A private school’s digital strategy – marketing or communications.

Aug 21, 2019Websites

Marketing focuses on the “who”, communications focuses on the “how”.

Captovate has built a number of websites for private schools, including the award winning Wilderness School in Adelaide, and our most recent launch of The Essington International School Darwin. Captovate commences these projects by articulating the purpose of the website. For private schools, the main aim is to provide that important first impression for prospective families looking for a private education.

Key successes of building a marketing focused website. 

When building a marketing focused website for a private school we need to:

  • Focus on the needs of prospective families. Think about the busy working parent and the key issues they face when choosing a school.
  • Be short and succinct in the first instance. This is not the time to write novels about the approach to curriculum. Parents are looking for high level summaries.
  • Provide emotive imagery. Videos and high quality imagery create an emotional connection. They demonstrate the school culture and the involvement of the families and their children in the school community.
  • Cover all aspects of the educational experience, including the academic achievements as well as the school’s interest in wellbeing and extracurricular offerings.
  • The number one rule of web content writing is, people don’t read, they scan. Where possible provide information graphically. This includes using infographics and visual indicators to break up text.

The focus of the website needs to be big picture, not micro everyday activities such as the upcoming Book Week or Year 5 School Camp. These events fall into the category of communications. 

Communications is the way you demonstrate your marketing message.

When prospective families come across your website during their web search of “best private schools”, they accept that this is the ‘official stance’ on the school’s approach. If you have impressed them and they consider your school a viable option, prospective parents then go exploring, to find out the ‘real story’. They dig deeper in places like social media, to get insights into whether the school practises what they preach. They look for posts about events, activities and successes to provide evidence of your marketing promises.

When developing The Essington International School Darwin’s website we encouraged them to develop a parent portal, in a separate area within the core marketing focused site. Portals are a common feature of school websites, but very often they are locked down spaces. This is because they include features such as online bookings or student specific information. At Essington we encouraged the school to open up the portal for general information for parents. This includes micro details about uniforms, canteen, and schedules for after-school activities. While aimed at current families, the portal also serves to provide prospective parents with details on those items impacting the everyday nature of schooling and parenting. This can be crucial information when making the decision around which school to select.

With ‘good communications’ being one of the top priorities for parents it is important that schools get their communications strategy right. Schools need to articulate their approach to current parents versus those prospective parents.

Communications is the way you demonstrate your marketing message.

Social media platforms should be used as a platform for current parents to know what is going on. We encourage schools to consider building closed Facebook pages, to allow for more detailed information about events impacting children (best to avoid location based or identifying information on public facing sites for security reasons). Facebook rewards pages with more exposure if they have active closed groups.

In comparison a paid advertising strategy should be considered when building relationships with prospective parents. This includes re-targeting families who have visited your website with paid content into their social feed. Such targeting messages could, for example, send notifications of ‘School Tours’ to those who have visited your website in the past 30 days. To ensure that you don’t spam current parents from receiving this irrelevant information we can exclude the ad from being served to those who are currently enrolled, (clever aren’t we…)

If you are a private school looking for support in:

  • Building a marketing based website
  • Building a communications strategy for your current families
  • Using social media advertising to attract new families.

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