Cara Lambregts

The Do’s and Don’ts of Engaging Students Digitally


Did you know that humans now have an average attention span of 8 seconds (1)? This can make connecting and engaging students feel almost impossible. Luckily, there are many tips and tricks that you can utilise to better engage these students and show them why your school is a choice they need to consider.

Here are our 8 Do’s and Don’ts

  1. DO make a mobile friendly website

    When you look around, almost everyone has a smartphone that they can use to access the internet and search for anything they could think of, including your institution. In fact, in 2019 53% of total web traffic came from mobile users (2). Additionally, 65% of our own users access Studyportals and school information shared there via their mobile phone. This number is expected to continue to grow over the next few years. So, with such high numbers of mobile users, it is only logical to assume that many students will look for more information on their phones, and judge you quickly. (Remember that 8 second attention span?) Make sure that your website is not only up to date, but easily accessible and attractive for those trying to get a peak at what you offer.

  2. DO prioritse quality over quantity

    If you talk to anyone about reaching out to students, they’ll stress the importance of making never-ending content for social media. Although this does have benefits, if you are producing content that is not relative or interesting to students you will only lose more of your targeted audience. Focus on content that students are going to find helpful or entertaining. Some great examples are student takeovers, campus highlights, and FAQ with current students answering. Be sure to include current students in your content as prospective students are looking for their experiences.

  3. DO create interactive elements

    To keep students interested, make your website interactive and full of different elements they can look at. Include a virtual tour of your school so students can picture where they could be walking to and from classes. If this is not possible, include a map. Include access to the yearly schedules and samples schedules based on major. These can help students see what their year would look like and help them picture their future. Finally, include an option for students to live chat with a representative of the school, whether they be an ambassador or a school employee, so that they can receive answers to questions instantly and while you are at the forefront of their mind.

  4. DO keep your forms short

    Forms are a great way to effectively collect information so that you can contact students in the future. They are also an effective way to give prospective students an opportunity to get more information and talk to you. When using forms, think through to your call to action. Make sure that this form is collecting only the information you need and no more. Having excessive information requests, such as multiple emails and mandatory phone numbers, can drive away a student who may not want to fill out a lengthy form and provide mountains of personal details. Keep your forms short and to the point.

  5. DO Optimize your website for lead conversion

    Use the language of your target audience and utilise key words to help your website’s SEO. Be sure to make your most important pages capture the interest of prospective students within a few seconds. These important pages should also be optimized to stay as relevant as possible for the prospective students. Check your content regularly and remove information that may be outdated or irrelevant. To ensure that your website will lead to more leads, include clear and easy navigation for students to use. Also keep information about the application process clear and accessible with call to actions clearly displayed so that students understand where their next step will be.

  6. DON’T ignore your social media

    Use your platform to encourage interaction! Content such as polls, quizzes, and contests can encourage students to learn more about what is going on at campus and become involved. These posts can also help to create a sense of community and allows the school to interact more with prospective and current students. Don’t be afraid to showcase your school and student experiences. By doing this you are showcasing your schools culture of excellence via social media – encouraging students to share their stories and showing prospective students the types of things they can accomplish if they choose to attend. Highlighting these achievements also grants students the opportunity to be proud of their choice to study at your school and work to achieve more. Be sure to monitor your comments and inbox as well so that you can respond to questions or comments that potential students may be leaving you.

  7. DO personalise everything and anything

    There is nothing better than a personalised message to grab the attention of your prospective students. Use the student’s name to encourage You can also target students based on their interests. Send emails that are relevant to the student’s inquiries, for example scholarship information or programme specific details. Be sure to also address popular questions in these emails so that they hold their worth. When creating your email campaigns, it is important that your audience is segmented into different groups so that you are sending personalized information based on what these groups are looking for.

  8. DON’T Spam your students with emails but DO create effective email campaigns

    There is nothing more difficult than sending effective emails out to students and grabbing their attention. We may think that many emails is the strategy, however, this can push your potential students further away. To communicate effectively over email, make sure your messaging is relevant. Use captivating subject lines and don’t forget to personalize with their names if you can. Avoid sending more than one email per week to students and avoid ‘spam phrases’ such as “Claim your place now!”  There are tools available to test your subject lines, before you send.

    Use innovative media such as gifs and pictures to make your email user friendly and give it a strong first impression. Don’t forget to link to your website with an effective call to action and, as always, make sure your emails are mobile friendly.

Understanding your audience will always be an important step in engaging prospective students. By learning more about what their interests are as well as where they are in their journey, you can effectively use these tips to optimise their experience in learning more about you. Keep innovating your strategy and watching trends to help stay in the know and effectively reach potential students.

To learn more about how students move throughout their study decision journey, read more details in our Student Journey Guide.

For more information on how big of an impact a strong engagement strategy can have, read about York University and see how they were able to engage students and increase their enrollment rates through a partnership with Studyportals.



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