Why Colleges And Universities Are Adopting PURLs & Landing Pages

Columbia University

Colleges and universities run lots of marketing campaigns throughout the year to reach out to alumni and prospective students. In fact, higher education institutions count among the nation’s most aggressive and prolific direct mailers, plastering the world with admissions and fund raising initiatives, year in and year out.

Like all traditional marketing initiatives, however, their campaigns suffer from typical issues affecting direct marketers in other verticals, namely declining response rates, poor measurability, and non-existing or ineffective Web response options.

Like all traditional marketing initiatives, it’s time for higher education marketers to upgrade their campaigns and bring them into the 21st Century. Namely, they need cross-media tools.

Let’s take a look at some common initiatives conducted by higher education marketers and see how they might benefit from cross-media tools:

Alumni department

  • Alumni Departments are responsible for marketing to the institution’s alumni network in order to generate donations, as well as to conduct opinion surveys. They do this by sending out loads of direct mail and banging out calls by the thousand. Anyone who’s graduated from a college or university can certainly attest to the prolific nature of their outreach. Being successful means cutting through the clutter, and engaging former students on a 1:1 basis. This can be accomplished by personalizing marketing communication for every person on their list – by using class photos, school league names, and profile information like name and graduation year. This is where the power of Easypurl.com’s personalization engine can come in handy, enabling you to send out marketing communications that literally stand out in the crowd.
  • Let’s face it, it’s no secret that colleges and universities have been slow to adopt the latest and greatest in technology. For this reason, most institutions don’t have ecommerce capabilities, and their alumni departments can only accept payments over the phone. Even if they do have some sort of shopping cart, more likely than not  it has a high abandonment rate, meaning that few visitors actually complete the check-out process.  With Easypurl.com cross-media tools, you can deliver a better mousetrap. Using Easypurl.com it’s easy to drop in a special impulse-purchase shopping cart for on a secure Landing Page. This way you can begin accepting payments instantly, with a shopping cart that coverts like it’s going out of style. Problem solved.

Admissions department

  • Admissions departments are tasked with generating sufficient applications to the institution not only to make the process competitive, but also to give the selectors enough applications to choose from to ensure the eventual student body meets their expectations. To accomplish this, the admissions department sends out heaps of direct mail to prospective students across the country. Why direct mail? Because it not only works the best, but is the only way to reach out to most prospective students in the age of CAN-SPAM. The only problem is that mixing teenagers with traditional media is like fitting a round peg in a square hole – not an easy fit. In other words, beware ye who attempts to send out direct mail without a Web response option (or component) to a teenage audience. How do you connect your direct mail to the Web? You add PURLs! As an added benefit, you can use the PURL Landing Page to capture an email address once a prospective applicant has been driven online.  Once you have the email, the potential applicant can be marketed to moving forward using email alone, which is more cost effective.

PURL As a Personal Web Page

This idea is a little more out there, and may take some thinking about before it makes sense. Some innovative higher education institutions are now beginning to issue their newly-arrived freshmen class a Personalized URL upon arrival in the program. By visiting this Personal Web portal, students can check out their class schedule, review intramural programs, or even sign up for clubs and events. Essentially, the PURL becomes the student’s primary online interface with the institution. As the student progresses through the program, the PURL is updated with new content. It’s possible to run surveys, present coupons for local businesses, and even issue rewards points for certain activities that can be redeemed around campus.  Think about how much easier and cheaper a PURL is to create, edit and update, than an tens of thousands of individual Web pages.

img: Columbia.edu

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