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The power of website personalization for higher education

Struggling to stand out in a sea of higher education websites? Learn how website personalization can attract top students and increase engagement and applications.
Engaged higher education student exploring a customized website experience.

In higher education marketing, a one-size-fits-all approach simply won’t do. Prospective students today want personalized experiences that match their individual aspirations and needs. With a strong website personalization strategy higher education institutions can meet those expectations.

This blog dives deep into the power of website personalization and its impact on student recruitment, engagement, and retention. We’ll explore what it is, why it matters, and how to use it for your institution’s success.

Understanding website personalization

Imagine a website that can anticipate your every need. Website personalization tailors a user’s experience based on their unique characteristics. This can include demographics, academic interests, previous website behavior, and even geolocation. By dynamically adjusting content, calls to action, and graphics, institutions can create a more engaging and relevant experience for each visitor.

Why personalize your higher education website?

Personalizing your website can positively impact your educational institution:

  • Boost enrollment rates: Studies show personalization can increase conversion rates by up to 63%. When prospective students visit your website and see content that resonates with their academic interests and career aspirations, they’re more likely to be drawn in and complete the enrollment process.
  • Enhanced user experience: A website showcasing programs relevant to a student’s interests and highlighting campus life based on their location creates a welcoming and informative experience. This sets your institution apart from the competition.
  • Improved student retention: Personalization isn’t just for prospective students. Tailoring content and resources to current students’ needs and progress fosters a stronger sense of belonging and supports their success. 
  • Boosted alumni engagement: Personalized outreach through the website keeps alumni connected with their alma mater, encouraging donations and fostering lifelong relationships.
  • Data-driven decisions: Website personalization allows you to gather valuable data on visitor behavior and preferences. This data empowers you to make informed decisions for strategic marketing initiatives specific to your higher education institution. 

How can I personalize my higher education website?

Here are some practical tips that can transform your website and make it more appealing to students.

1. Audience segmentation

Identify different audience segments such as prospective students, current students, alumni, and parents. Tailor content and messaging to address the specific needs and concerns of each group.

Prospective students 

Suppose a high school senior is passionate about environmental science. In that case, a personalized website experience might showcase your environmental science program’s unique research opportunities, such as studying coral reef restoration in the Caribbean or air quality monitoring in urban environments. 

Highlight testimonials from successful alumni in the field, like a graduate who now works for a national park service. Prominently display upcoming virtual information sessions specifically focused on environmental science careers. This targeted approach makes your institution stand out and increases the chances of converting a motivated student.

Current students

Utilize internal data to tailor content. For example, a struggling first-year engineering student might see recommendations for academic support resources specifically geared towards engineering challenges, like tutoring services or workshops on mastering complex software. 

Suggest workshops on time management skills to help them stay organized. Showcase stories of student success stories from similar academic backgrounds, like a senior who overcame challenges and landed a coveted internship at a top aerospace firm. This personalized support fosters a sense of belonging and empowers them to thrive.


Personalize greetings based on graduation year or major. Highlight upcoming events relevant to their field, like industry lectures for business alumni or continuing education workshops for educators. Showcase career development resources offered to alumni, such as resume writing assistance or online networking platforms. 

Personalize content based on their interests gleaned from past interactions, like showcasing athletics updates for former athletes or departmental news for science alumni. This approach cultivates a sense of community and encourages continued engagement with the university.

Parents or guardians

Address their specific concerns with targeted content. This could include financial aid resources tailored to their income bracket, detailed on-campus safety information highlighting security measures and emergency protocols, and testimonials from satisfied parents whose children thrived at your institution.

2. Personalized content recommendations

Take website personalization to the next level by leveraging dynamic content. This allows you to recommend relevant content that piques a visitor’s interest and keeps them engaged.

Imagine a student browsing your computer science program page. By analyzing their browsing history and interests, the website might recommend:

  • Related courses: Artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, or data structures – courses that complement their chosen program and spark curiosity about specific areas within computer science.
  • Skill-building workshops: Upcoming coding workshops targeted toward honing programming skills – a valuable resource to help them excel in their future studies.
  • Student club information: This will help foster a sense of community and provide opportunities to connect with like-minded peers who share their passion for computer science.

By dynamically suggesting relevant courses, workshops, and clubs, you create a personalized learning journey for each visitor. This not only enhances their experience but also encourages deeper exploration of academic interests and extracurricular involvement.

