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Use your independent school website to enhance your admissions process

29 November 2021 Katie Sixsmith

Your school website should be a key driver in your independent school’s admissions process.

You can use it to signpost prospective parents to the information they require and then channel them from initial interest to application.

We’ve put together a list of ways that you can use your independent school website to enhance your school admissions process.

Start with a dedicated landing page

Whether you’ve chosen to go for a bespoke admissions landing page or you're creating a standard page within your content management system, it’s important to make your admissions page easily accessible and identifiable.

The easiest way to do this is to have the admissions page as one of your top-level navigation items within your sitemap.

That way there is a clear link to it from every other page of your website via the main menu and visitors who are looking specifically for this information can find it in just one click.

You may wish to highlight the whole admissions journey with a bespoke landing page, like this great example by Rendcomb College or have it as a tiled navigation landing page to the key areas like Rupert House School have done. Alternatively, you could choose to go for a mixture of introductory text and quick links like Mowden Hall School or set the scene with clear call to actions and testimonials like this example on the Witham Hall website.

The possibilities really are endless with a bespoke design and one of our team will be able to talk you through the options that align closest with your goals and unique selling propositions.

Outline the admissions process

The admissions process often has many steps for prospective families from initial enquiries and registration to assessments and acceptance, depending on your school’s specific requirements and application criteria.

You want to make this journey as seamless as possible for your prospective families as, not only will it encourage them to take the steps, but it will also speed up the enquiry process and reduce the number of ad-hoc queries about what happens next.

You may choose to do this through a flowing journey diagram, like the one seen on Rendcomb College with pop-ups and links for each stage of the process or via a more creative method, such as this ‘tube map’ approach chosen by Marlborough House.

Sell your school

Your prospective families may be considering multiple schools as an option for their child, and unlike with state school applications, the location may not be the only consideration, especially if the child is going to be boarding. You need quick-fire, memorable reasons as to why prospective parent should choose your school for their child over one of your competitors.

Witham Hall Interactive MapContent

A great way to showcase your independent school to prospective parents is through video content such as that on The Cavendish School or through dynamic statistics like those seen on the St Gabriel’s website.

Interactive maps can also help to promote the location, facilities and overall feel of the school, especially if you include pop-up text, photos and videos within each of the hotspots on the map. See how they work for yourself with these brilliant examples from Witham Hall, The Pilgrims School and Leicester High School for Girls.

Commitment

If you are encouraging parents to relocate, then sharing content about starting a new school (see Pilgrims School) or relocating to your area (see Marlborough House) can be ideal for showcasing the benefits of making a larger life change. It also reinforces the idea that others have made this step before.

A dedicated FAQs page can also be great for answering all those questions that perhaps don’t naturally fit into a specific area but are often asked by visiting parents or during the application process. Rupert House has used accordion templates to make their FAQs quick and easy to access through a question/answer format.

Culture

Social proof is often a key factor in decision-making as it shows real life examples from real parents and students. It adds authenticity to your claims and can be great for highlighting specific areas of your offering such as your pastoral care, academic achievements or on-site facilities.

The easiest way to do this is through testimonials, either as block-quotes slotted into other pieces of content or a page of quotes as can be seen on St Benedicts and Barfield School. Don’t forget that quotes from your ISI report or The Good Schools Guide can also send a powerful message.

If your school offers boarding, you may wish to have a specific area or page relating to this area of your offering, as you will need to share information about accommodation, exeats, holidays, catering and additional fees.

Two great examples of bespoke boarding areas can be seen on Read School and Witham Hall.

Capture prospective parent details and share something in return

Gated content is the ideal way to capture information which you can later follow up on to nurture leads and encourage parents to consider your school for their child.

One of the ways you can do this is through a data capture form. They share their content details with you, even if it’s just their name, email address and the entry window they’re considering, and then you send them a prospectus (digitally or via the post) and/or book them in for a personalised visit to the school.

Russell House School and Radnor House School have some great examples of gated content forms on their websites.

The only caveat with gated forms is that you must make it extremely clear what purpose you are collecting the data for, how it will be processed and give them the option to opt in to receiving any communications if you intend to use their data for marketing purposes. This is in line with the GDPR and PECR regulations as set out by the Information Commissioners Office (ICO). You can find out more on these on the ICO website.

Streamline your application form

Once you have navigated your prospective parents through the admissions journey funnel, you’ve shown them around your school, talked to them about fees and encouraged them to apply, the next step is to get them to register.

An online registration form takes away all the pain of collecting physical forms, manual data entry and waiting for the post as it can all be completed, collated and downloaded directly from your school website.

Paginated form options are ideal for separating longer forms as they show the number of pages or percentage of progress which has completed. You can also set them to be saved and returned to later if required.

Warwick School and St Benedicts both use online registration to great effect, and you can even collect deposit payments through the content management payment functionality if required.

Make sure your site is search engine optimisation (SEO) savvy

There’s no point doing all the work to create a beautiful admissions page if no one gets to see it. To ensure you’re coming up in the top of the search engine rankings, you should aim to have clear and consistent content about each of the different stages of your admissions process, with visible links to the next step in the journey to encourage further exploration of your website.

You should aim to include the relevant keywords that you’d like to target, genuinely and authentically within your text to increase the likelihood of parents finding you through search engines.

Parents may search for ‘independent school near me’ which means you will have a geographical advantage if you’re close to them, but if you’re attracting pupils from all across the country, you need to make sure you hit the long-tail keywords too.

For example, if you’re an ‘outer London independent girls’ school’ then make reference to that within your website content too. You can find the keywords which users are searching for most often within the Google Keyword Planner which can be accessed via a Google Ads account.

 

Looking for a new website for your independent school or thinking about streamlining your admissions process? 

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