This article is an excerpt from our eBook, How to Achieve Your 2021 Enrollment Goals with brightwheel. Download your free copy today!
Today, more and more parents conduct the majority of their childcare research online. Recent studies show that 93% of consumers use the internet to find local businesses, and many prospective families will glean their first impressions of your center from what they see online. For this reason, it’s increasingly important to keep your web presence updated, and certainly worth reviewing your digital channels from the perspective of a parent.
Follow this 6-step plan to optimize your online presence and attract more families to your childcare program.
1. Review your web presence with fresh eyes and update it accordingly.
If you were a concerned parent, how would you interpret the descriptions on your website? If you had never sent your child to a childcare center during COVID-19, how would you feel browsing the photos on your Facebook page? Sometimes it’s difficult (and understandably so) to review something you’re already very familiar with, so consider asking a friend if you need assistance. Have them take a hard look at your descriptions and photos—does anything seem confusing or potentially off-putting? It might feel strange to get feedback, but it’s critical that your online presence communicates the right message to worried parents, especially now!
2. Make sure your website and social media pages accurately reflect the most up-to-date information about your center.
State that you are accepting new families and give clear instructions on how to apply. If this isn’t explicitly written on your site, many prospective parents will assume you aren’t accepting new applications. Double-check that your listed schedule is correct, especially if you’ve had to reduce or increase your hours because of COVID-19.
3. Upload new photos that show how clean and safe your center is.
Delete any old images that might cause misunderstandings about how your center currently operates. For example, consider replacing group photos of parents and students crowded together with images of students playing outside or in smaller learning pods. This is an easy way to show families all the hard work you’ve been doing to prioritize the health of your students.
4. Create an FAQ page on your website.
Many prospective families will look for an FAQ page on your website to get quick answers to their most pertinent questions. Make their research process easier by pulling together a list of the most common questions you receive and organize them on a distinct page on your website. Don’t forget to include questions that allow you to speak to your center’s unique competitive advantages and all the safety protocols you’re implementing for COVID-19! Parents will trust your center more if they can easily find what they’re looking for without poring through every section of your website.
5. Check your online listings on Yelp, Google Reviews, Facebook, and your Childcare Resource & Referral Center provider list.
Many parents browse these sites to gauge how satisfied other families have been with your center. To start, Google your own brand to see what your business looks like online to a prospective parent. Make sure all the listed details are still accurate, including your contact information, hours, and days of operation. Try to look at your listing from the perspective of a parent, and not just a business owner. If you were a concerned parent, would any red flags jump out at you? Are there any negative reviews that make you nervous? Are there any outdated, potentially harmful reviews about past directors or teachers that no longer work at your center?
If possible, respond to as many negative reviews as possible—this can help to mend relationships with reviewers, as well as show prospective parents that you’re a proactive communicator and take feedback seriously. In your responses, acknowledge the issue, apologize and provide an explanation if necessary, and offer to discuss the matter offline.
6. Ask for reviews from families.
While many sites like Yelp, Google, and Facebook won’t let you delete negative reviews, new positive reviews will help to offset their effect (and push them further down the page, too). Consider asking happy parents to write reviews for you, especially if they’ve already shared with you or your staff how much they appreciate your center. Having recent, glowing reviews at the top of your listing will help you put your best foot forward and strengthen your organic search presence.
Here are some suggestions on how to ask for parent reviews politely and effectively:
- Start and end with gratitude. Whether you’re asking parents over the phone, in-person, or through email, remember to open and conclude the conversation by thanking them for their support and trust.
- Make it clear that it’s optional. Reiterate that leaving a review is completely their decision.
- Provide relevant links. To make the process as easy as possible for your families, send links to the sites you’d like reviews on. Let them know they can pick and choose where to leave their reviews according to their comfort level and their existing accounts.
- Ask them to share specifics about what they love about your center. The more detailed your program’s reviews are, the better picture they’ll paint for prospective families.
- Don’t ask too often! The last thing you want is for your parents to feel bombarded by your review requests. Consider asking no more than a couple of times a year, or only after their unsolicited praise and appreciation. Gauge what feels most appropriate here. You know your families best!
Optimizing your center’s web presence is one of the best ways to promote your program and all it has to offer. As you continue to update and improve your website and online listings, you’ll be well on your way to attracting more prospective families to your program!
To learn more about how to boost your enrollment this year, download our free eBook, How to Achieve Your 2021 Enrollment Goals with brightwheel!
Brightwheel is the complete solution for early education providers, enabling you to streamline your center’s operations and build a stand-out reputation. Brightwheel connects the most critical aspects of running your center—including sign in and out, parent communications, tuition billing, and licensing and compliance—in one easy-to-use tool, along with providing best-in-class customer support and coaching. Brightwheel is trusted by thousands of early education centers and millions of parents. Learn more at mybrightwheel.com.