High tech, high touch

New digital tools to help recruit students and enhance their overall campus experience

Updates to the website and implementing a new CRM will enhance the ways UND reaches prospective students. Once they’re on campus, a variety of tools are available to help them succeed well beyond graduation. Photo by Jackie Lorentz/UND Today.

Today’s students expect smart phone response and convenience, even when choosing a college.

UND is listening.

A new website, along with tools to help engage students and enhance their experience, harnesses technology to offer a personal touch.

It all starts with UND’s redesigned website, which is fully responsive and has generated a five-fold increase in prospective student inquiries.

‘Curb appeal’

Tera Buckley

“The web is our front door, and curb appeal matters,” said Tera Buckley, associate director of web and digital strategy.

 

Students find the new site bold, modern, and usable, said Buckley, adding that the interactive program finder, which lists more than 225 fields of study for UND, is especially popular.

“Traffic to the program finder increases every month,” Buckley said, adding that last month, more than 11,000 program factsheets were downloaded and printed.

“The website works the way students do,” Buckley said. “It works on their phones, which helps us put our best foot forward.”

She added that marketing & creative services is using digital marketing to generate prospective student inquiries and nurture them through the admissions process.

The admissions office uses that information to connect with future students.

Big picture

Soon, a new customer relationship management (CRM) will make the job of admissions a little easier. Launching in April, the goal is to use the CRM to help UND recruit and retain students. The CRM will take them from prospective students to alumni, said Jake Chaput, IT project manager.

“The CRM ties in a lot of different information,” said Chaput. “This software pulls data so admissions can spend time recruiting rather than gathering the story.”

It will also increase the “personal touch.”

“This will help us develop new marketing and communication plans for prospective students,” said Janelle Kilgore, interim vice provost for enrollment management. “UND gets 7,000 applications annually, and these new tools will help us connect to students, streamline the process, and ensure that students have a great experience.”

The world of college admissions is highly competitive, said Kilgore. The new system will help staff interact with students, send emails, help students sign up for campus visits and other events, and allow more interaction between admissions representatives and future students.

Through Handshake, a new web application on campus, students can create a profile connecting them with companies and organizations searching for their skills. Photo by Shawna Schill/UND Today.

Great expectations

“Amazon, Apple, and private industry have changed the expectation of today’s students,” Kilgore said. “We need to provide an experience that exceeds those expectations.”

She said they are also offering The Common Application, a nationwide program used by flagship universities across the country that enables students to apply to multiple schools by filling out just one application.

Once students are on campus, they have new degree planning tools, along with Starfish, Handshake, and other tools to help them earn degrees and find their future.

Through Handshake, students can develop a profile—a living resume —to connect with thousands of prospective employers. Career Services’ Internship and Employer Relations Coordinator Nancy Nelson said that Handshake has local and regional employers on board, and it’s also getting big-name companies like Google and PayPal familiar with UND. Searching for internships and part-time or full-time employment has never been easier.

The new CRM and degree planners are also being implemented at NDSU, and Core Technology Services, part of the North Dakota University System, is taking part in the project.

“Attracting new students and retaining existing students are important goals for all NDUS campuses,” said Darin King, vice chancellor of IT and CIO of the North Dakota University System. “We are excited that UND has taken a leadership role in these areas and look forward to leveraging the new capabilities and lessons learned for all NDUS institutions.”

“We know enrollment across the country is declining,” said Madhavi Marasinghe, UND chief information officer. “We are all competing for a finite number of students. A new CRM that is technologically advanced allows us to connect with our prospective students in a way they want us to communicate, such as through mobile devices, and engage with them. We need to differentiate ourselves from our competitors, and a CRM can help us carry that message.”

The project is part of Goal 3 of the One UND Strategic Plan, deliver more educational opportunities.

“Instead of having staff generate data, we will use our people where they are most needed. We can enhance the on-campus experience for visitors and increase interactions with staff and faculty,” Kilgore said.

“The CRM will look at the big picture,” said Chaput. “Instead of having silos, we will be One UND, and talk about student success across departments. This is how we define UND’s belief in student success.”