9 Easy Marketing Project Ideas to Conquer Over Winter Break
Mia Major

I don't know about you, but I LOVE the holidays. I live for holiday movie marathons, my mom's homemade cookies and candies that only come once a year, the decorations, the traditions and all the extra time together with my family and friends. Most importantly, I love the quiet at work. While everyone enjoys time off during the holidays, there is beauty in the silent nights days.

You're receiving fewer (work) emails, colleagues are checked out and parents are preoccupied with checking items off their own to-do lists rather than commenting on your Facebook posts.

As they say, not a creature is stirring, not even a mouse.

So, if you find yourself working during your school's winter break, it's best to use this time to be productive — catch up on all those to-do list items you always intend to get to, but you never have time for. We've outlined our top nine projects that are guaranteed to have a high impact, without a high time investment. Let's get started!

1. Rebuild Your Email Newsletter

School newsletters are one of the most effective ways to reach current families and alumni. However, if they aren’t optimized for mobile, don’t have relevant content, or are even visually appealing, then you might be missing out on a great opportunity to improve awareness about events, engage families, increase donations, or even improve retention.

For this winter break project, you'll focus on building new mobile-friendly email templates that can be used by your entire school or district community.

Projected Time Investment: 

  • 2 Hours/Newsletter

What You’ll Need:

Blogs to Guide the Way:


2. Give Your Tuition Page a Well-Deserved Makeover

For most schools, the tuition page is one of the top hit website pages — but is often given the least bit of attention. When this question popped up in our School Marketing Community Facebook Group just a couple of weeks ago, we knew that a tuition page overhaul had to make it on this list.

school marketing community question about tuition pages

We’ve been encouraging schools to improve their tuition pages since 2016 when we shared this blog for the first time. So if your tuition page still just lists how much it costs to go to your school, this project is for you!

Projected Time Investment: 

  • 2-3 Hours

What You’ll Need:

  • An understanding of your school’s tuition, costs, fees, financial aid, and scholarships
  • Access to photos, videos, and testimonials
  • Access to your school’s CMS

Blogs to Guide the Way:


3. Optimize Your Website's Meta Content for Search

Did you know that more than 90% of all online experiences begin in search — and 83% of searches begin with an unbranded term like "best school districts in Michigan." Ranking in the top results for these kinds of searches help you build awareness among prospective families and faculty — helping to fuel your recruitment strategies. While you can buy advertising space to land you at the top of a Google search, a search engine optimization strategy is a more affordable, long-term play.

Your site's meta content (AKA, title tags and meta descriptions) play a key role in your search engine optimization strategy. Well-crafted title tags can help improve your school’s performance in the searches that matter, while meta descriptions can help increase click-through rates. 

If I've lost you...maybe a visual will help!

All Boys School Title Tag and Meta Description Examples

A title tag is an HTML element that specifies the title of a web page. Title tags are displayed in search as the clickable headline (pictured above as the blue URL containing the school’s name). You often want this to be some combination of your school’s name and any keywords you wish to rank for. While these should be limited to 50-60 characters, if you go beyond that limit, just be sure the most important terms are at the beginning.

A meta description is a snippet of text of up to 160 characters that summarizes a page's content. As a best practice, your meta description should contain similar words to your title tag. These do not help improve your search ranking, but can help with click-through rates. If you use Finalsite Composer, managing your title tags and meta descriptions is easy. Toggle the gear button in the bottom right of your Composer editor, select “SEO” and edit away!

finalsite SEO settings good example

Projected Time Investment: 

  • 3-5 Minutes Per Page

What You’ll Need:

  • Keyword research: This is important! We don’t recommend blindly diving into this project — so having done some keyword research and having an understanding of the terms your school wants to rank for in search is essential. This may have already been done by a member of your marketing team, or perhaps an external agency if you've hired one. If you don't have any keyword research, let's start there. This blog outlines ten free tools you can use for keyword research.
  • This handy SEO worksheet
  • Access to your school’s CMS

Blogs to Guide the Way:


4. Take Some Time for Professional Development

Dig up all of those webinar recordings you've saved in your inbox over the course of the year — the time has come! If you have to be in the office this winter break, there's really no better time to focus on YOU. Whether you can dedicate one hour or a few full days, winter break is an ideal time to reset and feel inspired about your strategy in the new year.

