Category Archives: Preschool Marketing Ideas

Wrong NAP Online? That Can Hurt Your Schools Enrollment

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In the world of online marketing for preschools, abundant local citations with accurate NAP information are critical. Your school needs to have listings in various directories, and all of those listings need to contain accurate information about your school or prospective local families may skip right over, or drive right past you.

So what are local Citations, and what is my schools NAP?

Local citations are created when any website shows your schools name, address and phone number (NAP) together on a page. These sites are often referred to as “online business directories”, or simply “directories”. Citation sites are the modern-day equivalent of the old Yellow Pages book, and they include listings like Google My Business/Google Maps, Yelp, Great Schools, and many others.

Why are these citations and correct NAP information important?

For preschools, there are three key reasons that citations with accurate NAP information are important:

  1. Google uses the abundance and consistency of citations as a factor in what position they will rank your schools website. If you want to rank higher in the organic search results in your local area, claiming and optimizing citations/online business directories with accurate NAP information is a necessity.
  2. Online directories and citation sites often show up on the first page of Google when a local family does a search for schools in your area (even when your website does not!). If you want to be found online by local families, you need to be in all of the most popular and high ranking online directories and citation sites.
  3. Recent Data suggests that 93% of local families will get frustrated by incorrect information found in online directories, 80% of them will lose trust in your school if they see incorrect or inconsistent contact details or school names listed, and 40% of families will give up looking for a school that they can’t find because the address was wrong in an online directory. If you want to keep local families happy, keep the trust factor high with them, have them be able to contact you easily, and simply be able to find your school when they want to drive on by, then your NAP needs to be correct everywhere that it’s listed online.

Common NAP issues for schools,
and the types of real world problems they cause…

  • Wrong/Inconsistent School Name – When a school named “Little Wonders Preschool and Daycare, LLC” is listed as “Little Wonders Preschool” in one place, “Little Wonders Daycare” in another, and “Little Wonders, LLC” in a third place, they are losing trust with local families and Google.
  • Wrong/Inconsistent School Address – When a schools address is listed the way “the GPS wants it” in some places, while other places have it listed the way it appears on their mail, 4 out of 10 families driving around looking at schools are giving up looking for that school and trying the next one on the list. Google is also getting mixed signals about where they are actually located, making them less likely to show that schools website to local families in search results.
  • Wrong/Inconsistent School Phone Number – When some listings for the school have the directors cell phone number shown, while others have the schools main phone number showing, that schools is confusing local families about the best way to contact them, and hurting their websites ability to rank higher in search engines.

Conclusion

If your not sure about how your school is being represented by online directories and citation sites, then now is the time to take a look, because having the wrong NAP information on these sites can hurt your chances of being seen and found by families in your local area. If you find inconsistencies, or wrong NAP information on any of these sites, contact them with the correct information and ask that it be shown instead.

If you don’t have the time (or patience) to stay on top of your schools citations, consider having us professionally manage your citations for you. We love this stuff!

When They Choose Another Preschool

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So they’ve taken the tour, you’ve followed up with them, and they tell you that they’re choosing another preschool. It’s easy to take this kind of news personally, but every problem is really an opportunity. Here’s how you can turn adversity into an advantage and learn from these experiences to make your next tour even better!

Step 1. Ask them which preschool they are planning to enroll with.

This is a biggy. Take careful notes on what other programs are being competitive with you. You have to On no, they haven't enrolled in my preschooldetermine why you’re audience is considering other options. There are two main reasons:

a. A failure to properly communicate your value.

Issues that revolve around your not effectively communicating your value sound something like:

“We’re going with XYZ Preschool because it’s free/less expensive.”

Cost is always going to be a consideration, surely, but often times this is just a fallback answer. Parents will usually go above and beyond to ensure their children are in the best program for them.

“We’re going with XYZ Preschool because it’s closer.”

Again, distance and convenience are also a big consideration, but give a parent the choice between a far-away Ivy League and a local community program… they’re going to opt for the Ivy League.

“We’re going with XYZ Preschool because it has a larger/smaller classes.”

