Did you have a lovely, relaxing Christmas? Good, because we’ve got a heck of a lot to get through and I need you on top form!
Basically, 2018 is the year of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which will come into effect on 25th May.
I’m sure most of you will already be aware of what the GDPR is, and we recently published a whitepaper detailing exactly how it impacts upon your marketing to schools, but I need to touch upon it again here because the subsequent trends should all be viewed through the prism of GDPR.
The GDPR is a new EU privacy law which sets much stricter standards for how organisations obtain, use, and store personal data. Consent is one of the fundamental aspects of the GDPR (although not and every aspect of your marketing to schools now needs to have this at its very heart.
Basically, everything is about to change and it’s going to impact upon every aspect of your marketing to schools. Here’s what you need to do to not just survive, but flourish like never before in this new landscape…
YOUR WEBSITE MUST GENERATE MORE LEADS
What’s the most important criteria for judging your website – is it the overall appearance, the ease of navigation, the quality of the content, the average time a visitor spends perusing it? The answer: none of these. The only criterion that matters is how well it performs in turns of converting visitors into actual leads. Everything else is just a ‘nice to have’.
Remember, a lead isn’t just somebody that makes an enquiry after being on your website. Most sellers to schools make the mistake of creating a website that can only generate this type of lead and the reality is that most first-time visitors are just not ready for that (meaning they disappear into the ether and are effectively lost).
In 2018 you need to realise that a lead is any teacher that completes a form and gives you permission to market to them in the future. That means you need to focus on ensuring that anyone visiting your website is drawn to some free content that they can only access by completing a lead generation form and opting in to your marketing.
(Important Note: The GDPR dictates that you can no longer demand opt-in consent in exchange for any free report/perk/offer. You must offer it to your whole audience whether they choose to consent to further marketing from you or not. If you do not offer a 'level playing field' for those teachers that do not wish to opt-in to your marketing then your whole database of leads could be deemed invalid and illegal under the GDPR.)
I would estimate that while 80% of our clients are happy with their website, in reality only around 2% have websites that perform well in terms of lead generation. We’ll be incorporating web design into many of our clients’ strategies this year so get in touch if you don’t think your website is generating enough leads for your business.
YOU MUST BE EASIER TO FIND ONLINE
If you’re going to transform your website into a lead generating machine then you’re going to need to ensure that when a teacher searches the likes of Google’s listings for the kinds of services you offer, your website appears at the top of their results. Without this, it simply doesn’t matter how good your website is because it will only be found by the fortunate few.
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is a complex subject, which is why we recently released an education-specific whitepaper detailing exactly what you need to do in order to ensure your website sits above the competition. Suffice to say that Page Titles, keyword-rich content, Meta Descriptions, page loading speed, and page URLs all play an important part in ensuring your website rises to the top.
Finding out what works for you can take time. In the first instance it requires some in-depth research into what keywords and phrases teachers type into their search boxes when they go looking for your products and services. Then, you’ll need to get stuck into testing and tweaking your website, learning from your mistakes, reviewing the code, analysing other sites, and optimising content and site speed.
It’s not for the faint-hearted, or for those businesses without the expertise and in-house resources required to succeed. However, in a post-GDPR world, it’s an absolute priority for your business in order to have a mechanism for organically growing an opt-in list of teachers. That’s why we’ll be offering this as a service in 2018! Keep your eyes peeled.
GREAT CONTENT IS NO LONGER A NICE TO HAVE
We’ve been banging on about the importance of creating great content for several years now, however, up until now it’s been something that you can just about get by without. Not anymore. The only answer to growing an opt-in list of teachers, and complying with the GDPR, is to create truly great content that compels teachers to fill out one of your forms and opt-in to your marketing.
Think about why teachers arrive on your website – what problems are they looking to solve? Focus on creating lesson plans and free resources that help them to solve those challenges in their school. Don’t tie these resources to your products or services, ensure that they give teachers enough value that they can take them away and use them to solve tangible problems in their classrooms right away.
And the importance of great content doesn’t end once a teacher has opted into your marketing. Once they’ve given you consent to market your services to them, that consent needs to be treated with the utmost care. That means you need to ensure that your marketing remains a valuable and delightful addition to their inbox – something that they don’t want to unsubscribe from.
