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How to Calculate the ROI of a School Website Redesign
Debbie Eisenach

A new school website can be a significant investment of time, resources, and in some cases, finances. While there are redesign options for every timeframe and budget, understanding how your investment impacts your school’s bottom line is an important first step when considering a website redesign.

Like with all investments, it’s important to understand what your goals are before you decide on your budget. During the past few years, the purpose of a school’s website has expanded dramatically beyond being the primary tool for admissions: it’s been the crisis communication hub, the hybrid/virtual digital campus, and the virtual admissions hub, all requiring collaboration and integration between departments from marketing and admissions, to IT and academics.

But what you should invest, and how do you calculate the return on investment (ROI) of a school website redesign?

Defining Your Return on Investment

Our team speaks with school leaders around the world, from public school districts and charter schools to independent and international schools. While calculating the ROI of your school website can be a bit nuanced, there are a few ways the schools we work with define the return on their investment, including:

  1. An increase in inquiries and applicants 
  2. Saving time through email workflows, integrations, mass notifications, and C.O.P.E.
  3. Improving retention through parent satisfaction

1. An Increase in inquiries and applicants

Increasing inquiries and enrollment is one of the top reasons schools contact Finalsite in the first place—it’s an important data point that is often measured and reviewed after launching a new website. As reported in Finalsite client stories, some schools that redesign have seen a 50% increase in website visitors and an average of 40% increase in inquiries, leading to an increase in applicants. Goals achieved!

That’s because creating a healthy admissions pipeline of new families starts with your website. An outdated website can have huge impacts on enrollment and retention and goes beyond just first impressions. Yes, the homepage matters and it needs to engage and inform visitors with compelling content while providing clear direction as to where to go next, but once users dig deeper, landing pages also need to share your story and sell value.

After partnering with Finalsite for their website, the team at St. Thomas School in Washington also entrusted our consulting team with their search engine marketing—a collaboration that resulted in a:

  • 40% increase in applications
  • 37% increase in inquiries
  • 37% increase in new student enrollment

Read more about St. Thomas School’s success story 

Questions to consider:

  • How quickly can prospective families get to important pages?
  • Are those pages selling the value of your school? 
  • Do visitors know the next steps?


2. Saving Time Through Email Workflows, Mass Notifications, Integrations, and C.O.P.E.

Inefficient processes that waste time, waste money and cause errors no longer need to be the norm. Technology continues to advance enabling schools to become more efficient without having to hire more people—and that saves resources. By implementing simple things like online forms to more streamlined processes like C.O.P.E. (create once, publish everywhere),  you can free up valuable time and resources and focus on more strategic goals.

Saigon South International School invested in automated email workflows to drive their inbound marketing efforts and achieved immediate success.

“With the inbound marketing process, we have gained a level of sophistication and professionalism through branded and beautiful emails, the efficiency of email workflows, and most of all, our ability to sell the value of our school by showing all the great things we offer and not just telling prospective families,” said Katie Rigney-Zimmermann, director of admissions, marketing, and communications. “Our team of three processes over 800 applications a year, so by integrating we are working smarter, saving time, reducing errors and improving the impact of our marketing efforts.”

Questions to consider:

3. Improving Retention Through Parent Satisfaction

In our Recipe for Retention ebook, we share retention statistics, including the average attrition rate, which sits around 10%. That means the average-sized school (around 180 students) will lose 16-17 students per year. Based on the average annual tuition of $11,000 for an independent K-12 school, that comes out to a whopping $176,000 per year of lost revenue.

With tuition dollars making up the majority of most school budgets, marketing to current families requires the same energy and passion you initially showed prospective parents. It’s not about just getting them to re-enroll every year—it’s an ongoing effort that continually reinforces why they chose your school in the first place. Remember: it costs more time, money, and resources to find new families than it does to keep your current families enrolled. Retention efforts should be a large part of your enrollment strategy.

Questions to consider:

  • How often do you remind parents of the value of their investment in your school? 
  • Are your parent satisfaction numbers going up or down? 
  • Do you have a parent portal that makes it easy for families to find what they need?

With your website at the core of your efforts, combined with social media, email marketing, a parent portal, and a mobile app, you can successfully engage families throughout the year so that when it comes time to re-enroll, they happily say "yes."

Justifying your investment

This infographic walks you through the most common way schools justify their new website. 

Website sessions graphic

Per the 2021 Niche PK-12 Education Website Benchmarks, private K-12 schools average 191,125 website sessions per year.

Increase in Website Traffic: 50% increase in web traffic

Based on Finalsite client case studies, schools on average increase website traffic by 50% leading to over 95,000 new sessions. With all those new eyes on your new website, your inquiries go up along with applicants.

40% increase in inquiries, 158 additional inquiries

The National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS) Data and Analysis Report for School Leadership reported schools average 396 inquiries per year. Finalsite schools report upwards of a 40% increase in inquiries with their new website which in this example would mean 158 additional inquiries. Applying the NAIS 46.9% application rate, 74 additional applicants could lead to 35 new students based on the accepted (69.3%) and enrollment rates (68.8%). 

35 new students (x) $25,000 average tuition (=) $875,000 additional revenue

Using a tuition of $25,000, with 35 new students, your revenue would increase by $875,000 per year. 

Key Takeaway

While calculating the ROI of a school website includes a variety of factors, one thing is clear: you need a website that is built to attract new families, save your team time, and convert and retain families. If you’d like help in building your new website, let our team of school marketing experts guide you.

Meet With a Website Expert | Finalsite


Debbie Eisenach

As part of Finalsite's marketing team, Debbie has worked with international schools for the past 11 years while living in both Asia and Europe. She helps schools understand how they can maximize their web presence while partnering with Finalsite. As a parent of three children who graduated from IB World Schools, she has keen insights into the marketing and communication needs of international schools.

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