It’s that time of year again. Right now schools are preparing to welcome prospective students for their spring open days. But one of the biggest hurdles that schools face when it comes to organising and promising their open days is visibility. With so many other schools to contend with, it can be a challenge to find ways to really stand out online.
It’s never too early to explore ideas on how you can improve your digital marketing to attract more people to your event. While every open day is unique, there are a few things you can do to optimise your school’s online marketing strategy to make sure your audience sees your event and signs up.
To help out, we’ve put a list together of simple yet effective tips and techniques that you can use to bring more visitors to your open day, let’s take a look below!
1. Optimise your open day landing page on your website
In digital marketing, a landing page is a standalone web page created specifically as part of a marketing or advertising campaign. As the name suggests, it’s where a visitor ‘lands’ after they click through to your site, and they’re a great way to create a dedicated page about your open day.
Your landing page needs to contain everything prospective parents and students need to know about your open day and clearly defined call to action (CTA) opportunities throughout the copy to help them sign up. Make sure you include:
- Times and date
- An event itinerary
- An outline of what to expect from the day
- Information about your school
Consider adding elements like interviews and testimonials from students and parents alike. It’s also a great opportunity to link to other pages on your website that could provide additional information about specific topics, giving your audience a chance to get acquainted with your school and learn more about it before they visit.
2. Use page pop-ups
Pop-ups are small windows that ‘pop up’ over the top of web pages and are often used as a means to gain the user’s attention. While they’re often an effective way to get your audience’s attention, using them repeatedly can start to frustrate visitors, causing them to leave your site altogether.
However, if used strategically (as in, don’t plaster them on every page) pop-ups can be an effective way to make sure your open day invitation is seen by prospective parents and students who are browsing your website.
If you decide to use a page pop, the best place to have them is where potential applicants are likely to enter, like your home page or admissions page. To see if your strategy is paying off, use Google Analytics to determine other pages visitors are likely to click on and adjust if needed.
3. Promote your open day on other thank you pages
In the same way that you can use the ‘thank you’ page for your open day to promote other school information, you can use other thank you pages on your website to promote your open day.
A good example would be when a prospective parent expresses interest in your school by filling out an enquiry form; if you add an invitation to the open day on the thank you page for that enquiry form, there’s a high chance they’ll click through.
However, too many pop-ups or using them in non-relevant areas can make your invitation feel more like advertising, which can have an impact on your user experience. Instead, think carefully about where you want to use them and when, and try to make them feel organic. The more natural the invite the better your chances of securing a sign up.
4. Write a blog post about your school’s open day
Blog posts are a great way of communicating your school’s plans, goals, and achievements to your local community and to potential new students as well. They’re also a great way to keep people up to date with annual events, which makes it a perfect avenue to talk about your open day.
You could ask current pupils who have previously attended an open day at your school to write about their experience of the day – a simple post along the lines of ‘Reasons why I joined my school’ could explore events they took part in on the day and how that helped them decide to attend.
Consider writing a post aimed at prospective parents too. Include information like an itinerary of events and talks they might want to attend, and key facts and figures about your school that could help them in their decision-making process.
Be sure to include a CTA so users can register their interest in the day and if possible, add one into the article copy to draw to give them the opportunity to sign up. And don’t forget to share your blogs on social media and email to prospective families on your mailing list to get the most out of your content.
5. Use Email marketing to promote your open day
Your school’s mailing list is one of the most important marketing tools you have at your disposal, especially when it comes to visibility. However, while it’s one of the most important tools you have at your disposal, it’s also one of the most over-used, so you’ll need to find ways to stand out from the crowd. When it comes to creating an email campaign for your open day, here are a few best practices you can use to get your reader’s attention:
- Make it visual – Add images like infographics to your copy or even videos like interviews or a message from your headteacher – emails with visual elements are more likely to keep your audience’s attention.
- Include CTA’s – CTA’s are a great way to prompt your readers to sign up for your open day. Pepper them in at appropriate moments and don’t overuse them to get the best results.
- Write an informative email – make sure your email is clear, concise, and provides the information they need to know on the day. This can include everything from times, dates, and the daily itinerary to lunch options and parking on school property.
- Timing is everything – Make sure your emails are sent out in good time to boost awareness and visibility. Send your initial invitation 2 months beforehand, and plan regular reminders and invites up to 1 week before the event. Send the last email 1-2 days before the open day – include information on everything visitors need to know about the event
6. Use the power of social media
Although social media is not often a marketing tool that’s associated with education, it’s a great way to engage with your audience in a way that’s open and accessible. Social media is a great way to champion your school’s achievements and show new and prospective parents and students what your school is all about.
You’ll be able to post content news and blogs, share videos and images from key events and even hold Q&A sessions for prospective students and parents. However, it’s important to remember that, like your school’s website, your social platforms need to be as regularly updated as your content to keep it current.
Make sure your social media profiles are up to date, including your profile pictures and banners – these are usually the first things visitors see on your profile, so it’s worth adding new images from school events. And don’t forget to engage with prospective families by using branded hashtags, Instagram stories, and live video.
7. Create a video
Written content is a great tool to engage with prospective students and parents – but it’s not the only one. Video content is one of the most engaging mediums you can use; they’re great at grabbing people’s attention and even better at keeping it.
It’s also pretty flexible, allowing you to get creative with the kind of content you create. Why not make a promotion video? Or sit down for an interview with your headteacher and faculty members to ask about the school and their day to day work.
You could consider creating a short, exciting video outlining what an open day at your school looks like. Don’t forget to share it on your website, across social media and in your email marketing to get the most out of the content you create.
8. Paid social media and search adverts
A lot of schools don’t tend to use social campaigns as part of their marketing campaign, which is in some ways quite understandable; paid social can require constant monitoring and tweaking to make sure it’s optimised. But if done right, it can be an absolute game-changer when it comes to boosting awareness about your open day.
If you do opt to run your own ads, keep these tips in mind:
- Use Facebook pixel – A Facebook Pixel is a piece of code that can help you track your ad’s performance, helping you to build a more effective target audience and re-target for prospective families who have visited your site
- Use geo-targeting – Geo-targeting will allow you to advertise to prospective parents living within a certain geographical range of the school and parents who have children of the desired age range.
- Be flexible – Once it’s set up, it can be pretty easy to just let your paid social run its course. However, monitoring your campaign and making reactive changes will help you adapt your strategy more effectively and reach a wider audience.
- Adapt your copy – Paid social can help you get your ads in front of your audience, but effective copy is often the decider on if they click through. Vary your copy to find what works, and find new ways to catch your audience’s attention.
In addition to paid social media adverts, you could also invest in print adverts. Print ads can be expensive and not particularly targeted, so consider creating a new open day landing page/form specifically for your print ads. You can directly monitor the traffic from print ads vs. your digital ads to determine the smartest place to allocate your budget!
Start attracting open day visitors
In the fast paced world of school administration, digital marketing can be a simple and effective way to boost awareness about your school’s open day events.
But it’s just the tip of the iceberg; using digital marketing can completely change how your school interacts with multiple audiences, from prospective and existing students to other educational institutions and even your local community. As a result, taking the time to create and implement a digital marketing strategy is well worth the investment.
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