What Colleges Know About You Before You Apply

Microsites, small, interactive websites, are proving to be popular with colleges and universities that want to recruit new students or touch base with long-lost alumni. Not only do they provide users with a fun and interesting way to interact with a university, they also provide the university with valuable information about the user.

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By Bobby Mann



The College of Saint Mary in Omaha, NE, has two websites. One is its traditional .edu domain, while the other is watchmebloom.com. This second site is a microsite that was developed by an outside marketing firm, Phenomblue. The microsite is highly interactive and allows users to watch films of Saint Mary students talking about the school and Omaha as well as learn about the different buildings located on campus.

More importantly, the site collects information from visitors who have completed a diagnostic test designed to determine appropriate majors based upon interests and personality type. Users can also set up a profile on the 'watchmebloom' site. This information is funneled back to admissions representatives at the College of Saint Mary who can then contact these prospective students. So far, the strategy seems to be working. Traffic to the main Saint Mary site has increased significantly, and at least half of the users of the microsite that set up profiles have decided to enroll at the school.

Saint Mary isn't the only college getting in on the act; Nazareth College, located in Rochester, NY, has also set up a microsite geared towards keeping in touch with alumni. The site, fightoftheflyers.com, encourages visitors to get in touch with classmates by participating in various animated games and competitions. Like Saint Mary, Nazareth has seen some immediate benefit. College officials report that attendance at the most recent reunion weekend jumped from 450 to 750.

Consistent Branding

Some Web marketing professionals warn that there is a potential downside for a university having a microsite. The primary concern is consistent branding and voice. By having another sister site that differs in tone from the main .edu domain, colleges may confuse visitors. Furthermore, users may not know which site to visit if both have resources for prospective students. And lastly, if the microsite is developed poorly, it could have a negative impact on the institution. Visitors to the microsite could be dissuaded from applying to a school if it isn't properly executed.

Learn how schools manage their information by using metadata.

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