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3 ways to engage remote students and donors with immersive content

Institutions must look to immersive content and engaging digital experiences to attract and retain students and other stakeholders
By Simon Berg, CEO, Ceros
February 19th, 2021

Institutions must look to immersive content and engaging digital experiences to attract and retain students and other stakeholders

Higher education organizations have traditionally been slower to adopt technology and embrace digital transformation than others. But this last year has forced higher education institutions–both four-year colleges and universities and community colleges–to accelerate their digital efforts. Practically overnight, their online presence became their only presence. Without in-person classes or campus events, organizations must adopt a robust digital presence in order to engage their students, prospects, and donors online. Failure to adapt means potentially losing the students and funding that keep the doors open. It’s that simple.

Organizations can make a deeper, more meaningful connection with their audience and leave a lasting impression through immersive content like engaging website landing pages. Here are three ways organizations can reap the benefits of an immersive content strategy.

Show students and parents a sophisticated, state-of-the-art digital experience

They say you never get a second chance to make a first impression, and that applies to colleges and universities looking to attract students and their families. First impressions are everything, and that begins with your initial touchpoint with prospective students. How will you grab their attention and hold onto it for the years they’ll be attending? How will your online presence show that you’re providing a creative, technologically-advanced learning environment?

Rather than waiting until they get to campus to start engaging with students, immersive content allows you to create that experience from Day One. You build a deeper connection with them online and, instead of telling them how excited you are to have them on board, you can show them using interactive content. Additionally, organizations that have an outdated and unsophisticated online presence risk coming across as just that–outdated and unsophisticated. Today’s students are the most tech-savvy and digital-first consumers. They are the first generation to have never known a world without smartphones; they have high standards and higher expectations. When searching for a college or university to attend, they’re going to prioritize those that speak to them in their native language, which is digital. They crave experiences, value creativity, and yearn to be part of something bigger and more innovative. As a higher education organization, it’s your responsibility to meet them where they are online. Immersive content can support these efforts in speaking the language of today’s students.

We can’t forget parents, either. By delivering a truly interactive and engaging experience, you provide an extra layer of trust and confidence in the minds of your students’ parents. They have a better understanding of your organization, services, and what their child can expect. Rather than reading through a brochure or scrolling through an endless PDF of information, parents can experience the same welcome their child experiences, giving them greater peace of mind. And when we say you only get one chance for a great first impression, that is especially true with parents.

Use immersive content to cultivate and maintain donor relations

Research shows that, due to the pandemic, 40 percent of colleges and universities said they expected at least a 10 percent decrease in fundraising. How can they bounce back in 2021 and develop a stronger fundraising strategy? Immersive content can provide that unique and compelling experience that stands out. Sure, you can send an email to a potential donor in hopes of attracting their attention, but imagine if that email actually engaged them. What if it led to an interactive landing page that let them take a digital walk around campus or watch a performance from the music school you’re raising funds for? This landing page would walk donors through an experience and show them exactly how their donation is part of the bigger picture. That is much more powerful than delivering a stale email with a single snap of the most regal building on campus.

Take engagement to the next level with analytics

The benefits of immersive content don’t stop at the content you deliver. Immersive content allows you to dig deeper into data from your experience and see exactly where users clicked (or where they didn’t), evaluate how they responded to your CTAs, and figure out which part of the experience performed best. As a result, you can continuously improve your content, keeping it fresh and engaging with each touchpoint.

Most students apply to anywhere from five to eight schools before choosing the right one. Immersive content gives higher education organizations the opportunity to set themselves apart from the other four to seven schools students are evaluating.

We’re all chuffed that 2020 is over. Take the promise of a new, fresh year to revamp your digital content strategy. It’s time you take the dive into the opportunities immersive content can deliver to your institution.

About the Author:

Simon Berg is CEO of Ceros, an interactive SaaS design platform that empowers brands like Red Bull, United, Conde Nast, and Universal to create bespoke digital experiential content without coding. Simon’s path to CEO has been unusual: after design school turned him down, he started working on an agency production floor at age 16, helping magazine publisher clients design and produce their print issues.

As publishing moved into the digital era, Simon became a master of craft across both print and digital, which served as a catalyst for his 20-year ladder-climbing journey to CEO of the same agency: Group FMG (now BORN). As CEO, Simon led the charge to sell the agency in order to build and grow Ceros, a technology platform he incubated while at Group FMG. Today, Ceros has 200+ employees across five continents working with more than 400 consumer and B2B brands.

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