Learn how to turn five common website challenges faced by private and independent schools into marketing opportunities.
Many school websites today function well as online brochures, but they may not meet the needs of those using your site. The good news is that your website challenges are your greatest opportunities.
AT A GLANCE:
- Five challenges with school websites today
- Turn your challenges into opportunities
- Steps you can take to improve your school’s website
Five challenges with school websites today
Your school’s website can do much more than provide information about programs and courses. And yet, many educational institutions today aren’t using their website as the dynamic marketing tool it could be.
Here are some common challenges that educational institutions face on their websites:
Poor site navigation. Site visitors find it difficult or awkward to use.
The site isn’t “responsive,” so it’s hard (or impossible) to use on mobile devices.
There’s too much text, not enough images or videos, or forms are unclear or unattractive.
Home page content is lacking or confusing, and the best information is buried.
Site content and features aren’t created with the user in mind.
Turn your challenges into opportunities
Just because these challenges are common doesn’t mean you’re stuck with them. In fact, correcting each one represents a marketing opportunity for your school’s website.
Here are the opportunities.
1 Make Site Navigation Easy
People looking for you online want their search to be easy and the information they find relevant. Ensure your site’s navigation is intuitive and useful and your page headlines clear and compelling. Your navigation titles and content should make sense to new site visitors, not just those who are already familiar with your school.
2 Optimize for Mobile
Smartphones and mobile devices have been in wide use for a decade, yet some school sites are still not mobile friendly. If this is your site and you choose to do one thing, it should be to optimize your website so students—and parents—can access and use it on their phones and tablets.
3 Use Professional Photos & Design
Professionally produced photography and web design will provide a polished, consistent experience of your school and culture to those visiting your website. From homepage to application form, an attractively designed, user-friendly site will make a positive and lasting impression.
4 Make Your Homepage Count
Your homepage is your welcome mat. Make it engaging and relevant, giving viewers a good sense of what your school is like. Site visitors should be able to find or get to the information they seek from your homepage. Also, make sure your best content isn’t buried.
5 Organize Content for Users, not for You
Approach and organize large quantities of web content by identifying the goals of your target users first and your own goals second. Avoid the temptation to treat your site as a repository for every possible piece of information about your school, and consider instead the perspective of those who are trying to learn about you and use your site.
Steps you can take to improve your school’s website
Now that you’ve read about five common challenges and how to fix them, what next?
Before you think about how your site will look and read, it’s wise to do some background research. The good news is you can do a lot of valuable preparation yourself. Once you’re ready, you can partner with an experienced marketing agency to get help with the rest.
What you can do:
- Survey key stakeholders—students, staff, alumni, prospects—to learn how they find and choose your school, online and off
- Gather insights from recruiters and your marketing team, as well as influencers such as guidance counsellors
- Look at your frequently asked questions to learn what your website isn’t addressing
- Identify and describe your various audiences
- Imagine what your audiences want from your website
How a marketing partner can help:
- Create focused survey questions, conduct in-person/phone/digital surveys with key stakeholders on your behalf and distill the results
- Perform an audit of your existing site and provide recommendations to improve it
- Perform an audit and gap analysis of your key competitors’ sites
- Position you clearly and favourably among competitors, based on your competitive advantages and value proposition
- Develop customer journeys to anticipate the goals and actions of your audiences
Here’s what we learned:
- Common challenges—such as poor site navigation, a site that only works on desktop, poorly organized content and buried information—can be turned into opportunities.
- A good website is easy to navigate and mobile friendly, makes information easy to find and provides content created with users in mind.
- It’s important to know your audiences and learn what matters to them when they use your website. It’s also important to make sure your stakeholders are on board and aligned with your website’s goals.
- There’s a lot you can do yourself to prepare for useful upgrades to your school’s site, and a marketing partner will have specialized expertise to help you with what you don’t know about turning your site into a more effective marketing tool.
Successful marketing and recruiting runs much deeper than putting out attention-grabbing campaigns. The way schools connect with students, families and prospects through their website is critical for establishing credibility and serving them the information they’re looking for. More than an information resource, your website can and should be an effective sales tool that sends those interested to the information they seek and encourages them to take action.
Want to learn more about how to make your school’s website a better marketing tool?
Contact us today.
This article was originally published on [TBD, 2019]. All content is © Metric Marketing Inc., 2019. Please link to this article if you quote or use any content from this page.