The Higher Ed Marketer
The Higher Ed Marketer

Episode · 1 month ago

Automagic Customization: Personalizing the Regional School Website Experience

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Imagine a personalized website experience that adapts in real-time to the home region of prospective students who visit your homepage.

We’ve seen the potential of geocaching with popular mobile applications like Pokemon Go. What if you could employ similar technology to customize your school website’s visitor experience?

Kyle Pucko , Owner of Geofli , tells us how colleges and universities can harness this exciting tech to enhance personalization on their websites.

Join us as we discuss:

  • Why personalization in school websites matters (4:38)
  • Use cases for geocaching landing pages by region (15:52)
  • The future of online customization after third-party cookies (22:06) 

Check out these resources we mentioned during the podcast:

To hear this interview and many more like it, subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or our website or search for The Higher Edge in your favorite podcast player.

You're listening to The Higher Ed Marketer, a podcast geared towards marketing professionals in higher education. This show will tackle all sorts of questions related to student recruitment, donor relations, marketing trends, new technologies, and so much more. If you're looking for conversations centered around where the industry is going, this podcast is for you. Let's get into the show. Welcome to the Higher Ed Marketer Podcast. My name is Troy Singer with Ring Digital and I'm here with Bart Kaylor from Kaylor Solutions. And each week we interview higher ed marketers that we admire for the betterment of the entire higher ed community. Today we are bringing you Kyle Pucko. Kyle is the co founder of a company called geo Fly and what they do is enable you, an institution, or really any company at the website level, be able to personalize your website bay stun the location of where the person is viewing your website from. There's lots of possibilities. Kyle goes over those possibilities with Bart. I think this is a wonderful conversation to hear. Yeah, it's a it's a fun conversation and I think this is one of those things we always talk to our guests before they come on and we say, hey, we have a lot of different sized schools. We've got you know, really big D one institutions and our one institutions that we're working with, and we've got really tiny, little faith based schools that have fifty students. Give us stuff that anybody can use. And I think Kyle delivers because it's such a pragmatic and practical tool that he has that he talks about, and quite frankly, it's very affordable. And so I think that the idea of really being able to personalize that experience, you're gonna have a lot of ideas that you're gonna walk away with. And I'm really excited about this episode. Here's our conversation with Kyle. Kyle Bart and I are excited to talk about the technology around stimization that your company and other companies...

...like it bring. But before we get into the conversation around personalization, I would like to know if there's anything that you've learned recently that you could share with our audience. Yeah. Absolutely, and thank you both for having me on. This is a really cool part. We go kind of way back, so it's exciting, exciting to be here today, and Troy good too. Good to meet you again here. Um, yeah, this is a that's a great question. I wish it was something a little more exciting, but since I am a digital marketer at heart, I have to sort of relate it back to digital marketing. I recently saw a study by the company Thumbtack, which works with like pairing homeowners with like contractors, that as they add more form fields to their forms, their response rate goes up, which I think kind of flies against the trend that a lot of marketers tend to go with, which is, Okay, we need less form fields that kind of thing. And I thought that was really interesting and it made their customers, the contractors, much happier because there you know that the people submitting the forums were way more qualified and they had more information on them about budget and square footage of their roof and that kind of thing. So I thought that was really interesting. That is interesting, very much, So thank you for sharing. Kyle. If you would give us a brief introduction to you and geo fly, Yeah, absolutely so, Kyle Pucko. I'm based here in Missoula, Montana. Our team is headquartered here. And what geo fly does is it allows anyone, regardless of technical background, to change and replace your existing website content based on location. So my background is in Higher ED, so of course I always use the example of Higher ED. Want to talk about geo fly, But somebody visiting, oh, say, the University of Montana's website from California, is going to see different content than somebody visiting that same website U MT dot et U from Michigan or New York or wherever.

