The foundation of a school’s digital strategy is its website. In previous articles, we covered how to ensure that people can find you when they are searching through effective Search Engine Optimization and through inbound marketing efforts.
If you did those two things correctly, you will begin to see an increase in visitors to your website. However, while this surge of traffic is great, it doesn’t mean anything unless you can turn these online visitors into offline interactions and increase enrollment.
How do you bridge that gap? How do you determine who is surfing your website, and how do you follow up with them after they’ve left?
As a digital medium, the internet offers many technology-intensive ways to approach this question. From analytics to cookies to trackers, webmasters have created a myriad of tools to identify users and follow them online.
Some of these tools, like Google Analytics (free), can give an administrator access to valuable, although anonymized, data to track the relative popularity of different posts and the timing of visitors, along with some general information about where these visitors are coming from.
Other tools that promise to deliver more specific information are often complicated, of dubious quality, and can be morally troublesome (I will suggest one of these morally dubious ones at the end).
So how do you find out exactly who is visiting your website? What’s that person’s name? What grades are their kids? And how can I send them an application to my school?
The fact is, there is no high-tech solution (at least within a school’s budget) that will give you information like this. If you want to know who’s visiting your website and use that information to increase enrollment, the best method is old fashioned: you ask them.
Request more information
One of the easiest means to identify prospective families is to provide a request for information form. This allows the school to gather contact information and then respond to the inquiry either through an email or sending information back in the good old fashioned mail.
The example from the Orchard School shows how simple this can be.
Some schools list their phone number and instruct parents to call if they have any questions. While this is not a horrible approach, most millennialls (your target parents) don’t want to do this. They want to be able to complete all of their shopping and requesting information online. And to be honest, in the initial shopping period – you need to make it easy for them to learn about your school. Asking them to call you is not making it easy.
A simple online form like this may be enough. However, for some parents, you need to work a little bit harder and offer a little bit more to them. That is where we use lead magnets.
Lead Magnets: How Do They Work?
Few web visitors are going to hand over their contact information for free. If you want to get a visitor’s email, you must offer them something of value in return. These shiny objects are called “lead magnets.”
A classic example of a lead magnet is a newsletter. However, school newsletters can be tricky. Most school newsletters are aimed exclusively at families who are already enrolled. If you want prospective families to sign up, you have to offer something aimed at them.
Other popular lead magnets include:
- Resource guides
- Anything of value you think parents will want!
The most important thing about a lead magnet is that what you’re offering must be worth it to your visitors. Decades of spam emails have taught web users to be wary of sharing their personal information, lest it falls into the wrong hands.
Before you set your lead magnets loose in the wild, as yourself these questions:
- Am I offering something my visitors want?
- Am I offering a real solution to a real problem?
- Am I a trusted expert on this topic?
- Will the offer I am giving leave visitors with a positive impression of my school?
eBooks are popular lead magnets because they allow experts to go deep into a topic they know a lot about and they know their audience has an interest.
For example, on Bright Minds Marketing we offer two eBooks as lead generation magnets:
If these topics are interesting to you – go ahead and click them. But be prepared to give up your email address! 🙂
Mason Prep Academy in Charleston, South Carolina does a nice job of this with their eBook titled: The School Selection Journey: A Roadmap to Finding the Right School. Basically, this is an informative guide that helps parents to ask the right questions to find the right school for their child.
There are lots of different topics that you could write on that would make an engaging eBook. And the great thing is that you have a ton of subject matter experts at your school that could write these. Some of the topics you could cover would be:
- 10 Things to Look For When Thinking of a New School
- How to Recognize if you have a Gifted Child
- How to Make Your Child Love Reading
- Best Books For 4th Graders
- How to Install Parental Controls on Your Computer
- Guide to Preschools in Your City.
All of these would be of interest to your prospective parents, position you as an expert, and solves a problem for your prospective parents.
However, the pitfall with eBooks is that many are poorly written and frankly useless. If you can’t deliver on the promise of your lead magnet, don’t expect families to believe you can deliver on your promise of a great education for their child.
Spend a little bit of money to have them laid out in a nice fashion. Don’t just give them an MS Word document. Personally, I have used Fiverr to graphically layout my eBooks. It is a very inexpensive option (about $20) for a great looking product.
Remember, you can’t just offer something of value, you have to deliver on that value!
Anything for that Email Address
Lead magnets like newsletters and eBooks aren’t the only way to get email addresses from web visitors. Schools have a lot to offer prospective families that can’t necessarily be downloaded online. Some of these include:
- Tickets to school sporting events, concerts, musicals, etc.
- Slots in an upcoming tour
- School swag
- Admission to a one-day event your school is having like a STEM day or an art workshop
- A personal phone consultation with an admissions officer
Not only are these ways to get email addresses, but they are also great ways to introduce families to your school and to start a conversation with them that can lead to enrollment.
However, just as with downloadable lead magnets, these offers can only be effective if what you are offering is tangible, specific, and solves an immediate need. For example, if you want families to hand over their email address in return for a slot on a tour, don’t have them fill out a form that promises to get back to them about future tours. Allow families to sign up for a specific tour at a specific time. A parent is much more likely to sign up for the 9 am tour on Tuesday, October 2nd than they are to sign up for the general concept of a tour at some point in the future.
Make it tangible. Make it specific. Make it immediate.
Use Your Email List Wisely
Getting email addresses and other contact information is an important part of the job, but it’s just the beginning. Once you have this information, you must make sure you are using it well. We’ve discussed best practices for email marketing before, but some of the key things to remember are:
Enter the contact information into a CRM. Customer Relationship Management software allows you to personalize and track your communications with each family. There are even some CRMs (like Hubspot) that if you have that family in your database – they will notify you when they are visiting your website. How cool is that?
Be strategic with your use of email. Create a systematic program designed to increase enrollment by leading each family along the path from initial interest through enrollment.
Make it a conversation, not a monologue. Encourage families to ask questions and have them engage with different members of your school community, not just with the admissions team.
Install a remarketing pixel
As promised, this is the perfectly legal, but somewhat morally questionable tactic. A remarketing pixel is a somewhat creepy but incredibly effective thing that digital marketers use to get targeted ads in front of you. When you go a website that has one of these installed (and you can do it for Google and Facebook), that website writes a little bit of code into the cookie file of your browser. That piece of code then tells the different ad platforms to display ads from the website that you just visited.
For example – I recently bought my wife some leggings from Saks 5th Avenue. I never shop there, and I am not their target customer, so I never see their ads. But because I went to their site, I was seeing their ads all over the place when I was on the internet. They used a remarketing pixel.
Putting an ad in front of somebody who has already shown interest in a product or service is smart marketing.
This doesn’t tell you who visited your website, but it does increase the chances of them coming back because you are putting your ads in front of them when they browse the internet.
Questions or Comments? Let’s Discuss!
If you want to discuss email marketing, lead magnets, or anything else about how to increase enrollment in your school, I’m here to help. Sign up for a free personal consultation.