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School Marketing Stories: The Impact of a "Prospect Focused" Website Redesign on Enrollment Growth

Posted by Ralph Cochran on Mar 31, 2015 3:00:00 PM



Sue Carback oversees marketing at Liberty Christian School , located in Owings Mills, Maryland.  She is very committed to the school as her children attended there and her father was once the school's principal.  I've known Sue for nearly 2 years now and she has been one of my best students in learning how to transform her school by telling its stories through the implementation of an inbound marketing strategy.  Recently, we had the opportunity to interview Sue and asked her about the role the school website redesign has played in increasing retention and attracting new students.  We discussed the importance of storytelling and focusing the website redesign on prospective parents.  The results have been amazing! 

Here’s what Sue had to share with us:

Q:  What role did your school website play in attracting prospects before engaging with Schola?

A:  Our school website was not effective at all in attracting prospects.  It was basically a bulletin board of information that our school wanted the public to know about and included a few stock photos. Honestly, I don’t think many people ever saw our original website.

Q:  What changes were made to your school website to make it more “inbound friendly”?

A:  When we first met Ralph through Advance Christian Schools, we knew our website needed a complete overhaul.  Because we were not familiar with inbound marketing, we thought that revising the website would just entail updating the information, adding more pictures of our students, and including better navigation.  However, once we gained an understanding of inbound marketing, the inbound methodology became our roadmap for designing an effective marketing tool for our school that we hoped could help generate the necessary leads to grow our enrollment.




The effort to develop a more “inbound friendly” website was actually a two-step process:

Our first step included the creation of an interim website that included inbound elements, such as landing pages where prospects could fill out a form to RSVP to an Open House or schedule a school tour.  In addition, we began content creation efforts, including the startup of our school blog, revisions to interior page content and images, as well as the publishing of our first e-book.  The key game changer was the addition of the landing pages with forms. We now had a way to collect our prospect’s contact information.  This interim website allowed us to meet a basic goal of converting website visitors into leads.

Behind the scenes, we found that our blog and keywords were helping to improve our SEO.  We used Hubspot to track prospect interactions with the site and now had analytics to measure how we were doing.  We used paid search to attract prospects to the website and found that the number of visitors exploded.


The second step in the redesign process involved moving from the interim site to the website we have now.  Over the course of the next 10 months, our team worked hard to learn inbound methodology and, as a result, we were able to take the site to a whole new level.  I remember in an early meeting with our designer, Ralph asked them to create a storytelling website for us. I was really curious as to how the designer was going to accomplish this.  Our new website caters particularly to prospective parents.  We intentionally thought of them as our first audience and our current parents as our secondary audience. We kept our parent personas in mind as we rewrote and expanded content on all of the interior pages.  The design of our new site invites visitor interaction, such as to RSVP to an event, watch a video, read testimonials of students, parents, and teachers, download an ebook, subscribe to our blog, or get directions to the school from a google map. Social media links are provided as well so prospects can see the latest news and information.  One of the best things about the new site is how mobile responsive it is.

Q.  What type of an impact has the new website design had for your school in attracting prospects?

A:  Response has been tremendous.  Prospects are not only completing and submitting forms, but when I meet them they are complementary about how helpful the site is in providing them with answers to their questions and concerns.  Its now a fully functional site that helps us complete our marketing goals. It is also beautiful in the way it captures the spirit of our school family and helps our prospective parents envision their child as a part of that family.

Some prospective parents who attended a recent “Experience Liberty” enrollment event and subsequently submitted applications for their two children mentioned our website played a key role in their decision process and had the following to say about it:

“Liberty Christian School's website is vibrant and inviting!  As parents considering Liberty Christian for our children, we found the website to be very helpful in providing us a wealth of information as it relates to the curriculum, extracurricular activities, admissions process, enrichment opportunities and much more.  We also enjoyed reading the personal testimonies of students and parents alike.  As a result of viewing the website, we were compelled to attend the Experience Liberty event to learn more about the school.  We are hopeful that we will be able to join the Liberty Christian School community in the near future.”

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Topics: School Website Design, Case Studies