welcome to the show Ericans are having you know. Thanks. Are Really excited to talk with you both today about the high value of highly personalized web experiences in higher read but before we dig in, can you give the listeners a little background on both yourself and your organizations, beginning with Jason? All Right, I'm Jason for Your Otto, I'm chief marketing officer of modern campus and if you're unfamiliar with modern campus where a company that is about a year old. We came together about this time last year with the formation of two companies that have been around for a couple of decades. One was the on the update now on, obviously a mass product, the web content management solution and used by number, hundreds of hundreds of schools across North American. Fact, for the number one EDU websites, the MS provider in North America. And then the second company is one of that was known as destiny solutions. It's product is destiny one, which is a leading student management platform or non traditional students. So they take of your continuing to add and workforce development programs, which happened to be the highest growing part of, I have most campuses across North America. Those of those, those two companies came together or modern campus. Then we've added a couple of their products to our couple of companies in portfolios, to our tour the story we've added since then we've added a couple other companies to our portfolio. One is a it's all around student engagement. So how don't we, how do we drive a better student, highly more highly engaged students across campus when the perspective all the way through Platin non traditional students. You know, those companies are privates presences, the the leader at the leading student engagement platform around Coquiller, Co curricular engagement, helping helping students show the value of that co curricular the things they do outside the coast room. And then the second one is is that ditch arek and they're best re catalog and a curriculum management tools, and so the collection of those of those companies are all found around student engagement. Again, from prospective student all the way through. Called that sixty years, that six year work. It recognizing the students for no longer have to to four your relationships with first institutions. They are from the time they maybe you can...

...go to summer camp, all the way through too, when they're doing programs as a student or for enrichment. Schools of today need better, better tools to so to engage with those students and at the same time, administrators like Eric need tools that represents more of a modern environment, that saves them time, to make them more efficient, to help them save costs. When you did awesome and there Cabu. Yeah, I'm the Web Marketing Manager at Fairs State University. Farris is a midsize university in big Rapid Michigan. That's kind of west North Michigan. I know it's not the a lot of name recognition for big rapids sometimes, but we're working on that. We're working on that and Farris is a great school for me personally, because Ferris is a school that's focused really on hands on learning experiences, which of course, has been a huge challenge in the last last year, but we we've worked we've worked through that pretty well with a great learning team, where the only state institution in Michigan named after our founder would bridge Ferris, and he was a I mean really a guy ahead of his time. You know, the first classes at Ferris were unique in that they had women and people of color and that was really radical back then and we're trying to keep that legacy going today and that's something I'm really proud of being at Ferris for. My role here is as Web Marketing Manager. One of my biggest jobs is working on a tool that modern campus make, which is on the campus, that the ore cms solution, and I manage web pages, but I also have the charge of marketing to perspective student and so all the tools that Jason Team are cranking out are really making my job easier. Love both of your backgrounds, perfect combination for this conversation today. To kick us off, Jason, when you and I each visit Amazoncom, we see very different things. Talk to us about why hire D needs to start similarly building highly personalized website experiences. That's a great question. Are can be hold us do this. First and foremost, students are consumers, just like the three of us are consumers. We visit Amazoncom with a certain set of expectations, especially now that we've done business with Amazon for a number of years. You know, our really one story at the Non Higher Story, but I think it helps tell all the emphasize the importance of this and everyday lives, but especially in higher it. We're going looking at it an institution of a different kind, that's a bank. It Monday leading with my bank a couple weeks ago and it was science and documents that need to be signed for a beneficiary for someone investment accounts. I walked in there the first of even though I've got a bank, a customer of this Bank for the old thirty years. When I walk in they don't recognize that loyalty I had to sign, had to work. I finally got it, got a chance to meet with the bank manager, the bank associate. They printed out forms. Having print those forms, that then had to, and I can do not, fact those forms to their head office so that...

