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5 Inbound Marketing Mistakes to Avoid in School Website Design

School Website Design

Any school looking to increase student enrollment can gain a lot from learning inbound marketing tactics. 

Building a solid content presence and developing an inviting website are the first steps to attracting new interested students. The more content you create and share and the more welcoming a community you build, the more new students will want to engage and attend your school.

As a recap, what is inbound marketing?

“Inbound marketing focuses on creating relevant content to be found by your target audience. In this case, future students. Your inbound marketing blog posts, articles, case studies, landing pages, and other online resources --- provide potential students with the valuable content they need to make effective decisions about their education.”

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Inbound marketing is not without its potential faults. Many times inbound marketing campaigns can stall behind less than persuasive website issues. Inbound marketing techniques can sometimes annoy your ideal visitor, scare them away, or cause bugs that make your website ineffective. 

Let’s dive into five common inbound marketing website mistakes that your school site can easily avoid.

1) Unclosable Pop-Ups

A key part of inbound marketing is lead qualification and inviting web visitors to explore your online features. Many websites do this with a combination of floating assets and pop-ups. Pop-ups are a quick way to get the attention of your visitors (usually offering them something special or an incentive). However, as all modern internet users know, pop-ups can also be a real pain when used incorrectly or clumsily.

You want to be sure that any pop-ups you initiate are well-timed and offer something visitors will be interested in --- at the moment the pop-up appears. A pop-up that appears too soon will not have given visitors enough time to enjoy your site before responding. A pop-up that is irrelevant to visitor interests will only annoy visitors who might be prospective students or parents of prospective students.

But the biggest mistake you can make with a pop-up is one that does not close. Most of us are used to quickly dealing with the occasional pop-up when we are not interested. But even interested parties will get frustrated if there is no 'X', if the 'X' is hard to click, or if it simply doesn't work. Potential students will leave your site at that moment, possibly never to return.

2) Falling into Common UI Mistakes

Floating UI (User Interface) Blocking Your Content

Many websites (both private and commercial) make the mistake of adding floating UI without checking how it fits with the design elements of every navigable page inside their site. 

Floating assets are often added to the entire web design, but don't necessarily fit well into each page layout. By failing to test the spacing of new floating UI on every page, you risk blocking your content. Methodical testing is necessary to be sure of site-wide page spacing. 

Be especially vigilant in your most high-traffic areas like landing and content pages, student portals, blog pages, and any online resources. Any UI failures will be most noticed and have the highest impact on user experience.

Bombarding Visitors With Lead Qualification

Let us say a potential student visits your custom school website to read an article about classes or FAFSA. But before they can fully see the content they came to read, they have to close a pop-up, then a sliding side panel, then a friendly chatbot box. Three clicks is far too many to begin reading, and it's astounding how many websites make this critical mistake.

Any combination of interruptive or floating UI elements that visitors must close is a risk. You want to use floating UI and lead qualification sparingly, using what will be most effective --- when it will be most effective. Using a shotgun or bombardment tactic is going to frustrate far more leads than it will win you.

This is also a risk when your website has been experimenting with new lead qualification techniques or just adding whatever seems good at the time. The combination of assets added over time is too much for a website visitor to slog through.

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3) Sign-Up Content Barriers

Another seen misstep in inbound marketing is to put barriers between leads and your content. This is especially common for B2B businesses and school websites like your own. 

Website designers falsely assume anyone seeking higher-level information will be willing to give their names and email addresses. But let’s just say most people hate this gate-keeping content blocking approach.

Do not write a great article, then require your visitors to sign in or lead-qualify before they can read. If you want the click, try giving the first two paragraphs followed by a [continue reading] button that opens up the rest of the content. This is user-friendly and easy for content-seekers to click through without demanding their names, email addresses, and reasons for wanting content before the opening paragraph is read.

4) Easy-to-Follow Enrollment Navigation

Once upon a time, schools used to bury their enrollment information to force students and parents to make a phone call. This dinosaur-era tactic is now entirely useless. 

Students planning their college years want to quickly compare tuition costs, enrollment dates, and then take care of the signup process through online forms. If they can't find your enrollment information or cannot follow easily-navigated steps to complete enrollment, many students will bounce to the next school on their list.

In today's recruitment environment, you want your enrollment path front-and-center. You want your navigation menu to be easy, so students find what they are looking for. You want it easy for students to find the costs and stats associated with choosing a college. You want it to be easy for students to start -- and then return to -- their enrollment process. 

5) One-Time-Only Opportunities

Finally, beware of offering opportunities that disappear after the first presentation. 

Many people are not ready to commit or lead-qualify when they first see a pop-up or online offer. But after reading a few pages or investigating the programs they are interested in, your visitors might be ready to sign up for deals, newsletters, whitepapers, etc.

Always make opportunities revisitable and easy to find for interested leads. People who remember the offer they saw on the way in will often spend a few seconds looking for it later. This is a good time for banners, easy drop-downs, or a floating panel that slides in and out on command.

Building a successful school website takes both charisma and strategy -- -core values of inbound marketing. By using these simple design tips, you can make the most of your inbound marketing efforts while avoiding common mistakes. 

For more education-based inbound marketing insights, contact us today!

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