The Dynamic Toaster: Guiding Student Experiences on Your Website

A toaster is a small graphic that can rise from the bottom (or drop from the top) of a webpage during a website visit presumably like a piece of toast rises from a toaster. A highly effective form of dynamic content, Capture has served more than 4.4 million toasters for client institutions throughout the years. 

Within the Behavioral Intelligence Platform, our communication specialists constantly iterate and refine the rule sets and messaging for toaster campaigns to maximize effectiveness and measure interactions. The optimizations are always visible within the platform, so clients can see every time we tinker with a toaster campaign to help it perform better. 

We even want to know what area of the webpage is best for the toaster to enter. Our communication specialists recently asked the data science team to look at toaster placement and if it affects performance. Looking at the more than 4.4 million toasters Capture has served, here’s how they performed. 

Toaster Placement

Top center has been the best performing placement at more than twice the click through rate of bottom left, which has been the worst. But if you’re looking for a less intrusive placement than top center — we did decide to serve a toaster rather than a popover after all — bottom right appears to be the best bet. 

Call To Action 

Toasters, which typically only include a headline, subhead, and a button, always have a clear, singular call to action (CTA). They are used for all kinds of CTAs throughout the recruitment cycle, including: 

  • Learn More 
  • Request Info 
  • Apply Now 
  • Schedule an In-Person/Virtual Visit 
  • Sign Up for an Upcoming Preview Day/Open House/Admitted Student Day 
  • Connect with your Financial Aid/Admissions Counselor  
  • Deposit 
  • And more 

Toasters can convey quick, simple value propositions while offering the next steps. A recent campaign that performed well included affordability messaging and encouraged the website visitor to “apply today.” It was served to senior non-applicants who went to three or more admissions pages. It was also served to anonymous visitors who went to the website more than twice and visited one or more admissions pages.  

Also, toasters can be helpful reminders. Another recent high-performing toaster campaign encouraged website visitors to complete their FAFSA. The audience included visitors to two or more financial aid pages who identified as not having filed their FAFSA (but intend to) and visitors who have not filed their FAFSA and do not intend to file it. 

Toasters also are perfect for getting event information to the right people at the right time. One particularly effective recent toaster campaign for a Capture client promoted a Presidential Scholars event to admitted, deposited seniors who had yet to register. 

Toaster Success 

A private liberal arts university in the eastern U.S. (with an enrollment of approximately 4,500 students) recently used an effective toaster campaign to encourage early commitments. Running for three months this past fall, the Early Decision Quiz toaster was served to anonymous visitors who had visited at least two admission-related pages. The campaign:

  • Garnered 25,776 unique impressions. Toaster
  • Boasted a 6.7% click rate. 
  • Saw 81.8% of its interactions from visitors who were not previously identified in the university’s CRM.
  • Of the visitors who clicked, 120 went on to be admitted; 45 of those have already deposited as of December of 2021.

Another example: a large public research university in the Midwest (with an enrollment of 27,000 students) used a similar three-month toaster campaign this past fall to encourage prospective applicants to take early action. The “Early Action Deadline: Nov. 1” toaster was served to non-applicant inquiries who visited at least two admission-related pages. 

  • 44% of non-applicants who were served the toaster applied after engaging. 
  • 100 applications came from 230 known clicks. 

No matter how it’s used, the toaster is dynamic content that can help guide prospective student experiences on your website by delivering automated, relevant and timely messaging without additional resources from your team.  

These campaigns are just one way ENGAGE, marketing automation built from the ground up for higher ed recruitment, has become essential to modern enrollment management. 

By Kevin Hyde, Senior Content Manager, Capture Higher Ed