Seven Seconds: Converting Web Visitors to Enrollments


You have seven seconds. One. The prospective student or parent is already familiar with your school’s brand. Two. They know your name from a personal referral, their own research, a digital ad or a Google search. Three. They’ve likely moved through about 70 percent of the discernment process at this point. Four. Now they’re on your website’s homepage. Five. Six. They are quickly figuring out if your brand is relevant to their interests.

Seven. You had seven seconds to engage them. Have you made a firm impression? Or have they left your website for a competitor’s?

Linkedin 1st Website Article Banner Image.jpg

It’s not only about capturing your audience’s attention, but keeping it.

Your website is the marketing cornerstone of your college, university or school. It must showcase your institution’s uniqueness and cement a solid brand image.

I don’t want to convince you to build a new website from the ground up. Making gradual, effective changes to your website’s current landing page can convert visitors into enrolled students.

Which feature should you refine first, for the optimum outcome? Your value proposition. That’s your foundation—all other page elements must be grounded in it, or your opportunities for conversion will crumble.

Your proposition must differentiate your institution—what benefits will students reap from enrolling at your school that your competitors can’t match? Communicate your core brand messages as quickly, emotionally and clearly as possible. Visitors are eager to know if your strengths satisfy their needs.

Avoid highlighting advantages common to any independent school, college, or university. Also, don’t guess or sound like you are guessing. Hit hard. Show your strengths, and the relevancy of these strengths, with confidence.

Conversion rates increase by 80 percent when videos are featured on landing pages, so consider showcasing your unique brand messages with a short video. Seize attention, and bring emotional power, for the greatest impact.

 Follow up on your proposition and video with integrated bullet points. Tie the first word of each point directly to the core brand messages for an efficient one-two punch that brings your assets to the forefront. Visitors will usually read only the first two words of sentences or points, and often won’t bother with reading full paragraphs.


Optimize the placement of your proposition, video and bullet points by tapping into a viewing pattern known as “the F.” In those first seven seconds that a visitor interacts with your website, he or she is probably using an F-shaped scanning method, as found in a Nielsen Norman study of hundreds of website users’ eye movement patterns. First, users will repeatedly and intensely scan the top of the page horizontally. Then, they’ll make a second horizontal sweep a little further down.  Finally, they’ll look down the left of the page.

 The top of your landing page is the prime position for your value proposition and video. That way, a user’s initial, constant horizontal scanning will home in on these elements. Boldly take advantage of the second horizontal and left vertical scans with the focused bullet points.

A concise, unique statement of your strengths, complemented by a video, defining bullet points and A-plus use of “the F,” will convert your website visitors to enrollments.

Remember: you have seven seconds.

Written by Joe Cliber, Principal of Creosote Affects

We stand firmly at the crossroads of creative storytelling and technology. It’s a scary place for most, but not for us.

Emily Hajjar