🌸 There’s nothing more invigorating than seeing the cherry blossoms and the daffodils coming to life in the spring sun. And then you notice your dirty windows…! If you suddenly have spring-cleaning fever, why not take this opportunity to clean up your school’s digital marketing strategy as well.
Before you get started, if you haven’t already done so, add Google Analytics to your school website. Google Analytics isn’t just about the number of visitors to your website – it can tell you so much more, some of which I’ll expand upon below. It’s very simple to set up an account and your website provider should be able to add the code to your school website in minutes.
Okay, time to roll up our sleeves and get cleaning … !
1. Wipe the Cobwebs from Your Website
For many schools, a new website can be an extremely labourious undertaking – involving all their time and resources. It often ends with a big sigh of relief and the desire to never have to look at (the functional side of) your website again! And understandably so. But once the pain has passed and you’re receiving the much-deserved kudos for your stunning new website, I’d recommend once a year (at the very least) you wipe off the cobwebs and review your site. Below are just a few areas to tackle …
Sweep Up Your Broken Links
An easy task to start with is to scan your website for broken links – both internal and external. This will not only help with your visitors’ experience but can assist with your SEO (search engine optimisation) rankings as well. Here’s a free tool that allows you to quickly scan your entire website: Dead Link Checker.
Tidy Up Your Mobile View
If you’ve recently launched a new school website, chances are it will be responsive – i.e. mobile-friendly. But if you’ve been playing around, adding new pages to your site, and it’s been a while since you’ve looked at your school website on your mobile – do that now. Remember how your website looks on a desktop isn’t necessarily how it’s going to look on a mobile.
As there are so many mobile options, look to an online simulator to review your changes. The Responsinator tool makes it easy to view your website in the most popular mobile sizes. But you can also use Google’s Chrome emulator simply by clicking right on your webpage and choosing ‘Inspect’ from the menu. There you’ll have the option to choose your different devices.
Ideally, your CMS (Content Management System) will have an option for you to preview your page changes on a mobile before publishing and save you the trial and error of publishing and then updating.
Spruce Up Your Exit Pages
Exit Pages are the pages on which visitors are leaving your school website. This can be the only page they’ve visited or the last of many. Some pages make sense for visitors to exit – i.e. your Contact page – and others you want to keep them there longer – your homepage, your admissions etc.
You can easily find your website’s top exit pages in Google Analytics under Behaviour >Exit Pages. This data can be extremely helpful to see where you’re losing prospective parents in their journey through your website and allow you to make changes to improve your exit rate. A couple of ideas…
- Add enticing copy with links through to other sections of your website – i.e. testimonial links on your Admissions page, scholarship links on your Fees page
- If visitors are still leaving that page, then stick your CTA (call to action) button there. It could be a contact button, a prospectus download, or a donation button – whatever is applicable on that particular page
Buff Up Your User’s Experience
Page Analytics is a free Chrome tool that allows you to see where visitors are clicking on your website. This is a great tool to use when you want to improve the User experience.
You’ll need to have Google Analytics added to your website first (and be logged into your account) to access this tool, but it’s great for understanding what’s NOT getting clicked on your site and to adjust accordingly. If you have a button on a page that isn’t getting clicked, consider moving it, changing its colour or adding it to a page that gets a high volume of traffic.
Sort Out Your Site Search
If you’ve got a search function on your website, Google Analytics can capture this data and provide you with some very useful insights:
- how difficult your school website is for visitors to navigate through (are they always searching for the same thing?)
- what content you might be missing on your website (is there content that you’ve overlooked that matters to your visitors?)
Use this data to update your website/menu structure if necessary and to guide your content strategy. If you don’t have a search function, that’s something you may want to consider.
2. Recycle Your Content
Speaking of content – you don’t always have to be reinventing the wheel to attract new parents and improve your SEO. Look instead to recycle your best work.
Again, turn to your analytics. What were your most popular pages read on your website this past year? What content / social campaigns not only engaged new parents but led them to register for Open Days or fill out an Admissions form? If you have website goals in place you’ll easily be able to see that in Google Analytics.
Just a few content recycling ideas:
- create smaller video bites or gifs from a popular video
- turn a popular blog into an infographic
- turn your most engaging social media photos into a video
- create school guides based on your most visited website pages
- update current copy with new links and/or references
- repurpose your video testimonials into blogs
While we’re here … do you have evergreen content for every stage of your admissions funnel – awareness, engage and decision? This is something you should consider when reviewing your content. Check out my upcoming Content Strategy workshop.
3. Refresh Your Social Media Approach
Have you got goals in place as part of your school’s social media strategy? If not, I’d suggest that you start there first. What is it that you hope to gain from social media? Look to create social SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely) goals and then put the tools in place to measure how effective you are in fulfilling them.
As an example, one of your SMART goals may be to use Facebook to increase your Open Day registrants by 20% over the next 12 months. The first step would be to create a website goal in Google Analytics that triggers each time someone completes your Open Day form.
The next step would be to use UTM tracking and create special URLs that allow you to track which of your Open Day efforts was most effective in getting new registrants. For example, if you had an Open Day campaign based on an offline advert (yes you can track that), a newsletter and videos both on Facebook and Twitter, using the UTM code would allow you to track in Google Analytics which of these activities drove the most registration conversions. This is marketing gold as you’ll be able to use this knowledge for your next Open Day event, maximising your efforts and your ROI.
Sorry, if this makes absolutely NO sense to you, reach out and I’ll be happy to provide further guidance.
4. Polish Your Advertising
Advertising can be a very costly venture so it’s important to review it and reflect on where you’re seeing your highest return on investment (ROI).
Just like with your social media, if you don’t have measurements in place for tracking your advertising, do that now! This includes your school directories and print advertising. Again, by using the UTM tracking and creating unique URLs for each campaign, you’ll be able to easily track your advertising ROI in Google Analytics.
At the end of the day, Google Analytics can provide you with the hard facts of which advertising efforts are actually leading to conversions. Yes, brand awareness is important, but look for less costly opportunities to promote your school brand, rather than hundreds? thousands? on advertising if it’s not actually bringing parents to your school.
5. Shape Up your Mind
And last, but not least, spring is an ideal time when you’re dusting off your trainers, to get your brain in shape as well! The digital landscape is in a constant state of change and not always easy to keep up with, but absolutely essential in order to effectively market your school. Make a point to set aside a few hours each month to learn something new. Whether it’s joining a webinar (try my #LunchAndLearns), setting aside time to read a few blogs each week, or arranging for bespoke in-house training, it’s important to build your brain power to remain competitive in the education space. And aside from the business benefits of shaping up your mind – learning keeps you young! How many times have you thought ‘oh to be a student again’? Well now’s your turn!