...those so that that paperwork and then be finalized. And so from a from from me. When you have comple like Amazon or Netflix, highly personalized environments, they have those experiences and then you have that as a stark realization and you know, even though it did start, you can imagine that on some on some campuses across North America, perhaps that experience isn't too different where they still, despite lots of technology and that facilitates that process, they probably still have, if not back space or paper based propmile projects or processes, they most likely have processes that certainly could be speeded up and that would then drive in the greater personal personalization, make those perspective students feel something special. So to get the experience as they get in their in their consumer life, they also get it in their institutional life, they also get in their banking life wherever they go. If you don't do that, if you don't offer those that first highly personalized experience. Then the relationships are starts to falter and we'll go and look forward institution that offers that care. Let's say we're convinced of that philosophical agreement. We're convinced of the value here. Let's talk by the technical wow. My Amazon experience, for instance, to Jason's point, is populated with twenty one years of purchase history, my online browsing habits. How can we know enough about site visitors to create similarly high value experiences on our own higher reed websites? Sure I think there's. There's really kind of mention it there. There's really two answers to this question and the first is really a technical answer, which is using totally anonymous data that's based on our guests interactions on our website. It's the same technology cookies that keep items in your cart if you accidentally hit the back button while you're shop. Hang on on e commerce site. That that we don't need to know exactly who you are to look at your behavior on the site. So, for example, let's say I guessed that visited our big old list of a hundred and ninety academic programs a few times, but they haven't taken action, or maybe they have an applied or they haven't filled out or a quest for information about a program. We can kind of look at that and say this is a guest who needs help finding a program. That's the signal we're seeing. So the next time they go back to that page, our academic homepage, why would we serve them the same big old list? Why not serve them a messy says hey, you need help finding a program, meet with one of our pre admission advisors, or here's a calendly account for a recruiter who can help you find that program. So I mean, I guess another example I was thinking of was if a user has spent a lot of time at our college of business website, why would we force them to look through the programs for our College of Health Profession it just doesn't make sense. So technically it's just cookies where we're seeing where they've been on the site. We don't need to know their name or their email address or their blood type to see what they've done on the site and we'll use that to establish a behavior that we can then...

...target with content. The second part of that isn't so technical, which is just good old fashioned brand perception, research and understanding. Why are people coming to your university, who they are, what they're interested in and how you can invest their them. Got It? So on the on the perspective side, we can use anonymous cookie data to help provide them with a better experience. I know once we know more information about that person, the opportunity for even more personalized experience gets better. I've also seen the downsides of that, I think a lot of our listeners have. On the admission side, we have admissions counselors who say, boy, if I have these twenty five questions answered, my first phone call with the student is much better. And so you add twenty five questions to your r five form and no one feels it out. The conversations are really better for those people who do, but you lose forty percent of the students because they don't want to fill those out. How do we think about that? That from what personalization standpoint as well? How do we enable or insist on a students log in without creating similarly undue friction that causes frustration or right exit? Yeah, I think the word insist. I would look at it different way and I'd say perf the way we should look at personalization and should be done in a very thoughtful way. One is it can be a personalization can be as expansive as the school is ready to deliver. A few snare as that we see with our customers, and one is kind of very much in the same in the light that that Eric presented earlier, which is you can you can, you can use unknown visitor. So when you seeing in the example that we see often as when you when you notice a customer or perspectives, perspective student, a visitor as from out of state, the offer them, using geo targeting, you could offer them a pinuge on out of state tuition cost, maybe housing opposite of options, knowing that they're going to be moving to your school or potentially potentially evaluating housing as a as a criteria for that for that school. Or maybe you serve up information about clubs and help them fit in on campus, knowing that it can do understand they may be coming either without that community to support around them. Or you can note them, notice them visiting biology pages, you serve up pages with into on stamp programs, clubs or scholarships, and then we know that and once in register and then you've had it. So much more valuable information on them and you can provide even greater value in that personalization. So targeting specific web and even catalog content based on the profile that they created or, better yet, or taking that a step further, you could sink with your crm or SI as state and offering experience based on where they are in the enrollment plant. Huge value for both the student because of getting that much more relevant information, and also for the school folks like Eric, where they can give them offers, they help, they're going to help them...