Projected Time Investment: 

  • Up to you, but likely a minimum of one hour

What You’ll Need:


5. Create a Social Media Plan And/Or Calendar

Social media can be a major time commitment on a day-to-day or week-to-week basis. Use some free time during winter break to get ahead on your social media calendar and schedule content well in advance. (You could also use this time to first develop a social media plan or social media policy if your school currently lacks one.)

Projected Time Investment: 

  • 4-6 Hours

What You’ll Need:

Suggested Reading:

Free Download: the Complete Social Media Calendar for Schools


6. Book Time with Your Admissions Team

Here's the thing — parent expectations are higher than ever. Beginning with their first interaction with your school, all the way through re-enrollment, every interaction matters: from website mobile experiences to personalized enrollment processes — and the only way you'll be able to meet their expectations is to break down the silos between your marketing and admissions teams.

Use the time over winter break to brainstorm the ways your marketing and admissions teams could work better together. Then, look at calendars and coordinate a time for everyone to get together in the new year. The timing makes sense with peak admissions season right around the corner — and of course New Year's resolutions.

Projected Time Investment: 

  • 1-2 Hours (Or really, as much as you want.)

What You’ll Need:

  • An open mind : )
  • A shared document for note-taking

Suggested Reading:


7. Build Thank-You Pages for Important Forms

Thank you pages are one of the easiest, yet most effective projects you can work on! Thank you pages — which are the pages a website visitor would be redirected to after filling out a form — increase engagement and time spent on your website, while also providing an overall better user experience.

Ideally, you would have a thank you page for every form on your website. However, you might want to start off by creating thank you pages for your most important forms, such as those used for online giving, inquiries, or content downloads.

Projected Time Investment:

  • 30-60 Minutes/Page (Maybe less once you’ve made a few and get in the groove! Often, they can be cloned and reused, saving you lots of time.)

What You’ll Need:

  • Access to your school’s CMS
  • A list of your school’s most-used forms, and where on the site they are located

Suggested Reading:


8. Make Your News Section More Engaging

Your school’s news section is one of the most important sections of your website. It’s how you keep your current families and alumni in the loop, but also how you attract prospective families.

So if your news section is just a list of links that display a shadow box...definitely invest the time it takes to turn your news section into an engaging experience families love. Your news post page should also include links to additional reading as well as calls-to-action to other relevant content.

Projected Time Investment: 

  • 1-2 Hours

What You’ll Need:

  • Access to your school’s CMS

Suggested Reading:


9. Grade Your School’s Website

Projected Time Investment: 

  • 15 Minutes or Less

What You’ll Need:

  • Just your email address!

Project Overview:

If you’re planning on a website redesign in the new year, or maybe just making some improvements, starting with a free website report card or free 15-minute website consultation can help. Finalsite’s team of website experts has performed hundreds of website consultations and can provide you with suggestions and strategies that can make a big impact on ROI.

Want to get started? Choose the option that works best for you:


10. Bonus: Focus on YOU

Your projects are only successful when you are refreshed and have a clear mind. If you are working during the holidays this year, be sure to still take some time for your mental health — whether that means treating yourself to your favorite cup of coffee on the way to work, slipping out for a mid-afternoon walk with your dog, listening to a new podcast, or doing some lunchtime yoga. When you feel happy and rested, it's easy to get a new lease on your (work) life.


Key Takeaway

While you don’t have as much interrupted time as you do in the summer months to complete larger projects, these are some smaller projects that can make a huge impact! So, if you are working, make the most of your quieter time and tackle, one, two or a few of these great projects — and don't forget to give yourself a little T.L.C. too.


Schedule a Free 15-Minute Website Consult!


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Mia Major

As Finalsite's Director of Demand Generation, 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, eBooks, and reports, including Finalsite's Inbound Marketing Benchmark Report.

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