Tips and design ideas for utilizing your website as a marketing tool to promote enrollment
At Blackboard, we serve a diverse client base and understand that each organization has unique needs regarding their web presence. With "school choice" becoming increasingly popular, many districts find themselves competing for student enrollment, making their web presence more important than ever. An enrollment or admissions focused website should tell the story of your brand. It should engage, captivate, encourage and inspire - leaving users wanting more.
Our team of award winning UI/UX designers has extensive experience helping districts achieve marketing and enrollment goals via their website. Whether you have a Design Ready or Made to Order template, implementing our content and design best practices will deliver results.
Calls to Action
One of the most important aspects of an enrollment focused website is having a prominent call to action. If enrolling new students is a top priority, it should be immediately apparent to users where they need to go to enroll. This is not the time or place for subtlety! Consider that your website visitors might fall into one of three categories: Users who already know they want to enroll and need help with next steps, users who are still comparing their options and want to learn more by scheduling a tour or appointment, and users who are still in the first impression phase because they are viewing your website and evaluating your district/school for the first time. It's important to take each of these perspectives into consideration when designing your website and organizing your content, so as to make it easy for all prospective students to find what they are looking for.
- Make the most of prime screen real estate. While users are accustomed to scrolling on a website, a call to action should ideally be 'above the fold' and immediately visible upon page load. Example
- The call to action can take a variety of forms - a button, link, graphic, photo, icon, etc. What matters most is that the call to action is prominent, eye catching, easy to access and hard to miss.
- Utilize color, imagery, size, animation, etc., to make your call to action stand out on the page.
- Be specific. Your call to action should be intuitive and obvious. If your button, graphic, or link verbiage is vauge, users may hesitate or miss the message.
- Add a link directly on your navigation bar for Enrollment/Registration rather than burying it within a dropdown. Example
- Add a button or icon in the header of your site (or anywhere above the fold) that encourages users to "Enroll Now" or access enrollment information. Example
- Utilize the main photo/video area on your homepage to link to enrollment information. Example
- While we don't recommend a multitude of redundant links on a page, it doesn't hurt to link to enrollment information in more than one location. For example, you can feature a prominent button at the top of the site, and include additional links to the same information lower on the page. Example
- A sticky/persistent button that follows the user as they scroll down the page is an ideal solution for keeping the call to action accessible at all times. Example
- A contact form or chat feature is helpful for users with questions. Place this feature on the Enrollment landing page, rather than the homepage, if you want to utilize it specifically for enrollment/admissions related questions rather than general questions. Example
Facts & Figures
Your website should inform prospective students and families what you have to offer and why they should choose your district or school. What makes your organization unique and exceptional? How will you help students be successful and prepare them for the future? Presenting this information in a way that is not only informative, but also engaging and attractive, is critical. Your website is your online reputation, and is how users determine if you are trustworthy and reliable. Prospective students and families will be interested in a variety of information, including statistics on graduation rates, scholarships, academic success, diversity, special programs, etc. Attractive imagery and engaging multimedia help make a strong impression, but don't forget to highlight the important data that users need access to as part of their evaluation and decision making process.
- Highlight your district’s academic programs, athletics, fine arts, experienced faculty, state of the art facilities, etc. Put special emphasis on any areas where your organization excels above the competition. Example
- Feature statistics that illustrate your proven track record of helping students succeed - impressive graduation and college admission rates, high test scores, awards, faculty credentials, etc. This is your opportunity to impress! Example
- Infographics and photo collages are an excellent way to add visual interest to facts and figures. Utilizing icons, photography or graphics to present data will have significantly more impact than text without accompanying imagery. Example
- Facts and figures are often presented in a static manner, which is perfectly fine, but keep in mind that interactivity equals engagement, and capitalize on any opportunities to make your content interactive. Interactive features with hover effects or animations are more eye catching and memorable than static content. Example
- Restrict content on the homepage to your most important and impactful data. For example, if your district offers 12 special programs, choose 3-6 to highlight, and provide a link for users to see all programs or information on an interior content page. Posting too much information on the homepage could have adverse effects and make the page feel cluttered or overwhelming. Example
While data is an essential and valuable marketing tool, it doesn't carry the same weight as content that evokes an emotional response. Think about an ad campaign or commercial that left a lasting impression on you and how it made you feel. When taking a marketing approach with your website, adding emotional appeal should be a top priority and is an excellent means to make your website personable, relatable and memorable. Ideally, your content should engage, captivate, encourage and inspire. The goal is to help your users envision their future and illustrate how your organization will help them achieve their dreams and reach their full potential. Tell the story of your brand and what you have to offer in a way that leaves the user wanting more.
