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Top Higher Ed Websites Insights from the 2018 Student E-Expectations Survey

Exclusive Preview of the 2018 Student E-Expectations Survey Part 3: Higher Ed Websites for Students

This is the 3rd part of the 4-installment series on the 2018 RNL E-Expectations survey results. This survey focuses on the E-expectations of high school seniors and juniors (n=529) will be officially released on July 25. If you read the first part, just skip to the next section without reading the short intro below.

As I explained in the first post of this series, Stephanie Geyer from RNL shared with me the complete survey data set she’ll present for the first time at the 2018 National Conference on Student Recruitment, Marketing, and Retention in Orlando, Florida.

This annual survey launched in 2005 has become the gold standard of research on the digital expectations and habits of college-bound students.

What they want to see on your website

When asked to rate marketing channels that most influence them in the college search, the college website takes first (4.16 for juniors) or second (4.02 for seniors) place, followed (or preceded in the case of seniors) by financial calculator results (4.05 and 3.9). Emails are the 3rd most influential marketing channel (3.73).

Unsurprisingly, the question of affordability is top of mind for 88% of seniors and 82% of juniors when they visit your website. Other questions in the top 6 focus on scholarship listings, academic programs, scholarship & financial aid info, admissions criteria and college life.

If your school website doesn’t answer these 6 questions yet, it’s time to rework your web content strategy.

Top topics students look for when they visit a school website

If you’re working on a large or small redesign of your website, you should also pay attention to what prospective students identified as important on a school site: program information and the way it’s presented should be top of mind.

Top most important things on a school website for students

When 40% of seniors and 44% of juniors use navigation options to find their ways on their site, it’s important to remember that search is NOT the only way once they are on your site. Yes, search engines are super important to help prospective students find your site, but less than a third will use them to get the info they need on your site. So, it’s still a 2-option world! 🙂

How students find information on higher ed websites

Prospective students watch lots of videos online. Yet, you need to make sure the videos you offer on your website are the kind they want to watch. If your videos feature current students, the campus as well as campus activities, you’ll get the attention of the majority of prospective students.

Top video topics for students

Mobile and desktop contexts

Mobile devices are now widely used by prospective students.

Whether they only use them for most of their web browsing or when they don’t have access to a computer, 96% of seniors and 95% of juniors can browse the Web – and your college website – from their mobile device. So, the mobile user experience isn’t a nice-to-have anymore

How students use their mobile device

Yet, this doesn’t mean that prospective students have completely ditched the desktop computer. Seniors and juniors will choose to use a computer to browse a college website to complete some tasks: spending time looking at the site to find specific info (69% of seniors and 76% of juniors), complete their college application, but also to compare different college websites.

Why students use a desktop instead of a mobile phone

Smartphones are also used to complete online forms.

More than a third of seniors have used their mobile phone to complete a RFI form, a cost calculator, subcribe to a newsletter or schedule a campus visit.

Online forms completed by students on a mobile device

Do you know how easy your call-to-action web form are to complete from a smartphone?
Not really? Finding out should be a priority, so you can make any necessary adjustments if they are needed.

Next: Insights on Social Media for Students

Stay tuned (or subscribe to my newsletter) for my next post in this series with insights from the 2018 E-Expectations Survey.

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