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The One Tool You Need to Increase Independent School Open House Attendance
Sarah Van Tiem

Rebecca Eckstein, Vice President for Admissions at Woodward Academy in suburban Atlanta, knows a bit about attracting prospective families. After all, during Woodward's open houses in October 2015, the school welcomed about 2,400 visitors to the school's campus —

— a number that reflects a 20% increase in attendance from last year.

Woodward Academy Admissions

How did Rebecca and her team do it? Some of you might be thinking, "Well, Woodward is the largest independent school in the continental U.S. Of course they get tons of visitors."

True, Woodward is big. Also true: Woodward successfully uses many promotional strategies including direct mail, television ads, Facebook, billboards. Billboards!

Billboards and television spots are nice and all, but how does Rebecca explain the presence of hundreds more curious visitors than previous years? And how does Finalsite fit into this scenario?

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Two little alliterative words: Page Pops.

For those of you unfamiliar with the term, Page Pops are customizable pop-ups that can appear on any page of a school's website to promote an event, make an importance announcement, or in Woodward's case — drive open house attendance.

Last summer, when Finalsite helped Woodward redesign its website on Composer, the school already planned to use many of its modules to full effect to improve its online presence. One of the simplest modules to use for this purpose? Page Pops, of course.

In short, when someone visited, he or she was immediately greeted by an eye-catching page pop, promoting the fall open house. Users could click on the brief message that pops onto the page and voila— the open house registration form appeared.

That kind of simplicity, in combination with a fresh new look, translated to an impressive surge in attendance.

"I really wanted parents to be able to sign up for our open house quickly and easily, so we put a page pop with a link to the registration form right up front," said Rebecca.

"In years past, she said, some prospective parents had trouble even finding the registration form. Not good. This year, the registration process was crystal clear and immediate."

Page Pops aren't just snazzy ways to direct a potential parent to a registration form, though. They can enhance school-home communication in all sorts of ways: to spread the word about inclement weather closures, announce big school news such as a championship victory or extend a holiday greeting.

Simple and direct: page pops help keep a school's site fresh and dynamic.

Rebecca plans to use the page-pop registration technique next year as well. "Any time you can get more visitors on campus, that's definitely a plus. We're so happy we went that route."

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