For independent school marketers, understanding what “journey” means in relation to your website approach is fundamental to achieving your enrollment and philanthropy goals. This is not about Odysseus and the Sirens. Carol asked Brendan Schneider for his thoughts, and we share them here with you.
What is a journey?
While there are many ways to define a journey, I tend to think of it through an inbound marketing lens that would define it as the process of converting a prospective family into an application.
Why is creating journeys important to your web presence?
In my opinion, your external website exists to attract prospective families’ attention and lead them to take action, from inquiring to visiting campus to applying. Mapping out how their journey starts with your school means aligning what they want to accomplish with the content of your website.
Is one school’s site journey plan that different from other schools’?
Yes. While I believe that the technical details and techniques used may end up being similar, the content used in each school’s journey should be unique to that school.
How do you capture the information you need to create a journey?
For me, this is the key! Being able to convert an anonymous prospective family browsing your website into an inquiry is the reason your external website exists. We attempt to accomplish this by offering content “guides” that are attractive for each persona we are targeting. Our hope is that the guide is so helpful that a person would pay for it, but we give it away for free. Actually, we give it away for their email address. http://info.sewickley.org/27-questions-to-help-you-evaluate-a-school-for-your-child-school-choice-guide
Is mapping a journey something the school or your web developer should do?
Both! While you might need your web developer to complete the technical work, the school needs to create the content that is used for each part of the journey.
What’s your best advice for getting it right?
Don’t be afraid to fail. You probably will not get it right on the first attempt but experiment, test, analyze what is working and what isn’t working and then adjust. Then start over and experiment, test, analyze, and adjust again. Always keep in mind the interests of your desired audiences—these will change over time.
What advice should schools ignore?
They should ignore advice that suggests this work is easy! Focusing on the journey is one of the most important exercises a school can undertake, but think of it as your personal journey, as well, because if you’re doing it correctly, the process is ever evolving.
Brendan Schneider is the Director of Advancement at Sewickley Academy and a luminary in the independent school digital communications sphere. Learn more about Brendan on his blog: www.schneiderb.com