Driving Enrollment With Personalized Videos

Betsy MorrisonVice President, Strategic PartnershipsApril 13, 2023

We live in an age of video and an age of personalization. The students you are trying to recruit have grown up on YouTube and progressed to Tik Tok. They also have had their interactions with companies and organizations increasingly personalized, from things to watch and songs to hear to their purchases from companies to nearly every bit of content they consume.

These expectations extend to their college search experiences. According to our 2023 E-Expectations research (which will be published this summer) of college-bound high school students:

  • 82 percent have viewed videos from institutions during their college planning, and 83 percent of those students viewed them as helpful—a remarkably high approval rating for one channel.
  • 56 percent of students prefer web content that’s personalized and based on their interests.

Other studies have also showed the power of video and personalization in engaging viewers and making a connection that spurs action::

  • Hubspot found that adding video to emails increases click-through rates by 300 percent.
  • Insivia research discovered that viewers retain 95 percent of the message when they watch it in video compared to only 5 percent when they read only text.
  • Campaign Monitor reported that some brands yielded 8 times the click-through rates with a personalized video compared to standard email campaigns.

The challenge for colleges and universities is one of scale. How do you deliver great video content that’s personalized to students without taking up valuable bandwidth of marketing and recruitment teams that are already stretched? How do you also see a great return on your investment by producing personalized video that also moves students along their enrollment journey and ultimately gets them to enroll at your institution?

Solving the personalized video dilemma for colleges and universities

We help helping our campus partners address the personalized video challenge by folding into outreach marketing strategies. Here are some of the many potential uses of personalized video at the various stages of the enrollment funnel:

  • Prospect videos at scale (increase response rates)
  • On-demand inquiry response videos (increase app rate)
  • Applicant videos (increase completion rates)
  • Admitted student videos (increase conversion rates)
  • Financial aid awards (increase yield)
  • Deposited videos (limit melt)

With this videos, personalization means means much more than dropping the student’s name into the beginning of the video. It’s a data-informed process that starts by analyzing the variable data segments you already have in your CRM. That analysis guides the development of a collection of variable video clips that are curated and merged to create a two-minute video that feels personalized to a single student. Imagine how you could create a highly personalized video with segments such as:

  • Student names
  • Majors (categorize academic interests into categories)
  • Internships (categorize based on academic interests)
  • Alumni (categorized by employment)
  • Residency Status (resident/commuter)
  • Athlete/non-athlete
  • First Year/transfer
  • In state/out of state
  • Domestic/international
  • Honors/non-honors
  • Financial need/No-need
  • Dual enrolled/Non-dual enrolled student’s name
  • Interest in activities or sports

Here’s a quick visualization of how this works. You can see how the different segments can be customized to make the video feel truly personalized.

The end result would be that an out-of-state honor student interested in chemistry and soccer would receive a qualitatively different video than an in-state student interested in nursing and student government. Each will feel that their videos are tailored to their interests, increasing their engagement and making them more likely to keep progressing toward enrollment.

Students who watch personalized videos are 12 times more likely to enroll

Here are two videos from our campus partners. The first, from Neumann University, shows how personalized videos can vary depending on where they are used in the recruiting funnel.

Now compare the way Neumann’s admitted student video differs from this personalized video that Cabrini University made for its admitted students.

What was the impact? When we analyzed the admitted student campaign data, we found that students who watched personalized videos were 12 times more likely to enroll.

Engaging students on specific objectives and topics through personalized video

Personalized video campaigns have also been successful with comparatively trickier topics and audiences. For example, at one point the test scores of students applying to the Villanova School of Business had gone up as the acceptance rates went gone down. The increasing selectivity has meant that Villanova was competing for a different type of student than it previously did, and so its applicants were also being recruited by Ivy League institutions and other nationally ranked universities. To improve yield, Villanova developed personalized videos for its undergraduate and graduate students. The undergraduate students were sent their videos immediately after they were accepted, and metrics indicated that 85 percent of them opened the email and more than 50 percent clicked through to watch their video.

Personalized video can have an even greater impact on financial aid awarding. According to RNL’s 2022 High School Student Perceptions of College Financing, more than 90 percent of prospective students said college financing will be difficult, and 95 percent said financial aid and scholarships will be important in their decision to attend an institution. Personalized financial aid videos can take the data from a student’s financial aid package and deliver it in a way that is completely personalized, engaging, and very easy to understand.

In addition to providing a personalized, visually oriented explanation of how to fund one’s education, the financial aid videos provided the opportunity for families to pause and rewind the more confusing aspects of the presentation.

Want to get started with delivering personalized videos to your students?

The results confirm that personalizing video works in higher education. We can make it workable for your institution with unlimited segments of student groups ranging from 100 to 250,000 or even on-demand using the data from any kind of CRM. We work with partners to manage the process from creative, to production, post-production, personalization, data management, and deployment and provide a dashboard to assess performance metrics and engagement analytics.

If you want to explore how to make personalized video work for you, get in touch with us to start the conversation.

This blog was based on an earlier piece by RNL’s Amy Weiss.

Add personalized video to your recruitment strategies

Our enrollment experts can help you find the right combination of personalized video for recruitment and financial aid awarding. Reach out for a free consultation and we’ll discuss your best options.

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About the Author

Betsy Morrison

Betsy Morrison has more than 15 years of higher education experience in the area of progressive enrollment management. She began her admissions career at her alma mater, Wartburg College (IA) where she worked in various...

Read more about Betsy's experience and expertise

Reach Betsy by e-mail at Betsy.Morrison@RuffaloNL.com.

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