Wednesday, March 13th at 2 pm EDT

How Conversion Rate Optimization Can Unlock Over $1 Million in New Enrollments for Your College

What is CRO? And Why Is It Important?

What is CRO? And Why Is It Important?

You’ve probably heard people throwing around the term “conversion rate optimization” here and there—but what does it mean for your college?

Increasing student enrollment is a challenge many colleges face. For the most part, you can increase your college’s enrollment in one or two ways:

You can either generate more website traffic overall, or you can more efficiently convert visitors who are already attracted to your site. The latter is where conversion rate optimization comes into play.

While increasing site traffic is a great way to increase enrollment (see how you can decrease lead costs here), converting existing visitors will allow you to accomplish the same goal at little to no additional costs, and this is the beauty of CRO.

Using both qualitative and quantitative user feedback to improve conversion rates, CRO combines digital marketing and strategy, allowing colleges to maximize value from their existing audience.

Bottom line: More conversions mean more enrollments and increased profits.

Actual CRO Math for a College
In the e-commerce space, “conversion” often refers to the process of shifting a browsing customer into a paying one. In the higher education sphere, however, conversion is a little broader. In general, your conversion rate is your percentage of visitors who complete a desired action on your site.

Your desired action can range from signing up for a college newsletter to completing an online application for enrollment.

To calculate your website conversion rate, take the number of monthly visitors who convert and divide it by the total number of monthly visitors to your website. Multiply this number by 100 to find your conversation rate percentage.

Conversion Rate % = (Conversions / Total Visitors) x 100

Once you’ve done the math, take a look at some industry averages for the education sector.

· Unbounce reports that the average lead-generation conversion rate for higher education is 2.6%.

· According to a MarketingSherpa e-commerce benchmark study, the median conversion rate for business in education is 5%, while the mean conversion rate is 13.9%.

Obviously, the higher the conversion rate, the better. By measuring conversion rates, you’ll find out if your website is successful in persuading potential students to take action.

Comparing your conversion rate to industry averages is a helpful benchmark for you, but at the end of the day, your rate is personal to your college.

What is also personal is what conversion means specifically to you and your business.

Macro and Micro Conversions
As previously discussed, what a college views as a successful conversion can vary, based on your business model. Clear and measurable goals are extremely important for implementing an effective CRO strategy.

While conversions can be defined in various ways, they all fall under one of two categories: macro and micro conversions.

A macro conversion is a larger completed action, such as a submitted application, enrollment, or sale. A micro conversion refers to a smaller engagement made by prospective students, like submitting an inquiry or booking a campus tour. Macro conversions refer to student commitments, while micro conversions refer to student engagements. Though not always the case, a micro conversion will often precede a macro conversion.

Once you know your rates for both macro and micro conversions, the next step is to optimize them.

How to Increase CRO
The truth is, every college has a website, but not every college has a website that converts. There are various reasons why websites fail to produce the desired action.

A study conducted by the Aberdeen Group reported that a one-second delay in page load time resulted in a 7% loss in conversions and 11% loss in page views.

This means you’re failing to enroll a percentage of students over something as simple as page loading speed!

Additional factors include failing to make your site mobile-friendly, poor UX design, and not having a clear path to conversion. In order to increase CRO, you need to take a look at your analytics and your funnel. Find out where and why your visitors are dropping off your site before converting.

A good starting point is to collect feedback from visitors themselves, and the easiest way to do this is by using surveys. On-site or email surveys can offer you valuable and critical feedback by alerting you to issues on your site, such as broken links.

Be sure to also utilize web tools like Google Analytics and A/B testing. A/B testing will display two versions of your webpage (A or B) to visitors at random, allowing you to see which version leads to higher conversions. The two versions you offer don’t have to be drastically different from one another. Differences can be as subtle as a new header or a larger call to action (CTA) button.

You’d be surprised how a simple headline or placement change can result in your conversion rates skyrocketing.

Monitoring your analytics is also a good way to alert you to any potential problems in your site or advertising plan. If you notice webpage clicks or time spent browsing consistently decreasing after, let’s say, a new site update, then you’ll have a pretty good idea of what’s causing the problem.

At the end of the day, CRO is all about understanding what potential students want from your college and its website.

Increase Conversions with Retargeting
CRO strategies are all about helping you lower customer acquisition costs. Launching a retargeting campaign is a great cost-effective way to increase conversions.

Retargeting gives you a second chance to remarket your college to potential students who didn’t initially convert. While visitors may drop off your site for the various reasons mentioned above, they may also fail to convert for a much simpler reason:

They just aren’t ready to enroll.

It’s natural for students to want to research other colleges and shop around before making a final decision. In addition to giving you the ability to run more personal ads, retargeting ensures you stay relevant to your previous site visitors. This means, when students are ready to decide, you won’t be forgotten.

Partner with More Students to Increase Your CRO
Through qualitative and quantitative feedback, CRO uncovers opportunities for improvement on your college’s website. Optimizing your conversions is all about becoming a more educated marketer to increase your college’s enrollments, revenue, and ROI. CRO is rooted in maximizing value in existing site visitors, further allowing you to increase conversions and revenue while simultaneously reducing customer acquisition costs.

So now that you know all about CRO and why it’s important, it’s time you start putting it into practice!

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