In this case, you haven’t appropriately framed your program offerings. If a parent expresses concerns about your programs being too big, then you haven’t adequately explained the teacher:student ratios, and how a diverse playgroup can benefit by providing more friend options. If a parent expresses concerns about your program being too small, then you can focus on the benefits of more closely-knit groups. Our philosophy: there’s the right educational experience for every family. If you’re not putting your best foot forward, you’re not giving these families the opportunity to connect with you in a meaningful way.

b. A failure to properly target your audience.

Issues that resolve around poor-targeting usually sound something like:

“We’re going with XYZ Preschool because they offer a Montessori/Reggio/Progressive/Religous-based.” (whereas you don’t)…

Sometimes a family that is taking a tour already has some idea of the education style they’re interested in. So if they walked in the door wanting a Montessori program, and your school offers Reggio, then they probably weren’t really part of your target audience to begin with. However, if a prospective family is open-minded about education styles, then make sure you’re taking the time to communicate the benefits of your particular approach to learning. 

Step 2. Accept constructive criticism.

Be mindful of the kind of feedback you receive about your school from prospective families. Are you offering programs during times/days that are convenient for families in your area? Do you get comments about your space (too little light, or too cluttered)? Look at these kinds of comments as constructive criticism that can help you make important decisions about your school.

Step 3. Make a decision about keeping in touch.

Just because a family doesn’t choose your school right now, doesn’t mean they won’t in the future. You can continue to build the relationship by keeping in touch. If you have them on your mailing list, don’t remove them without explicitly being asked by them to do so. You’d be surprised how many families will change their mind about their initial decision to go with a competitor. If and when that happens, you want to make sure they understand you have an excellent program that will help to nurture their little one’s mind.

The Basics of Turning Tours into Enrollments

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So you’ve given a new prospective family a tour. Do they enroll immediately? If not, then this is a great opportunity to continue to nurture your preschool’s relationship with the prospective student’s caregivers. Here’s how you can use your online and offline marketing to strategically and authentically build that connection.

Phone Follow up

This one is obvious, but it’s important so I need to talk about it. Follow up after the tour to build trust and show you care by asking them relevant, thoughtful questions about their experience.

  • What do you think about the school?
  • What is your favorite part?
  • Do you have any questions or concerns that I can help to answer?

Keep in mind that you’re trying to work in these questions and concepts naturally into the conversation (you’ll want to avoid sounding like you’re debriefing them).

Postcard/Notecard

After the tour, it’s a nice touch to follow up with a personal postcard or Thank you follow up for your preschoolnotecard. Let your prospective caregivers know what a pleasure it was to for you to meet them. Want to go the extra step? Use personalized, branded stationery. It’s easy to design using an online printing service (like Vistaprint), and fairly inexpensive. You can also have some of the children from the prospective child’s class sign the card as well. It’s an endearing touch that helps to create a bond between the family and your center.

Newsletter

When families come to visit your center for a tour, make sure you include an option to sign up for your newsletter. This allows you to follow up with your prospective student’s families by email, and keep them in the loop about news, events, and other going-ons at your school. You can also use the newsletter to remind prospects about important dates and deadlines.

Extra tip: Make sure you’re segmenting your lists into appropriate groups (especially if you’re using the same newsletter system to keep in touch with your current families too). When you keep your subscriber lists properly segmented, you can always be sure the right message is getting out to the right group.

Social

social-media-follow-upIn your tour information packet, make sure to include some marketing collateral that will allow them to easily connect with you online. This could be as simple as a document that lists your domain name, and the location of your social media accounts (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Google+, etc). Or you could go the extra step and create a small business card with QR codes for your major accounts.

Three Critical (free) Marketing Tools and Why Your Preschool Needs Them

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Google Analytics

www.google.com/analytics/


		

Google Analytics is a powerful tool that helps you understand on-site statistics. It helps you to understand how your school’s website is performing, and how your audience is interacting with your content.

Here are some questions that Google Analytics can help you answer:
Preschool Google Analytics Example

  • How many visitors have come to my website this month?
  • How many people came to my website from search?
  • How many families are viewing the Contact page?
  • How do my monthly phone inquiries correspond to my search traffic?
  • Are my visitors looking at my Tuition Page before my Contact Page?
  • How many families from my area are coming to my website?

