Landing Pages Done Right: Case Studies of Effective School Campaigns

May 19, 2014 Peter Baron

Quick quiz: what’s the ultimate goal for any landing page?

Answer: to drive campaign conversions or, put another way, to encourage your site visitors to take an action that’s important to you. We’ll dive into specific examples in a bit.

But before we do, maybe you’re asking, why can’t I use an existing page on my site to support a campaign?

Well, let’s try this simple exercise  — count the number of links on your homepage. Where do you fall? 50, 100, 200, 300? I’d be willing to guess that you’re somewhere in that range, and for good reason. The information you’ve posted points to helpful info for visitors.

But are all of those links in your navigation an asset when you want someone to take a very specific action, like say register for an event or convert from a PPC campaign?

Probably not. In fact, when you really boil it down, all of these links could emerge as a distraction when your campaign’s goal is to increase conversions. Before you know it, someone may click on the latest news story instead of completing your form.

That’s why landing pages are becoming an increasingly important part of any marketer’s tool kit — they provide you with an opportunity to build pages with very limited navigation in order to focus people’s attention on your call to action.

So how have schools used landing pages to meet these sorts of objectives? In our recent webinar, “Landing Pages Done Right: Case Studies of Effective School Campaigns,” we explored a number of examples of schools who’ve enjoyed success.

You can watch the video above to see what we covered or dive into the four school examples below. Either way, let’s get started.

How can an independent school use landing pages? Let’s count the ways…

1. Development Campaigns

As 2013 came to an end, Miss Porter’s School, an all-girls boarding school in CT, built an annual fund campaign geared toward their parents.

The concept was to encourage parents to “Share in their daughter’s Porter’s experience & pride by making a gift to the annual fund in honor of a teacher, advisor, program, or department!”

They ran the same campaign in 2012, but in 2013, they added a new dimension: a landing page.

Their development office pulled a list of 500+ parents and sent them a mailing, plus two emails. The average open rate hovered in the 50+ % range.

Logically, the place you may think to send them is the annual fund page on your site. It’s where you’ve curated all of the info about the campaign along with your current progress. But, when you step back and think about all of the options to click (in Miss Porter’s case some 309 links), it’s easy to see that the potential existing for a family to lose focus on the call to action.

Miss Porter’s built a landing page in onMessage that pulled away the normal navigation and focused the parent on the call to action.

Miss Porter's Annual Fund Landing Page

This was the final result. The entire page features just one external link back to the giving page. Other than that, it’s all about presenting the family with a clear path to making a donation.

You’ll also notice that the page responds to mobile, which makes great sense given the increasing number of families who are reading emails via mobile.

Final result: Miss Porter’s enjoyed a 12.5 percent increase in giving in 2013 vs 2012.

2. School Events

Let’s stick with Miss Porter’s and look at a campaign they built for newly accepted students.

On March 10, they sent out an email congratulating all of their accepted students and encouraging them to watch a video, check out some fun facts, and register for Revist Day.

Miss Porter’s built a landing page to support their email.

Miss Porters Revisit Day CTA

They wanted to create a place where students could watch the admitted student video, but also the fun content (on the bottom) about the collective likes and dislikes of the admitted class.

Ultimately, though, their main goal was to use the page to support Revisit Day registrations. You can see the clear call to action.

Miss Porters Revisit Day CTA

The final result: Miss Porter’s enjoyed the largest attendance ever at Revisit Day.

3. Crowdsourcing

When Peter Saliba arrived on Tilton School’s campus as their new Head of School, he wanted to dive in and get to know the community. What makes the school tick? Why do parents, students, teachers, and alums feel passionate about the school’s ability to tap into a student’s potential?

But like any boarding school with constituents spread out all over the world, taking the pulse of the community is easier said than done.

So, in his first summer at Tilton, Mr. Saliba took the time to record a video with a simple message: please share what makes Tilton so special to you.

The response was fantastic. He received phone calls, emails, and letters from a number of folks sharing their story — these contributions provided an introduction to the school that offered a level of substance and connection that’s not easy to come by.

The stories were so powerful that it made them pause and think about how to encourage this level of sharing and reflection on a bigger level? How might they open this up and make it a schoolwide conversation?

The answer came in the form of crowdsourcing.

They constructed a site that asked their community to share their “Tilton Experience” in one of three ways: by submitting a story, uploading a photo, or posting a video.

Experience Tilton School

They borrowed lessons from the landing page playbook to make this happen.

When you land on the page, it offers one of two actions — a subtle link back to Tilton’s homepage and a very clear and prominent call to action that specifically asks them to share their experience.

Experience Tilton School CTA

The final result: Tilton encouraged their constituents to contribute, and over a number of months, people posted dozens of stories that provide an authentic view into the community that even the best, most polished marketing language will struggle to match.

4. Lead Generation

Brendan Schneider at Sewickley Academy is well known for his inbound marketing acumen — few in our world are doing it as well as Brendan. He’s also one of the best when it comes to sharing his blueprint’s hits and misses.

In the case of using inbound marketing as a lead generation method, his top of the admission funnel strategy is one that definitely falls into the “hits” category.

Here’s the story: understanding that many of the parents considering Sewickely are completely new to independent school admissions, Brendan took what has historically been a challenge for many admission offices and flipped it into an opportunity.

How? This fall, they rolled out a landing page campaign that featured a free download — 27 Questions to Help You Evaluate a School for Your Child.

Sewickley Academy eBook

The book is designed to provide families with a structured approach that they can apply to finding the right school fit.

What’s fascinating and so smart about their approach, in my mind, is what happens after the initial form conversion.

The user is taken to a second landing page where they’re greeted with a short video message from Brendan along with a second call to action that encourages them to learn more about Sewickley.

In essence, it’s a double qualifier, which gives Sewickley a pool of prospects that, by this point in the campaign, have raised their hands twice.

The final result: the proof is in the stats (the screenshots are about a month old at this point).

The conversion rate for the first landing page is 5.9%, and while the number of people who landed on the second landing page is much smaller, the conversion rate is 3x the number – 16.9%.

Sewickley Academy eBook statsI’ll leave you with these items as we wrap up this post. If you’re interested in taking the next step with landing pages, I encourage you to check out the following posts (disclaimer: the first one was written by me):

Anatomy of the Perfect Private School Landing Page

The 7 Principles of Conversion-Centered Landing Page Design

Designing for Conversion: 8 Visual Design Techniques to Focus Attention on Your Landing Pages

You can also check out the slides from our webinar below or watch a recording of it above.

What hits or misses have you had with landing pages? How have you applied them to your marketing? Do us a favor and leave us a comment below. We’re always looking for more examples to share.

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