- Independent Schools
Research indicates that tuition pages have some of the highest traffic and bounce rates on a school's website. This doesn't necessarily mean you're doing something wrong. Tuition pages are transactional — meaning, website visitors come, they get the information they need, and they leave. It doesn't necessarily mean they aren't interested. It just means they found what they were looking for and moved on.
With that in mind, it's important to not just chalk a low-performing tuition page up to the transactional nature. A well-structured tuition page with content that sells value is proven to increase engagement and lower bounce rates.
Here are our top four simple enhancements to to your school's tuition page that will encourage prospective families to stay and explore, rather than "bounce":
- Sell your value before your name your price
- Add relevant content offer to earn a conversion
- Include at least two relevant calls-to-action
- Structure your tuition page to discuss affordability and financial aid first
1. Sell your value before you name your price
Your tuition page is a great place to answer the question "why attend your school?" for two main reasons:
- Sticker shock is real — especially in today's uncertain economy. For families considering private school, the actual cost can come as a surprise, resulting in high bounce rates. So, it's essential to first talk about what makes your school special, before you start listing facts and figures.
- Tuition pages not only have a high bounce rate, but also a high entrance rate — meaning many families enter your website through this page. Getting new families into the funnel relies on sharing your "why" — and your tuition page is a great place to do just that!
Through a strategic combination of content and page structure, you can effectively sell the value of your school's education before sharing costs.
Harpeth Hall, a top all-girls school in Nashville, TN, does a great job of discussing what makes their school special before listing tuition costs on their tuition and financial aid page. Before sharing the school's facts and figures, visitors are encouraged to read about the school's commitment to offering financial aid, and watch a video called "Why We Chose Harpeth Hall."
This content — which sells the value of the school — precedes the tuition information. And, even once you get to the tuition section of the landing page, the content on the right further justifies the investment.
Keep scrolling and you will find additional information about financial aid, important financial aid dates, and additional testimonials from students to sell value.
Now, if you're wondering how all this additional content might affect the Google snippet that appears when someone searches for "your school + tuition" — it won't. (Or, at least, it shouldn't.)
Here is the search result for "harpeth hall tuition":
The Odyssey School, a school for children with dyslexia, also does a great job selling value before sharing tuition information. The page doesn't feel muddied down with "fluff" and strictly focuses on selling value through authentic parent testimonials in both video and text.
Stuart Country Day School also takes a similar approach — but there's something subtle and brilliant about this page that makes it different than all the rest: the header image! Seeing those girls donning the sweatshirts of where they are going to college is a subtle nod to value that speaks volumes.
2. Add relevant content offer to earn a conversion
Understanding what your prospective families are thinking about when they visit your school's tuition page can help you craft a better user experience on this top-hit page — because it doesn't just have to be transactional. You can offer something beyond facts and figures.
For most families, researching tuition comes smack dab in the middle of the admissions funnel, deep into the consideration phase. So, while you've made it into a family's list of top contenders — at this point, they really start doing their research. They are beyond "is private school right for me?" and into "how can I afford private school?" And, that question extends beyond affording your private school.
That being said, not everyone who visits your tuition and financial aid page is ready for a big next step — such as "inquire" or "apply." But, they might be ready to further educate themselves on choosing (and affording) the right private school — and you can provide content to help them! It will build trust in your school and help get prospective families in your funnel earlier on.
For example, Hebron Academy's "Why Pay" eBook would be a fantastic content offer to add to the school's tuition and financial aid page as it is "designed to explore the value of private school education." Perfect!
Similarly, Hudson Montessori's eBook with 25 questions to ask every private school admissions team in your hunt is another example of a great content offer for a tuition and financial aid page.
The primary benefit of earning a conversion at this stage of the funnel is the ability to nurture this contact with additional content around affordability, financial aid, and overall school experience via an email drip campaign.
3. Include at least two relevant calls-to-action
No content? No problem. While content offers are great for getting new contacts in your admissions funnel, simply adding relevant calls-to-action to your tuition page can help decrease bounce rate and increase conversions.
While you may feel inclined to offer standard calls-to-action such as "inquire" or "apply," we encourage you to think about how you may reach families earlier on in the decision-making process. Some additional calls-to-action to include on this page include:
- Read (or subscribe to) our blog
- Take a virtual tour
- Request a 1:1 meeting
- Download a viewbook
- Read family stories
- Watch a video
- Meet the faculty
In this case, it is important to offer more than one call-to-action to reach a wider audience. However, don't go call-to-action-crazy! Two options is plenty. Three is okay — but anything more would be downright confusing.
Pro tip: Use a timed page pop! Using Finalsite's timed page pop functionality, you can display a notification and call-to-action after someone has scrolled 50% of the way down the page, or at least have stayed on your page for seven seconds. This is a great place to promote a content offer (if you have it), share a video, or offer a logical next step!
4. Structure your tuition page to discuss affordability and financial aid first
Shifting the conversation from, "this is how much our school costs" to, "this is how you can afford our school" can help increase engagement and time spent on your website.
The Summit Country Day School in Cincinnati, OH heavily focuses on the message of affordability for their audience through eloquent website content and a bold video that says "Think you can't afford the summit? Think again."
For families on the fence about affording private school, this page's written and video content speaks volumes.
The Episcopal Academy in Newtown Square, PA also takes this approach with their "Affording EA" landing page. While the tuition information is still very easy to find, the school addresses the concept of affordability first.
To help prospective families really get a glimpse into whether or not they can truly afford the school, Latin School of Chicago details numerous financial aid scenarios on their tuition and financial aid page.
And if you're looking to create something interactive for your prospective families, Rectory School's tuition estimator built using Finalsite's Forms Manager is a simple and easy way to engage families who may be wondering how their income will affect tuition costs.
In addition to structuring your page to focus on affordability, according to psychology experts, you can also do the following to "soften the blow":
Ditch the dollar signs. According to a 2009 Cornell University study, upscale restaurant menus that contained the word "dollars" or dollar signs resulted in less spending, than those who simply listed the price (‘24’ vs. ‘$24’). Psychologists chalk this phenomenon with information overload: words and symbols are additional pieces of information for consumers to process.
Reduce the font size. Don't make the text so small your website visitors can't read or see it — but do consider the size of the font in relation to other text on the page itself.
For example, on this tuition page from Westridge School in California, the font used for the tuition is easily readable, but small in comparison to the "Financial Aid" content.
Bonus Tip: Consider the cost (and value!) of virtual learning
As we look ahead, distance learning and virtual classrooms will be a long-term addition to in-classroom learning. How could your school's tuition structure adapt to reach new families who may have not been able to afford your school's in-classroom experience? We're hearing from our schools around the world that a separate tuition option for virtual learning or hybrid learning may make private school education more available than ever before. If your school is leaning towards a distance learning model, be sure to discuss how virtual learning tuition may differ than in-person day tuition.
Remember that it isn't about hiding the cost of your school's education, it's about selling the value of your school's education and providing families with important information to help them make their decision. By strategically structuring your page content and offering relevant calls-to-action you can earn trust, improve engagement, increase time spent on your website, and ultimately get more families in your funnel.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
As Finalsite's director of demand generation, Mia plans and executes a variety of inbound marketing and digital content strategies. As a former TV and news reporter, freelance cinematographer and certified inbound marketer, Mia specializes in helping schools find new ways to share their stories online through web design, social media, copywriting, photography and videography. She is the author of numerous blogs, eBooks, and reports, including Finalsite's Inbound Marketing Benchmark Report.
- Conversion Rate Optimization