Guest post by Eric Olsen
Web Content Manger, Lewis University

Online Engagement. Over the years, it seems to have become our primary goal. Our singular focus.

“We need to engage our prospects and keep them engaged.”

But, let’s be clear. Engagement is a means. Marriage is the end game. And along the way, we may have
confused the two.

As Higher Education professionals, we can and should always be learning from business best practices.
But, we are not an e-commerce site. We don’t necessarily benefit from having students hang out on our
site all day long. Our website is primarily a prospect tool. It is meant to inform. It is meant to persuade. It
is meant to provoke action.

Our engagement occurs in the physical world. Classes (…most of them). Student activities. Social
events. Community. And while we should always be pursuing possible ways to build and strengthen
this community via the web and social media channels, our primary site goal should be to inform
and provoke action. By all means, continue to create opportunities for interactivity on your site. But,
interactivity that points toward the end game. Not distracts the visitor from it.

We have this desire for a dynamic website that engages.
What we really need is a navigable site that inspires.

“But Eric, they’re not distractions. They’re brand-builders.”

Ok, after you streamline the navigation on your Admission page, update the copy to highlight your true
differentiations as a University, and make it incredibly easy for the prospect to take the next step and
contact you, you have my permission to add a “Your School”-branded version of Tetris to the page as
well.

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Eric Olsen is the Web Content Manger for Lewis University, a mid-sized Catholic and Lasallian University near Chicago, IL.

Add Eric to your (Higher Ed) Circle on Google +
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Article Author

Seth Odell

Founder and Advisor


  • I think you hit the nail on the head as far as admissions goes. I’d be curious as to your thoughts about developing “novelty” items for the advancement/development side.

    • I want to hear what you have in mind, Ross. Online Texas Hold ‘Em with a 10% payout going to the University Fund….

  • Great post Eric, couldn’t agree with you more. The website is the primary information tool that should answer all questions and persuade students toward a call to action. 

    However, I think stating engagement is to happen in the physical world missies out on the growing number of hours students are spending engaging with one another on Facebook. Students have endless amounts of questions and concerns  that can never be answered on a website.

    Going to college is a scary time for many students, that’s why we (Inigral) recommend schools set up private social networks for students to interact with one another on Facebook. Websites aren’t built to handle this, but neither are most stand alone consumer social networks.

    • Great clarification, Brandon. Perhaps to simplify, “we’re trying to have the website do things it’s not meant to do.”

  • Yuval

    Check this simple guide for live engagement http://blog.verishow.com/?p=605