Online shopping has become an easy, engaging mobile web experience. Why shouldn’t applying to a university be the same?
Universities spend a lot of time and money ensuring their website looks great, but tend to overlook their application experience. I often visit university websites with sophisticated animations and imagery, but when I click “Apply now,” I’m faced with a clunky, outdated form. There’s no doubt that a well-designed website will inspire trust and brand credibility, but so should the application form that’s responsible for the exchange of information between the university and its prospects. Ultimately, what happens after the “Apply now” button is clicked will determine whether or not you close the deal with any potential applicant that visits your site.
A dynamic, user-friendly and properly branded application portal can have a dramatic impact on the number of applications that you receive. According to a recent survey we conducted with postgraduate applicants, 67.71 percent of applicants do not seek advice or guidance from the ad-missions team prior to starting an application. Knowing this, universities should view their applica-tion portal as a marketing vehicle where they can interact and engage with each prospect in a personalized and relevant way.
"Universities should view their application portal as a marketing vehicle where they can interact and engage with each prospect in a personalized and relevant way."
Here are five tips for effectively optimizing your application portal to attract a larger applicant base:
1. Create a branded application site & portal. Provide your applicants with an intuitive and easily accessible portal where they can not only submit all of their application materials, but also consume relevant content about your school and programs.
2. Customize and configure your content. With dynamic content, you can control how applicants move through the process, as well as the type of content they see. You can define the student relationship lifecycle — from new prospect all the way through to admitted and beyond — and the portal will automatically display relevant and personalized content to each applicant based on their interests and what stage of the lifecycle they are in.
3. Collect better data with interactive online forms. Today’s applicants want to apply for courses with a snap of their fingers. With this in mind you need to create powerful, interactive, smart online forms to get the information you need in a way that’s quick and intuitive for the applicant. Modern technology allows you to build forms with social media integration, integrated reference management, multilingual capabilities and automatic response validation.
4. Implement smart, time-saving automations. Significantly lighten the load placed on administrators by automating routine tasks within the application process. Automatically send confirmation and reminder emails to applicants, move applications between stages, assign applications to reviewers, and more. Free up administrators' time for more essential tasks, like growing your candidate pool and finding the best students.
5. Manage everything in one place, reduce workloads and boost productivity. When applications start streaming in, you should be able to view everything in one place with interactive dashboards that track applications and reviews. Easily sort and filter through applications, see who's done what and what still needs to be done, and keep tabs on all in-progress reviews and evaluations.
Proactively educating and helping prospects not only empowers them and makes them better equipped to tackle the big decision of selecting a university, it also creates a layer of trust and rapport. You’re essentially letting your potential students know that not only are you listening, but you’re also truly there to help them achieve their goals and overcome their challenges. By actually following through and providing support throughout the student journey, you’re reflecting the image of excellence that you want your university to embody.