Your marketing team is planning to run a campaign in order to drive prospective students to an enroll-now, RSVP or info page. But, how do you know that the page your team chooses has the highest probability to convert users to a prospect? If you’re like any of our higher education clients, there are many questions that run through your mind. Should we drive them to a page of the college’s website, if so which page? Do we send them to an event calendar where they can view open house schedules? Or is a campaign-specific landing page necessary?

All of these questions can be overwhelming if you look at it from the prospective of the college or institution. However, if you look at it in the point-of-view of your prospective student, things become all too clear.

According to a recent study by G/O Digital, students use a variety of channels to research potential colleges. Search engines and social media reign supreme when researching; 53 percent of students surveyed went to search engines most often. So, naturally, they are inundated by a great deal of calls to action: “like us,” “enroll now,” and “learn more” just for starters. Before investing time and resources in this competition to win your prospective students’ attention, remember that there is no silver bullet – to stand out, there must be a full court press that drives your prospects to a specific location, that will provide them a simple, no-road-block path to execute on your desired call to action. So, now where should you take them? Let’s discuss some key things that you must consider:

1. Decide, with confidence, who you are trying to reach during this specific campaign.

Although many higher education institutions would like to target every potential student during a recruitment campaign, the reality is that most do not have the budget to do so. It is important that everyone agrees on the specific audiences you are targeting for the campaign, because the audience should drive the structure and platform that should be used. The prospects’ habits and preference to user experience online will – and should – determine if the particular audience groups you are targeting are ready for content-heavy pages such as program offering specifics, or just needs a landing page that allows them to request for more information.

2. Determine your single and secondary most important things that the prospect must do.

Now that you’ve determined the types of prospects your campaign will target and you feel comfortable in understanding how they consume information, you need to identify the two or three most important calls-to-action that you want them to take once they land on that platform in rank order.

If you are targeting prospects that are further along in the enrollment funnel and are believed to have all of the information needed to answer questions of prospects at that phase, then the single most important action will likely be to enroll or RSVP to an open house. But, if you have identified prospects that are just entering the funnel and are in the exploration/discovery phase regarding colleges for their needs (ie: FTIC adult learners) then they should likely be driven to a place with minimal calls to action that sells your value propositions – and invites them to request information. So, a page with testimonials or a request for information form will likely be less intimidating for them.

For example, say you want potential students who have already learned about your college through other means to attend an open house or FAFSA day. In this case, you would want the prospect to RSVP using a form or calendar. You would also want to explore opportunities to deliver drip communication leading up to the event to drive them to various existing assets to sell the propositions of the college and answer questions that prospects may ask.

The page that you drive the prospect to must be created with the prospects’ user experience at the forefront; 32 percent of students surveyed left a school’s site due to poor navigation. In addition to user experience, the medium also needs to allow for conversion tracking, whether it is through a CRM, Google Analytics, or UTM tracking codes. The main goal should be to find a solution that makes it easy for the prospect to complete the action and easy for the marketing and recruitment teams to track the conversions.

3. Ensure that once they “click” or “act” on the call to action, they are received by exactly what you promised – because they are expecting that.

A prospective student can successfully click on an ad, visit the page, find the clear call-to-action button and click on it, but what happens after that is essential. The page or form that the prospect is driven to must be created in a way that allows the user to easily execute the call-to-action. That call-to-action also must be consistent with what you asked them to do the first time they had contact with the campaign.

For example, if your ad is targeted towards high school students who have already had some contact with your college, your call-to-action might be to RSVP to an open house. Once a prospect clicks to RSVP on your page, they should be taken to an easy-to-use RSVP form where they only need to fill out information that is absolutely necessary. They should receive a confirmation once they click submit.

It is important to think from the point-of-view of the prospect and their journey from ad to conversion. Once they “click” or “act” based on the advertisement’s call-to-action, the place they are driven to must be optimized for their user experience so that the prospect can easily complete the desired action. If this is created from the point-of-view of your institution, there will be decreases in conversions and increases in phone calls and onsite visits to answer questions that were available on the site, but difficult for your user to navigate. This decreases the ROI and the possibility of knowing if the campaign was correctly developed.

Driving potential students to a landing page or a website isn’t cut and dry. Whether you use your college’s website or a campaign-specific landing page is a decision that needs to be made based on what will help prospective students find the information they need to take the next step in their educational journey. By putting yourself in the shoes of the prospective student, you are setting yourself up for a successful campaign.