How to use Google Analytics Effectively for your Preschool

Google Analytics is a complex resource. There are endless ways that you can use the information to continually improve your preschool’s online presence. Here are some key ways you can stay on top of your information:

  1. Look in on it regularly.
    Set up a regular time (bi-weekly or monthly) to check in on your school’s Google Analytics. You need to stay aware of dramatic and unexpected drops in traffic (organic, search, or direct). You should also know when there are large upward trends. Perhaps you just started a direct mail campaign, or held an event that was open to the families in your community. Keeping aware of how your traffic is working for you gives you insight into which elements of your marketing are working for you.
  2. Spot check when there’s a major shift in search.
    Occasionally Google makes a significant change to their search ranking algorithms. This is a huge deal for education centers, which typically see about 40-50% of their new inquiries coming from search. You can use resources like Mozcast to keep an eye on shifts. Then head to your Google Analytics to see how it might have affected your school.
  3. Track your numbers over time.
    The only way to see the “big picture” of your stats is to track them over time. Are you seeing growth year-over-year? When is there more seasonal interest in your programs? When does online interest show a seasonal decrease? Tracking your numbers over time can help you prepare for what comes next.

More Google Analytics Tips!

  • Use Dashboards to create customized views of your Google Analytics Data.
  • Create Goals to track specific objectives like sign-ups for your newsletter or contact form submissions.
  • Set up Intelligence Events Custom Alerts to automatically alert you when a specific event occurs, such as a dramatic increase or drop in traffic.

Google Search Console

(Formerly Google Webmaster Tools)
 www.google.com/webmasters/tools/

Google Search Console gives you insight into critical information that Google understands about your preschool’s website.  It’s also their primary point of communication with you.

Here’s an example of what you can learn from your Google Search Console:
Preschool Google Search Console Example

  • What are people typing in to find your school on Google?
  • What technical errors has Google identified on your website?
  • How many people are seeing your school’s website in search results, but not clicking on your school’s website?
  • Has Google detected that your website has malware or other issues that can cause you to not rank as well as you should?
  • Which of your keyword rankings have improved over the past 90 days?

How to use Google Search Console Effectively for your Preschool

  1. Keep an eye on reported Crawl Errors and HTML Improvements and and fix them ASAP.
    If Google is reporting the existence of errors on your school’s website, or improvements they feel you should make to it, then these are no doubt affecting their perception of your site’s overall health.
  2. Be mindful of Messages.
    Google will alert you to important information (such as your website not being mobile friendly). Be aware of these messages, and take action swiftly if possible.
  3. Review your positions.
    Similar to with Google Analytics, you want to have an idea of how you’re competing in search. See any important keywords ranking in positions 11-20? These are terms that Google already thinks you’re relevant for, you’ll just have to do a bit more work to promote these concepts on your website.

More Google Search Console Tips!

  • Connect  your Google Analytics and Google Search Console to access keyword data in the Search Engine Optimization area of your Google Analytics.
  • Submit your school website’s sitemap to help with indexing your pages in Google.
  • Check out the “Resources” tab. Under “Page Speed Insights” you can see how fast your website is responding. Remember that your audience wants the content to show up quick, especially on mobile. Speed also plays a part in your ranking.
  • Use the Data Highlighter to tag structured date, such as your preschool’s address.

Google My Business

business.google.com

Google My Business is the dashboard to your business’ profile on Google. In addition to showing up in organic search, it is also featured in Google Maps and Google+ (Even though this element of Google’s suite of business-related tools is in flux – they’ve been reworking their approach to Google+ over time – it is still an important element of your preschool’s marketing).

So let’s take a look at why this profile is so important. Many of your families will either find you through search or by word-of-mouth. In either scenario, your Google Business Profile is filled with information they’ll need. This includes where you’re located, what your location looks like, your contact information, and reviews.

Here are some important insights you can gather from Google My Business:
Preschool Marketing Group-Google My Business Profile Example

  • How many people are viewing my profile?
  • Is my information compelling enough that people are visiting my website to learn more?
  • Are my families leaving positive reviews?
  • How many people are calling directly from my Google Profile?

