School Communications
Back To Insights

Always Learning: FinalsiteU 2019 Top 5 Takeaways

CEL’s own Chelsea Janke spoke at FinalsiteU 2019 in Chicago and brought home five great school marketing tips for you, in addition to sharing 45 tips on content migration.

Clients Know Chelsea’s Website Expertise

CEL Marketing | PR | Design had a ton of fun at FinalsiteU in Chicago in June. The two-day school marketing and website conference was exceptional as usual. Three clients joined us in learning and exchanging ideas with hundreds of other public, private and international school marketing professionals at the conference this year: White Bear Lake Area Schools, District 196 and Hopkins Public Schools.

CEL Director of Client and School Services, Chelsea Janke, was among a carefully curated line up of FinalsiteU presenters. Her fast-paced, information-packed sessions packed rooms and sparked great conversations around her favorite topics: Everything You Need to Know About Content Migration (45 Takeaways in 45 Minutes) and Top 5 Overlooked Pages on Your Website & Why They Matter.

We love sharing what we learn at conferences, so here’s a quick recap of our top 5 digital marketing takeaways that schools can use to gain better visibility whether focused on enrollment, retention or current family communications.

#1: Flexibility

When selecting a website vendor, make sure your contract gives you the flexibility to continually update your site, add major landing pages and grow as your needs change. During Jon Moser’s FinalsiteU keynote, The State of School Marketing, he shared great insight:  In 2000, the average length of a human’s attention span was 12 seconds, today it is 8 seconds. The attention span of a goldfish is 9 seconds. Yes, we have a shorter attention span than a goldfish! Let’s connect that to marketing. We have modern expectations for communication when it comes to our families. We want instant gratification and expect personalized content. “Our millennial parents are looking for something ‘different’ than past generations were.”

Our key takeaway:
Don’t let the launch of your site be the best day of its life!!

Watch the rest of Jon Moser’s keynote on the State of School Marketing.

#2: Be True. Be Authentic. Be Real.

We are on the leading edge of the millennial-parent generation. They are, in fact, digital natives and the best researchers around. If something is out there, they will find it. So schools need to be completely transparent and authentic. Amplify student voices to tell your story and let them share their own truths; they will be your best assets to drive enrollment and even retention. With one of our school clients, we created the #PrincetonTigerPledge to drive engagement and community awareness. We asked students some hard questions to elicit their best advice in creating a positive and inclusive environment. Students are powerful change agents, so you have to let those authentic voices be heard!

#3: Use Data to Drive Decisions

Do you have data to back your opinions when making website navigation decisions? Informal user surveys, page views, bounce rates, and time on page are all valuable data points to drive informed decision-making and reach your short and long-term goals in a very strategic way. What lands on the highly-coveted home page is usually the most debated question during planning. But, the more important question should be – what is your goal? If your district focuses on enrollment marketing, then that should drive your home page content (images, buttons, statistics and stories). If increasing awareness of the music program is a more important goal, music should win the spot.

What about serving your current customers (yes, your constituents are your customers and should be thought of as such)? You still need to create a landing page or section for each of your core user groups, but that doesn’t always mean the home page. Giving students or families (formerly called parents – read this post for the why) their own space, instead of the home page, can provide better clarity on the messaging and communication without cluttering the home page.


A screen shot of the Families landing page on the White Bear Lake Area Schools website

#4: Inbound Marketing is Right for Schools

Businesses have been doing inbound marketing for years, but schools have to get on board. No matter what your goals are, parents are digitally savvy and school choice is everywhere. “We need to make sure we are marketing the right content, at the right time,” shared FinalsiteU CEO Jon Moser.

Face it! Content is king, queen and rules! Schools should be blogging and regularly updating content to improve their rank in the search engines. Even if you are not focused on school marketing, think about search rankings to improve communication with your current families. After all, what’s the first thing you do when you want to know something? GOOGLE!

Families do the same. With Siri, Alexa, Google and other voice activation technology, search is driven by questions. “Siri, how can I help my child be a more confident reader?” or “Alexa, what’s on the elementary lunch menu next week?” If you are not thinking about search rankings in your communications strategy, it is a missed opportunity.

Writer’s block? Don’t stress about what to write. We encourage our clients to use a cool and free source called Pick a topic and let provide the most popular questions to answer in your blog—that will help you rank in search.

gif of Answer the Public webpage
AnswerThePublic is a free visual keyword research and content idea generator.

#5: Repurpose. Repurpose. Repurpose.

You may be sick of hearing your key messages, seeing your photos and reading your content, but your families are not!

In our branding kickoff meetings, we remind clients that we all are inundated with 5,000 messages a day. So, how are you going to stand out? The answer is consistency. The reason that you recognize logos like Nike, Coca Cola and Harry Potter is that they consistently stick to their brand, logo and elements. You see them repeatedly and start to recognize them. Do the same with your district or school brand. Differentiate yourself with the emotion in photos, the elements in a video and the authentic messages your students provide.

Keep the integrity of your brand consistent and repurpose the content. Take a single blog post and turn it into social media posts, video content, advertising elements and more. Reuse the content by posting at different times across different channels. Spread it out over time, and then come back to it. We guarantee a lot of your “outdated” content can be spruced up and revived again to repurpose.

And make it visual. With 90% of information transmitted to the human brain being visual (source – HubSpot, 3M Corporation and Zabisco), visuals are the key to making your message stick.

What Brands do you care about? using brand logos for each of the letters, including Wilson, Holiday Inn, Amazon, Tesla, Baskin Robbins, Netflix, Disney, Skype, and more
Source: Sam Lipscomb, Client Success Manager, Finalsite


Last but Not Least: A Shout-out Congratulations to Spring Lake Park Schools for their Double Diamond Award Winning Parents Portal from FinalsiteU!

Published on: July 15, 2019