3. Dynamic landing pages

Imagine a high school student from California clicks on a social media ad for your nursing program. A static landing page might leave them feeling like just another number. But with dynamic landing pages, their experience transforms into a personalized welcome wagon.

Here’s how dynamic landing pages create a connection:

Location-based content: The landing page automatically adjusts to display content tailored to the visitor’s location, showcasing accessible and relevant programs and opportunities. By filtering content based on location and interests, the page highlights your institution’s local clinical partnerships, emphasizing practical applications and nearby career potential.

Success stories they’ll recognize: The page features user-generated content (UGC) with testimonials from Californian alumni who are now successful registered nurses. Seeing graduates from their own state thrive fosters a sense of possibility and inspires them to envision their own future success.

Targeted virtual tours: Prominently displayed are upcoming virtual tours specifically designed for West Coast students. The tours are in their location and provides a convenient way for them to explore the program and campus virtually.

By dynamically adjusting content based on visitor details, you create a hyper-personalized experience that resonates with their specific interests and location. This significantly enhances the user experience and dramatically increases the chance of converting a curious visitor into a future student.

4. Triggered calls-to-action

When personalizing your higher education website, it’s essential to use actionable language that moves the visitor through their unique journey. Triggered calls-to-action (CTAs) can have a direct impact on visitor engagement and user experience. 

By implementing relevant and timely CTAs based on individual behaviors and preferences, you can create more compelling incentives for visitors to act.

Here are some examples of triggered calls-to-action in different stages of the user journey:

Early researcher: A prospective student starts reading about a particular program on your website. After they spend a certain amount of time on the page or scroll down to a specific point, a CTA could appear, offering them a downloadable program brochure with more information.

Campus tour stage: As a student gets closer to visiting the campus, the call-to-action can shift to something like “schedule a campus tour” or “register for a virtual open house,” allowing them to experience your institution firsthand before making a decision.

Application phase: For students nearing the application deadline, use a clear and concise “apply now” button, which can be triggered based on their browsing history and the deadline’s proximity. This CTA prompts them to take the next step in the enrollment process.

Tailored content engagement: Use triggered CTAs to offer value-added content or resources when a visitor shows high interest in a particular topic, like subscribing to a department-specific newsletter or registering for a relevant workshop.

By strategically using triggered calls-to-action based on visitor behavior and preferences, your higher education website can provide a more personalized experience, encouraging visitors to take the desired actions that align with their interests and the stage of their enrollment journey.

5. Personalized onsite popovers

Envision a parent researching scholarship opportunities for their child on your website. With personalized onsite popovers, their experience becomes more tailored, engaging, and valuable.

Here’s how personalized onsite popovers enhance the experience:

Behavior-based triggers: Popovers can be triggered by various visitor behaviors, such as time spent on a specific page or scrolling to a particular part of the website. For example, if a parent spends a significant amount of time researching scholarship opportunities, offering a downloadable scholarship guide would be an appropriate popover to enhance their experience.

Deep-dive into interests: Popovers consider a visitor’s interests based on their browsing patterns. If a visitor has shown interest in multiple articles on financial aid or work-study programs, an onsite popover may prompt them to subscribe to a financial aid tips newsletter tailored to their needs.

Tailored reminders: Personalized popovers take note of returning visitors and their previous browsing behaviors. A popover can remind a returning visitor of an upcoming scholarship application deadline and offer to connect them with a financial aid counselor if they require assistance.

Applying personalized onsite popovers allows you to engage visitors based on their unique needs and interests actively. This personalized approach increases overall engagement and conversion rates, contributing to your institution’s success in attracting and nurturing prospective students and their families.

The future of personalized learning

When it comes to effective website personalization, simply addressing a visitor by their name just doesn’t cut it. The real game-changer is ethically and responsibly gathering data, and then using this information to create a uniquely relevant and valuable experience tailored to each visitor’s needs.

The Dotdigital platform provides powerful tools for educational institutions seeking to build and enhance cross-channel personalization.

With the Dotdigital platform, you can:

  • Consolidate data from various sources to gain an in-depth understanding of the student journey.
  • Segment your audience based on interests, demographics, and engagement levels.
  • Seamlessly deliver personalized content across multiple channels, including email, SMS, and push notifications.

Using Dotdigital, you can create a truly personalized experience on your website, build stronger connections with potential students, and effectively showcase the unique value your institution has to offer.

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