It’s the age-old problem: you deliver first-rate qualifications, you employ qualified trainers, and your student engagement is second-to-none. But for some reason, it’s hard getting that message out there!
As with most things these days, it largely comes down to your online profile. And there’s no better place to start than your website home page (or landing page). Modern RTOs depend on prospective students clicking-through the home page to discover more content. Indeed, the click-through process will often be a necessary precursor to enrolment.
So what exactly is the secret to having a great home page to attract students in 2017?
1. Feature a large, eye-catching image of a real student to anchor your unique selling proposition:
A picture says a thousand words. Moreover, a picture of a human face has been found to evoke a stronger reaction than a picture of a product. This is especially true in the education sector, where the interactions between people — both students and trainers — become a principal drawcard of your RTO. Authenticity is important. That’s why it’s worth your time to employ a professional photographer to take a high-definition photo of a real student undertaking your course. You’re also going to need a textual anchor; what some marketers refer to as a USP. What’s a USP? That’s your unique selling proposition; a one-line phrase that concisely explains why your RTO can be distinguished from the pack. If you can situate the image neatly with your USP, you’re onto a real winner. The human brain automatically orders disparate elements into cohesive wholes. It’s become a staple of visual advertising. So a positive, engaging picture combined with a powerful USP will create a lasting first-impression.
2. While you’re at it, include a video on your landing page:
Video content now makes up a whopping 74% of all internet consumer traffic. More importantly, surveyed consumers preference videos or slideshows over detailed written content. In the education sector, more than any other, consumer preference matters. Video content can assure your prospective student they have the capacity to engage with your subject material. So the level of detail included in your home page video needs to be balanced; leveraging the students intrinsic motivation to learn with their extrinsic motivation to succeed. The length of your video is, likewise, crucial to balancing these two interests. A five-minute video presentation is often regarded as too long for the majority of consumers, as it risks wearing them out before they’ve even begun. Conversely, a one-minute video can seldom generate enough persuasive momentum to convert a prospective customer into an enrolled student. At VET eXpress, we recommend tailoring the video content on your home page to run anywhere between ninety-seconds and two minutes. Draw prospects in, commit to giving them first-rate training, and then invite them to click-through to your more detailed content pages.
3. Give the students something they can use:
The verdict is in: if you just talk about how good you are, you risk disengaging your prospective students!. Basically, you can only talk about the things you do if you explain how those things benefit your consumers. If you offer exclusive face-to-face, interactive courses, then emphasise that your students gain a “clearer, superior level of training.” If your course can be delivered flexibly to fit in with the students’ other commitments, then emphasise that your RTO puts your students “in more control.” Whatever your features, brainstorm the ways in which they can benefit your prospective students. It will be crucial to making them click-through to find more information. While we’re on that note…
4. Wherever possible, use the voice of your students:
This might seem like a no-brainer, but it really lies at the heart of producing effective copy for the purposes of advertising your training organisation. The key is adopting a two-pronged approach involving psychology and analytics (see Tip 5). We start by adopting the psychological perspectives of the prospective student and ask: what makes upskilling such an attractive proposition? What life benefits can be accrued by attaining a qualification? Conversely, what fears and vulnerabilities might prevent a prospective student from pursuing an accreditation? The answers will differ hugely depending on your industry, but they will always track to the impulsivity of the consumer to click-through for more information. Avoid speaking down to your prospects and instead try to relate to them. The result will be a more accessible home page that people will want to click through.
5. Use words of power and relatability to attract the right prospective students:
How do we find ‘words of power’? Analytical data-tracking tools generate words and phrases that often accompany a customer’s search in your industry. ‘Words of power’ are words that you can incorporate in your landing page to make it rank higher on search engine results pages. But there are other benefits to incorporating words of power. For example, if you’re training in ‘heavy vehicle operation’, you might find that prospective students search for terms such as ‘roadtrain’, ‘Western Australia’ or ‘licence eligibility.’ If your home page features the right phrases used in eye-catching ways, you’re engaging with the students’ subconscious preconceptions of what your training can offer before they’ve even started. By identifying your students’ inherent linguistic associations in this way, you are literally engaging with them at the entry point of your training. A good brainstorming session is a great way to start.
6. Empower your students with a creative and motivational ‘call-to-action’:
Last month, we spoke about the intrinsic and extrinsic motivations that drive your students to engage with your training. Well, enlivening these differing motivations is crucial to transforming your internet traffic from prospective students to enrolled students. The ‘call-to-action’ is the instruction on your landing page that increases your prospective student’s engagement with your RTO. For example, a ‘find out more’ button that links to more specific course content, or a ‘talk to an enrolment specialist’ asking customers to input an email address and/or phone number. Whatever manner of ‘call-to-action’ you adopt, it’s best to be as creative as possible. One effective option is to use personal pronouns. For example, ‘tell me more’ or ‘start your enrolment.’ You might have noticed that this entire article has been directed at you, the reader!
7. Keep it simple, lead the way:
The way a consumer navigates through your landing page is absolutely critical. Ever clicked on the landing page of a product or service you desperately want, only to find yourself confused about how you actually get it? When this happens, the website has not been adequately road tested using ordinary people. The best home pages circumvent this problem by keeping things as simple and clean as possible. A background of one or two colours is more effective than a hyper-detailed image that blends with the links on the page. One or two enrolment options is much more preferable than twelve different, hard-to-distinguish, course alternatives. Some companies use simple, colourful arrows to direct the customer to the ‘call-to-action’. Whatever your strategy, try to conceptualise the home page of your RTO like the front lobby of a business. Is the landing page acting like a helpful and supportive service desk member, or is it engaging in obstruction? Test your website using people with minimal tech ability in order to assess functionality. As an education provider for your prospective student, your job will be to make complicated course content as clear, accurate and digestible as possible, so start with your home page. It’s the best indication of how your training will be delivered.
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