...convert further on, further down the funnel, and I guess I'll come back to that word. Insist we do. We need to exist on that. The answers metal their experience, the steem the prospective students, a visitor to your website. Their experience should be up to them. How we enable that, IE, if you're going to ask for precious contact infoe those seal fifteen or twenty five fields in the in the in the form to make sure you're delivering similar, similarly high value. And so proves that I'm a market run marketing at that modern campus. On our website we offer high quality content. Blogs are evolution articles, case studies in the registrations required, and we want visitors and prospects to consume our content as they educate themselves. That with with research dripping content like high value, high value content or higher value content such as a report every week co produced with industry carners, when perhaps that are valuating solutions, then we ask the prospect for a few contact details and we can personalize their experience from then on. It's ultimately all up to them. When we can, we have to deliver the value. That's the terms are with the level of investment that we're asking them to make. You providing the rich contact information. We've talked about variable content already in this conversation in terms of if we understand the students academic interist, we can make the website much more relevant to them. Eric Similarly, how could we utilize tools like ai chat bots to if we understand what the next step is for the student in their enrollment process, how do we use something like a chat bought to help facilitate that? Sure at Farris we have a couple of different AI based chat bots that we were on on the site in our missions area also in some of our student affairs areas like enjoy the finding clubs, finding different events on campus. And the more we know about the user, obviously the more accurate and valuable that content from that chat bought is going to be. But we can also set up the chat by in a way that it's going to ask a sequence of questions that help them get to know that that student very quickly. So this is a fantastic tool for marketers to drive people to the next step because we can look at their question as students question, and say, Oh, okay, you are at this point in the funnel. Your logical next up is so another thing that we have observed with our chat bots is that I think especially with today's students, you know the conversation wants. They want the conversation to be on their terms. So, just like we're personalizing the site, we can make that conversation on their terms by allowing them to have it in an asynchronous format. We often see see that a user or a guest to our site will open the chat, click into the chat, start typing a message and then leave the site and then they come back and they click into the chat and they start typing something and maybe this time they send it and there's long, long gaps in between messages. Yeah, and...

...these the users know that this is not a human talking and you you would think of that as a negative, but in are what we've observed at least, is that it appears that this makes the student more comfortable because they don't feel like they're wasting somebody's time. So if I'm asking a robot a question and I'm not going to respond again for the next six hours, I don't feel bad. I'm not happy to come back and continue that conversation on my terms when I want to, and that really creates a personalized experience that you just you can't recreate with a a human chat. Yeah, I'm working through that with my therapist right now. I'm spending a way too much time being apologetic to online chat bots. Jac Let's talk about the future of this. Is All really exciting. It seems very progressive the web systems. You have a fair stay, Jason. What's the future here that you're the most excited about in terms of what does the future perspective student experience look like in a hyper personalized website world? I mean the future very much is today. So this is not some futuristic ten, twenty years from now personalization. There's a there's a way that personalization is is living today in our outside world as consumers, the Convention Amazon and and Netflix and many, many others. I continue know, typically a consumer environment, that that future is exactly possible within, within higher at. That's what gets me excited about that is our ability to then take that capability personalization and bring it to bear in in higher at, give students and experience at suited to their individual preferences, the way they want to be person how much their personal their experience they want to have personalized we can offer to they want to visit anonymously, fine, we can still need to j to deliver an exceptional experience. They want to enrich their experience by telling the school a bit more about themselves, fantastic. Well, reward that with Rish personal as I personalized experiences. And then we kind after our communication channels a stain way. I bound communications. Maybe personalized death, and that's not of course. are familiar with the most familiar. That's their most preferred Jamils, SMS. When they visit our page, they offer we can offer them a personalized websat experience at air because it was just highlighting that's the type of you to be and B to see experience we're all used to as we need to ensure the student touch points mirror those best practices. And you know, by the way, those same experiences make light easier for the air to the world induce the results for matters. Most marketers, I am it's conversions. It's all about conversions. How do I shure it and how do I tighten that enrollment funnel so I don't see the drop off that I I tend to see from page to page? And so you know, I'm modern campus per seeing to rect tremendous results from our customers in terms of page the page conversion from this page to the next. That in the in the in the in the area. Fifty percent in improve it in conversion percentages by virtue of...

