Learn to identify visitors to your school’s website and increase enrollment.
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 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, web masters have created many tools to identify users and follow them online.
Some of these tools, like Google Analytics (click that link for a video on how to set up Analytics for your school. It’s free!), can give an administrator access to valuable — although anonymous — data to track the relative popularity of different posts, the timing of visitors, and 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 in? And how can I send them an enrollment application to my school?
If you want to know who’s visiting your website and to then 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.
This example from our client École Saint-Landry shows how simple this can be:
Note how they put Request Info Packet in a highly visible, easily accessible location on their enrollment page.
They also offer an incentive when a prospective family member clicks that button. Since École Saint-Landry is a French-immersion school, their incentive is a coloring book that teaches elementary students basic French vocabulary.
Some schools list their phone number and instruct parents to call if they have any questions.
While this is not a horrible approach, most Gen Zers and millennials (your target parents) don't want to do this.
They want to complete all of their shopping and information requests online.
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 and guardians, 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.
Remember École Saint-Landry’s coloring book offering I showed above? That’s a lead magnet.
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 prospective families 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 all of us to be wary of sharing personal information lest it fall into the wrong hands.
Before you set your lead magnets loose in the wild, ask 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 this offering leave visitors with a positive impression of my school?
Guides and e-books are popular lead magnets because they allow experts to dive deeply into a topic they know a lot about and that they know their audience has an interest in.
For instance, SchoolMint offers a few lead generation magnets. Look to the left for an example: our comprehensive guide 20 Tips for Increasing Student Enrollment.
If the topic of increasing student enrollment interests you, go ahead and click it. But be prepared to give up your email address in exchange for 20 practical, easy enrollment tips!
There are many different topics you could write on that would make an engaging guide or e-book.
And the great thing is you have a ton of subject matter experts at your school who could write these: your teachers!
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
(As an aside, these topics would also make great ideas for blog posts. Learn more in 20 Ideas for a School Blog.)
All of these would interest your prospective parents, position you as an expert, and solve a problem for your prospective parents.
However, the pitfall with e-books 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 bit of money to have them laid out nicely. Don't just give them an MS Word document. Back when I was the one-man operation behind Bright Minds Marketing, I used Fiverr to design my e-books. It’s a very inexpensive option 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 e-books 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 be effective only if what you’re 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 9:00 a.m. tour on Tuesday, October 2, than they are to sign up for the general concept of a tour at some undetermined 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.
Some key things to remember about email marketing are:
- Enter the contact information into a CRM. Customer relationship management software allows you to personalize and track your communications with each family. A CRM made specifically for K-12 schools, like SchoolMint Connect, can help you with this.
- 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 Retargeting Pixel
As promised, this is the perfectly legal but somewhat morally questionable tactic.
A retargeting pixel (also called a remarketing or tracking pixel) is a somewhat creepy yet incredibly effective thing that digital marketers use to get targeted ads in front of you.
When you visit a website that has one of these installed (and yes, 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 you just visited.
For example, I 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 retargeting 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.
Click the banner to get in touch for a consultation!
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