After sitting through another excellent #strategycar last week, I got thinking about the audience portals that we’re considering revamping. Currently we have three broad audiences of “Students” , “Employee” and “Alumni”. We’re considering segmenting this further into more easily identifiable segments such as “International” , “Adult”, “High School”, “Community”, etc. The theory is that if we allow people to identify who they are, we can then tailor the content to their specific needs. But this leads us to new questions:

  1. How do people actually identify themselves? What taxonomy do we use?
  2. How segmented is too segmented?
  3. Once we identify audiences, how do we best communicate with them?

No problem, right? Let’s start with taxonomy. Our first thought was to subdivide the generic “Future Students” into smaller units.

International? Sure, that’s easy, if they’re not from the US, they’re international. Unless they’re already in the US at another college and want to transfer.

High School? That must be our “traditional age” student, right? Nope. That’s actually for juniors and seniors who want to take part in our accelerated learning programs. But “traditional” future students are high-schoolers too. So how do they know what we mean? What does a high school senior identify herself as? What does a 20-yr old factory worker who wants to manage the plant identify himself as? Is he “traditional age”? Maybe… but is he also “Adult”?

Adult Students? What about the 25-yr old vet who wants re-training in a career? The 33-yr old mother whose kids are all in school who wants her first career? The 45-yr old father who want to change careers? Does “Adult Students” fit all these needs?

Online Learners? If you take one class online? All of them? What if you’re also an adult? What if you’re also international?

Oy…

And then, even if we can get the taxonomy down, what channels do we use to communicate? Do we initiate? If so where? What information do we provide that’s unique to each constituency? Do we actually have unique content or are we putting form before function?

So many questions… If anyone has some more insights on how they break down audiences… we’re all ears…

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