Digital marketing is where most independent schools need to be right now. Yes, traditional print marketing is still a thing, but for many reasons–effectiveness, ability to target your audience and re-assess and re-target in real-time, best return-on-investment for tight school budgets–you need to up your digital marketing game.
It can be a confusing space, though, for many school communications offices. Don’t worry. There are simple, impactful things you can do right now that can tweak your digital marketing, raise awareness, help turn inquiries into applicants, and create a more vibrant digital profile for your school.
Think Like Your Website Visitors
Before you build or overhaul your website, make sure you determine who your audiences are–prospects, current parents and students, alumni and donors, prospective faculty–and what you want them to get out of the site. The latter are your goals. Do you want them to donate, enroll, schedule a tour, sign up for a newsletter, etc?.
Most schools have multiple audiences with different actions. Be sure to think about the journeys they each will take. How will they find out about your site (search engine, paid advertising, emails, social posts)? What page will they start on (homepage, admissions, grade level section)?
Spending time thinking about the answers before you map out your pages and content is crucial. Keep content for different audiences together, so that each group’s website journey is cohesive and makes sense.
Clear navigation means that visitors know where to go to find the information they need. The action you want them to take is obvious. And you don’t keep bouncing around talking to different audiences and run the risk of losing your visitors’ attention.
Use Google Analytics to Inform Your Website Updates
If you have an existing website connected to Google Analytics, you can use the data to map out your updates/new site. Key pages that I recommend looking at in Google Analytics:
Behavior section: This is where you determine which pages are getting the most traffic to ensure you focus on those pages first and possibly make them even easier to access in your updates. Take a hard look at the content on your high-traffic pages. Cull or remove the filler or fluff content and add more important information to those pages.
Look at the pages getting the least traffic. Is there information on those pages that is important and being missed? If so, either plan to move that content or adjust how that page fits in the navigation and flow to get more eyes on it. Consider removing low-traffic pages that do not have pertinent information.
Acquisitions section: This is where you see an overview of where your visitors are coming from and what pages they are visiting. If your data shows that more than 50% of visitors are viewing your website on mobile, then you should plan to build your website mobile-first and then adjust it for desktop. This ensures the optimal performance for the majority of your visitors. It also tends to be easier to adjust a mobile layout to a desktop one, rather than the other way around.
Audience section: This allows you to see more details about your visitors, like operating system, device, language and country. What you learn should inform what you need on your website. For example, if a significant number of your visitors are Spanish-speaking, having a “translate” button front and center is important, as will news items or blog posts about your school’s focus on programs that speak to Hispanic language, history and culture.
Curate Your Calls-to-Action (CTA) on your Website
You want each page of your site to be valuable and provide plenty of information without being overwhelming. Are there pages on your site with very little information that can be combined with other pages? Think to yourself: If you were only reading that page, would there be enough content to make you want to take action? And if so, can you tell what action you are supposed to take?
Every page should have at least one CTA. Assume your visitor is only going to see the one page they landed on. Make sure you tell a cohesive story on every page and include the next step you want them to take. It can be as simple as a newsletter signup on the bottom of every page to embedding a contact form or including a phone number to call. Don’t just rely on a phone number or email address being in the navigation or footer–they can get lost and overlooked. Include buttons that stand out and have a clear action on them (e.g., learn more, contact us, download information).
Create Forms that People Will Fill Out
Including incentives for form fills is a great tactic and a way to add value to your prospects. Think about what questions your prospects have. If you are asking them for information, give them something in return. Use your school experts to write content for downloadable PDF document that cover topics like:
- 5 Reasons Why Independent Schools Have the Edge on Public Schools
- How to Afford an Independent School
- Top 10 School Programs That Make the Difference in Your Child’s Future
- Ensuring That Your Preschooler Is Ready For Kindergarten
- A Look into the Mental Health of Middle Schoolers–and How Parents and Schools Can Help
Make sure your visitors are aware about the free download before they need to fill out the form. Surprise and delight after the fact is fine, but it won’t do anything to increase the number of form fills. Other offers include discounts, upgrades and promotions.
For any form on your website, remember that less is more. The easier and less work your forms are for your visitors, the more likely they are to fill them out. Initially ask for the minimum amount of information you need to know about the prospect to respond. If possible, simply ask for name and email address and then ask for any additional information when you follow up.
However, if you automate your responses, get a ton of junk responses or have different team members respond based on information about the prospect, then you may need to ask for more qualifying questions. Additionally, if you are automating your responses or want to be able to easily segment a large list of responses, you’ll want to use more selections and less open fields.
Use Google Ads to Attract Visitors
If you want to reach the right visitors quickly, Google Ads is one of the best bangs for your buck. By leveraging the platform your visitors are already using to find out answers to their questions or about the services you offer, you gain a leg up on your competition that isn’t using this valuable tool. And you stay competitive with those that are.
To create the most effective Google Ads:
- Think about your various audiences and the benefits your school provides to each of them.
- Create separate campaigns or ads for each audience, explaining the way your school can help them specifically.
- Have each ad group go to a specific landig page that continues the conversation you want that specific audience to have. Make sure the items mentioned in the ad are on the landing page you drive them to so that they discover what they expected to find after you paid for them to arrive. That way, they find what they want, making them more likely to take the action you want (your CTA) and everyone wins.
Need more tips on best-practice Digital and Social Media Marketing? Check out our Kalix Resources.
Download the free Digital and Social Marketing Musts e-book
Are your landing pages as strategic as they can be? Learn how to improve them.
When was the last time you did a digital marketing audit? We walk you through this important, illuminating task any time of year in our blog post 5 Steps to an End-of-Year Digital Marketing Audit.
How can Kalix help you reach your digital and social marketing goals? Contact us.