As one of your school website’s flagship pages, your admissions page plays a critical role in your school’s ability to connect with prospective families. The content, layout, image choice, and design all factor into a family’s decision to request more information, visit campus, and hopefully apply and enroll.
That said, over the years we’ve noticed a handful of choices on admission pages, that — like it or not — could be losing your school inquiries from the right-fit families.
Here are six trends most commonly appearing on independent school admission landing pages that you should totally nix — right now.
1. A standard "welcome" from your admissions team
A traditional "welcome" has been a long-standing formality on admission landing pages. But is that really your way to put your best foot forward? If "everyone else is doing it," shouldn't you do something to set yourself apart? And does anyone really read it?
When someone clicks on "Admissions" — whether it's from your navigation menu, search result, or ad — it's because they're interested in your school. A lengthy welcome letter isn't the best way to grab someone's attention.
Try this instead
Nix the letter and focus on selling value through testimonials, infographics, photos, and videos. But, if you're dead-set on having your admissions landing page be a welcome, focus on the voice and content of your welcome. For example, The Webb School creates a great first impression with a big, welcoming image that transitions to information about "Why Webb?", affordability, and opportunities to visit or apply.
There's a lot of information that's communicated visually with images, videos, and large call-to-action buttons, and that helps visitors get to where they want to go without having to read a lengthy letter — especially if they're on a mobile device.
2. Headshots of the admissions staff
Is the formal headshot of your director of admission really going to get someone to click that "Inquire Now" button? No.
Unless your director of admission is an extremely well-known and liked person in the industry or community, putting her or him at the helm of your admission marketing content isn't helping you. This kind of content does have its place — just not on your main admission landing page. While you do want to start creating relationships, the focus should be on families, not your team.
Try this instead
Create a lower-level page entitled "Meet our Admissions staff." On the page, include the headshots and contact information for each person on the team. In addition, ask your staff to provide a quick quote about what they love about your school or working in admissions to add some personalization, personality, and authenticity to the page.
The admission team members featured on the Germantown Friends School's virtual admissions page greet visitors with consistent, professional imagery that's paired with a brief profile that brings a lot of personality to the enrollment office. The "Meet the Team" page is just one stop on a full-service microsite, complete with admission events, staff profiles, admission calendars, a virtual tour, and a dozen differentiators that answer the question, "Why Germantown Friends School?"
3. Having only one call-to-action
If you went to a restaurant, and they only had one thing on the menu, and you didn't like it — wouldn't you leave? The same rationale applies to admission landing pages.
Having only one call-to-action — whether it be Apply or Inquire — limits visitors' options and causes high bounce rates because they couldn't find that "next step" they were ready for. Remember: families who are visiting your admissions page will be at different stages in the funnel. Offering multiple CTAs that speak to each stage like visit, inquire, start the enrollment process, or contact the admissions office, will make sure everyone has an option to select.
Try this instead
Think of the two types of prospective families visiting your admission pages: high-commitment and low-commitment visitors. High-commitment visitors are ready to apply, whereas low-commitment visitors are still shopping around.
Since high-commitment visitors are most likely ready to apply, have one call-to-action directed toward them. Then, appeal to your low-commitment visitors with two more calls-to-action: one that requires a form submission (like Inquire Now) and one that doesn't (like Take a Virtual Tour). This way, you're creating a logical "next step" for all site visitors, prompting higher engagement and conversions, rather than only catering to one type of visitor.
The Davis Academy does a great job at presenting multiple options for families: inquire, visit, apply, or give. It's effective because they can resonate with families at different stages of the funnel, but they're also found in multiple places throughout their site — it's easy to find in their site's footer, within the sticky navigation on the right-hand side, and also within the main navigation drop-down menu.
4. Really long, scripted videos
Most schools have acknowledged the importance of video and hopped on the admissions video bandwagon. But they're not always executed just right. Many schools have videos that are 5+ minutes in length and are a combination of narration and seemingly-scripted testimonials. The length isn't as bothersome as the content.
If they're not done right, highly produced, scripted videos can appear unnatural. They make things awkward, and your viewers can see right through it.
Try this instead
We all know how important that admissions video is — and how it should be strategically placed at the top of your admissions landing page. But the content also matters.
Come up with 3-5 questions that you think will help yield great responses. Then, set aside a day or two to interview 5-10 students, faculty, and parents and ask those 3-5 questions on video. Listen to the stories they share and the moments that meant the most to them. Then, compile those testimonials into a narrative that lasts 90 seconds to 3 minutes, and cover that narrative with video clips and photos that are representative of what is being discussed.
The University of Chicago Laboratory Schools features the voices of its students with a video on its admission page and it works really well —it's short, it's genuine, and it gives an unscripted look into student life and the programs.
5. Too much text
If you have a lot of text on your admission landing page, you probably have a lot of text within your school's website design, too. It's a hard habit to break. However, as we know — nobody reads anymore. And lots of text creates a poor user experience on mobile.
Try this instead
Consider how you can replace paragraphs of text with the following elements:
- A value statement: Summarize the value of your school's education and experiences in 1-2 sentences.
- Student, parent, and faculty testimonials
- A short video (60 seconds – 3 minutes) that speaks to the value of your school
- Condense and organize long paragraphs of text with tabs and accordions
- Fast facts as an infographic or design elements, like this:
6. An impersonal inquiry form that goes on forever…
Nothing can hurt your chances of a form submission from a prospective family than a long, impersonal inquiry form. Your school’s inquiry form should be short and sweet, and mobile-friendly, too. Asking for too much information upfront can scare families away — fast.
Try this instead
If you want to increase inquiries and conversion rates, collect only the critical information you’d need to start personalized communications with a prospective family. If you're using Finalsite's enrollment management system, SchoolAdmin, you can ask for information about a student's personal interests and enroll families into an automated workflow to nurture them during the admissions process.
Dock Mennonite Academy uses SchoolAdmin to collect information from prospective families and using just one form they can gauge a parent's interest in scheduling a day to visit, receiving an informational packet, scheduling a tour, or learning about financial aid. Making that form as personal and easy for families to submit streamlines the enrollment journey with just a few clicks.
Your admissions page should be telling an amazing story and serve as a way to connect with prospective families. Imagery, layout, content, and design all factor into a family’s decision to take the next step, so use this opportunity to communicate the value of your school, its people, and how you can offer an extraordinary experience for students and families.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Connor has spent the last decade within the field of marketing and communications, working with independent schools and colleges throughout New England. As Finalsite’s Senior Content Marketing Manager, Connor plans and executes marketing strategies and digital content across the web. A former photojournalist, he has a passion for digital media, storytelling, coffee, and creating content that connects.