- General Best Practices
Short attention spans, high expectations, and the availability of information means that now more than ever, you need to stand out. Your content needs to be thumb-stopping good! (In other words, good enough to get them to stop scrolling and engage with your content.)
Let’s cut to the chase: Here are my top five tips from the webinar to make your school’s content less “boring.”
- Do Your Research
- Keep it Short
- Make it Interactive
- Avoid Talking in the First Person
- Humanize Your Content
(If you want all ten tips shared in the webinar, download the on-demand webinar now!)
Before I share my top five tips, let’s define benchmarks you can use to measure the effectiveness of your content:
- High bounce rate: While bounce rates aren’t always an indication of boring content, high bounce rates on pages that should be engaging — like your homepage and key landing pages — often signify something just isn’t quite sticking with readers. For a point of reference, according to our in-house team of Internet marketers, anything in the 45-50% range for a bounce rate would be considered high.
- Low conversions: When conversions (form submissions) hit an all-time low, it may be proof that your content just isn’t engaging enough. For example, an inquiry page or giving page that historically performed well are no longer yielding the projected response, it may be time to evaluate that page’s content.
- Low open and click-through rates: If people aren’t opening your emails, your subject line is probably a little boring. If people are opening your emails but not engaging with your content, the email content might need your attention.
- Low engagement: Low engagement (defined by few or zero clicks, comments, likes, or shares) on social media can’t always be chalked up to boring content because there are way too many other factors at play (including the consequences of these dozen mistakes). But hey, it’s always worth looking into.
What Makes Content Boring?
Honestly, I don’t love to use the word “boring” because it really is a subjective term. Something boring to me might not be boring to you, and vice versa. But, there are some common threads among content that isn’t seeing the engagement you’d hoped for, including:
- A lack of relevance: The content doesn’t educate or entertain the user in a way they need or expect.
- A lack of timeliness: The content is something the user has seen before or is no longer “new.”
- It’s too long: The content will take too long to read/watch — and the user knows that. This is especially true on mobile.
- The content itself is a little vanilla: If the content itself is just a little bland, it might not get the desired results.
Remember: even the most “boring” content doesn’t have to be boring! Think about those pages on your website that are inherently boring...like shuttle service, tuition, lunch menus. Even though this content is often cut-and-dry, you can find ways to spice it up as these pages are some of the most-visited on your site! .Take Singapore American School’s shuttle service page, for example. They simply could have listed the information about their bus services — but instead they used it as an opportunity to be creative!
If Singapore American School can make busses sound interesting, trust me when I say, you can make anything not “boring!” Now let’s dive into the top five tips from the webinar: 10 Ways to Make Your Content Less Boring.
Download a free copy of the webinar and listen for yourself!
Combat Boring Content with These Five Tips
1. Do Your Research
If your audience is finding your content to be boring, you probably didn’t do enough research on what they would find to be interesting! According to our Inbound Marketing Benchmark Report, less than ⅓ of schools have created personas — which means more than ⅔ of school marketers are creating content without really thinking about who it’s for.
Create Personas: If you’re like most school marketers and you haven’t created personas, this is a must! Personas help you identify the obstacles, goals, questions, etc. of your prospective and current community. When you have a deeper understanding of who makes up your target audience, what content they enjoy most, and where they spend their time, relevance and timeliness becomes second nature.
Conduct Surveys: Ask your community what they like (and don’t like!) about your content. Or better yet, ask them exactly what they’d like to see more of.
Review Data: Analyze the metrics of content you’ve shared on your website, social media, and in emails. It can be assumed that content with higher engagement is the content your community enjoys the most.
Engaging content looks like...
- Links that have the most clicks in emails.
- Posts with the most likes, comments, and/or shares on social media.
- Pages with the most traffic and time spent on page on your website.
2. Keep it Short
The average attention span of your audience is just a few seconds (seven for millennials and eight for gen z). Wondering how many words that actually translates to? One study from Nielson Norman found that visitors will only read about 20% of your content on a particular website page.
Keeping this in mind, you want to make sure the most important 20% gets read! On your website and in your emails, break up text-heavy paragraphs with engaging visuals and calls-to-action. Use headlines to make important content easy to read. And, use bulleted lists as often as possible, and use accordions and tabs to organize lengthier content.
Here are a few great examples:
While you have so much to say about your school, how much of it is really relevant to prospective families? Nerinx Hall’s “About” page does an excellent job of keeping in mind that a visitors like to scan content. The use of videos, infographics, bold words and bulleted lists makes it easy to pull out key content, quickly.
International School of Basel
Faculty recruitment is mission-critical topic at international schools as recruiting and retaining amazing faculty isn’t always easy. Therefore, website pages geared towards faculty recruitment should be both lively and informative.
International School of Basel strikes a nice balance by keeping content short, organized, and visually compelling.
3. Make it Interactive
Stagnant pieces of content can end up being boring, even when the content itself is interesting or important. Interactive content brings the information to life by giving your audience a way to engage with the content, rather than just reading or viewing it. And there’s plenty of data that backs up its effectiveness!
- 88% of marketers said interactive content differentiates them from competitors
- 93% of marketers agreed that interactive content better educates consumers than static content
- 51% of marketers agree that online calculators are the most effective piece of content during the consideration stage of the funnel
Here are a few great examples:
Rectory School - Tuition Estimator
Episcopal Collegiate School also created a tuition estimator using Finalsite Forms. You can check it out here!
Maret School - Curriculum Guide
Take your academics pages for example — very important, but inherently, a bit dry. Maret School created this interactive curriculum guide using Finalsite Posts to enhance the user experience.
International School of Johannesburg - Demographic Map
The International School of Johannesburg turned demographic information about nationalities into an interactive map on their homepage — rather than just listing facts and figures.
4. Avoid Talking in the First Person
Is your school’s content usually written in the first person? It’s usually our nature to write “our school…” and “we can help by…” but the impact is greater when you write in the third person.
Consider the following statement I found on a school’s website:
“We are nationally recognized for providing boundless opportunities in which students can learn and grow.”
There is nothing wrong with this statement. It is well written and compelling. But, look at the difference when we switch from speaking in first person plural, to using a declaration:
“Learn, grow and explore boundless opportunities in nationally-recognized academic programs.”
It quickly becomes less about the school itself, and more about its website visitors, which automatically is more engaging.
Here are a few great examples:
Turn a state about your school into a statement from a student about your school, as Nerinx Hall does on their homepage here:
Park School uses quotes from parents, students, and faculty to tell their school’s story, rather than their marketing team.
5. Humanize Your Content
People want to engage with content that resonates with them and that they can relate to. This means using candid photography, obtaining and sharing authentic testimonials, and writing in a conversational tone.
Here are a few great examples:
Latin School of Chicago
This faculty directory uses candid, personal photos of faculty and staff, rather than the standard headshot. The directory itself reads: “Two qualities our faculty and staff share: an unmistakable warmth and affection for their students and a commitment to ensuring that everyone feels successful.” The faculty directory is representative of this.
Clarkston Community Schools
Humanizing your head of school, principal or superintendent can go a long way when it comes to building trust. You can just feel the warmth in this “Happy Thanksgiving” letter from the district’s superintendent, which took a conversational approach.
If you feel like your content is “boring” the first step is to do some research to figure out what your target personas would find interesting. Once you’ve developed personas, it’s important to keep it short, make it visual, and use a conversational tone as much as possible. If you’re looking for more tips for creating more engaging (and less boring!) content, download the on-demand webinar now.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
As Finalsite's Content Marketing Manager, 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, and Finalsite's popular eBook, The Website Redesign Playbook.
- Content Marketing