Bad content more damaging than missing content – Noel Levitz survey of future students and University websites.

Students value website content over the ‘look and feel’ of a university website, are put off by out of date information and want to be contacted through social networking. These are some of the results of a new survey by Noel Levitz, who surveyed 1000 college bound students in the US.

The report totally emphasizes the power of content when it shows that  an alarming 57% of the respondents would drop a school off their list, of possible study destinations, if the website content is out of date, incorrect or unhelpful. This is in contrast to the lower 16% who said they’d take a school off their list if they don’t find what they need. Morale – big sites with unmanaged stinking content (to coin one of Gerry McGovern’s favourite phrases) are damaging your brand.

The report also indicates a willingness to read content and scroll through content. What’s interesting about this data is that it also shows a high frequency of printing or emailing the content – both actions which could be tracked, and used to measure the performance of the page.

When I first saw this report mentioned on Twitter the information that only 3% of applicants found a school online via research on MySpace or Facebook seemed a little surprising at first; but it only takes a few seconds thought to realize that people don’t begin a search on a social networking site. Further, the survey then goes on to show that students are positive about universities using social networks to promote their courses, or contact the students directly.  I think an excellent opportunity for this, in the Swedish Higher Education sector, is with the awesome national admissions to Swedish higher education facebook group. Huge opportunities exist, to help students in the recruitment process, if the universities and itself, were to engage with the students there.

There’s a lot of good stuff packed in this 12 page report; and it totally emphasizes the value of simply asking our target audience questions. Higher Education has a unique advantage in that our existing, or potential, customers are so easy to identify and research.

The Noel Levitz report – Scrolling Towards Enrollment


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