The inspiration for these Marketing Matters comes from an article that was available several years ago at NewMediaCampaigns.com titled “10 Ways to Market Your Non-Profit Online.” (The page is no longer available.) Since your school is a non-profit, I’ve tweaked them a bit so that these items relate directly to your school and what you need to do to market it effectively in today’s technology-rich environment.
3) Let the people who care show that they care through testimonials and storytelling
Because non-profits like your school are more likely to have passionate supporters, it’s important to let those supporters show their support. Have a section of your school’s Web site reserved testimonials and positive stories. For instance, Bethany Christian School (https://bcsftl.org/testimonials) in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, has its testimonials from current parents on its Web site as a drop-down menu from the “About Us” navigation link. These could be accessed with a button right on its front page header which says, “See what families say about us!” so parents don’t have to go looking for it.
The original article advocates placing a link after each testimonial/story to a form that allows any reader to submit his or her own testimonial or story. While this will allow visitors to easily become a vocal advocate for your school, you need to make sure you can moderate these comments first. After all, someone might post something that’s unsavory about the school, or you may get one of those folks who completes every form he can find on the Internet with a few letters – except for the email address – to get into your school’s social network or Web site, attempting to grow a contact list. Further, today, with spiders that complete forms automatically for this purpose, you need an authentication step to prove that the form is being completed by a real person. Otherwise, your list may grow with spam emails that have no intention of checking out your school.
You might want to consider using video from your mobile device to post video testimonials about your school. When testimonials are extemporaneous and come from the heart, they’re compelling. Doing so also presumes that you have the permission of the person being recorded. If you post a picture and comments from a parent without their permission, they may become upset that you’ve used their likeness and words without asking them first, which could bring legal actions against your school.
4) Improve your email subscriber list with an email sign-up form.
Make it easy for visitors to give you their email address if they’re interested in hearing more from your school. An up-to-date email subscriber list is one of the most important factors in getting high open and click-through rates in email marketing campaigns. This can be accomplished easily today with a pop-up plugin that asks for the information. The original article says to only ask for one or two fields of identifying information to reduce visitors’ potential hesitance towards signing up, but that’s up to you. If you only put a name and email field on your site, then you have no idea who may be signing up. A few more fields of required information will help determine if they really want to become more engaged with your school, or if they’re trying to get on as many lists as they can to help their Internet business.
If a family really wants more information about your school to consider it for their child’s educational environment, they should be able to input this information into your inquiry form at the front of your Enrollment funnel. The email subscriber list is only for those that want to become more connected with the school. The subscriber list isn’t just for families that “might be” interested in enrolling their children in your school. This for is to engage members of the greater community – including alumni, businesses, community members (which include parents of alumni) and, of courese, donors – with your school.
© Michael V. Ziemski, SchoolAdvancement, 2011-2021 (Original Publication Date: 20110307)