Appealing to the Online Behaviors of Modern Parents with Finalsite Modules
Lorrie Jackson

For independent schools, districts, and universities, the start of the school year often means two things: improving current parent (or student) communication and attracting new families to enroll for the next school year. And, while it’s easy to share what you think is important, it can be more effective to think of content from your users’ perspective: who are they, what do they want to know, and why?

Google recently highlighted three emerging traits of today’s online consumer: curious, demanding, and impatient. Understanding these traits and identifying Finalsite modules that best engage today’s user can help you reach today’s current and prospective families.

The Curious Consumer

“People have become research-obsessed, even about the small stuff.,” according to recent research from Google.

Whether picking the best hotel, car, or school, today’s families are apt to look at anything and everything online to help inform their decisions. The more information, the better. And, sometimes, that means they are looking in places on your website that you may not think about.

So, consider how you can use Finalsite modules to share the content they need to inform their decisions. Your website can be the trusted source for their questions about everything related to the general admissions process, to picking the right school, to even general parenting tips. It can also be a place where you sell the value of your school.

How? The Finalsite Posts module is an easy place to start. With Posts, you can highlight everyday content in extraordinary ways. You can share a story, a testimonial or quote — or well, anything in text — using Posts’ organization building blocks of Tags, Categories, and Galleries to create and re-purpose content across your website.


See what Finalsite Posts is all about in this free webinar on-demand.

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Here are a few examples from schools like yours that are using Posts to inform their curious communities:

Charlotte Latin uses Finalsite’s Posts to recap every team’s season in its Sports Round-Up page. The attractive layout and easy-to-navigate organization was all built on the fly by school staff.

Charlotte Latin School Sports Round-Up page on website

 

St. Anne’s-Belfield highlights what makes their school unique with a Quick Facts page using Posts. Click on an icon and details about that statistic appear in a Page Pop.

St. Anne's-Belfield School Quick Facts page on website

 

Park Tudor makes it simple to find the right camp for a family’s children based on ages and weeks on this page.

Park Tudor Summer Camps page

 

Maret School uses Posts to show a detailed curriculum guide, which replaced expensive, printable PDFs. You can read that case study here.

Maret School Curriculum Guide

 

The Demanding Consumer

“When people go online for information, they expect every experience to be tailored just for them.”

What’s the old sales adage? A customer’s favorite word to hear is her or his own name? Admission families want to know that a school knows them and their interests. Finalsite’s new Personalization element for Composer is one way you can customize content and tailor a user’s experience.

Schools can create segments – buckets if you will for users using a specific language or from a specific state or country – then add an element on a given page that displays content for that segment. Universities can share on-campus parking for their out-of-state vs local commuters, and boarding schools can add content, say, in Mandarin Chinese for those visiting the site from China.

Personalization is available now for Finalsite schools and soon we’ll offer yet another way to customize the user’s experience: Inbound Marketing. Starting with Messages, our rewrite of eNotify, we’ll soon add Email Workflows where your families interested in your school’s soccer program can get a series of soccer-focused emails. Add to this A/B Testing and more Personalized Elements specific to the Inbound Marketing module and you have a wide array of tools with which to customize your school’s website and online experience for admission families and beyond.

The Impatient Consumer

“We’ve seen that more and more people grab their smartphone to search for information to be more prepared or productive. And they expect the right results in real time.”

It’s probably no surprise that your website users are moving at a fast pace. Our task is to help users efficiently use what Google calls micro-moments: bursts of a few minutes or less in our day where we want to complete a task online. A mom waiting in carpool or in the doctor’s waiting room has just a few minutes to find out tuition costs or open house details. Why not make it as easy as possible for her and others to find exactly what they need when they need it?

Finalsite’s Advanced Site Search speeds up your users’ access to the content they are looking for in a number of ways:

  • Instant Results Preview – Like searching with Google, your families will see results pop up before they event finish typing
  • Expanded Search Areas – Results can pull from not just public page content (as in Basic Search) but can include private page content, published posts, calendar events, athletic teams and events, and resources
  • Synonym Management – Users could type “golf tourney” and then be directed to the formally named “Third Annual Alumni Tournament."
  • Search Analytics – Use data like total searches, overall top searches and more to help you rethink content to meet the demands of your website users.

Key Takeaway

Schools and districts need to think about how to target today’s curious, impatient, and demanding consumer — AKA, the modern parent. Using Finalsite’s modules, you can create a user experience that appeals to their consumer behaviors, keeping them informed, engaged, and happy. How are Finalsite modules helping your school with parent communications and admissions marketing? Let us know (by emailing blog@finalsite.com) and all the best for a successful and exciting start to your school year.


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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Sam

With 16 years of experience working with or in K-12 schools, Lorrie Jackson is a frequent presenter on marketing and communications for schools. Her chapter “Marketing Through Social Media” appears in the 2011 edition of The NAIS Handbook on Marketing Independent Schools. Lorrie served as a faculty member, technology coordinator, and marketing director as two TAIS schools before moving to Finalsite. She is a Senior Client Success Manager at the web solutions company, supporting the online marketing and communication needs of 175 schools throughout the Southeast.

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