Your school's website is your largest online asset. For most prospects, it's their first stop along your digital highway. But it's a two-way street. A place where prospective students and parents find all manner of valuable information about your school and application process. Don't forget to make sure you're getting valuable information about your website visitors in return.
The earlier you can get a website visitor to self-identify, the sooner you get them in your database. Your opportunities to interact with prospects, and nudge them along the enrollment journey, explode once you have them in your marketing system.
Do you need to get more prospects into your enrollment funnel? Here are some small ways that you can attract and convert more prospective students online.
Attract: Work those Keywords
Improving your keyword optimization is a time and cost-efficient way to improve the content on your site. You don't need a web team to write a host of new content to benefit from this tip. Simply re-work some of your current content.
And, use an updated keyword strategy to grow organic traffic, and steer visitors to the right part of your site from the start.
Look at some of your pages with the highest engagement. You know — the ones you discovered people find valuable because visitors already spend a lot of time there. Clarify what message you're trying to get across in each sub-page or blog post. Use these messages to build a working list of long-tail phrases (also called "long tail keywords" or "LTKs").
Optimizing a page for an LTK increases your chance to improve the page's rankings. First, Google keeps getting better at understanding how people actually talk. It recognizes that people are searching more often by the way they speak, so expect this trend to continue.
For example, "private high schools in Northern New Jersey" is certainly better than "private high schools," but it's still pretty generic. Does your academy have a debate team winning state competitions? How about "academies with winning debate teams"?
Once you've selected the LTK for a page, refresh the content and tags on that page with it.
You should also take a look at your current keyword traffic. Which keywords can you let go? Go back to the pages using these LTKs and give them a keyword refresh as well. Which keywords should get more attention? Find current content on your site related to those keywords and optimize those pages with these successful keywords.
Convert: Don't Be Shy – Ask!
How many conversion points do you have on your website? By this I mean, forms where prospects can give you their information. These are your calls-to-action (CTAs). What type of content are you offering in exchange for the details?
Increase the frequency and volume of your early conversion points. Would you go to a car website and just click buy-now? Of course not. So why would students or parents visit your blog and choose to apply or enroll site unseen? They won't.
Don't scare them away from sharing their contact information by having only big asks, e.g. "Get your application today!" Early conversion points should center on the content that answers prospects research phase questions. This type of content includes your program descriptions, sample syllabi, employment outlook for certain professions. Information that interests them and starts to establish your school as a trusted authority.
Include the CTAs on the pages intended for discovery phase prospects, such as along side relevant blog posts. Create landing pages to generate interest in high value, education content – no web team needed!
Gate the content with a simple form. Now that they're in your database, you can use progressive profiling. Progressive profiling is the gentle way to collect more intelligence about your prospects over time. The more you know about a lead, the better you can personalize the content you deliver to them.
Personalization: Lead Nurturing Gold
Personalized content is the most relevant content you can deliver to a specific prospect. By strategically selecting offers and content to a person's individual needs and situation, you can smoothly shuffle them down your enrollment funnel. HubSpot users do this with "smart content."
Smart content is on-page content that changes based on the profile of the visitor. For visitors already in your database, a key content filter is which persona they fit. With smart content, students will see a different homepage than their parents when either visits your school's website.
You can also customize the offers on a web page. A visitor tagged as showing interest in the nursing program will see an offer to download that nursing employment outlook report. A different visitor who previously downloaded a brochure about your graphic arts program will see an offer to attend an upcoming show of student work.
With the right tool, customizing content is easy and doesn't require much technical support. Only an understanding of your prospects, personas, and what the data collected tells you.
Our own research shows that personalized CTAs convert 42% better than generic . That's logical. If you can only show the CTA to download a report on nursing jobs, how many prospects looking at other programs are going to return to your site?
Quick Wins for High Return
The underlying theme here – don't publish it and forget it. You always have more wins to find by intelligently refreshing your current content. If your team is pressed for content or technical resources, follow these steps to get more from your current content.
In fact, even if you're not pressed for resources – it's still a good idea to work these tips and get the highest possible return on all your digital assets.
Originally published Mar 8, 2016 7:00:00 AM, updated July 28 2017