August 4, 2020

Current State of Higher Education: Let’s Search for the Answer

The industry of Higher Education has been put to the test this year. Although there has been much controversy and discussion surrounding the choice and efficiency of moving to online learning, this was not the only difficulty schools face and will have to face in the upcoming future. Most schools are minimizing visits or meeting with prospective students to provide in-person access to their facilities and give people the full experience of their school. Marketing a school and providing prospective students, current students, and alumni on updates, events, or other content is essential for the health and growth of a school, especially higher education institutions, colleges and universities. The situation around the country and world prevented these schools from doing that the way they were used to.            

The overwhelming answer to these difficult times has been through online capabilities. According to The Washington Post, more than ever, students are going to a school’s website to find anything they need. This is a crucial time for a higher education institution to optimize their website and define key components to improve so that students are happy with their experiences on the site and are not bouncing to other sites because of impatience of not finding what they want.

So where should you look as a marketing team for a university or college? The most overlooked part of a website today is the search bar and other search functions. Online consumers, meaning consumers of information as well, have grown accustomed to the search bar being the answer to all of their questions, as well as being a personalized function that they can rely on to take them to where they want to go in a quick and easy way. This trend is growing at a fast rate due to the increase of Google and Amazon’s dominance utilizing the power of search, so it is important that marketers don’t overlook these tendencies that could cost them revenue, and in the cases of colleges and university institutions, cost them student attendance.

How Can Onsite Search Help?

What is a search bar capable of and what can it do for higher education? Where is the effectiveness seen? Search is the most powerful tool that a site can use to help guide users to find what they want, but it must be used correctly. If not, the search will just become the reason why people are frustrated and will leave the site more quickly. With HawkSearch, however, our arrangement of features can be utilized to accomplish any capability that a search function can. HawkSearch provides educational institutions the ability to promote specific programs and events in the time periods where they serve the most purpose and are most effective. These capabilities are just an example of how HawkSearch helps modernize your search marketing.            

HawkSearch is platform agnostic and as a result can connect to multiple sources of content no matter where it resides – often course/program/event information is held in multiple sources by the different faculties, many of which have their own ways of managing and displaying said information – often different CMS or websites. HawkSearch helps to create a consistent user experience across the entire institution’s website. Filters & facets help to break down complex IA’s allowing students and prospective students to filter by course, program, events, people etc. With all the different systems to obtain data, leveraging a federated search technology that provide results from multiple sources is key. By integrating HawkSearch across multiple platforms your prospective students, current students or faculty engage with on a daily basis the most relevant results will be identified. This delivers a satisfying user experience through a unified search results page, identifying the different systems, categories and other facets.            

Some examples of different educational institution systems can include data like journals, authors, papers, topics, conferences, and so on...            

A Personalized Experience

HawkSearch recognizes that user satisfaction and ensuring that the user/student stays on the site is correlated to the level of personalization. This means making the visitor feel understood and that the website can get the feel for what the customer is looking for. These tactics involved include Relevancy Tuning, GeoIP lookup, Smart Autocomplete, and customizable Reporting to help the marketers to be able to evaluate their customer’s actions and make strong decisions for the future.

Relevancy tuning is used to guarantee that a school’s visitor will be met by relevant results. This is done by fine tuning which keywords or other identifiers will influence which results. On top of ensuring good results, we take into account synonyms, spell checks, keyword replacement, and “did you mean” features to further guide your user in their search. Everyone makes mistakes when typing or trying to find information about an event but not remembering the name exactly correct. These mistakes will not affect the outcome of the search with HawkSearch.            

GeoIP lookup uses people’s geographical locations in order to keep items such as marketing campaigns, events, or content from reaching them if their geographical location would prevent the site’s information from having any effect on them. For example, if a college representative is going to New York to have a luncheon with prospective students near a certain area, they may not want to advertise that on their website universally. Instead, they will only want to show that piece of content to people in the north eastern part of the country.                            

Smart Autocomplete is necessary for similar reasons. As a user is typing their search query, our system will update a drop-down menu with every keystroke in an attempt to complete their query for them, instead of having to type out every word perfectly. This not only improves the speed in which a user can find what they are looking for by finishing it for them with content that includes popular searches, as well as from your past history on that site.                          

Even if the user ignores the drop-down menu and chooses to keep searching on their own, they will feel the sense that we are trying to find what they are looking for just as much as they are looking for it. This is exactly what we want and represents the essence of personalization. The customer must feel understood and that the website is with them, not against them. Many institutions can be intimidating. Because of the massive amounts of information that a university or college has on their site, it is easy to get lost in all of the categories and content that may or may not be what you are looking for.            

HawkSearch minimizes these potential issues by bringing the information to the user through search. There is no more efficient way to do so. Colleges are trying to connect with a mostly younger consumer group because most people looking at their sites for information would be students (past, present, or future). The younger generations have grown up in an era where everything is so easy and accessible to them. An example of these fast and easy accesses to information is Google and Amazon: two of the biggest users of a strong, personalized search bar that drives their functions.

Although the industry itself is more or less fixed, the aspects surrounding the industry of higher education are constantly changing. Student’s interests are largely dependent on how the world and country is changing and how society is influencing them about what they want to be when they grow up and how to get there. The educational system must adapt to this. Search is again the answer to gain the knowledge one needs to know what users are interested in knowing. HawkSearch’s customizable reporting can give you the data that is important for the marketers to know where to go next. Not only is this information helping the institution gain a foothold on where their next move needs to be, but it also helps the user’s search suggestions and recommendations become more accurate through AI learning.          

Get to know how HawkSearch is helping Institutions of Higher Education by clicking here for more information on the Industries that HawkSearch has assists.


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