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Exceptional Digital User Experience

The average website visitor takes 2.6 seconds to scan your content before deciding what to click, if anything. So, how do you get prospects to pay attention, let alone fill out an inquiry form? Answer: Create an exceptional digital experience. Here’s the good news: That doesn’t have to mean a really complex, over-the-top, super graphic website. It actually involves three simple principles we live by at Eduvantis when building online experiences for business schools.

1. Simplicity

“Less is more.” Prospects are burnt out on content. It is important to remember people visiting your website are people, not just “clickers.” Put yourself in their shoes: If you had one minute (which you don’t, generally) to tell a prospect about your program, what would you say? Write it down, record a video, and put that content up front on your website and program pages.

People don’t have the time to search through dozens of pages on your website. They expect to find the information they want quickly, so present the essentials, then encourage prospects to contact you for more information. If you give them too much information—too much content, too many links to click—they will make up their mind and have no reason to contact you for more information. Sale lost.

Here is an example of a business school that understands that “less is more.”

2. Distinctiveness

If your website is clunky, poorly designed, or difficult to navigate, that reflects poorly on your brand. If you want to be viewed as a world-class institution you must present yourself as such. Institutions don’t compete on price alone; they compete at the brand, product, and experience levels. Dig deep and bring out the most unique elements of your culture, showcase and celebrate it. Prospects will remember their experience with your brand when deciding whether to inquire or submit an application. They may not prefer your product, but make sure they at least remember it as different.

Below’s a great example of a business school embracing and showcasing their distinctive culture in a creative way and showcasing it across their website and digital ecosystem. UCLA Anderson School of Management runs a student contest every year where students compete by creating UCLA Anderson commercials. The commercial challenge showcases the distinctive culture of UCLA Anderson from the eyes of the people who know it best: the current students. It’s also a lot of fun and built around social sharing which further engages both the Anderson community and prospective student prospects.


3. Value Creation

The most effective websites focus on more than selling: They focus on creating natural engagement. To do this, you must add value. Business schools have been slow to learn this lesson. Looking outside of higher education, there are great examples of companies who have built creative strategies to engage prospects and create natural engagement through value creation. A good example is Geek Squad, who offer free technology how-to videos on their website and YouTube in addition to their technology support services. Geek Squad’s goal, of course, is to create a positive experience so, when a potential client needs more complicated support, they contact Geek Squad.

Business schools should think the same way. Most prospects who visit your website are early in their search and you have an opportunity to support them in their search beyond simply selling your program. This is an opportunity to create natural engagement, which should ultimately make it easier to recruit prospects since you have already given them something of value.

Think a program comparison tool (e.g., differences between MBA and EMBA programs), an MBA ROI calculator, an “MBA Value” video, or a webinar on “How to Apply to MBA Programs.” All of these will create value for prospects and support them in their search. One of our clients at Eduvantis recently created a “How to Apply to MBA Programs” webinar and received over 300 sign-ups from prospects who otherwise wouldn’t have considered their program. In the webinar, they shared best practice tips that prospects could use to apply to any program.

Here is a simple example from UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School, an “MBA Questionnaire” that requires prospects to submit their information before downloading but provides a good foundation for decision-making.