Practically anyone can delve into digital marketing with a boosted post here or a link there. But doing it successfully to engage your prospects and entice them to register for your admissions event or apply to your school takes a little more effort, strategy and planning.
Here are six common mistakes that schools make when marketing themselves online.
1) You’re not driving viewers to dedicated landing pages.
You have a great Facebook ad that drives people to your homepage, right? There’s a much better choice: a dedicated landing page. Ideal for for conversions and lead generation, a dedicated landing page should be the first page that your target audience encounters after they click on a digital ad. Whether they are driven to it from an online search, social media, or another digital marketing campaign, the landing page must be compelling and match the expectations set by your ad. A good landing page is designed with your target audience in mind. It must:
- Be campaign-specific.
- Highly focused on the conversion action that you want to take place – download an e-book, register for an open house or tour.
- Contain minimal distraction – this is not the place to tell your school’s entire story or send them to various other places on your site.
- Be simple and intuitive.
Make sure your landing page has:
- Specific, optimized keywords and phrases that your target audience might be searching on.
- A prominent call-to-action specifically telling the viewer what you want them to do.
- Engaging visuals like video or eye-popping imagery to attract attention.
- Short, easy-to-use forms that inspire your prospects to follow through with a desired action (register for an open house, etc.). Tip: You’re more likely to get the results you want if there’s only three to four fields on your form for the viewer to complete.
2) You’re not using video to attract and retain prospective students and families.
Video is hot. Research shows that more people engage with and convert from video posts and ads than any other type of digital content. However, you need to be strategic with video:
- Create and publish :10 to :15 clips with your ads that appeal to your target audience by creating a variety of videos on different areas of your school (arts, athletics, STEM, social justice, etc.).
- Target people who’d be most interested in these specific areas with the relevant video clip.
- Don’t forget the call-to-action at the end of the video with a link to the dedicated landing page where you want to direct your viewer.
- Test videos against one another and against still images in your ads and on your to learn which ones perform best. The results you get will help you determine the best length and content to use when creating additional videos for your ad campaigns.
3) Your Facebook ads don’t speak to what families really want to know.
If your Facebook ads only promote your school and don’t speak directly to your prospects’
“pain points” and how your school can address these issues, then you’re missing a crucial opportunity. Facebook viewers react to content that speaks to them and not the brand (your school).
Create digital ads that answer your prospects’ questions, such as:
- Why your school is the right fit for your prospect’s child?
- What separates your school from the pack? Name what your school offers that can’t be found elsewhere.
- Location, location, location! Target people within a specific area around your school and point out the value of living near a centrally located school.
- How do you help families afford an independent school education? If your school offers scholarships and/or other financial aid opportunities, explain it in plain English. Let viewers know you work with families who might not be able to afford the full tuition but value the opportunity of an independent school education.
4) You’ve left out a call-to-action.
This is critical to any digital ad. Research indicates that people don’t always intuitively click on an ad just because it’s compelling. You need to tell them how they can get more information, register for your open house, etc. Do this through an inviting call-to-action!
Move beyond the “Learn More” or “Download Now” button in your ad. Prospects need to be either incentivized or outright told to take an action. If, for instance, your ads include a “Learn More” button, depending on the action you want someone to take, include somewhere in your copy additional text such as:
- Tap to register today!
- Sign-up here.
- Call us at ###-###-####.
- Download your free copy now. (Is there an online exclusive they can download? A white paper on your college placement or how your alumni are leaders in the arts, for example? If you’re a preschool, what about a list of “How to use story time to ignite your child’s creativity,” written by your reading specialist?)
5) You’re advertising where your audience isn’t.
You have a limited marketing budget. Don’t waste dollars advertising on sites where your school gets little to no organic action. If you constantly post on Twitter or LinkedIn and find those sites don’t attract engagement, then don’t advertise there. Focus your dollars on sites where you do get people talking. If Facebook or Instagram are those places, then that is where you want to put your money. Just because you post on Twitter and LinkedIn doesn’t mean you should advertise on those sites.
6) You’re ignoring your best ambassadors.
There’s nobody better to spread the word than those people who already have an affinity to your school: parents, faculty/staff, alumni and students. Share your promotions in Facebook Groups you host, in newsletters and emails, asking your school “family” to help get your message out to their friends and families. Students are great with getting messages out on Instagram and Snapchat. And when someone shares your post, send them a thank-you. Learn how you can create a powerful digital ambassador program here.
The must-haves for successful digital ads:
- Include eye-popping images or a short concise video that grabs viewers’ attention.
- Don’t include any content that will distract from the action you want the viewer to take.
- Include a call-to-action that assures viewers will take the next step – register, download, etc.
- Keep your forms short! The fewer fields the better.
- Make sure your pixel and event code are installed on your website and dedicated landing page properly to capture the details Facebook (or whatever social site you’re advertising on) requires. This assures that your ads get in front of the people most likely to respond positively.
Need help creating an effective, strategic digital marketing program? We can help. Connect with us here.
Gerri Baum, Kalix’s digital and social marketing lead, speaks fluent Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and every other social media platform. She knows what works, what’s worth doing and what’s coming.
Read this article to learn more about dedicated landing pages.