Updated: Jan 24
We all know that families today shop online and private schools are no exception. They check your website, your referral website rankings, and most prospects check your reviews at some point in their journey. Ask any independent boarding or day school and they will tell you about their challenges in stimulating more reviews, as well as the pitfalls they have faced in addressing negative reviews.
Don't make the mistake of being passive about reviews as they can make or break your ability to hit enrollment goals, as well as impact your school's reputation adversely. Take a proactive approach using these tips below. Learn from my lessons to create a plan to get more positive reviews. It will pay off.
1. Don't Be Afraid to Ask for Reviews
Students want more kids to attend so they can expand friendship circles.
Parents want to give back and share their experiences with other families.
Alumni want to give back to their alma mater and help more students benefit.
2. Broadcast Your Requests Far and Wide
Signage: Post displays on campus to call out your request for reviews.
Social Media; Do postings on your main page and also on your alumni page(s).
Literature: Add the review request information to graduation programs, viewbooks, annual magazine, and other brochures.
Email Newsletters: Add the request to all email newsletters with icons and links.
Website: Add your request to selected website pages (parent sections, etc.)
Announcements: Make announcements at events, assemblies, and in video testimonials.
3. Create an Annual Schedule
Rotate posts requesting reviews every other week with referral requests.
Develop an annual plan to make the process strategic and to avoid lack of consistency.
4. Create Catchy Headers
Google My Business - Starry Night! 5 Stars on Google My Business!
Great Schools - Thanks for Great Reviews on Great Schools!
Niche - We Made the Grade with an A+ on Niche! Check Out Our Report Card!
Facebook - Storytellers Unite! Thanks for Posting your Success Stories!
Yelp - Thanks Your Help on Yelp! 5 Stars! Many Informative Comments!
Private School Review - Our School Rocks on Private School Review!
Boarding School Review - Want to Compare Schools? Check Out Reviews on BSR!
5. Work on Messaging
Don't reinvent content; use your core messaging to spice up the promotion.
Pull copy from top performing landing pages from Google Analytics.
Check the keyword planner in Google Ads for best keywords to add to your mix.
Spend time finding the very best quotes/testimonials on every review site to embed in your posts and promotions.
Even if a site or directory does not allow reviews, it is important to direct the prospective family to your sites to showcase key information.
6. Add a Call to Action and Links to Key Sites
Make it easy to get to the review site and the section you are promoting.
Create a call to action to ask directly for reviews. "Post a Review Now"..."Rank Us Now."
Include a link to the landing page so they know exactly where you want them to post.
7. Promote Real Life Stories
To stimulate real school stories, do student and parent testimonials and then pull quotes from the videos. Go beyond just written posts.
Consider student contests for the most compelling stories with a gift card for the winner(s).
8. Show Appreciation
Provide hand-written thank you notes or comments back in appreciation for reviews.
Consider a small branded gift to show appreciation when you know the source.
9. Measure and Repeat
Check engagement and other metrics to assess your success with the messaging.
Do A/B tests to find the messaging that works best and keep track.
Rotate your best performers with all of your various marketing initiatives.
10. Deal with Negative Reviews
Ensure y0u are checking all review sites regularly to respond in a timely manner.
Keep the message upbeat and direct. For example, "Thanks so much for your comment about (the issue cited). We make every effort to (cite actual policies or protocols whenever appropriate). Please feel free to contact me at (phone number)."
Make sure you have one person assigned to the task and ready-to-go responses to the most common issues, so she/he can respond right away.
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