- Highlight your mission and/or vision, making a clear statement about who your organization is, what you stand for, and why. Example
- Focus on inclusion, diversity, and belonging to generate excitement and confidence. Example
- Bring your organization's personality to life and paint a picture for prospective students/families of what attending this school could do for their future. Example
- Incorporate key buzz words that evoke an emotional response - words like "passion, ignite, inspire, energize, impact, achieve, connect, empower"
- Utilize streaming video or attractive photography on the homepage to showcase your brand and what makes your district unique. Make sure the photos and videos are professional and high quality. Video is especially impactful and can be utilized to show students and faculty engaged in activities, footage of your facilities, athletics, performances, etc. Example
- Incorporate testimonials from students where they highlight how your district/school helped them prepare for and be successful in school/college/their career. Personal stories and quotes can very impactful and relatable, especially when they include a photo or video of the individual. Faculty spotlights are a great opportunity to highlight the experience, passion, and commitment of your staff. Example
WCM Tools and Resources
Tools to help you build enrollment focused content
If you have an existing Web Community Manager (WCM) website, or are in the process of getting one, you can utilize the tools and resources mentioned below to tailor your content around enrollment and admissions. The majority of these resources are free and can be utilized on both Made to Order and Design Ready templates. While a Made to Order template can be custom tailored to meet your specific needs, a Design Ready template can be an equally effective marketing tool. Regardless of template type, our team is here to help you make the most of your website and achieve your enrollment goals!
Looking to take a marketing/enrollment approach on the district website and a more traditional approach on your school sites? No worries! Our apps and interactive elements are incredibly versatile, and can be utilized in many different ways. You control whether you display similar content on all sites or tailor the content differently per site based on that school's specific needs. The district website can include features that you opt not to use on the school sites, and vice versa. This can all be accomplished while utilizing one template across all sites, which creates a consistent and familiar user experience.
You don't have to be a marketing expert or a UI/UX designer in order to create a beautiful and engaging website that sucessfully promotes enrollment. Our templates, apps and interactive elements will do the heavy lifting for you. You just need to know how to make the most of them, and we are here to help!
Module Library Apps
Module Library Apps are custom apps that can be downloaded and imported to any WCM website, regardless of template type (Made to Order or Design Ready). These apps are incredibly versatile and can add significant value to your website. Utilize them to organize content, display icons and photos, add visual interest or interactivity. Module Library Apps are excellent tools for adding enrollment focused content to your website. For example, the Facts and Figures app enables you to add an infographic style statistics area to any content region, and the Lightbox App is ideal for highlighting programs or services.
If you aren't seeing what you need or want in our Module Library, a custom app may be the ideal solution. Custom apps are built from scratch based on your exact needs and specifications, so there is no need to compromise when it comes to functionality or aesthetics. If you have unique marketing or enrollment content needs that you aren't able to achieve with standard apps, contact us to discuss a custom solution.
Interactive Elements are available as add-ons to custom (Made to Order) templates. If you are in the process of getting a new custom template, you can work directly with your designer to determine which Interactive Elements you would like to include on your new template, and how those features can be utilized to promote enrollment. When it comes to layout and functionality, the options are endless! Whether you want to highlight programs, feature student testimonials, or include an interactive facts and figures area, your designer will be able to provide ideas, suggestions, and examples of what other clients have done. Interactive Elements are an excellent way to add 'wow factor' to your website, and can be added to any existing Made to Order template at any time. If you have an existing Made to Order template and are interested in adding Interactive Elements, simply contact your sales representative for more information.
