- Independent Schools
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Finalsite introduced the Finalsite Double Diamond Awards at Finalsite University in Chicago earlier this year to recognize all the amazing work our school webmasters put into their websites to create compelling content with Finalsite modules and tools. The award show was also meant to inspire school professionals to take their websites in new directions, try new ideas, and explore different ways to use Finalsite’s communications tools and modules.
The fifth entry in our 10-part series recapping the Double Diamond Awards is the Content Offer Award. According to our survey research, only 20% of schools have a content offer — with the major hang-up being a lack of time. That being said, we had several excellent submissions to choose from for the award for “Best Content Offer,” — but, before we reveal the reasons why we chose the winners, let’s review what a content offer is.
A content offer is one of the most important components of inbound marketing. Its purpose is to generate leads from your school website — in many cases, the goal is to provide something of value to individuals who are not yet ready to inquire, visit, or apply, in exchange for their contact information. The more appealing and exclusive the offer is, the more willing families will be to provide the requested information. It is important to be creative and strategic when deciding on what your content offer should be, and most importantly, always consider your target audience and make sure it answers their question: “What’s in it for me?”
Examples of content offers include:
- Case studies
- Look books and viewbooks
- Interactive offers like games
Our judges thoroughly reviewed each submission for the content offer award, taking into account the type of content offer, target audience, how it is presented, how useful it is, and overall execution.
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1. St. Benedict Prep’s eBook
The content offer that unanimously impressed them the most was the ebook “Fr. Ed-isms: 6 Tested and True Insights to Raise Teenage Boys into Responsible and Resilient Young Men,” from St. Benedict's Preparatory School.
What did the judges love about this content offer?
The judges agreed that St. Benedict Prep’s eBook is a fantastic piece of content that speaks to the school’s target audience in a personal way. The clever title builds on the credibility of an established person in the community. Father Edwin Leahy, known as Father Ed to most, is a pillar in the Newark community. Not only is he a graduate of St. Benedict’s but he was also was responsible for reopening the school after it closed in the 60’s during the Newark Riots. In his tenure, he has transformed the future for thousands of urban youth and continues to do so with his teachings. In a city with a low graduation rate and an even lower percentage of residents earning college degrees, St. Benedict’s boasts a 98 percent graduation rate and 85 percent of students earn college degrees. The information in this ebook has a broad appeal, and is valuable to any parent of young men — including prospective parents (which is brand awareness, too), current families, and even alumni.
2. Calhoun School’s Guide
Another example of a fantastic content offer is from The Calhoun School. They offer a free guide entitled, “Eight Ways to Assess Your Child’s Growth in a Progressive (or any) School.” The guide answers a common question that they hear from parents, and they were sure to be inclusive by adding “(or any) school” to the title to give it a broader appeal.
What did the judge’s love about this offer?
The judges agreed that this eBook is a prime example of what a content offer should be: it demonstrates how The Calhoun School is the best place to educate your child without directly selling their school. While the guide is useful to all parents — not just prospective families — which increases the chances of this being promoted by word of mouth, it is excellent top-of-the-funnel (TOFU) content for acquiring new leads.
The Calhoun school also impressed the judges with their use of Forms. They kept their form short and sweet, but were sure to include important fields such as “ages of children.” This information will help the school be more personable and relevant in future communications. Great job to The Calhoun School!
3. St. Anne Episcopal School’s Viewbook
Our third example of a noteworthy content offer is from St. Anne’s Episcopal School: a stunning viewbook. Many schools invest time and resources into creating a printed (and PDF) version of a viewbook, and it makes for a fantastic piece of downloadable content, too. There’s no need to give it away for free without at least getting a name and email!
What did the judges love about this offer?
The judges loved the viewbook itself: the enticing language and the beautiful imagery made it easy for prospective parents to picture their son or daughter walking through the school’s red doors. Judges’ comments included, “When students enter through the red doors of St. Anne's Episcopal School, they embark on an educational journey that lays the foundation for intellectual growth, a strong sense of character, sound moral judgement, and the courage to lead.”
Not only did the school create an awesome content offer, but they truly understand the value exchange. Rather than requiring numerous form fields, they took a different approach with the form fields keeping it to just two fields: first name and email. Although they are not capturing information that will help them with targeted remarketing (at this stage), they are increasing the chances of their offer being downloaded by making the tradeoff simple.
Also notable was St. Anne’s Episcopal School thank you page, which takes the family journey into consideration. This page includes important links to next steps: complete an inquiry form, schedule a tour, complete the online application, and information on tuition assistance.
4. Saint Mary’s Hall’s Viewbook
Another inspiring downloadable viewbook came to us from Saint Mary’s Hall. The school did a fantastic job with their presentation of their viewbook.
What did the judge’s love about this offer?
The judges were most impressed with the description on the landing page of this content offer, which gave a clear and alluring depiction of what readers would learn from downloading it. The landing page makes the viewbook out to be a very enticing offer for a prospective family.
The viewbook’s form ensures that Saint Mary’s can send targeted and applicable future communications, which in turn will easily glide prospects through their inbound marketing funnel. However, form length is also something to pay careful attention to. If you are going to ask for more than three to five form fields on a content offer, you need to make sure your offer is really worthwhile.
So there you have it — four examples of noteworthy content offers. Feeling inspired and ready to create a content offer for your school? Follow the best practices implemented by these schools, including:
- Consider what your goal is and how you will reuse the captured data in your inbound marketing plan.
- Consider who your target audience is and focus on your school’s personas.
- Consider common “pain points” or questions from prospective families, and be sure your content offer answers them.
- Be creative and have fun!
- Make your content offer exclusive and worthwhile and be certain it answers the interested party’s question “What’s in it for me?”
- Keep the form succinct, and only require the fields that are necessary to reach your goals.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
As Finalsite’s Product Marketing Specialist, Andrew writes blogs and creates videos to share information about all the latest and greatest Finalsite products. Andrew has more than 10 years of video production experience and a journalism degree from the University of South Carolina. He has an incredible passion for movies, television, reading, and writing fantasy and science-fiction.
- Double Diamond Awards
- Inbound Marketing