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The Psychology Behind Interactive Websites in Higher Education Marketing

The Internet is one of the most powerful persuasion tools ever devised.  It is especially valuable in higher education marketing.  This tool excels in both informing and marketing to college students.  Millennial prospects live on the web and often make stealth investigations of colleges that pique their interest. To engage them, institutions may employ websites that allow students to get a customized electronic brochure or to personalize their online experience and see exactly what they want to see.  That strategy is a sound one.  The Journal of College Admission (Summer, 2010) pointed out, “Millennial students often do not express interest in information that is not directly related to what matters to them, nor are they willing to give a second chance at a first impression (Howe and Strauss 2007)”.

 Showing Millennials What Interests Them the Most

Showing students the things that matter most to them will certainly hold their interest.  It can also increase an institution’s attractiveness if the college presents those subjects of interest in a way that stimulates students’ imaginations.  Author Alvin Burns writes in The Journal of Advertising, “Several consumer researchers have shown that imagery-eliciting strategies can significantly affect attitudes…That is, imagery-eliciting stimuli resulted in more positive attitudes than stimuli not attempting to elicit imagery.” In one such study in the early days of cable television, persuasion expert Robert Cialdini, PhD and his colleagues found that homeowners who were asked to envision themselves enjoying the benefits of cable TV were more than twice as likely to subscribe as those who were just told about those benefits.  This same phenomenon is also seen in higher education marketing. Recent experience at a number of campuses has shown that students who can picture themselves on your campus are considerably more likely to enroll at your institution.

Well designed customized Stealth Programs, as well as websites and eBrochure programs used to convert inquiries can help your prospects visualize what life would be like at your institution.  Colleges have used them to transform stealth website visitors into qualified inquiries.  They have a proven track record for increasing applications and enrollment.  But is their ability to stimulate prospective students’ imaginations their only pulling power?  Look for the answer in "The Psychology Behind Interactive Websites in Higher Education Marketing-Part Two."

Getting your College Noticed in Student Search
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