- General Best Practices
- Independent Schools
What should your school have in common with Curt Gowdy, Michael Lerner and Thomas M. Gifford to be successful?
An impressive knack for fishing.
Okay — no, not literally. However, marketing does remind me of fishing. It requires patience, skill, knowledge, a hook, bait, good timing, and of course, some good luck. It could take even an experienced fisherman hours to get one good catch — just as it could take your school days to reel in one solid lead.
But as I sift through school websites looking for new trends and ideas, I've noticed something pretty consistent: while you may be good at fishing, catch and release is your chosen strategy.
Once you've gotten a lead to convert — inquire, donate, apply, sign up for an open house — you just let them go. There's no follow-up, no thank you page. Nothing. Just some standard "Thanks for inquiring" message that you whipped together in eight seconds as an afterthought. And that's just a lost opportunity.
All fish analogies aside, thank you pages are critical for brand awareness, engagement, inbound marketing, and that oh-so-important admission funnel. They keep families engaged in your funnel, and prevent them from just leaving your website. They provide you with an opportunity to capitalize on the momentum of the conversion, not just let it go. The best part about thank you pages is that they are so easy to create (especially if you use Finalsite's Content Management System, Composer). Thank you pages can be created in five minutes or less, but offer a huge opportunity to further nurture leads and gain more conversions. So, when you consider the ROI, creating thank you pages is a project that should definitely be on your to-do list for every form on your website, including:
- Inquiry forms
- Online giving forms
- Application forms
- Content offer download forms
- Event registration forms
- Email subscription forms
If you want to create thank you pages for your website forms, follow these seven simple best practices guaranteed to nudge families through your funnel.
1. Literally say "Thank You"
It's important to begin with a message of gratitude. This both confirms the form's submission, as well as humanizes your school. This goes beyond a simple "Thank you. Your donation has been received."
For example, on an Annual Fund thank you page, put together a quick "Thank you" video from students and faculty, or put together an infographic that pinpoints where donations went to last year. It is reinforcement that they just made a great decision. Or, repurpose a video that showcases where their donation goes, as Hawaii Preparatory Academy does here:
Similarly, for an inquiry form thank you page, be sure that your "thank you" encompasses some piece of your school's brand and personality. Use this as an opportunity to stand out with a fun message, image, GIF, or video.
The Ultimate Website Optimization Guide for Independent Schools
2. Display Your Regular Navigation
Unlike landing pages, where we suggest ditching your website navigation to prevent them from leaving, in most cases, this is a good next step on a thank you page. It allows them to stick around and explore more content on your site.
Saint Mary's Hall does a nice job incorporating their regular navigation, along with a few Calls-to-Action that would be a logical next step. (Also how awesome is their custom image?!)
3. Explain a Follow-Up Process
Will someone from the admissions team be contacting the family shortly? Will a parent soon be receiving documents for her or his tax refund?
Use this page as your opportunity to explain what happens next, now that a user has submitted a form. Remember to keep it short and sweet, and if possible, link to other pages on your website to keep them just a little bit longer.
4. Provide Logical Next Steps
What would be the logical next step in someone's journey based on their form submission? The answer to this question should be different for almost every form, and therefore, you'll need to create different thank you pages for your various purposes. For example, if someone downloads a content offer for an admissions viewbook, it would make sense to pull in upcoming admissions events like an open house. But, if someone registered for an open house, you wouldn't want to have your thank you page invite them to an open house.
St. Anne's School created one of the best thank you pages we've seen as a follow-up for their viewbook download. The page includes a link to download the viewbook, as well as important information about the school and links for the next steps in the process.
Logical next steps might also come in the form of content, such as blog posts or other downloadable conten pieces. If you use Finalsite Posts, you can easily pull in relevant content to your thank you page to provide additional next steps.
5. Add Social Sharing Buttons
Thanks to social media, people love to share every single thing they're doing. Thank you pages for crowdfunding campaigns, the annual fund, events, and open houses are great pages to place social sharing buttons.
Prompt visitors to "share" what they just did on social media, and provide them with a pre-written message like: "I just donated to St. Joe's #Crowd4Joe campaign. You should too! [Link]"
It is a quick, easy and effective way to get the word out and get even more traffic to your landing pages.
6. Use a PagePop to Draw Extra Attention to a Call-to-Action
Page Pops are a great way to draw your website visitor's attention to something quickly. It should be something simple — such as a newsletter subscription — and low committal. If they filled out an inquiry form, don't ask them to apply. A page pop informing them about an upcoming open house would be relevant if they inquired, or even something that prompts users to download additional content.
At Finalsite, we've had success by adding a call-to-action to subscribe to our blog in a page pop to all of our thank you pages. As a matter-of-fact, when we first implemented this strategy, we doubled our blog subscribers in a month. The page pop also continues to help us grow our subscribers each and every day.
7. Don't Just Stop with a Thank You Page
Extend communications to email, as well. If you use Forms Manager, it's easy to automatically send a follow-up email that contains similar contents as your thank you page, but also ends up in their inbox. This simple step gives you one more opportunity to earn another conversion, without requiring the individual to visit your website again.
In addition to a simple follow-up email, we recommend building an automated email marketing campaign to nurture form submitters down the funnel to another conversion.
With "thank you pages," a little effort goes a long way. Re-use content. Bring in dynamic content, such as news stories, to save you time and effort. When you implement these strategies, you open the door to increase conversions, engagement, brand awareness — and eventually enrollment.
And that's what all this effort is about anyway, right?
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.
- Inbound Marketing
- Landing Pages