Challenging traditional marketing approaches, combined with a new website – the International School Ho Chi Minh increases website inquiries by 30%.
The International School Ho Chi Minh City (ISHCMC), part of the Cognita Group, is a progressive IB World School that encourages a balance between academic achievement and the development of the whole child. It is the first international school in Ho Chi Minh City with 23 years of education innovation, and over one thousand students from over 50 nationalities call this vibrant community home.
One Community, Two Campuses
With a growing international school landscape in Vietnam, ISHCMC is opening a second state-of-the-art campus this Fall to enable more students to benefit from their unique culture and mission. This vision includes providing children the opportunity in which students and teachers seek to achieve beyond their goals, flourish as individuals, display compassion, embrace challenges, take principled action on local and global issues and enjoy being part of their community.
The new Secondary Campus will provide a 21st century learning environment with technologically advanced classrooms, collaborative learning spaces and senior student study areas. It also considers their physical health with full scale sports facilities as well as a clean air system. At the same time, the existing campus is undergoing major improvements to better suit the needs of the primary school.
With so much happening at the school, we still found time to sit down with Tara Oldfield, Director of Marketing and Communications, to learn more about their new website. Tara explained that with changes in their marketing structure and issues with their previous website, they had the opportunity to update and refresh their website, but with an extremely tight timeline. Tara and her team took on the challenge and methodically tackled the tasks at hand to deliver a site in time for their peak admissions season. Their hard work paid off as their website inquiries have increased over 30% compared to last year's first quarter.
A true multi-tasker and experienced marketer, she started on the key components including: the site map, new messaging and new content, a very detailed design brief with samples, as well as new photos and videos. Tara said, "our design brief was so clear anyone could follow it. We spent a lot of time on it and included screen shots of sites and features that we liked and would work well for us." This groundwork enabled ISHCMC to do what to many schools would seem impossible – launch a new website in under two months.
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It Started with a Finalsite Theme
Tara explained they did not have the luxury of designing a website from scratch so evaluated various options to meet their timeline. She was pleased to learn about Finalsite Themes, as they would help them meet their tight timeline, however the school's management was reluctant to choose a theme. Tara meticulously evaluated the entire theme library finding one that she felt would work, and once Finalsite showcased the branded theme to their management, she successfully won the approval to go ahead with the website.
Finalsite delivered the theme in under two weeks and since Tara had much of the content already prepared, she along with her Graphic Designer, Long Ngoc, started populating the new site using Finalsite's Content Management System, Composer. Tara explained that the system was easy to use so they had no major problems and managed to move the content over in a record breaking two days.
Amazing Results in Record Time
Tara focused on utilizing her online marketing tools. The website was a critical component of her plan along with online engagement via social media. Tara stressed that "as part of the plan, we needed new copy, photographs and videos to showcase life at ISHCMC and showcase what makes us unique from the other schools. If it was not done well I felt it was not worth doing."
Their previous website was quite archaic so they wanted a more streamlined and modern looking website with very polished content. From the minute a visitor lands on the homepage, the school comes to life and engages visitors to explore further. Equally important to the first impressions of this site is having current and relevant content. To facilitate this, their senior management team, along with other key department heads, are able to contribute to the site's content. However, before anything gets published to the live site, it goes through final approval by Tara.
One of the more popular features of the new site is the virtual tour where visitors get a firsthand view of the school. Tara stressed the importance of this so that prospective families can virtually visit the school prior to physically stepping on campus.
Looking to the future
The feedback has been great from current parents and potential families. Adrian Watts, Head of School, even received compliments at a recruitment fair two days after the site went live. The new faculty hire explained that the site sold him on working at the school and was a great recruitment tool.
Tara summarized that their primary focus was for a marketing website to reach prospective families. "The essentials are there and we have made huge progress, but this is really only the first phase of the website development," she said. "We are looking to add further content including testimonials from students, parents and alumni." With the Finalsite platform she is confident that they can easily expand the website on their own
to meet their growing needs and future goals. They showcased their new site through a sponsored Facebook post and reached over 10,700 viewers.
"Our new Finalsite website has been a revelation for our community and enabled us to truly demonstrate who we are as a school. It is easy to create and post content for the communications team and intuitive to navigate for our stakeholders and potential families. The structure provided ensures a structured, clean and readable site that we are proud to be associated with as a progressive school. Moving to Finalsite was one of the best things that we have done in the past 5 years."
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
As part of Finalsite's marketing team, Debbie has worked with international schools for the past 7 years while living in both Asia and Europe. From conference planning and presentations, to association events, and client success stories, she helps schools understand how they can maximize their web presence while partnering with Finalsite. In her free time she enjoys traveling and attending events at her children's school in Berlin, Germany.