Higher Ed Content Marketing

Landing Page Conversion Formula in Higher Education Part 2: Value Proposition

By February 7, 2014 No Comments

During our first post we were introduced to the Conversion Formula, a heuristic created by Marketing Sherpa. The Conversion Formula provides a way for marketers to understand how to craft landing pages that speak to and convert their target audiences.
C = 4M + 3V + 2(I-f) – 2A
During this first post, we also dove a little deeper into the first and most important variable in the formula: Motivation of the user. If this first variable is not accounted for, the chance of you being able to persuade a user to take the next conversion step unfortunately drastically decreases.
The second variable in the conversion formula is the “Clarity of the value proposition”. While not quite as important as the first step, it can have a very large effect on the outcome of a marketing campaign
The first step in understanding how to position your landing page and marketing collateral to clearly define your unique value proposition (UVP) is to understand what your program or brands value proposition actually is. A programs value proposition is what sets itself apart from any other program, as in why would somebody be interested in your online MBA compared to the hundreds of others ones available.
Defining a programs unique value proposition becomes even more important when talking about smaller brands, as a visitor has no prior experience with your university and due to the history of higher education, is probably slightly skeptical. One easy way to figure out how to define your brand is to take a look at your competition and how they are positioning themselves.
Examples of value propositions include:

  1. A widely published and acclaimed faculty
  2. A curriculum that is unique and will make you more marketable post-graduation
  3. An accreditation that isn’t acquired by many online programs
  4. A top ranking by a recognizable journal or organization
  5. The fact that your program costs half as much as the competitions
  6. Processes in place in which the student will be able to acquire your degree more easily then through a competitor

Most programs will combine individual value propositions to create something unique. The following example is for the University of Wisconsin Flex-Option system:
The University of Wisconsin Flex program combines a few different value propositions, but the first thing that pops up is the “Save time and money” header. Then right below, there is the follow up text that reads: “Study only what you need to learn. Never take courses that you don’t need”. 
The secondary element to this that makes the value proposition so strong is that the University of Wisconsin, a prestigious university, offers it.
Now there are probably a few other elements which the University of Wisconsin could add to make their case even stronger, but all in all they do a relatively good job of communicating the basic UVP to the visitor. One thing to keep in mind is that this is the homepage of the Flex website, not a landing page, but this is ok as I arrived here via an organic (not paid) listing.
Now for smaller brands, communicating a UVP gets much harder. Here is an example of a really bad place to send somebody that you already spend $35 acquiring:
So while the university did actually get the right program (I arrived here after Googling “online masters in nursing”) they got pretty much everything else wrong. First off, never send paid traffic to a website. Second thing, never send paid traffic to a place that isn’t solely dedicated to the initial keyword the user was searching. And third, you must have some type of value proposition.
The first thing that jumps out on this page is the stock image with the heading “Online Master’s in Nursing”, and then the lead form. This program has no brand recognition, no unique value proposition, and nothing that makes me enticed at all to learn more.
With that being said, here a few of Aurora’s competitors to compare against, do you see the difference?

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