How to use Google My Business Effectively for your Preschool

  1. Claim it!
    Make sure you claim your business’ profile. If your school is new, or it’s not listed on Google yet, claim it here.
  2. Fill it out 100%.
    Make sure you provide thorough and complete information. Hours, photos, description… everything.
  3. Check your Insights regularly.
    Set up a regular time (bi-weekly or monthly) to check in on your school’s Google My Business Profile. It includes information like: views, clicks, driving direction requests, and phone calls.

More Google My Business Tips!

  • Choose the right categories for your profile. In most cases this will be Preschool, but for some schools Nursery School, Private School, or even Religious School may also be appropriate.
  • Make sure your Name, Address, and Phone Number (NAP) matches your website.
  • Add a Google Map to your website’s contact page. Learn how to do it here.
  • Get great reviews by encouraging your most enthusiastic families to visit your profile and share their experience with your school.

Six Ways to Make Your Preschool Website More SEO-Friendly

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Your website is the only part of your preschool’s online marketing that youSEO Tips for your Preschool's Website have complete control over. Make sure you’re sending the right signals to both search engines and prospective families by following these important tips: 

1. Be Chatty on Your Homepage

It’s a common mistake to include just a short paragraph of text on your homepage. This doesn’t give Google (or your website visitors) a good sense of what you’re all about. Your homepage is often the most important page on your website, and you need to make sure you provide useful content to your website visitors immediately.

Tip: Make sure you are thorough on your website’s homepage. Talk about what makes your preschool special, about the neighborhood you serve, your teachers, etc…

2. Avoid “Thin Content”

The goal of every page on your website should be to provide relevant, useful, and interesting information. Take a look at the main pages of your website, not just your homepage. Are you covering the topic of those other pages in a way that’s meaningful? If not, you may be serving up “thin content” to your visitors (and Google doesn’t like it either).

Tip: Be sure the other pages of your website are thorough too! Need inspiration? Take a look at the page and its purpose. Pretend you have a parent in front of you asking a question about that topic (eg, Tell me about your staff?; What’s the enrollment process like?). If you’re still struggling to add content, consider adding a Frequently Asked Questions section to the end of the page. You can use actual questions you’ve received from families as inspiration.

3. Keep Your Website Copy in Words

I cannot tell you how many schools hide their website content from Google and other search engines by including important copy in images or PDF files (which Google can see, but doesn’t often list in search).

Tip: Make sure your images are just for image-y content, like photos or banners (and be sure to provide appropriate “alt text” to give search engines an idea of what they’re looking at).  If you use PDFs for a lot of your content, copy and paste that content out into an actual HTML page on your website. You can always include the original PDF for download at the top or bottom of the page, but its important to have that text somewhere on the pages of your school’s website.

4. Include Proper Local Signals

It’s important to give Google, as well as your website visitors, the proper “signals” about what you do and where you are.

Tip: Include your location (City/State) in your title tags, headline, content, image alt text, and (if possible) in your URL. Read it aloud, to make sure it sounds like natural language. Be sure to provide your correct information (Name, Address, Phone Number – or NAP as we call it) on your homepage, contact page, directions page and any other pages you can. Including your NAP in your website’s header or footer will usually allow it to show up automatically on all pages of your school’s website.

5. Include Local Content on your Blog

Your blog should be an important element of your website. You can use it to impress prospective families and show off what the kids are doing, and you can also use it to post about local-focused content. This is great for your current families and prospective families, and it’s also really effective for families that are new to the area.

Tip: Write some articles about local events for preschoolers, the best places locally to visit during each season, or a guide to the best family friendly restaurants in your neighborhood.

6. Mind Your Google Analytics and Search Console

Make sure you have Google Analytics and Google Search Console (formerly Google Webmaster Tools) installed. These tools are critical for understanding how visitors are using your website. Through them you can learn which parts of your website are popular (so you can expand them), and which parts need work (so you can fix them).

Tip: Install or ask your web developer to install these important tools for you. We are going to be offering a complimentary webinar on Understanding Google Analytics for Preschools. If you’d like to be invited, sign up for our newsletter at the bottom of this page.

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