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When many enrollment leaders step into the admissions office, something interesting happens. We sort of switch off our consumer mode and forget how we actually like brands to talk to us. But it’s time to break that pattern and really dive into the idea of making things personal. According to HubSpot, the No. 1 trick email marketers use to get attention is personalizing their messages. Almost everyone agrees that personalization is a big help in building good relationships with customers.

However, here’s the tricky part—time and resources are often in short supply. While personalization sounds amazing and promises more enrollments and better results, it’s easier to end up taking shortcuts that don’t really do the trick. Today’s students can tell when we’re just sending them a “Dear First Name” email and not really caring about their needs. So, what does it really mean to make personalization impactful?

I would encourage my enrollment colleagues to consider three approaches to their work that will allow for that much-sought-after personalization and resonation.

Understanding Impactful Personalization

As we move into our professional roles, we often forget how frustrating it is to deal with stuff that’s not user-friendly. Remember the time you couldn’t find what you were looking for on a website, or felt like you were filling out a form with more fields than a Kevin Costner movie? Keep your personal experiences in mind when thinking about and planning for the student experience.

With so much on our minds, it’s easy to forget that our most important goal is taking care of both current and future students. Among all the chaos, we need to remember that the student’s experience comes first. Impactful personalization means turning that jumble of information into a smooth journey for each student. It’s about talking to them like they matter, addressing their real concerns and making a true connection with them, especially when they’re overwhelmed.

Embracing Tech-Powered, Scalable Personalization

Think of websites as friendly chats rather than boring deliveries. Data from Halda indicate that about 87 percent of first-time visitors to college websites never come back. We clearly need to change how we approach them. Having real conversations with students keeps them engaged and makes them want to come back for more. Real conversations make students much more likely—sometimes even two to four times more likely—to take desired actions like reaching out to an adviser or starting an application.

Getting students’ contact info should be like a fair exchange. Instead of hitting them with a long and boring form, try something like a progressive RFI. This way, students get answers and insights in return for sharing their info. This results in more leads, more applications and more students joining your school. Using AI tools can help schools make the most of the people already checking out their website.

Seizing the Opportunity

The time for impactful personalization is now. It works because it’s helpful and thoughtful. By giving students what they need right now and making a real connection, you can get amazing results. The good news is that tools built on ChatGPT will enable the power of AI to support mass personalization of content.

Shifting from basic personalization to impactful personalization can change the game for schools. By using conversational websites, progressive info gathering and AI, schools can create real connections and boost engagement. It’s not just meeting students’ expectations—it’s setting a new standard for smart enrollment marketing.

Gil Rogers is a recognized leader in higher education enrollment management and marketing. He is the founder and principal of GR7 Marketing and product evangelist for Flipped App by Concept3D Inc.

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