Completed: January 2003
In 2000 Jones International University was one of many in a new crop of for profit, all-online universities offering real degrees over the internet. By 2002, the simple hook of getting a degree online wasn’t enough to increase enrollment numbers. JIU wanted to use e-mail marketing to reach potential students and give them the experience of interacting with its sophisticated online learning system. Coupled with the emergence of online chat, the University asked TMP to help deliver a compelling Open House experience online to reach the most prospects as cost effectively as possible.
The core IT team at JIU built and supported an Online Learning System that the entire student body and faculty used for class registration, participation, and graduation. The admissions marketing team proposed using this same system to interact with prospects in an Open House. TMP needed to build an Open House information site, registration and e-mail marketing system to get prospects to the event. On the date and time of the event, prospects would then use the Online Learning system to chat and interact with admissions staff, current students, faculty, and alumni in Q&A sessions. The entire experience was designed to introduce candidates to the online learning experience and convince them that an MBA could be attained online at a fraction of the cost and inconvenience of attending an offline campus.
I worked as the project’s Information Architect to assist the creative and development teams build a solution with the following components:
- Information website with only the “right” content to motivate a student to explore more via an open house
- Custom e-mail marketing engine that took qualified names from the admissions marketing database and solicited registration for the open house
- Back-end user interface to allow JIU Admissions staff to easily setup new events, track registrations, and send reminders.
- Online Open House User Interface within the Online Learning System to facilitate the chat and provide information to the prospects, then ultimately motivating students to Enroll.
The client did the project right by funding proper usability testing so that we could ensure the workflow for both admissions staff and propsects was as natural as possible. As we predicted, many kinks were worked out during testing and it made the staff much more confortable in administering the real open houses.
Online Open Houses became a fixture of the admissions marketing process at JIU. The client experienced excellent enrollment rates after them. Continued enhancements to the e-mail marketing and registration systems were created to allow more frequent events to drive even more conversions.