Five essential features of every educational supplier's website

Your website is a vital part of your marketing to schools toolkit. It's always there - providing school leaders with your company's information and contact details. Your website is your number one salesperson.

But have you given it everything it needs to deliver great results for your business?

When marketing to schools and teachers, your website should: 

  • demonstrate how your offer benefits schools
  • provide valuable content
  • capture leads
  • customise the experience for returning visitors

How does your website deliver on each of these needs?

In this blog post, we've outlined five essential features of every educational supplier's website.

One: clarity about what you offer to schools

So, you 'provide inspiring and innovative e-learning software that makes it easy for teachers and students to progress at a pace that suits them'? I'm sure that's great... but what does it mean?

When a teacher visits your website, they'll decide to stay or leave within seconds. The number one reason why someone will leave your website? They can't see how your offer will help them.

Try the blink test. Load up the home page of your website and look at it for one second. Is it clear what you offer? Repeat the process with a friend - with one glance, can they tell what your business is offering to teachers?

At ESM Inbound, we have found that the best way to provide clarity about an educational supplier's offer is to focus on the pain point that you solve for your customer personas. To achieve this, you can use a simple question and answer formula:

  • Heading: question about the customer persona's pain point
  • Subheading: how your company solves the problem

Keep your language as simple as you can. Don't throw in jargon, buzzwords or any hyperbole that will confuse the matter.

Let's look at this formula with a fictional company that provides lesson planning software, 'Plantastic'. Having carefully crafted their customer personas, Plantastic's team knows that workload and time pressure are the biggest obstacles to lesson planning. They also know that pupil progress is a core part of the school performance measures.

As a result, they craft the following:

  • Heading: Looking to plan lessons that deliver pupil progress?
  • Subheading: Plantastic helps teachers plan effective and engaging lessons in minutes.

There's no fussing about the product's features - at this stage, teachers aren't interested. They want to know if your product will help them to overcome their daily challenges.

Two: smart contact forms

With a clear offer, chances are that teachers are going to want to get in touch with you. How will they do this?

First, you'll want to make sure your phone number is easy to find - school leaders who pick up the phone to call you are probably close to the decision stage of the buyer's journey and you don't want to present an obstacle to the sale.

For anyone who wants to get in touch electronically, you'll want to make the process easy for them while also providing you with vital information. Many educational suppliers place their email address as text (or a hyperlink) on the website. Unfortunately, this approach can present a few challenges:

  • many users don't have their 'mailto:' trigger configured - opening up the wrong email client distracts your new lead and increases the chance that they'll simply move on to another site
  • you'll soon find yourself on the email list of many spammers thanks to their email address web-scraping
  • you won't know where the lead came from or which pages of your website are the best performing

The best solution is to create contact forms that you embed throughout your website - they're easy for the end-user, protect you from spam and provide you with excellent conversion information.

Even better, you can configure your contact forms to be 'smart'. In other words, they will only ask for the information you don't already know. What's the point of asking for a teacher's job title if you already know it? Why not dynamically change the question to ask for details you don't know?

Three: content offers that are useful to teachers, managers and leaders

Some visitors to your website will be interested in what you offer but might not be far enough down the buyer's journey to get in touch. They are still highly-valuable contacts for your company.

Make sure you have a way of capturing their information so you can enroll them in a lead nurturing workflow.

To convert these visitors into leads, you'll want a content offer that functions as a lead magnet. This is a downloadable resource that's useful to teachers (or other school employees).

Our fictional company, Plantastic, might offer a checklist called 'The essential lesson planning checklist' or a template that they can use to plan their lessons. Neither content offer replaces Plantastic's core offer but it positions them as experts in lesson planning.

Identify content offers that are aligned to your brand and promote them on your website. You can see how we did this for Beat Goes On by reading this case study.

Four: landing pages

Building your authority through content offers is great. To take it to the next level, you want to exchange those downloadable resources for teachers' email addresses.

To get those contact details, place the downloadable offer behind a smart contact form on a landing page.

A landing page is a page on your website with just one goal - getting users to fill in a contact form. Completing the form is the only action that users should be able to take on the page.

A successful landing page will:

  • remove any header navigation
  • provide no internal or external links
  • explain the benefits of the content offer rather than the core offer

When a teacher fills in the form, they will be taken to a 'thank you page', where they can download the resource and you can point them towards the next offer in your marketing funnel.

Whereas a reasonably well-optimised website should convert visitors into leads at 2%, a landing page will convert at 20% or more.

Simply adding a landing page (tied to a great content offer) will dramatically increase the number of leads that your website generates.

Five: smart content based on context

Once you've identified your leads, you'll want to make the most of the information you've collected. When they revisit your site, why would you just show them the same information as a complete stranger?

If a landing page form tells you that a visitor is a school business manager, you'll want to present them with content focused on financial savings and improved efficiency. For a newly qualified teacher (NQT), you'll highlight the ease of use and the product's secure pedagogical foundation.

Smart content will allow you to do this. You can use the information you already know about your visitors to provide them with a personalised experience. You can create variations of content based on:

  • whether they're using a desktop or smartphone
  • the country they're visiting from
  • whether they work in a primary or secondary school
  • their job title

...and pretty much anything else that you can think of!

Customising the experience ensures that you show your leads the information that is most relevant to them.

Optimising your website for teachers

How does your website attract, convert and close teachers? How have you ensured clarity of your offer and ease-of-conversion? Tell us all about it in the comments section below.

Alternatively, why not run a free SEO check of your website? Our free tool will allow you to scan your website and download a PDF detailing some of the easy-fixes to improve your site and its presence online.

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