So you could show different testimonials for for out of state students versus in state students. You could show scholarship information to Californians that visit your site versus in state tuition information for in state students. Lots of applications in Higher ED. We work with e commerce, we work at tourism, so we're sort of all across the board. There. That's the quick elevator pitch. Thank you, But I do want to emphasize that you said you worked in Higher ED, but you worked in admissions. You are a road warrior, so you really know what it's like working for UH a large university. I think it was the University of Montana at one time. Is that correct? Yeah, you got it. So I spent a decade, almost a decade, working in higher ed. I worked at a small private liberal arts school outside of Chicago, Rockford College. I think it's now Rockford University. That's where you know I was. I was in a position that was known as the athletic liaison and my role was specifically to go and recruit high school athletes to come and play Division three sports. So I was going to, you know, hundreds of high schools. I was on the road four days a week just visiting high schools in Illinois, which there are many, but also traveling in Iowa, uh, Iowa, Missouri. It was really cool to see that part of the country. Having grown up in New York, and then made my way further west to the University of Montana, where I spent almost five years and admissions and then ended my career there as the digital marketing manager for the university, which at the time, this was two thousand fourteen. When I took on that rule two thousand, two thousand fourteen, I started to look on LinkedIn, and at least according to LinkedIn, I was the only digital marketing manager at any university in the whole country at the time, So I felt like I was early in the in that trend. And I loved my time and admissions. I love the University of Montana. I'm still very connected with a lot of people there. Um, and it's such a big...

...part of this community. But just working on a college campuses is so fun. Um. But I had an entrepreneurial gene in me that I that I couldn't quite get rid of. So I had to I had to go and start this company. I'm I'm particularly interesting because I mean you, like you said, you and I've known each other for a while. Tell me a little bit more about why customization. I mean, we talked about the elevator pitch of of geofly, so you know, I'm a student, I'm coming to a school and you can change it based on my on my IP address, my location of of where I'm coming from. Why is that so important? And why does it matter to generations z especially? I was in admissions, I was in marketing, and I was looking specifically at Google analytics and a lot of the information about the financial aid space, the financial aid page specifically. And if your listeners know this, they're in higher ad They know that sometimes that financial aid page can be maybe less than marketing focused. You know, when you think about landing pages, that's kind of thing because there's that silo, right the financial aid team is managing the financial aid page, and we love them. They do great work, but sometimes they're marketing, you know, they're they're not thinking marketing first. So at the University of Montana, you know, we would display in state tuition and you listeners can't see, but I'm like sort of charting this out. We would display we would display in state tuition rate above out of state tuition. So if you were an out of state student and you go to the financial aid page or you're not a state parent, you see this displayed in this way, and your immediate reaction is, oh, well, boy, that's too bad. You know, it's it's sort of a it's not a great experience if you're an out of state parent to say, oh, jeez, if I was just a Montana resident, i'd pay thousands of dollars less, when in reality, when I was at the university, it was clear that a lot of the surrounding states, Washington, California, even Oregon, like you come to the University of Montana, you'll pay less than you do in state at those in those states. I don't know if that's still true today, but at the time it was, so we wanted to promote that in a way.

So of course we go out looking for well, okay, how do we do this. Let's just go find the product that helps us do this. And when we couldn't find one, of course that's when and I say we, my co founder and I Nick Shawn's um went out and decided to build this. And and you know, to Bart your question, why is this important? I think it's important for a lot of reasons. It's segmenting the same way that you would segment emails. So somebody that gets an email from, uh, the University of Arkansas, and that person lives in New York, and the emails blasted to everybody nationwide, uh, and it's the same email. Like you're we just know as marketers, you're going to get a lower response rate if you do that. Then if you personalize it to your prospective students or your applicants or your admitted students that live in New York, Hey, we're from the University of Arkansas. I recently saw a unit a Northern Arkansas marketing campaign that was like, why you know, when your family asks you why you're moving to Arkansas, here's what you say, and here's why you're doing this, and and maybe you sort of play it up like that and and you know, not being gen z um. So I don't want to talk necessarily totally for them, but we see it everywhere across generations. Is why is it important? Why is it important to personalized messaging? Well, because it just feels more relevant. So Geo flied website. If done correctly, the user doesn't really know that the content is being personalized for them. It just is like, Oh, there's an alumni that lives in Austin from this university and I'm from Austin. That's really cool, and they're featured on the homepage. We will be right back after a word from our sponsor. Today's podcast is brought to you by our d O Education Solutions are DAO helps colleges and universities increase access to education while giving students and families financial peace of mind. Our dayo's Loan with Payment Assistant program ams known as l...

