Learn six methods for collaboratively prioritising content in our free eBook!
Download now
+
+

How mStoner increased undergraduate program web enquiries by 386% at the University of North Dakota

How mStoner increased undergraduate program web enquiries by 386% at the University of North Dakota

4 minute read

How mStoner increased undergraduate program web enquiries by 386% at the University of North Dakota

4 minute read

How mStoner increased undergraduate program web enquiries by 386% at the University of North Dakota

Becky Taylor

Product Marketing Manager, GatherContent

mStoner and The University of North Dakota (UND) have partnered for a number of years, including a massive website redesign. The redesign gave UND an opportunity to reach an audience it hadn’t expressly prioritised before: prospective students.

The redesign culminated in a strategic rollout of recruitment-focused pages that are already resonating with the class of 2023. Integral to this was an interactive program finder that mStoner developed for UND.

An interactive program finder

Shannon Lanus, Director of Content Strategy and Services at mStoner shared some insight into the strategy behind the program finder:

Great content is really hard to do because you need to balance what your university wants to say and what your audience is trying to do and find out.

It is within the overlap between a university audience's goals and the institution's goals that great content can be created.

Venn diagram showing how your audience's goals and your institution's goals overlap. In the centre there is 'great content.'
The goal of content strategy. Image credit: mStoner

With an objective to intentionally appeal to prospective students, the content strategy behind the interactive program finder was to give students a variety of ways to explore programs and find the best fit. Whilst the program pages shifted the content focus to the ‘why’ for the prospective students before the ‘what’.

mStoner identified that UND could help prospective students in their decision making progress with an interactive program finder. The finder provides a number of ways to search, filter, sort and compare programs. This allows students to begin to find the right program for them, what they might major in, understand minors, certificate programs, masters degree's, online programs and more.

University of North Dakota interactive program finder, with filters for program type and field of study. Images for each program and the option to compare programs
Interactive program finder built by mStoner for the University of North Dakota

This tool is a great example of finding that sweet spot between what a university's audience would be looking for and communicating the institution's unique value proposition.

"The program finder streamlines the university’s messaging. We worked hard to differentiate each program, to give a prospective student a reason to want more information about it."

Tera Buckley, Assistant Director of Marketing and Creative Services at UND

A scalable process to create content for 275 academic program pages

Lanus believes to develop a great content strategy you need to answer three key questions:

  1. What content do we need?
  2. How do we create the content we need?
  3. How do you keep content great?

To identify what content is required, it is imperative to understand:

Audience definition:

  • Who are you talking to?
  • What do they need?
  • What matters to them?

Content assessment:

  • What content exists already?
  • Does your content reflect your institution and its goals?

Gap analysis:

  • What's missing?
  • What needs an overhaul?
  • What can be repurposed?

With answers to what content is required, attention can turn to how to create the content. mStoner uses GatherContent for all large collaborative content initiatives and found several areas of success with this campaign:

Structured content templates to guide writers

mStoner built highly structured content templates in GatherContent to guide writers to adhere to a very specific set of guidelines as well as word count.

Structured academic program content template in GatherContent,  showing blocks of content such as program name, program tagline, program lead text
Academic program content template in GatherContent
"Content templates in GatherContent enabled us to work with a team of writers and make sure that across each college and school, they covered the same kinds of content."

Shannon Lanus, Director of Content Strategy and Services at mStoner

The content template mirrors the design and breaks down the exact requirements for authors to create consistency across program pages and maintain content quality.

Collaborative content workflow with 100s of stakeholders

Content creation for academic program pages requires institution-wide engagement. mStoner agreed on a content workflow with key stakeholders that communicated the key stages each program page needed to pass through in order to work from draft status through to reviews, revisions and approvals.

The workflow is formalised in GatherContent both to instruct collaborations as to what action is required on a given content item and also track the overall content status.

Project status tracker bar in GatherContent which shows how much of a project is completed, and what stages items are at
Custom content workflow in GatherContent reflecting the key stages program pages needed to pass through as part of the content creation process

This structured workflow provides a mechanism to engage a variety of university departments from the marketing and communications team to subject matter experts and faculty members.

After a successful proof of concept on the first few program pages, mStoner were able to invite more than 200 faculty members to collaborate on content for their departmental pages.

"I love the ability to see comments and track content changes in GatherContent! We could show faculty members that we took their feedback seriously and easily go back and forth with questions, meaning there were no surprises when the content went live."

Shannon Lanus, Director of Content Strategy and Services at mStoner

A place to govern program content

The last question Lanus recommends to answer to develop a great content strategy is: How do you keep content great?

GatherContent is able to support here too. The simplest approach is to add a cyclical 'Review' stage to the end of your content workflow and assign a deadline. This can be used to kick start your university's content workflow again to ensure your content is up to date and best represents your institution.

mStoner also develop web governance policies with their university partners as a mechanism to move clients from a project to process mindset. This paves the way for working on proactive projects that support better progress towards the core objectives of a university digital presence: recruitment, retention and fundraising.

