The school websites that are most effective in generating prospects are not necessarily the ones that incorporate the flashiest visuals and features, but the ones specifically designed to convert visitors into leads. If you want your school website to generate business for your school, you want to make sure it is designed to do so. If not, a redesign may be in order.
In my experience, there are three mistakes I see repeated time and time again that prevent private schools from generating leads from their website:
Mistake #1 The Website is Focused on Current Parents
Sadly, too many school websites are designed to “look pretty” to make the board members, administration and current parents feel good about the school. Websites that are mainly focused on visual aesthetics and feel-good content will not attract prospects to your school. A website designed to serve as a tool within your inbound marketing strategy will. A site that is effective in generating leads needs to be optimized around best practices for drawing visitors to your site and converting those visitors into leads.
When I help plan for the redesign of a client’s website, my top priority is determining who is the target audience for the website and identifying the pain points and challenges of those prospects. Next, I ask the following questions: How can we position the school in a manner to show that we are the ones who can help them address those challenges and concerns? What distinguishes this school from all other educational solutions?
The answers to these questions are used to design the website with a proper aesthetic and flow that is appealing to prospects as they search both on their mobile device and desktop. These design considerations are based on current research that indicates many prospects will begin their engagement with your site on a mobile device and dive deeper on a desktop.
Other considerations in design strategy include identifying ways to properly present information, allowing for easy navigation, as well as considering layout for the homepage, internal pages and landing pages.
Mistake #2 There is No Content Strategy in Place to Drive Ideal Prospective Parents to the Website
Your school website needs to contain content that is focused on and relevant to prospective parents. You also need a plan for publishing that content. If you do not, you won’t be able to draw the right traffic to your site.
A content strategy includes knowing and understanding your ideal target audience (creating buyer personas), identifying delivery channels (e.g. blogging), and creating and publishing quality content. Without a plan in place, you are going to have a hard time producing the content needed to draw the right traffic to your site. Developing a content strategy takes time and effort, but the dividends of such efforts are huge.
When done right, blogging is one of the most effective lead generation activities to include in your school’s content strategy. For more about blogging for schools, see these articles by Schola’s Blogging Coach Kim Schlauch:
Mistake #3 There Are No Landing Pages To Convert Website Visitors into Leads
This, my dear friends, is where conversion from visitors to prospects happens. No landing pages? No conversions. This is why I force my clients to create at least one landing page when I build them a website because I know the site will be useless as a marketing tool if there is no way to convert website traffic into leads.
Including a contact form on your website is not enough. Lead conversion is a barter-exchange process: The visitor gives you his/her information in exchanges for a valuable reward (Ebook, video, free consultation, etc). If the visitor does not see a perceived value in what you are offering on that landing page, the visitor will leave.
These are 3 mistakes you must avoid if you are serious about designing a website focused on converting visitors into leads through the use of landing pages. If you are looking into re-designing a website, I encourage you to make sure your web designer knows inbound marketing and is actually practicing its principles and not just paying it lip service as the new buzz word like SEO was a few years ago.
If you have questions about your website redesign and want some advice, I encourage you to schedule a call to evaluate your website through our Free marketing assesment. It could be the best 30 minutes you invest in your marketing strategy for next year.