...raps, help students with modest incomes repay their federal student parent plus in private loans are dao's l raps give students the confidence they need to enroll and are a win win for your institution. To learn more about our d O and see case studies from institutions like yours, d O dot org. That's a r d e O dot org. Welcome back. Let's rejoin the conversation right here on the higher ed marketer. It's one of those things that it's not being done that much, and so it's it's kind of an unexpected surprise. And I think that's one of the things that really helps out in today's higher reed marketing is when we can do something that's extremely targeted, extremely relevant. UM. We had a conversation, uh in a recent podcast with Bob Johnson, you know, kind of a leading higher ed marketing expert, and he talked a lot about the idea of, you know, taking the information that we know about people and customizing their experience. It's based on that and he was talking about it in the in the essence of calm flow. But for you, we're talking about it from that very first impression that they have because a lot of times, i mean, we look at all the studies that the rn l E, expectations, reports and everything else always tell us that the website is the number one, you know, first impression that people have about our schools. And so the fact that if that first impression not only starts here, but can go up even higher because all of a sudden, I'm looking in the mirror at something that I recognize, whether it's an alumni testimonial, some social proof from somebody that's near where I'm coming from, or even that like you said, that statement that says what I might qualify from because of my location. Let's say I'm an in state or I'm out of state or whatever. I really love that idea, and I think that does I mean, you're right, it doesn't make specifically for gen Z, but I think everybody wants to kind of feel like they get me even before they really know me. And I think that's a that's a great point. Yeah, yeah, totally. And the cool part two to your point about personalization...

...is a lot of times colleges already have this information, this content exists on their website, so they just need to surface it to the user earlier. You know, take an international student as an example. Colleges have tons of information about international enrollment, international applications. But when somebody visits their homepage, uh, they see the same thing that everybody else sees. Wouldn't it be wouldn't it be cool if they just, hey, you add a button that says interested in our total exam requirements like click here, and maybe that disappears if you're visiting from the United States. Yeah, so I'm guessing the software allows you to kind of do you know, not only targeting a specific location. So I can say, if they're from Austin, serve this up, but it also says, if they're not from these areas, serve this up. That's right, that's right. And and to your point, bart about like serving the relevant content moving from New York and then you know, a couple of stops along the way, but landing in Montana, I think colleges and maybe your listeners would sort of identify with this. A lot of times admissions professionals are hired from Oh they were the tour guide and then they sort of graduated and now they're the biggest advocates for the university, which is awesome, Like, of course you want those people in your admissions office sort of shouting all the accolades and UH talking about their experiences at the university. That's extraordinarily valuable. However, I also found it extremely valuable to enter the team as an outsider UH and I hope that the team found that valuable as well. That I was at the University of Montana in admissions and this is my first time in Missoula. I knew nobody, so I was looking at it from the point of view of a first time visitor to the town. And when I would read marketing messages like go Grizz, you know, the Grizz or the football team here and the athletics here, Um, it didn't really resonate with me. I didn't really get it. I wasn't a huge Grizz...

...fan at the time, and I am, of course now. But you know, ten years ago when I started, Go Grizz meant very little to me, And so I could sort of add to the conversation, Hey, if we're sending things to you know, New Yorkers or even out of state US, you know people in Seattle, go Grizz might not mean that much, Like maybe we should have a different message for out of state students. That's that's less sort of inside baseball. But in state, absolutely, let's shout go grizz from the rooftops. People know it. Chances are they have relatives that went to the university. But out of state, you know, you can throw that playbook out the window. So it gives you the opportunity to also have multiple playbooks. We've talked about at a high level that your service offers customization, but uh, specifically, what types of things or what web pages do you apply this technologically to the most there is the for me, that rule of your website traffic probably comes from five percent of your pages. So one of the first things we'll do is, there's really no hard and fast rule. Will take a look if if the university has it, which hopefully they do, we'll we'll peel back a layer of uncertainty and discover, oh, okay, it looks like actually, uh, the financial page is certainly one we talked about, um, you know, and then we try to discover with whatever university we're working with, are there opportunities that just makes sense here? You know, sometimes it it might not make sense to just take the college a business page and spend a lot of time personalizing it. When you've come to learn that hey, parents and prospective students aren't really going to these pages. A good example is like the University of Oregon. So the University of Oregon has an orientation that they do in the state of Hawaii. They have an orientation for anybody from Hawaii attending the University of Oregon. And you go to the orientation page and you really have to dig to find this information. But how easy would it be to say, if you're...

