The global school community is no longer limited to just international and boarding schools. While domestic and day schools used to think about their market as within their geography, prospects are now inquiring and applying from all over the world. However, only 29 percent of marketers today are matching this global growth by investing in websites with targeted content based on location, language, and behavior-based data.
As a school marketer — most likely already wearing multiple hats — the thought of creating multiple versions of content based on where your users are in the world can seem daunting. Nonetheless, this kind of targeted messaging helps with engagement and conversions, and it is worth your while — which is why we created Finalsite’s Personalization element.
This new element (available in Composer) makes it easy to dynamically change how users view and interact with your school’s website through targeted, personalized content that increases engagement, time spent on the website, and conversions through inquiries and donations.
Before we dive into the details of this exciting new product, let’s dive into the basics of personalization in marketing.
What is content personalization?
Personalization is the process of creating customized user experiences tailored to specific visitors, instead of a single, all-encompassing website that every visitor sees. Specific visitors can range from an entire country or continent, a state/province, or a specific language.
Today’s consumers are used to an online experience in which they can choose who to follow on social media, which brands to interact with, and how they want to receive content — and personalized website content provides online consumers with the user experience they have come to expect.
For example, Google defaults to localizing your searches to your geographical location when looking for schools, businesses, restaurants, etc. A Tennessean family searching for a nearby private school would likely start their search with “private schools,” and Google finishes their search with “near me.” The search will then display a lengthy list of every nearby private school.
A similar family in Connecticut also searching for private schools will see a drastically different list of schools. It makes sense. Unless either family specified that they are searching for a school somewhere else, they would only be interested in results near them.
That’s the power and simplicity of personalized content: powerful, geographic-based results combined with an unobtrusive user experience.
Why does personalization matter?
Content personalization is what people are used to, and utilizing it correctly can greatly impact the success of your marketing, admissions, and fundraising efforts. Consider these statistics:
- Calls-to-action specific to an individual visitor or specific group have a 42 percent higher view-to-submission rate than generic calls-to-action seen by every visitor.
- 78 percent of U.S. online users said content relevant to them increases their chances of spending compared to website with no relevant content.
- 74 percent of online consumers said they feel frustrated when content has nothing to do with their personal interests.
Personalization addresses visitor's expectations and needs, without a negative effect on search engine optimization. Instead, personalized content results in more time spent on a page, and more pages visited.
For example, Amazon displays “Recommended for You” products based on your past purchases with the knowledge that you’re more likely to buy what interests you. YouTube displays videos similar to the one you are currently watching to keep you engaged. Pandora allows you to create stations based on your musical tastes to keep you coming back.
Personalization is just one part of the larger online customization trend. Consumers have come to expect choice and agency in their shopping and online browsing experience. There is seemingly no going back.
Defining Personalization on the Finalsite Platform
Before we continue, here are some keywords related to Finalsite’s Personalization software that you should know.
- Personalization - Customized, tailored online content for a specific user or groups of users based on language and/or location.
- Elements - Personalization elements are what get added to the page in Composer, and work like a content element to display personalized content.
- Panels - Panels are added to elements, and are only visible on the website on the creator’s end. Panels organize and group content that elements will then display for the different groups of website visitors.
- Segments - Segments are built within Composer, and are what tag the personalized content that gets served up to your users. Segments split your website visitors into different groups with shared similarities, such as a shared location and/or language. Each segment will see content unique to them.
For example, you may want to use the personalization element to change some testimonials on your homepage based on state or country. Let’s say you decide to choose the top five states and top five countries from which you enroll students. Using the personalization element, you would create ten unique segments. Once the segments were created, you would then add the personalization element to your homepage. Within the element, you would then add ten panels, each specifying the unique segment for which they are intended.
How does Finalsite’s personalization element work?
Personalization works in tandem with Composer to change elements on a website such as headers, calls-to-action, images and videos, paragraph content, and more. The personalization element makes the process of personalizing your website easy, thanks to the same easy-to-use WYSIWYG interface found in Composer. The process is as simple as:
- Once Personalization is enabled, users will want to create a personalized segment through the Composer’s Personalization menu under “New Segment.” These segments work by splitting your website visitors into groups based on locations and languages that you specify.
- One or more rules can then be applied to each segment through “AND” and “OR” statements. These statements further customize a webpage to ultra-specific demographics. Schools can create a personalization element not only specific to the United States, but also specific states. For example, a Spanish language private school in California can use the “AND” statement to specify enrollment information to prospective families who speak Spanish “AND” are located in California. The same school can then tailor that same content to international students in Mexico by simply changing the location condition of the statement.
- A personalization element that contains panels is then added. Panels group all content relevant to each segment. Anything that you want a specific segment to see will be placed into a single panel. For example, let’s say you want a web page to show your school’s ESOL curriculum to prospective families in China. In Composer, you’d simply create a segment to target website visitors from China. These visitors would see content different than another prospective family in Japan. One segment would group all content for Chinese visitors while another segment groups all content for Japanese visitors.
To establish default content for all users who do not see targeted content, a “No Segment” panel should always be created in addition to the target panels. This “No Segment” panel ensures that visitors still reach your school’s website and view the default content.
- Finally, once all elements, panels, and segments have been created, click the “Segment Preview” icon to see what your website looks like to specific visitors. This preview mode allows you to make sure each targeted page works correctly and accurately reflects the targeted demographic.
Who should use Personalization?
Schools of all sizes can benefit from personalized website content. Here are some real-life scenarios of schools dealing with multiple demographics are likely to encounter.
TUITION PAGE PERSONALIZATION
Tuition is one of the biggest decision-making factors for families considering a private school or college education. Prospective families can easily become confused when viewing cost breakdowns for both in-state and out-of-state tuition, particularly for schools offering boarding and day options. Personalization can help by enabling different panels for in-state and out-of-state tuition. These panels help clear webpage clutter and ensure that prospective families only see content relevant to them based on location.
Boarding schools can also use the Personalization element to differentiate campus life web pages based on students who live on campus and those who commute to school. Commuters visiting the website for information and school updates may not need to know all the dorm life details and guidelines that a student living on campus would need to know, as one example.
International schools will want to personalize their headlines and copy to specific audiences based on language and location. Alumni living in Canada viewing a German school’s press release will need that information translated with any potential cultural references localized to their country. Likewise, a German student living in Germany will want to view that same press release in their native language.
Personalization elements can automatically adjust what a visitor sees based on differences in browser languages. While Personalization is not intended to be a language translation device, using personalization elements in tandem with browser languages can automatically adjust content to where a user is accessing your website.
Personalization is a powerful new tool from Finalsite designed to give you complete control over who sees what on your school’s website. That power and adaptability is easy to use and simple to master with just a few clicks in the Composer content management system.
Harnessing the complete power of Finalsite’s new Personalization element comes with one more added benefit. Personalized online content has been shown to reduce acquisition costs by up to 50 percent, increase revenue by up to 15 percent, and increases the efficiency of marketing spending by up to 30 percent.
That’s the real power of Personalization. Time and money saved on the website creator’s end and an intuitive, unobstructed user experience on the other end.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
As Finalsite’s Product Marketing Specialist, Andrew writes blogs and creates videos to share information about all the latest and great Finalsite products. Andrew has more than 10 years of video production experience and a journalism education from the University of South Carolina. He is excited about bringing his experience and expertise to Finalsite.