Photo and Icon Resources
When taking a marketing approach with your website, it's more important than ever that the imagery being used on your site be high quality and professional. Low resolution photography can tank a website's aesthetic very quickly, and will have adverse effects on your marketing and enrollment goals. Ideally, your imagery should showcase your actual students, faculty, facilities, etc., which means avoiding the use of stock photography. If you do not have access to original, high quality imagery, choose stock photos that best represent your organization (and ideally do not scream "stock photo!").
Many Blackboard clients choose to take a marketing approach with their websites and do an incredible job of implementing the tips and best practices mentioned above. Some homepages are 100% marketing/enrollment focused, while others dedicate specific sections of the website to enrollment while also featuring more traditional content like news and events. Regardless of your website goals, you can make it happen with Web Community Manager. Looking for inspiration? Check out the client examples listed below!
- The Woodstock Academy
- Apply and Visit buttons that load above the fold
- An Admissions channel within the Menu
- Engaging streaming video that highlights campus life and activities
- Prominent call to action buttons and enrollment focused content
- Interactive student testimonial section
- Strong branding, professional typography, quality imagery, and innovative functionality give this site significant wow factor
- Content is 100% marketing focused with incorporation of key buzz words such as "energize, refresh, engage, ignite, passion, results, experience, impact, connect"
- Impressive statistics showing AVID impact/results
- Student and faculty testimonials
- Clear call to action buttons and attractive accompanying graphics
- Professional photography and a bright, inviting color palette
- Sticky Contact Us tab
- Mission statement in footer
- Rogers Public Schools
- Well designed navigation menu with Enroll listed under Student Life channel
- "Enroll my child" is first link within the "I want to..." dropdown
- Attractive video footage
- Facts and figures area
- Eye catching photo collage feature
- Cherry Creek Schools
- Prominent Admissions channel
- Professional photography and obvious call to action buttons
- Facts and Figures area
- Interactive photo collage feature
- The Woodstock Academy
- Baldwin Union Free School District
- Attractive photography that shows student and faculty engagement
- Baldwin in Action area that highlights news, activities and videos
- Signature Programs section puts emphasis on Academics, Arts, Academies and Athletics
- Interactive photo collage
- District statistics area
- Tagline in footer with key buzz words - Innovative, Inclusive, Involved
- Bethlehem Area School District
- Registration/Enrollment link under For Families channel
- Student Registration icon under Find it Fast menu
- Prominent call to action button and attractive video on homepage
- Key buzz words - Ignite, Encourage, Empower
- #BASDProud section that highlights notable accomplishments
- Misson statement in footer
- Strong branding with a bright and inviting color palette
- North East Independent School District
- Prominent Registration clink on channel bar
- "Discover North East ISD" area
- "Why Choose" NEISD link
- "Tell your story #theNEISDway" region with call to action button
- Overall strong branding, quality imagery and graphics, clean and inviting content layout
- Santa Ana Unified School District
- Prominent and attractive "Why Choose SAUSD Schools" area
- Under the Parents channel, How to Enroll is the first section in the dropdown
- Enrollment is mentioned in several content areas including news, the icon region and a site shortcuts app
- Great example of mixing enrollment content with other pertinent district information
- Baldwin Union Free School District
Want to see more? Take a peek at our Enrollment Marketing demo site! Content on this site is designed to illustrate some the above tips and recommendations, including a few of our (free!) Module Library Apps that are ideally suited for marketing content.
Note: Our example demo site is intended to show you many of the enrollment tips and best practices in action, but you'll want to pick and choose which ones are most appropriate to implement on your own website, so as to avoid unnecessary redundencies.