Marketing Focus of the Week: Charter Schools

Posted by Chuck Bankoff On March - 11 - 2014

Back To School

The Charter Schools industry has become extremely competitive, and with each school scrambling to enroll more students everyone can use an edge. In fact, our team at Kreative Webworks has designed a specific student enrollment program just to help schools market to parents in their authorized districts. There are a lot of facets to a comprehensive digital marketing program, but organizing a blogging program is not out of the reach of even the smallest charter schools. 

 

Why should Charter Schools blog?
It’s just good public relations and good branding. Parents who are researching the right school for their child have an opportunity to get a feel for the schools culture, values and activities. In effect, build a comfort level with the school before they even engage a councilor to explore admissions.

 

Bloggers WantedLikewise, parents of current students are likely to enjoy staying up to date with school activities along with an increased familiarity and satisfaction with the faculty. Both of course are retention factors. It’s just a great way to keep motivated parents informed, and well…motivated.

 

Increased Web Presence:
Word of mouth is incredibly effective, but you can’t rely on word of mouth to get in front of parents at the exact moment they are searching for alternative education for their child. That’s why it’s so important to constantly be running an inbound marketing campaign. And yes, your Charter School MUST show up in the search results for keywords like “charter schools (insert your location here)” or “at home schooling” or “online high school” as a major objective of your inbound marketing strategy.

 

Blogging is not the end-all to a robust web presence, but it is a contributing factor. Search engines look for a constant stream of quality content, and a blog is an effective means of facilitating that content and augmenting your overall online marketing efforts.

 

How you blog is as important as how much you blog.
You want people to actually read it, share it and comment on it. The more attention it gets, the more the search engines take notice and have reason to rank your blog article on the search results pages and get in front of more parents who are considering a Charter School education for their child.

 

Some Blogging Basics:

  • One idea per post: If you find yourself straying off topic, congratulations… you just figured out your next blog post.
  • Word Count: How much is the right amount of copy? The answer is not one more word than is necessary…not one word less than is necessary. Job number one is to engage your readers. Close behind that is drawing the attention of Google and the other search engines. We generally recommend 300-600 words, but if a deeper topic warrants more coverage, don’t sell yourself short. Search engines have recently started to favor longer posts.
  • Sexy Title: Or at least interesting or relevant. Keep it appropriate for the audience, but make it unique and interesting enough to stand out. It also doesn’t hurt to throw in a keyword or two…but not at the expense of the integrity of the title.
  • Images: Find a great image that compliments the article. This is vital for sharing on Pinterest, Facebook, Google+, etc. Be careful about using licensed images, the financial penalties are over the top now, and many of the larger stock photo companies are actively using image recognition software to patrol the Internet and extract huge fines from them. When necessary we supply fully licensed images for our clients as part of our school marketing packages.

Many Hands make Light Work:
Yes, blogging can be a lot of work, but it doesn’t have to be overwhelming for any one individual. Here’s a few strategies to spread out the work to lighten the load:

  • If every instructor and administrator were assigned just one article to write per month, there would be an abundance of quality content publish on a regular basis. After all… why should they be the only ones handing out homework?
  • What about a “Kids Corner” where you let motivated students take a whirl? Or it could be part of an assignment where the best of the best get published.image3
  • It can be a team sport. If you aren’t going with an “all hands on deck” strategy where everyone blogs, perhaps assembling a team of motivated staff to handle the writing is a way to share the load. You might consider rotating the staff in and out so everyone gets a chance to write. That will also help to keep it fresh.
  • Hire a ghost writer or third party. We often write many of our client’s blogs on a regular basis. In some cases we augment their contributions, in other cases we do all the writing. Keep in mind, that you will probably lose a little of the personality when a third party takes charge. That’s why we recommend a hybrid strategy where our copywriters share the load with the school’s authors.

 

What to blog about?


image4There really is no limit to the topics of interest. Think of your audience; existing parents and students would probably like to stay up to date with happenings regarding the school. That might include anything from preparing for finals, to preparing for that field trip. Perspective parents might like to know more about student life, or the school’s learning philosophy. Students might like to see what their classmates are writing…which might also be especially appealing to perspective parents.

 

Speaking of parents, how many of them might want to do an occasional guest post? They could write about their careers, and how their education enabled them to achieve their aspirations. Or perhaps a tech-savvy parent might write about learning software they have tested.

 

You don’t have to limit yourself to one blog category. For example, you could have one blog entitled “Home Room” and another entitled “Kids Corner” and a third one called “In the News” and yet one more entitled “Play Ground”.

 

Promoting Your Blog:

The typical strategy that we use for our Charter School clients consists of a coordinated effort and repeatable steps.

  • In the blog article, we hyperlink to other blog articles on the website or perhaps relevant pages to the blog topic.
  • We write a “Teaser” which is no more than an interesting and VERY short paragraph to pique the interest of parents, perspective parents, students and teachers who are following our school clients on Social media such as Facebook, Google+, and Twitter. This teaser links directly back to the specific blog article. This not only drives direct traffic to the article, it signals the search engines that something of interest is happening on your website (that’s a good thing).
  • We schedule these teasers to go out simultaneously on all of our client’s social channels.
  • We encourage everyone to “Share” the articles with their circle of influence.