...from the state of Hawaii and you go to our homepage, you see, hey, did you know that there's an orientation just for you. So sometimes it's not these are the pages that were Geoflyne, it's these are the pages that we're sort of surfacing to the homepage. And ninety of our customers it's the homepage first, and then we try to discover opportunity to I think that's really a good, good answer and help me understand too. I mean, we've talked a little bit about some of the use cases. Um, you know, certainly surfacing that information into the homepage, being able to highlight, you know, cleaning up the tuition page that it's more relevant from where they're coming from. I might even suggest or maybe guess that even sometimes on a on a visit page or other things like that, because I mean, I know some schools will offer you know, travel reimbursement or different things like that for out of state especially I've seen that in Southern California. Like if you know, if I'm going to be traveling from Indiana to uh to a university in southern California, they might offer a travel reimbursement or something like that. So those are some of the use cases that I can think of right off the top of my head. But I mean, what are some of the unique ones that you've you've witnessed and seen too. And maybe it's not in higher ed, but I mean I know that you do a lot of different things. But just to kind of get people thinking about it, because I mean, this is a I mean, I'm not gonna I'm not gonna pitch for you guys, but this is a very affordable solution that just about any school could could you know, sign up for and and in very short time, I think even so on your website, like you know, your starter is only nineteen dollars a month and launch in fifteen minutes. I mean, this is a pretty incredible opportunity. So let's just talk through what some of those other use cases that other you know, institutions as well as your other maybe non higher ed clients are using it for. Yeah, so that's a great question. College is certainly uh, something as simple as testimonials. You know, Hey, I'm gonna surface a location based testimony. And it can...

...be regional too. You know, it doesn't have to be you're from Albuquerque, you know, Western Albuquerque High and it's like, whoa, that's kind of weird. You know, don't don't do that right, get get relevant and regional. Um. The other thing that we've seen really effective since bart this is your world is college admissions and it was mine. Um in college enrollment is if you have people on the road. And this is also sort of one of the doors that I opened and admissions that led to this idea. You have people on the road, You're paying good money for their time and resources, and they're working hard for your university. There your road warriors, Like why not book more coffee meetings when you know your team from the University of Colorado is going to Boston? Throw up a throw up a simple call to action button on the website. Hey, we're coming to Boston. And the cool part about geoflies you can start and stop content, So you could say, all right, Trevor, when are when are you going to Boston? Oh you're coming back on you know, December fift So we're gonna have this button on the website until December, and then anybody from Boston who comes to our site is going to see this button on the homepage that says we're coming to Boston. Book a coffee meeting, and you got a nice picture of Trevor there with them and everything else. I mean, that content is there exactly, and then all of a sudden, Trevor's inboxes lighting up with Boston leads. And yes, you can also email your Boston inquiries, but that only gets the people who have already inquired. Geo Fly kind of lives one step above that. It's in the activation stage. You could you know, Barton, this is something that your team could could definitely execute on as you could um you could run ads to Boston like so you're driving people to the homepage and then when they get to the homepage they see a Boston specific content. So you continue to tell that story all the way through from your ad your AD target matches, your AD copy matches your destination, you r L and then and then Trevor has a bunch of means. Yeah,...

...and I love the fact too that we talked about a little bit earlier. But the idea that we are using content and we're using actually we're using content that we already have. So everybody who ever comes to visit your website, they reveal their IP address. We don't necessarily know that, we don't necessarily harvest that. You know, you can't get to it like you used to be able to in Google Analytics. Um, but but it's there, and it's and it's publicly available, and tools like gi fly basically allow us to harvest that and harness it. And it's yet just another opportunity for us to personalize and experience based on information that we have about a visitor. I think that's I think that's brilliant. Yeah, And it came from me going to Boston having a lot of time on my hands, you know, like, how could I get more people that sign up? It's like I flew all the way out. They only know on the homepage that I that I was here. If they only knew that on the home page. That'd be great. That's great, So let's talk about yeah, yeah, so let's I want to just I mean, we've already talked a little bit about Okay, it's it's very affordable. It can be up and running fast. I mean, I mean, it is as simple as like putting a YouTube link on I know when I embattle YouTube video on my website, it's pretty simple, is it. Is it like that? So geo fly works. It's it's more like adding a Google Analytics pixel on your website, so you know, to not get two in the weeds. You design and build everything in geo fly, so it brings in your website. This is not a new website, it's not a new landing page. It brings in your existing website. You hover over the parts of your website that you want to change, and then you click it and let's say it's a call to action button. Instead of saying sign up, it says meet Travis for coffee or was it Trevor? I forget Meet Trevor for coffee, and then you know, you hit published. And as long as you install the geo fly pixel on the back end of your website. This could be through Google tag manager. It just...