This basically means that you need to be churning out great content constantly, catering for teachers at every stage of your sales funnel – be that follower, lead, opportunity or customer. We understand how potentially time-consuming this can be, which is why we’ll be incorporating content and blog creation into our clients’ strategies this year. Keep your eyes peeled in the coming weeks.
HARNESS THE POWER OF SOCIAL MEDIA REMARKETING
Social media marketing works best when it’s used as a tool to keep pulling teachers back to your website after they’ve initially shown an interest. This is called social media remarketing.
The way it works is pretty straightforward: visitors come to your website; you then segment these visitors, and create custom ads to show to them on social media based upon which pages they’ve visited (or have not visited).
It works really well and is cost-effective because it’s so targeted. You’re only paying to remarket to teachers that have actively expressed an interest in what you offer, plus you’re able to zero straight in on the products or services that they’ve expressed an interest in.
It’s a superb way to stay at the forefront of teachers’ minds in a delightful and unintrusive way, plus you can use it to ensure that you convert more web visitors into opt-in subscribers – by creating ads that encourage those visitors to your website that didn’t complete a form, to come back and do so.
This is going to become a big player in 2018 so give us a bell if you want to talk through how it can work for you. We’re already incorporating this into our clients’ strategies so we will be able to share what’s worked well for other education businesses.
CREATE BESPOKE LANDING PAGES FOR EVERY CAMPAIGN
A landing page is the page of your website that you want teachers to arrive on when they click through from your email campaign or social posts. The majority of sellers to schools are still either linking through to their Home Page, a sub-page of their website that’s poorly aligned with their campaign, or even a prepopulated email.
In 2018, you need to be investing much more time and effort in creating bespoke landing pages for every outreach campaign. Why? Because every time a teacher clicks through from an outreach email or social post, it’s an invaluable opportunity to convert them into a subscriber. If they land on a web page that’s poorly aligned with the campaign, or one that doesn’t include a prominent lead generation form, then you’re blowing a great opportunity.
VIDEOS THAT PEOPLE ACTUALLY WANT TO SHARE
Video is something else that we’ve spoken about before as being of increasing importance to your marketing to schools. However, most of the videos we see, although perfectly serviceable, simply do not cut the mustard. Not because they’re of poor quality, but because the content is not the sort that’s going to be commented on, liked, and shared on social media.
What videos do we see shared by our friends on social media? Without exception, they’re the ones that make us laugh or at least elicit some sort of emotional response. I’m certainly not suggesting that your video is one long comedy sketch, there has to be a serious message underpinning it of course, however there’s no reason why the benefits of your product can’t be showcased with some personality and creative flair.
If you want a video that can be used in your social media remarketing to pull teachers back to your website and become subscribers and followers then you need to be creating short video content that they want to share with their colleagues. That’s the sort of video we’re now creating for our own marketing at Sprint Education (keep your eyes peeled in the next few weeks), and that’s the sort of video that we’re now offering to create for our clients.
So, if you want a video that showcases your friendly, loveable, unique personality, get in touch and let’s start fizzing some ideas.
THE RE-EMERGENCE OF POSTAL IN A NEW FORM
This is the curveball in this year’s selection; the return of a form of marketing that has been much maligned in recent years – sometimes even by us! The thing is though, postal marketing can be incredibly effective, it’s just the initial expense can be prohibitive and a poor performing campaign can almost derail your company’s growth altogether.
However, we’re not advocating a return to the budget-breaking mass marketing campaigns of old. Instead we’re going to be seeing the rise of a new slimmed down, super targeted, breed of postal marketing that delivers a much improved return on investment.
How will it work? Basically in a similar way to social media remarketing, but with more paper obviously. We’ll be phasing postal back into our clients’ outreach marketing strategies by sending termly postal campaigns to just those teachers that actively show an interest in one of that term’s preceding email campaigns.
The new breed of postal campaign will have a distinct VIP flavour to it – making the recipient feel like they’ve been hand-picked by a trusted brand to receive a personal message about a product that they’ve already shown an interest in.
EVENTS ARE NOW INTEGRAL TO YOUR STRATEGY
All too often in recent years we’ve spoken to clients that have appeared at an Education Trade Show and been disappointed by either how well their stand was attended or how unsuccessful they’ve been in terms of converting stand visitors into paying customers.
In the past, not nearly enough attention has been paid to how your appearance at an education event fits into your wider marketing strategy. With the GDPR arriving in May and the focus now on growing your opt-in teacher subscriber list, an appearance at one of these events is now a crucial cog in your wider marketing wheel.
