Buyers today, including private school families, do at least 50% of their purchase consideration by looking online, before talking to anyone at your school. What they discover on your website can help them through the decision process and establish a relationship of value and appreciation even before they schedule a visit or attend an open house. Inbound marketing for private education is a potent strategy that positions your school for success in the new world in which consumers own the process.
Inbound marketing helps you to be found online and to provide value to prospective customers. While this includes having your website optimized for search engines so your customers can find you, it also means having something on your site worth finding. Nothing is more frustrating than being lured to a site only to find nothing that really addresses your questions or concerns. Planning content for your website should be a part of your marketing plan and budget. Consider these three important criteria:
How much content?
The content on your website represents your school, your brand, and your entire school community. The usefulness of the content that potential customers find on your site is a strong signal about the quality of the programs you offer. After you spend the money on an attractive, easy-to-use design for the site, it’s vital to consistently populate the site with high quality content. Spend the time to write the best content you can, or allocate budget dollars so can get outside assistance. When you offer content that is worth the time to read, it initiates a relationship of trust with prospective families and potential supporters. Putting effort into your content is what inbound marketing is all about. Story Collaborative recommends eight fresh articles each month – the quantity of content helps create traction with search engines and sticking power for visitors.
Inbound marketing for private education is the process of sharing valuable content that meets the needs of parents as they consider the best future for their children.
Content keep going.
It isn’t enough to post a series of great articles or videos, and then post nothing for the next six months. There are several reasons for this. Search engines—Google in particular—expect fresh content which requires regular updates. As the search engines look at your site to re-index it, they check to see if there have been any changes or significant updates. Fresh content means a boost in rank.
Your customers and your potential families look at your website in a similar way. They notice if it is updated and kept fresh. Your regulars come looking for more of the things they like about you. Potential families look for what’s new and then for depth—is there anything else on this topic? When they return to your website (and they do), they will notice if the site has remained static. It speaks to the depth of your service and capacity to help – they wonder if you have more value to offer.
Your reputation in part rises or falls by what you do or don’t do with your web content. Your willingness to add fresh content is a public indication of your authentic interest in your followers as well as an indication of how passionate you are about your own business. It indicates to the world that you are still growing, still creating and that your educational community is vibrant and alive.
Investing in quality content.
All the SEO optimization and web design you can afford cannot create loyal customers alone. While keeping your site visible on a search engine is critical, visitors should never be disappointed in the quality of what they discover. Solutions to the challenges and questions that they face is what they are looking for, and high quality content keeps them on your site, engaged and connected. Quality content persuades people that they have found a site, a school, worth dealing with. Search engines record the amount of time people spend on your page and raise or lower the page’s rank accordingly. Tip: look at the bounce rate in your analytics. If people aren’t staying on the website very long, it’s a clue that they are not finding much worth consuming.
The quality of the content that people discover on your website should be the first of many positive surprises about your school.
They should be delighted to discover that you understand them, and you demonstrate it because you share content that meets them right where they are – in the process of considering or planning for an educational future for their children.
The Content Test: Does it seem valuable to you?
Try to step outside your role to review your web content with fresh eyes. Inbound marketing is about providing fresh, valuable content to potential buyers who are at some stage in the process of considering private education for their children. Here are some questions that you can ask to help evaluate your current content status and to make plans for future content development:
Are you providing information that rings authentic and practical? Does it address the real needs and challenges of your prospective parents? Is it fresh? Is there enough content to keep them on the website for more than two to three minutes? Do you speak in a language that resonates with your prospective families, or is it highly academic and arcane? Have you included compelling images that speak to the heart of those you are trying to win to your school?
Put yourself in the shoes of your reader, into their life circumstance, and make sure you are addressing their questions and concerns.
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