...has to live in the header of your website. And we have a team that can help you do that, that communicates with your web team if you don't do it yourself, and then it works. So then you decide, you know what for what region do we want to show this content for? Maybe it's Boston, and then what we've got a counselor going to you know, going to Chicago and uh, and then you have published in it in it's life. That's great. And I guess there's even probably uh, you know, different logic available with the regions, so I can say I want to do international but not Canada. I want to do international but not England because we've got a certain relationship. I mean, is there that kind of logic back there? As far as how how granular I can get on the on the locations, you can get really granular in the way that you build your locations for personalization. You know, the way that you build your locations for targeting your personalized content is we have three ways. One is a radius, So you could say I want to I want everybody in Chicago to see this image, and then everywhere else just sees the default website as it exists today. You can do states, So you could do I want these ten states to see this content, and I want everybody else to see the default content. And then you could also do a custom draw which maybe sounds like what you're sort of alluding to, Bart, is you just draw a polygon. It can be you know, it can be Eastern Europe, it could be you know, western Massachusetts. And so you just draw this on a map. It collects all the IP addresses automagically, and then you decide what content you want to you want to personalize. I love the word automagically. It's a good one, which is what it is. Let me just kind of take it a little bit further and and I mean we've certainly got a great conversation here going and kind of talking about some of the details, but um, where do you see this going? I mean, obviously cookies are going away very soon. And I I'm a big believer and I've been talking about this for a while that personalization is going to continue to be a growing...

...thing that not only is nice to have, but it's going to start becoming expected. I Mean, we all expect when we go to Amazon now that we're going to be suggested new products that we didn't know about before. That's just part of our culture and what's going on in the digital realm. And I've talked to several guests and it's not I think it's it's not sacrilege to say that sometimes higher reads a little bit behind the scenes, behind the trends and what's going on, especially in digital marketing. But where do you see the future of this web page personalization going? And and kind of as you guys are planning your your roadmap and more things are going, what do you guys see coming down as far as personalization. It's a it's a great question something we of course think a lot about. And when we built geo fly, we set out to be the best at one thing. You know, are there tools out there that you can personalize content in a similar way to geo Fly? Um, there are. I think Salesforce has sort of a content optimization uh sort of platform in their in their wheelhouse. And the way we like to think about that is they have built a Lamborghini that most people drive, you know, like a Honda Civic or nothing against Honda Civic, but you pay for a Lamborghini and you're driving this thing with geo fly we are always you know, we're we're constantly thinking about, well, what's next, what's next, and we're getting feature requests. But right now we do we do website geo personalization, and we do it better than anybody, and we do it simply. You know, often the simple, the simplest option is often the best option. So I'm tempted to say, are like, based on all the application data points that you get from a student, they go to your site and it's like one to one, so nobody ever sees the same website. It's personalized to you down, super granular, and I think for admissions professionals sitting in their chairs listening to this or driving their cars,...

...you know, their head starts to hurt. They're like, Okay, well, how much time is that actually gonna take? Um? So it's balancing that personalized personalization with what impact does it actually have on the metrics that matter to our to our university, and then how much actual time again is it is it gonna take? So we see a lot of movement in things like video. You know, I think personalized video is really, uh is a trend in the theme that we're thinking about and how do we add more video? Two personalizations and right now you can change video and you can personalize video, but it's one of the least used types of content people are changing. I only see that growing so that when you go to a site, you instead of an image, you get introduced to Travis the counselor, who's like, I'm coming to Boston. I'd love to meet with you. If anybody has places to meet, let me know, you know, drop them in the in the comments, and maybe it's an interactive form. So we're we're building something out now that I think is gonna kind of reimagine the way that that like regional students interact with universities. But that's for another day. Right that's a t b D. It's in the early state. If you're interested talked about I was gonna say, let's let's tease that out a little bit. And I think that's that's great. Thank you, Kyle. We'll bring that answer in the sequel coming soon to a podcast near you. Kyle. I think broadly and overall, what you bring to the marketplace can move the needle. And thank you so much. And after I asked this next question, we'll make sure that everyone knows the best way to get in touch with you. But is there something around this conversation that you could give as a piece of free advice or maybe something that would enable someone to implement immediately. Yeah, good question. When I thought about for a little bit here,...