This certainly means there must be a much greater focus on promoting your appearance in the weeks prior to the event; including giving teachers a real incentive to appear at your stand (read this report for ideas on what that means).
But much more than this, the most important change you need to make in 2018 is what happens on the day. In short, you need to be utilising a bespoke lead capturing system to ensure you get specific, usable contact details and buyer persona data from interested parties. Getting your visitors to complete a lead generation form, hosted on a specially designed landing page, will allow you to capture information that’s so much more useful than just the contact details gathered with the standard barcode scanner approach (which is easy but also lazy and can fall short of the opt-in standards set out by the GDPR).
Specifically, you should be taking this opportunity to get your visitors to answer a couple of insightful buyer persona questions that help you zero in on their individual pain points with your post-event marketing.
We’ll also be launching Edu-Event Packages as a new service in the coming weeks so get in touch if you want to discuss how we can help maximise your appearance at an event this year.
BE SMARTER WITH YOUR DATA… OR ELSE
It goes without saying that, with the GDPR landing in May, you need to be smarter about how you manage personal data.
This incorporates so many different processes ranging from collection, recording, and storage, through to alteration, dissemination, and unsubscribing. These processes could be spread over several pieces of software too, such as your schools database, emailing platform, form creation tool, CRM system, web analytics, accounting software and more.
In short, it could get seriously messy unless you’re using an integrated piece of software, such as Campus, that includes all of these elements and ensures that you’re not managing the same piece of data in two or more different places – which inevitably leads to mistakes.
And if there’s one thing you can’t afford with the GDPR, it’s mistakes. Non-compliance can result in enormous financial penalties of up to €20m or 4% of global annual turnover.
So, if you’re still using several disparate systems to manage your marketing and sales processes, I’d strongly urge you to think how you could streamline things going forward – before May ideally! It will make it so much easier to treat every piece of personal contact with the utmost care.
You can watch a series of walkthrough videos about Campus here, which will show you exactly how Campus is already solving this problem for many of our clients.
SING FROM THE SAME HYMN SHEET WITH BRAND SYNERGY
In a post GDPR world, where every subscriber must be treasured, it’s more important than ever that you develop a brand identity that’s instantly recognisable across every single channel of communication. The last thing you want is for a subscriber to opt-out purely because they didn’t instantly recognise you.
Since the dawn of business, companies have struggled to present a unified brand to their audiences. Whether it’s an inconsistency in fonts, using imagery that doesn’t reflect their values, or colours that don’t quite match those across their online presence, the result can at best look a little odd, and at worst drastically confuse an audience.
In the last decade, the term ‘brand’ has been banded around by marketing professionals across the globe, with few people really understanding the concept or what is involved in building one. So, we thought it was about time this idea made the trend cut.
With a plethora of brand categories, such as brand personality, voice, story, experience, co-creation, and even emotion, it’s hard to know where to start. So, we’ve whittled down the top three visual components for you and included actionable tips that you can apply to your marketing right away.
It’s a broad area, but the first step is to ensure your logo is consistent across your online media, printed marketing, website, email signatures and even business stationery. Ensure you have a small selection of colours and sizes that your logo can be presented in and this will make your company easily recognisable to your audience. We allow our logo to be presented in just three colours and our team know never to distort or rotate the logo.
Limit the colours you use across your marketing to a set of 4-8 complimentary colours. More importantly, make a note of what those colours are and have your team stick to them like glue: the more specific you can be with the colours you choose (i.e. HEX, RGB, CMYK and Pantone values) the more cohesive your brand will appear.
As well as looking odd, using multiple fonts in your marketing could end up distracting your audience’s attention away from your marketing message. Try and avoid using more than three fonts across your company’s visual presence. Keeping fonts to a minimum will allow for a more enjoyable reading experience. At Sprint we use three: Our bespoke house font ‘Bush Shaker’, Open Sans and in an event where Open Sans can’t be used, we substitute it with Calibri.
Feeling overawed by it all? Don't be. We're here to support your business every step of the way and ensure that you use the GDPR as a springboard for reinventing your education business in the best possible way.
Get in touch with us through our website to request a meeting, give us a call on 01684 297374, or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we'll be very happy to talk with you about where your education marketing is right now and where it needs to be by the end of this year!
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