Resonating with prospective students

By finding the overlap between what prospective students need and what UND want to communicate, the academic program pages have delivered exceptional lead measures for upcoming student recruitment:

  • Six months after launch, a record-setting 11,000 program PDFs were downloaded.
  • Web enquiries increased by 386% for undergraduate programs.
  • Web enquiries increased by 138% for graduate programs.

mStoner and The University of North Dakota (UND) have partnered for a number of years, including a massive website redesign. The redesign gave UND an opportunity to reach an audience it hadn’t expressly prioritised before: prospective students.

The redesign culminated in a strategic rollout of recruitment-focused pages that are already resonating with the class of 2023. Integral to this was an interactive program finder that mStoner developed for UND.

An interactive program finder

Shannon Lanus, Director of Content Strategy and Services at mStoner shared some insight into the strategy behind the program finder:

Great content is really hard to do because you need to balance what your university wants to say and what your audience is trying to do and find out.

It is within the overlap between a university audience's goals and the institution's goals that great content can be created.

Venn diagram showing how your audience's goals and your institution's goals overlap. In the centre there is 'great content.'
The goal of content strategy. Image credit: mStoner

With an objective to intentionally appeal to prospective students, the content strategy behind the interactive program finder was to give students a variety of ways to explore programs and find the best fit. Whilst the program pages shifted the content focus to the ‘why’ for the prospective students before the ‘what’.

mStoner identified that UND could help prospective students in their decision making progress with an interactive program finder. The finder provides a number of ways to search, filter, sort and compare programs. This allows students to begin to find the right program for them, what they might major in, understand minors, certificate programs, masters degree's, online programs and more.

University of North Dakota interactive program finder, with filters for program type and field of study. Images for each program and the option to compare programs
Interactive program finder built by mStoner for the University of North Dakota

This tool is a great example of finding that sweet spot between what a university's audience would be looking for and communicating the institution's unique value proposition.

"The program finder streamlines the university’s messaging. We worked hard to differentiate each program, to give a prospective student a reason to want more information about it."

Tera Buckley, Assistant Director of Marketing and Creative Services at UND

A scalable process to create content for 275 academic program pages

Lanus believes to develop a great content strategy you need to answer three key questions:

  1. What content do we need?
  2. How do we create the content we need?
  3. How do you keep content great?

To identify what content is required, it is imperative to understand:

Audience definition:

  • Who are you talking to?
  • What do they need?
  • What matters to them?

Content assessment:

  • What content exists already?
  • Does your content reflect your institution and its goals?

Gap analysis:

  • What's missing?
  • What needs an overhaul?
  • What can be repurposed?

With answers to what content is required, attention can turn to how to create the content. mStoner uses GatherContent for all large collaborative content initiatives and found several areas of success with this campaign:

Structured content templates to guide writers

mStoner built highly structured content templates in GatherContent to guide writers to adhere to a very specific set of guidelines as well as word count.

Structured academic program content template in GatherContent,  showing blocks of content such as program name, program tagline, program lead text
Academic program content template in GatherContent
"Content templates in GatherContent enabled us to work with a team of writers and make sure that across each college and school, they covered the same kinds of content."

Shannon Lanus, Director of Content Strategy and Services at mStoner

The content template mirrors the design and breaks down the exact requirements for authors to create consistency across program pages and maintain content quality.

Collaborative content workflow with 100s of stakeholders

Content creation for academic program pages requires institution-wide engagement. mStoner agreed on a content workflow with key stakeholders that communicated the key stages each program page needed to pass through in order to work from draft status through to reviews, revisions and approvals.

The workflow is formalised in GatherContent both to instruct collaborations as to what action is required on a given content item and also track the overall content status.

Project status tracker bar in GatherContent which shows how much of a project is completed, and what stages items are at
Custom content workflow in GatherContent reflecting the key stages program pages needed to pass through as part of the content creation process

This structured workflow provides a mechanism to engage a variety of university departments from the marketing and communications team to subject matter experts and faculty members.

After a successful proof of concept on the first few program pages, mStoner were able to invite more than 200 faculty members to collaborate on content for their departmental pages.

"I love the ability to see comments and track content changes in GatherContent! We could show faculty members that we took their feedback seriously and easily go back and forth with questions, meaning there were no surprises when the content went live."

Shannon Lanus, Director of Content Strategy and Services at mStoner

A place to govern program content

The last question Lanus recommends to answer to develop a great content strategy is: How do you keep content great?

GatherContent is able to support here too. The simplest approach is to add a cyclical 'Review' stage to the end of your content workflow and assign a deadline. This can be used to kick start your university's content workflow again to ensure your content is up to date and best represents your institution.

mStoner also develop web governance policies with their university partners as a mechanism to move clients from a project to process mindset. This paves the way for working on proactive projects that support better progress towards the core objectives of a university digital presence: recruitment, retention and fundraising.

Resonating with prospective students

By finding the overlap between what prospective students need and what UND want to communicate, the academic program pages have delivered exceptional lead measures for upcoming student recruitment:

  • Six months after launch, a record-setting 11,000 program PDFs were downloaded.
  • Web enquiries increased by 386% for undergraduate programs.
  • Web enquiries increased by 138% for graduate programs.

No items found.

About the author

Becky Taylor

Becky is a Product Marketing Manager at GatherContent. She has 10+ years working in marketing executing affiliate, content, display, mobile, search and social campaigns for high profile clients across various sectors including Travel, Entertainment and Oil & Energy.

Related posts you might like