Cassie Dull is the online communications specialist at Park Tudor School, an independent school in Indianapolis, Indiana.
School is starting! Independent schools, colleges and universities in the United States are gearing up for another year of classes, another round of applicants and another experiment in marketing to millenials online.
If summer slipped by and you didn’t have the time or budget to redesign your website, you still have time to implement a few small changes that can make a big impact for the next crop of incoming students, and prospective students and parents.
Review the admissions and academics sections of your website. Look for dead-ends and find opportunities for calls to action. The recent Noel-Levitz study on e-expectations of prospective college students and their parents tells us that prospectives are most interested in looking at your school’s academic offerings, so make it a top priority to ensure that section is up to par.
Add social media buttons. Don’t let your website be a silo; make it into a hub. Show off your social media accounts on your website and encourage visitors to interact with you.
Add social media widgets. With one click of the Twitter follow button, your site visitor can become your new follower. With one click of a Facebook like button, your site visitor can share your content with their friends.
Promote your Facebook page(s) in multiple channels of communication. Talk about it on your website, in your email marketing, in print advertisements, etc. If you have a Facebook page for incoming freshmen, make sure they know that is a good place to go to get information about move-in week and to get to know their new classmates.
Make your Facebook content engaging for current students and prospective students. According to the Noel-Levitz report, two-thirds of students surveyed said that visiting a school’s Facebook page had no influence on their attitude toward the school. Make it a positive experience and stand out from the crowd.
Add videos and photo galleries. A video doesn’t have to be professional to make a difference in the mind of a prospective student. Short clips of real activities happening on campus, even if shot on the go with a mobile phone, can have a big impact. Don’t forget photo galleries; some people prefer flipping through a set of pictures to watching a video.
Hire a professional photographer. When it comes to images on your website, you want big, bold pictures that make a statement about your school.
Revamp email marketing templates. Try to match the scheme of your website – colors, fonts, pictures, headers, etc. Spend an hour or two creating a new header banner graphic for your newsletter.
I hope these suggestions are helpful to you as we begin another school year and another admissions season. If you have more suggestions for spicing up your website or online communications, leave a comment.