Every school has a website these days. But having a website is not enough to increase enrollment numbers. Your website shouldn’t just work as a glorified digital flyer for your school. Instead, it should be viewed as an extension of your admissions department and used to actively recruit new students.
Not sure how to turn a standard school website into an effective recruitment and enrollment machine? Keep reading. Below, we’ll discuss exactly what you can do to optimize your school’s website and get more students.
Map Out a Path for Visitors
When people visit your site for the first time, they are inundated with choices. Should they click here or there? They don’t know where to start. That’s why you’ve got to direct them.
Create a path for every type of visitor that you anticipate will use your site. For most schools, the typical site visitors are:
Parents of enrolled students
Parents of prospective students
Guide each of these visitors through your site. Start by mapping out where you’d like each of these visitors to end up.
Because the focus of this post is on enrollment, let’s discuss the “parents of prospective students” group. It’s important that you map out the website journey for this group of visitors.
Create a “Start Here” page for your prospective students. Consider this a landing page for introducing your school to a new visitor. It should contain all of the vital information necessary for the parent to make a decision about enrollment.
This page should be bookmarkable. In fact, encourage the visitor to bookmark the page so that they can come back at a later date.
On this page, share essential information about your school, discuss what makes your school unique, add contact details, and give a glimpse of the campus and classrooms. Also, share must-know details about any financial aid programs you may offer. Finally, invite the visitor to schedule a tour of your school.
This page should be the ultimate resource for your visitors. It’s important that it’s easy to read and user-friendly. However, this “Start Here” landing page won’t be the only place where you share this information. Instead, it will act like a centralized place for all of the basics. On this page, you’ll link out to other pages that contain more information about a specific topic, like financial aid.
Create an “About Us” Page About Your School
This is one of the pages that you’ll link out to from your “Start Here” page.
In the “About Us” page, you’ll share who you are as a school. Answer questions such as:
What is your school’s history?
What is your school’s mission statement?
How many students attend your school?
Who’s on staff?
Who are among your distinguished alumni?
What sets your school apart from others in the area?
These are the types of questions that parents of prospective students want to know about before taking a tour or enrolling.
Inspire and excite them by crafting a riveting story that they’ll want to be a part of.
Share an Updated Calendar on Your Site
There’s no point in having a website if you’re not planning to keep it updated. Show that your students are active and that you have tons of opportunities for engagement. Believe it or not, this actually makes a difference for many parents. Many choose schools because they offer a community and not just dry academics.
Make sure that your calendar is not only present on your website but also up to date with the latest events. Highlight tour dates on your calendar to draw special attention.
Maintain a Blog
Another way to share events is to discuss them on your blog.
Create a blog to keep your website fresh and up to date. Share content about recent events that you’ve hosted, contests that your students have participated in, fundraisers, and other community activities that may be of interest to your target audience of parents. Think of your blog as your school’s digital newsletter.
But blogging isn’t just about sharing news. Blogging can also make your website easier to find on search engines. So it’s a good idea from a marketing perspective.
For example, think of all of the people in your city that you can reach by creating a blog post about a topic that they care about, such as, “Why we teach Spanish in an elementary setting.” Parents who are interested in that offering will be more likely to find your school when searching Google for “bilingual elementary schools in Boston.”
Exchange “Spanish” for whatever makes your school unique.
Here are a few things to keep in mind when blogging:
Update your blog at least once a month with a new post. This way, you only need to come up with 12 post ideas for the entire year.
Post on a regular schedule. Choose a day of the week/month that you’ll post and keep to that schedule. This allows your readers to become familiar with your posting schedule and anticipate your next post.
End your post with a call to action. In other words, give your reader ideas on what to do next (such as read a related blog post, sign up for your newsletter, or schedule a school tour.
Encourage social sharing. Another call to action is to ask your readers to share the blog post with their social media followers. This extends the reach of your blog post and raises awareness for your school with their family and friends. Sharing on social networks is a great way to drive more traffic to your school’s website.
Use Real Photos and Videos
On your blog and throughout your website, be sure to include real images of your school, students, and faculty. Tempting as it may be, resist the use of stock photos. Although they may look professional, they also look fake and staged. To increase enrollment, strive to build trust with your site visitors. Authenticity triggers trust.
Not sure what to document? Highlight your students. This is what parents of prospective students want to see. Show your students in class and doing extracurricular activities. Display their artwork. Share videos of them in action. By showing your students, you’ll give parents a glimpse into the spirit and culture of your school.
Make Your Website Easy for Parents to Use
Most school websites aren’t intuitive at all.
As I mentioned earlier, school websites can be intimidated because there’s just so much to look at and take in. The best way to encourage enrollments is by making your website dead-simple to use.
Here are a few tips to do just that:
Include a search box on all pages on your site. Parents should be able to quickly search for a topic that they’re interested in. They may not want to go through your navigation bar. Make sure that they can easily and immediately access what they’re looking for.
Include your contact details on every page. If someone wants to contact you, they don’t want to click through several links to find your phone number. Add it at the top and the bottom of each page so that your phone number and other crucial contact details can’t be missed.
Beef up your contact page. For parents who do navigate to your contact page, ensure that it has everything that a parent may be looking for. In addition to your basic contact details (phone numbers, address, email addresses), also include the following:
Your hours of operation
After-hours contact information
List of teachers and contact details
Frequently asked questions
Quick links to most frequently accessed pages (financial aid, calendar, etc.)
Tour schedule and contact information
Even with the above tips, it can still be a challenge to create an effective school website. Let us help you.
Hubbli can create, manage, and host your website. Whether you need a simple private access parent portal, a landing page for your marketing campaign, or a full-fledged website, our team can create a fully functional, completely customizable, and professionally designed site to meet your needs.