...and we've been really digital talking about what happens on the website having worked on a college campus. But it's been a little while, so I'm sure this is something that your listeners already are well aware of. But I always felt like the most important piece in the recruitment cycle, or one of the most important pieces, was that college tour. And I've seen different campuses doing this where they'll have like a bike tour of campus or a walking tour or you know. I always thought, boy, at the University of Montana, there's a river that runs right through campus. How cool it be if you could sign up for rafting tour of the city. Um, And yes, it's complicated. There's probably some insurance liabilities associated with all of those things and probably not implementing today. Troy for your question, So sorry if I kind of avoided that one. But the college tour, that's right. It's like, hey, spend spend a lot of time evaluating and making your college tour just remarkable because I think there's there's a competitive manage to the universities that just knocked their college tour out of the park. Thank you, Kyle. Appreciate that If one of our listeners would like to reach out to you, what would be the best way for them to contact you? Check out geo fly dot com, geo f l I dot com, or simply email me Kyle k y l e at geo fly dot com. Again, thank you for being a guest on the podcast and in conversations with Bart. We both think this is a technology that could really help a lot of colleges university So thank you for bringing it to our listeners. Yeah, thank you both for the work you're doing. It's really cool. I've listened to a couple episodes. When one comes across my feet, oh this is one. All right, I'm I'm gonna get distracted during my lunch fire. Here here we go. So thank you. We appreciate that, Kyle Bart, do you have any final thoughts before we sign off from the episode. Yeah, I just wanted...

...to kind of re emphasize a couple of things that Kyle said. I mean, he's got a lot of really good information here. The personalization, I mean, we constantly talk about that. I think it's so um, it's so important and uh, and it's one of those things that I think that this is just a perfect example of yet another way that you can personalize, and you can personalize in a way that not everybody else is doing. I mean, you know, everybody puts in somebody's first name in the first part of the email in the comflow. I mean, that's a lot of people put it in the subject line. Personalization is kind of becoming commoditized in a lot of places, but using something like this, I think is another way to add a level of personalization that isn't just your name here, it's actually providing them relevant content. And I loved what he talked about with you know, you have a lot of content that's relevant for your audience that might be buried in your website and you're expecting them to go find it based on who they are. This is just a way for us to kind of surface that to the top. I love the fact that that's the language that Kyle used in the conversation. So that's a really good thing. And you know, it just gives you another ability to differentiate. And I really loved what he talked about with the campus tour is the idea, you know, differentiating your your campus from everybody else by who are you? What are you doing? I think this technology does the same thing. It's like, how can I differentiate this experience based on not only who who is coming, but also who am I as an institution and what can I offer them that's unique for their particular location. So I love that. One of the things too that I'm realizing that I do a newsletter h called Friday Finds, and at the end of every month, I find some kind of technology that's under five dollars that could move the needle for higher education. This fits the bill. So if you if you were to look at this, you know it's an under five dollar a year investment. To me, it's like, I I know a ton of people right now that are probably gonna go sign up. And so I'm really excited to have Kyle on here today. Kyle, thanks for sharing...

...this with us today and really appreciate you being on the show. The Higher Ed Marketer podcast is sponsored by Kaylor Solutions and Education Marketing and Branding agency and by Ring Digital, providing significant listening yield by following your list with precisely targeted ads on behalf of our wonderful guest Kyle, my co host Bart, and myself Troy. Thank you very much for joining the podcast today. You've been listening to the higher ed marketer. To ensure that you never miss an episode, Subscribe to the show in your favorite podcast player. If you're listening with Apple Podcasts, we'd love for you to leave a quick rating of the show. Simply tap the number of stars do you think the podcast deserves. Until next time,.

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