Navigating the Disruption in Higher Ed

Authored by Janet Muto, President, and Co-Founder at WEVO.

On episode 9 of the WEVO Podcast, Tomer Azenkot, WEVO’s Chief Revenue Officer (virtually) sat down with Josh McCarthy, Director of Digital Marketing at Johnson & Wales University. JWU is one of WEVO’s first adopters, having used the platform successfully since 2016 (read more in the JWU case study). In his first 5 years as the director of online enrollment, Josh drove the program from 113 students to 1,750+ students, increasing revenue from $1.5 million to $20 million. They discussed the disruption in higher education due to COVID and the shift in marketing for online programs, as well as on-campus programs.

The shift to virtual during COVID

The higher education landscape is rapidly changing – that much is clear. When COVID hit, universities have had to adapt their typical enrollment tools, like on-campus visits, to virtual options. With digital leading the way in how universities interact with prospective students, marketing teams need to stay on top of the real-time needs, interests, and concerns of their website visitors now more than ever.  

WEVO tells you what you didn’t know 

If your institution is struggling to decide which direction to your online enrollment experience, you’re not alone. During a shift like this, it’s nearly impossible to guess what prospective students want to see in your online experience. That’s why WEVO takes the guessing entirely out of the website optimization equation. 

We run tests on your website and deliver audience reactions, direct quotes, and expert analysis, so you can find out exactly what prospective students think about your website with actionable steps to increase engagement and conversions. Josh McCarthy identified 2 key ways WEVO has helped JWU respond quickly to the needs of prospective students and make data-backed decisions: 

Data-backed campaigns are going out the door quicker

In a time where marketi.ng priorities and budgets are shifting rapidly, it is becoming more important that teams are equipped to get effective campaigns out the door in shorter time frames. Testing key webpages Pre-live – without live traffic – with WEVO can provide insights that are critical for the success of your campaign. And unlike other user testing platforms, WEVO can turn around webpage tests in a matter of days. Josh shared some of the key insights his team has learned from testing with WEVO, some as simple as an image or color swap, and how big of a difference that has made in their marketing efforts. In a case where the designer may have been “flying blind” for years, they are now able to discover issues and adapt Pre-live, instead of designing based on intuition and risking live traffic on a webpage that isn’t optimized for the target audience.  

Ability to provide exceptional customer service on the website 

One of JWU’s key focuses is on providing strong customer service and web experiences. As prospective students explore the JWU website, Josh said their priority is to make sure website visitors have access to what they need immediately, instead of getting lost in the information overload. WEVO’s team of expert analysts uncovered that due to their busy lives, prospective students needed content that was straight to the point without the usual fluff of stock images and content. The experience prospective students have on your website can make or break their decision to pursue an application, so the insights WEVO provides are invaluable. 

What’s next for colleges?

Is the experience of paying 50K a year for traditional on-campus classes over? Will more students be shifting to online over time? For now, universities are seeing that current students and prospective students want to get back to being on campus, but who is to say what’s to come in the next 5, 10, 15 years. 

The landscape is changing quickly, but WEVO can help you keep up. We’ve helped Higher Education institutions like JWU, Tufts University, and Harvard University pinpoint their enrollment roadblocks and provided actionable recommendations – all before setting anything live. If you really want to resonate with prospective students and hit your enrollment goals, you need to optimize Pre-live.

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