Stealth shoppers, or students who research extensively on their own before “raising their hand” to express interest in your program, have grown to a whopping 80% of adult learner applicants, up from 20% just a few years ago, according to EAB’s latest research.
This data reinforces the importance of developing a diversified lead generation strategy, an approach that we’ve implemented for years with our Adult Learner Recruitment partners. A strong top-of-funnel lead generation strategy comprises many moving parts that are consistently generating leads for your programs—allowing you to work around the prevalence of stealth shopping.
One crucial component of a diversified strategy is organic lead generation, which refers to lead gen efforts that you are not paying for directly (unlike digital ads or buying search keywords). As you might imagine, your institution’s website—or, as I like to call it, your “digital front door,” is a great platform to source organic leads.
Why is website lead generation important?
Thinking of your .edu site as your “digital front door” is a helpful metaphor. It’s often the first way students will interact with your institution and learn what programs you offer, so you want it to be “open” or effective at engaging and capturing leads. With stealth shoppers on the rise, your site needs to work efficiently to draw students in and give them all the information they need. Below are a few recommendations for optimizing your website lead gen strategy.
Implement organic search engine optimization (SEO) tactics consistently
While you likely already know that SEO is important, implementing SEO practices well and consistently is often easier said than done. It’s important to implement an audience-centric strategy that connects with the various users your site is serving. In addition, it’s essential to routinely monitor key enrollment pages on your site through SEO management. That way, you can ensure that your pages are always serving students relevant information, even as your site evolves over time. While these changes may not sound exciting, they can have a big impact: our ALR partners increased their organic web traffic by 45% on average after incorporating organic SEO improvements.
Optimize student behavior flow & a strong content strategy
As students arrive at your site, they tend to browse webpages in a certain order, which is known as behavior flow. Once you understand this term, it’s easy to see how important it is that your website flows intuitively, with the most pertinent information for prospective adult learners easily accessible. Using drop-down menus with accurately titled sections will ensure users will be able to navigate your site effectively and easily.
A site that flows well enhances a strong content strategy. If students have a hard time finding or reading the content they’re looking for, your website won’t be as effective. But of course, the content itself is one of the most critical tools you can use to engage students. It can be easy to underestimate the effect seemingly simple content enhancements can have. But data from ALR partners illustrates just how large the impact can be: our partners have seen a 48% average increase in session duration with improved web content.
Be strategic about placement of lead capture forms
We’re all very familiar with traditional lead capture forms, and I’d bet that your institution has more than one on your website right now. However, many of these forms are hidden through a static site link that takes users to a separate page to fill them out. We’ve been able to improve conversion rates for partners by strategically integrating complementary lead capture forms within the body of the page.
These forms are high-converting—boasting a completion rate two times higher than traditional registration forms. Why is that? First, because students are already engaged with the page’s content, making the form a convenient way to encourage students to learn more about specific topics. And second, they include specific calls-to-action, like asking users to provide information for special content or reminders for significant application process or event dates.
It's important to note that like other tactics, organic lead generation cannot be your only focus to optimize your overall adult learner lead generation strategy. However, in today’s digital age, it helps to have your website working for you to efficiently (and cost-effectively) recruit new leads.
Ready to find out more?
Join our virtual Executive Briefing for an in-depth conversation about the state and future of the graduate and adult learner markets.