 

There are many facets to a comprehensive inbound digital marketing strategy for Charter schools, private schools, of any industry for that matter. Blogging is just one tool in your online marketing toolbox, but it is something that your school can have a great deal of control over and actually help move the needle and fill up those classrooms.

 

Charter School Marketing is a student enrollment marketing program developed by the team at Kreative Webworks specifically to help schools gain more visibility in their authorized districts to enroll more students.

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Landing Page Love… Optimization in 2013

Posted by Chuck Bankoff On April - 15 - 2013

Landing page design is more about psychology than anything else. The idea is to persuade a visitor to your page to do a very specific thing (give you their contact info, request a demo, or the holy grail of marketing… a transaction).

What is the goal of any marketing campaign?

The obvious answer would be to generate leads. Whether it is organizing an event or advertising on television or in the print media, the end goal is to generate leads that can be converted into sales. Every branding activity that a business engages in has to support this objective.

This brings us to the next question;

What is a landing page?

Simply put, a landing page is a web page that helps businesses capture leads. It is different from a Home page, which usually serve as the doorway to generic information about the various products, solutions, and services offered by the business. As such, a typical Home page has too many elements vying for the visitors’ attention. A targeted landing page will work towards compelling a visitor to take the specific and desired action.

There are several ways a visitor can be directed to your landing page:

  • Search engine results link when someone runs a query for your keyword
  • Clickable links in your pay per click ad or other online advertisements
  • Links pointing to this page incorporated in social media posts
  • Email campaigns providing links to this page
  • Organic search engine optimization (SEO) campaigns throw up links to this page during relevant keyword searches

The impact of your landing page can be measured by analyzing the number of visitors who convert. Tools are available to measure the number of visitors. These tools will also provide you information on the means by which they landed there – was it your SEO strategy or your PPC campaign or your social media activities or even your direct mail campaign. 

If your campaigns are attracting a lot of visitors but none are converting into leads then the problem might lie with your landing page. The solution lies in enhancing and optimizing your landing page to maximize conversions.

Types of Landing Pages

Depending upon the objective you want to achieve, your landing page can be of two types:

  • Informational landing page: If you want to present yourself as a thought leader then you can create an informative landing page, which displays content that is relevant to your visitor. Ideally, the information should center around the keyword that brought the visitor to your landing page in the first place.
  • Action-oriented landing page: This is a landing page with a clear call to action.  It could be oriented towards convincing a visitor to buy a product or capture contact information through an online form. If making a sale is the objective, you have to ensure that previous interactions with you provided the visitor enough compelling reasons to do so. If capturing information is your goal then you can do so by offering valuable content.

How to Optimize Landing Pages in 2013

A good landing page needs to target a particular action. Leading visitors to your Home page, for instance, can prove confusing. The visitor might have been searching for information on a particular keyword. Now unless your Home page immediately offers information related to that keyword it is likely to leave your visitor confused. More often than not, this will result in a quick exit from your website, and thereby, a missed opportunity for you.

You need to be very clear about what you want your visitor to do once they land on your website. Only then can you increase the possibility of converting your traffic into actionable leads.

Below we have listed a few measures you should take to optimize your landing pages in 2013.

  1. Singular purpose: You need to be absolutely clear about the targeted traffic and the action you desire from them. Minimize distractions.  Eliminate unnecessary copy, graphics, form fields, and links. Provide clear and simple call to actions. Do not confuse your visitor. Make it easy for them to focus on your call to action.
  2. Short lead form: Visitors hate filling forms, so the longer your lead form the more the number of visitors who are likely to drop off. Keep it short. Capture only information that is necessary to stay in touch. 
  3. Relevancy of content: Ensure that the content on your landing page is relevant to your keyword. Highlight the benefits of engaging with you for business. Ideally, your landing page headline should match the link your visitors clicked to get there.
  4. Call to action: Make sure your call to action (CTA) is clearly visible. Use directional cues to direct attention to your CTA. Have CTA links spread across the page in order to make it easy for visitors to take action whenever they are ready.
  5. Responsive design: Think like a user. Test your page to check whether it provides information that is relevant to the keyword they used. Is it visually pleasing? Is the messaging consistent throughout?
  6. Transparency: Visitors will always be wary about sharing their contact information. Clearly state what you intend to do with the information you collect. Ease any concerns they may have about the information falling into wrong hands. Highlight your contact information such as phone number and address. Provide links to your social media handles at the bottom.
  7. Test thoroughly: Creating a landing page is only the first step. Use real-time A/B or multivariate testing to continuously test the various elements on your landing page and determine what resonates best with your visitors. Improve your page accordingly.

Landing Page Webinar:

On April 25, Chuck Bankoff, Director of Web Services for Kreative Webworks will be conducting a public webinar where he will outline the common mistakes businesses make when it comes to their landing pages and why these can instantly kill your campaign conversions.  In addition he’ll also share 6 steps to effective landing page design that will help ensure your overall paid advertising success.

You can register at: www1.gotomeeting.com/register/824345448

 

 

Kreative Webworks is a Digital Marketing firm in Orange County California since 1999.

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