More and more colleges have added personalized URLs (PURLs, pronounced “pearls”) to their admissions marketing arsenal. Sometimes referred to as personalized websites, personalized landing pages, or microsites, PURLs can be used at any stage of the admissions process.
Whether you're considering a PURL campaign to drive applications or increase yield, here are some of the ways PURLs can take your admissions marketing to the next level:
1. PURLs let you bring your website content directly to students -- and at the right time.
According to the 2015 E-Expectations Report, 80% of students find college websites to be one of the most influential resources in their college search process.
But with students applying to more and more colleges, your website is probably just one of many students are investigating. And given the sheer volume of information on many college websites, students may overlook some of the content that's most important.
PURLs allow you to tackle these issues by delivering targeted content. As students move from prospects to applicants to admits, different PURL campaigns focus their attention on the stories, news, and information that are most relevant to them at that point in the process.
2. PURLs give your prospective students a comprehensive, personalized experience with your college or university.
Current marketing trends underscore the power of personalization, and college admissions marketing should be no different.
You're probably already doing some personalization in your admissions marketing. Perhaps you're using email merge tags to address students by name, or sending students information relevant to their expressed academic interests. But in today's digital marketing landscape, and especially for young people, this level of personalization is a bare minimum.
PURL campaigns make it possible to take personalization even further than merge tags or emails segmented by academic interests. PURLs combine different data points into a comprehensive, personalized experience for each and every student. They make it easy to execute a highly targeted marketing campaign, regardless of whether you admit 300 or 3,000 students each year.
As an example, let’s take Hirsch and Gabriella, both of whom have just been admitted to Awesome University.
Hirsch is a transfer student planning to major in biochemistry, and has indicated on his application that he plans to live at home and commute. He has not yet submitted his deposit. When Hirsch opens his PURL from Awesome University, this is the content he'd find there, all in one place:
-- Enrollment information for transfer students
-- A video about the experiences of current students studying biochemistry
-- Statistics on graduation outcomes for recent biochemistry alumni
-- A direct link to purchase a parking permit
-- A strong call-to-action driving him to submit his deposit
Gabriella is an international student and incoming freshman who plans to live on campus in the residence halls; she is still undecided about her major and has already submitted her deposit. Gabriella's PURL would provide her with the following:
-- Information on obtaining a student visa
-- A video about the experiences of other international students
-- A link to the university’s academic program offerings
-- Instructions for finding a roommate and requesting housing for the fall semester
-- A strong call-to-action driving her to sign up for an orientation session
Incorporating this degree of personalized information into one email could be quite challenging, especially if you’re admitting thousands of students. You could send a series of emails, but they won't make as much of an impression on students.
3. PURLs provide you with useful data.
Data is critical to effective marketing, but without an expensive tracking system, it can be impossible to know what website pages students have visited, how often, and how much time they spent there.
Effective PURL campaigns incorporate this degree of data tracking, giving you insights into which content has been most successful, and which students are most engaged. The data and information you get from PURLs can help inform future marketing campaigns.
Thinking about a PURL campaign as part of your admissions marketing efforts? Our Guide to PURL Campaigns for Higher Education Admissions Marketing shares best practices based on our experiences creating thousands of PURLs for colleges and universities.