February 8, 2017
How Higher Ed Web Development with TerminalFour Impacts Enrollment and Engagement
For many colleges and universities in this age of digital interconnectivity, the meaning of the word “website” has transformed. The definition is evolving to meet very unique 21st century needs. A website is so much more than a portal for content and images. It’s your means of marketing, your platform for communications, and your engine for engagement. This being said, are colleges doing all they can to get the most out of this incredible tool technology has made available to them?
A lot of colleges aren’t. Simply because there is so much a good website is capable of, schools don’t even know where to start. Developing a website that can seamlessly meet all of the needs a college or university has can be extremely overwhelming. However, our team of higher ed web developers at KDG are turning to a content management system developed specifically for higher educational institutions by professionals—recruiters, IT experts, marketers, etc.—in the higher education industry.
Called TerminalFour, this CMS also serves as a digital engagement platform. From content migration and digital brand management to email campaigns and social analytics, TerminalFour has everything a college or university needs to turn web traffic into campus foot traffic. With over 12,000 higher education websites currently powered by TerminalFour, the CMS has found a way to fit into the ever-changing idea of what a “website” can be.
Turning Websites into a Recruitment Tool
It’s important to realize that higher education websites aren’t just for current students. They’re wasted if they’re used only as a source for promoting upcoming events and recent news. A majority of the visitors to the site don’t want the photo slideshows or the press releases that are instantly available on the home page. They want application forms, course listings, and contact information.
As KDG uncovered recently, prospective students are spending a lot of time on college websites. What they look for on those websites and whether they find it directly impacts their perception of the college. As a result, it’s important for colleges and universities to start looking at their website in the same way they look at campus brochures, school tours, and admissions fairs: as a recruitment tool for prospective students.
With so many eager eyes, a website may be a college’s most influential piece of marketing collateral. TerminalFour treats it as such, implementing features that target and engage prospects, including course search capabilities, automated marketing campaigns, and SEO optimization for increased web visibility. With a dashboard to measure the effectiveness of email campaigns and personalization tools that customize communications based on web visitors’ behavior, TerminalFour uses college websites as a valuable addition to their marketing departments and provides a more detailed segmented audience than perhaps any traditional marketing campaign can manage.
While its marketing abilities are impressive, it’s SEO optimization abilities are perhaps its most important facet. According to University Business, about 67% of prospective students use search engines to compile lists of possible schools. Where a college or university ranks on search engines like Google will determine whether or not that school ends up on a student’s “dream list,” or ultimately, any list he or she may compile.
Keyword rich, quality content drives rankings, but SEO optimized content is not always the easiest to write. There’s a specific formula to it. It requires a certain brevity and focus, as well as an ability to perfectly measure how many “keywords” should be make an appearance. Too few and the website may barely make the rankings. Too many and it’ll turn readers away. TerminalFour, however, uses a built-in SEO checker that lets content writers know where keywords can be added, where keywords may be overstuffed, and how page titles, descriptions, and tags measure up.
University Business explains that many colleges stay away from SEO optimization because it may be too “complex.” However, TerminalFour removes this complexity and acts as a guide to increased visibility and accessibility.
Seizing Every Opportunity Through Engagement
If a college website has succeeded in boosting its ranking and capturing the attention of prospective students, it next needs to retain these important leads. Forms and calls to action on the website’s most popular pages give the user a chance to leave their contact information and give the college the chance to reach out to these leads on a more regular basis.
TerminalFour realizes that when it comes to enrollment and engagement colleges are locked into a fierce competition. Any lost lead or prospective student is a missed opportunity colleges and universities cannot afford. TerminalFour’s ability to not only work forms into the web development, but also track every piece of data being collected, helps schools make sure that fewer opportunities are missed.
TerminalFour makes it simple to create forms within a website’s user interface. These forms can be created in mere minutes and, much like the Zoho platform popular among web developers, they use drag and drop features. The data you gather on these forms—names, contact info, and more—is vital and can be automatically submitted to your customer relationship manager, or CRM, ensuring that these leads don’t get lost in the mix.
However, it is important to remember that users want to know what the school can do for them. These forms and calls to action must promise something helpful, something useful. They must compel the user to take that initial step. Implement forms that allow prospects to request a campus visit or a meeting with admissions officials. Use forms that give prospects the ability to ask for more information, like brochures, guides, and course catalogs. From there, the college will have the information it needs to maintain that relationship and turn that lead into a potential student or donor.
The Wide Open Web
Colleges and universities have so many databases and management systems that keep track of both students and alumni. Sometimes, these schools hold back from new website development because their platform won’t work with these databases. However, TerminalFour integrates these management tools more seamlessly than ever before.
The platform is part of the open web and follows a set of “open” standards that allow different websites and devices, different networks and applications, to work together more easily for increased sharing, collaboration, and communication. There’s flexibility to this approach. TerminalFour gives colleges and universities complete control over their various systems and applications.
Perhaps most useful for colleges and universities is the ability of the CMS to integrate with different payment systems so that websites can be transformed into fundraising portals. As more and more colleges and universities turn to online giving, TerminalFour makes it easier to turn every day into a “day of giving” by smoothly integrating with every major payment gateway available.
Along with this increase in accessibility, transparency, and connectivity, TerminalFour also makes it possible for schools to integrate with various research portals where the professors can be highlighted and their research, some of it compiled with years of hard work, can be saved, published, and browsed. This openness creates an environment where collaboration flourishes. Researchers can more easily contact each other and reference different works, building on research already gathered and perhaps making discoveries never before considered.
TerminalFour takes the gap that exists—between prospects and a college, between students and a college, between donors and a college, and even between researchers from one college to another—and seals it. It gives websites the ability to catch up with the rapid communication network, the ever-expanding plethora of knowledge, and the quick-sharing capabilities of the 21st century.
Let KDG Help You Make the Most out of TerminalFour
TerminalFour makes developing a good website easy for so many who may not have the background needed to develop a website from scratch. However, a team of web developers can help a college or university truly make the most out of TerminalFour and put its many features to use, turning a good website into a great one.
KDG has spent years performing higher education web development with TerminalFour. If you represent a college or university struggling to make its presence on the web known, we can help you develop a website that will attract prospects and engage others.
Using our experience in higher education, we’ve also developed our own inbound marketing tool. Like TerminalFour, KDG’s ReachBright sees your website as more than a few pages of code and content. It sees your website as a valuable marketing tool that, if used to its fullest, can attract and engage prospective students, current students, and alumni alike. With its innovative automated tagging feature, it can track users’ web and email activity, and in turn enroll them in automated email campaigns that best match their needs, interests, and wants.
If your college or university wants to transform its website into a highly effective marketing tool, contact us today by filling out the form below. Whether you’re interested in a complete website development project with KDG and TerminalFour, or you’d like to analyze the reach of your existing website using ReachBright, the team of higher ed web development and higher ed web design experts at KDG can help your school achieve its goals.
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