Q: We need a new website to increase the number of pupils applying to join our fee-paying school.
What do you suggest?
A: To design a promotional website that will get more parents to apply for their child to join your fee-paying school, you first need understand parents and what they need.
Then break down the process down into a series of steps.
Step 1 is to get the parents to your website
Step 2 is to convince them that you have the solution to their child’s education issues
Step 3 is to get them to enquire.
Seeing the problem this way makes it easier to understand and therefore easier to solve.
Moving on, let’s take a closer look at what sort of parents might want their children to go to your school.
Step 1 – Get the parents to your website
Initially I’d suggest these as possible parent profiles:
> Their child is unhappy at their present school and needs a change
> They’re seeking the highest standards. They want the best for their child.
> They’ve become more affluent and now seek an alternative to state education
With these profiles in mind, I’d deliberately aim to have rich content on your site that discussed these parent profiles and their issues.
Write pages of over 500 words discussing these issues. Rich content is what attracts search engines, like bees to honey.
Google will pick up on these pages and their associated keywords, and increase your web popularity by sending you traffic.
And each of these visitors is a sales opportunity.
You also need to find out what the keywords are for the private school sector, and write interesting pages around these keywords, which Google will index, and send you more traffic as a result.
If you’re a local or county school rather than a national school, then your location and the locations of all your surrounding areas must also feature in the copy. This will ensure that Google connects parent with issues, in your locality, searching on known keywords are directed to your site.
A strongly promotional website will feature all these different possibilities.
Step 2 – Convince them you have the solution to their child’s education issues
Once parents arrive at your school’s website, they need to see a simple, clear proposition on the home page of what’s on offer.
If they don’t they’ll quickly go elsewhere.
So spell out your three best benefits, in terms that relate to the parent/child need.
> Small classes to ensure your child has lots of personal attention
> High academic standards – Top 5% school
> Affordable fees
Click to take our school tour
With an offer like this on the home page, you’re encouraging parents to take a look around.
An online School Tour will help the parent visualise what the place is like, what it offers, and what it delivers. A tour is a structure that people understand and like.
You could also have pages dedicated to each individual year. For instance, a Year 4 Mum doesn’t want to know about Year 10. She wants to know about Year 4. And vice-versa.
Promotional websites always aim at the specific needs of buyers.
Step 3 – Get them to enquire
Obviously there’ll be an Enquiry Page where parents can ask for a school visit, or an interview (hmmm … “visit” sounds better than “interview”)
You could also use video testimonials of satisfied parents, or convincing teachers or happy kids. Place these streaming videos at regular points around the site to help convince prospective parents to take the plunge and enquire.
You could also use flash animation to spell out key messages that will help make people’s minds up.
A well written quarterly newsletter with subscription prominently displayed will allow people to stay in touch, ready for when the new term time comes along.
And you could promote your school Open Day to the emails of your newsletter subscribers.
Always keep the school phone number prominent on every page in case someone gets the urge to pick up the phone and enquire right now
Promotion doesn’t end at the first visit. Building an ongoing email newsletter relationship is important.
To design an effective promotional website you’ll need to write lots of new content around parent/pupil issues that you know concern your prospective parents.
Do the same for keywords, mentioning locations.
Make sure you offer a clear proposition to parents
Offer a School Tour, or View Your Child’s Year
Use video to convince.
People can and do send their children to fee-paying schools, and there’s no reason why your promotional website can’t help draw in lots of potential new parent and pupils.
© Studio Rossiter 2007