...having personalization and been place. So it's super exciting. At the same time it's, you know, it's practical, it's not, you know, wild well, it's in the future for higher and these are practical steps that we can and we can take to that. I love it. In the future is here. Given that reality, let's leave the audience with some next steps, knowing that this is here, it's readily available to them. For those excited about personalization, how can they start tiptoeing toward that, which is their next step space? Starting with Jason, and I'd say it touches on all the things that are rightfully said earlier on, this is, you know, gathering data such predata web what Google, Google and Olytic wed conversion data. What trends are you seeing? Where are the visitors coming from? What reaches are most frequently visited? Where are those converting clifts along the way? And then, with that data, look for quick wins. Where can you have the biggest impact related to your school's mission? So, for instance, if, if we put personalization strategies in place to target military veterans, how can we put personal vation strategies of place to help respective students and their parents Geel more profitent about postgraduation employment opportunities? How can we increase the involvement of alumni? How can we extract, by achieving in state students with honor honors programs merited? All those are personalization opportunities and are there are playbooks available and shameless plug through other campus in Omni they cms that that fair or state uses. Those are those are playbooks that are that are that are available. So we make it easy for our for our customers, are our prospects, to look at how they can not just get excited about personal zation with how they can put it in a place of their campus to fame. Awesome are cow by you? Yeah, I think Jason's right out and I think the research that we've been able to lean on, both our brand perception research as well as our, shameless brag pretty advanced and analytics capabilities on our web team over here. Yeah, that have allowed us to identify what is going to provide value to our perspective students and what is helping them cross the finish line as a fair state bulldog. I think that it's it's important to to think about what are your what are your actual goals with personalization? I think we're uniquely positioned in that our website is run out of our marketing team. So of course the first thing that we want is people to apply and then to enroll, but there's those transitional steps that get students to that point, those transitional conversions, and establishing those right up front is really important. Making sure that across your institution every one is the lined on what those steps are. If you have your marketing team thinking that a transitional step is to visit campus and your admission team is thinking a transitional step is an admission meeting with a recruiter on zoom, your alignment is going to struggle and you're not going to be able to personalize in a way that really makes the most impact. So I think doing the groundwork, the research, the planning, getting everybody on the same...

...page, because if you don't know what story you want to tell, personalization is going to exposee you. But if you do know what story you want to tell, you're going to tell it in a way that is more engaging than ever before. Eric Jason, thank you both so much of your time today. What's the best place for listeners to reach out if they have any follow up questions? Starting with Jason, of course, water tippascom. That's our that's our digital destillation or front door or to our company. So it's encourage anybody to visit there. Of course, I also reachurch me personally with my email address. Corrected me on Linkedin. However, they'd like to learn more or tell us about their their progress of personalization. I would love to hear awesome and Eric. Yeah, absolutely, please check out ferrist that you to. You are really proud of what we've done there with personal advation and can't thank modern campus enough to make it so easily scalable for so please check out fairs. You and also, if anything, also thank you very much and if anybody would like to reach out, I'm on linkedin and might email addressed to your awesome Jason. Eric, thanks so much for joining us today. Thank you. Attracting today's new post traditional learners means adopting new enrollment strategies. Helix educations data driven, enterprise wide approach to enrollment growth is uniquely helping colleges and universities thrive in this new education landscape, and Helix has just published the second edition of their enrollment growth playbook with fifty percent brand new content on how institutions can solve today's most pressing enrollment growth challenges. Downloaded today for free at Helix Educationcom. Playbook. You've been listening to enrollment growth university from Helix Education. To ensure that you never miss an episode, subscribe to the shown itunes or your favorite podcast player thank you so much for listening until next time.

In-Stream Audio Search

NEW

Search across all episodes within this podcast

Episodes (246)