A Website Is Essential for Education Providers .. Especially FE Colleges. But Often a Web Design Company Tie You to Them And You Don’t Realise Until It Is Too Late
This is how it works. Some web companies quote and tell you that you will have full control over the website once it is launched. But over the last few years, we’ve seen too many instances where that wasn’t true. Let me show you how a Web Design Company Can Tie You to them.
Many college sites pull in course info from the MIS system. It’s often a problem syncing the two together and the web design company will use a piece of software to do this. Often it isn’t until part way through the design process that they tell you about the need to use it. And they will blame your MIS system.
And because you are working to a deadline its easy to believe they have a solution and go down that road.
The problem comes when you want to take over full control of the website. The bit of software that links your MIS and website belongs to the web company. They insist you need to pay them a maintenance fee to keep the syncing running. And that’s how they stay in control of everything. In the worse cases, the company will then discover new problems when you want to upgrade plugins etc. The plugin will clash with their piece of software and you will need to pay them to modify it!
How Else Does a Web Design Company Tie You to Them?
Another trick unscrupulous web designers do is to quote for hosting the site. There’s nothing inherently wrong with this. But we’ve seen one case recently where the bill for hosting was £10k for a three years contract. When we looked at the external host they were using we found a huge discrepancy. The hosting company were charging £250 a year. The extra £9250 over three years was the admin fee the company were trying to charge.
There are a great number of really good web designers available to colleges. Not all are of dubious reputation. The problem is working out which ones are straight and which ones are out to rip you off.
At times like this, it pays to use an external consultant to advise on what to look for. After years of working with straight designers, and finding far too many that aren’t straight, we are happy to advise any college.
Everything we do in FE seems to be a project. From teaching and marketing to building a new campus. It’s all about Project Management.
But often our project management skills aren’t great. We could do much better at Project Management. At things like initiating, planning, implementing, controlling, and completing specific processes required to achieve specific tasks. And we need to remember that everything needs to be achieved within a specific time frame and to budget. Continue reading →
Chatlines Are Usually Seen As Communications Channels. But Did You Know They Contain Huge Amounts of Data That is Vital to Recruitment and Sales? Here’s How to Use Chatline Data to Improve Recruitment.
Yes, it’s true the data that your website chatline collects could be vital to your recruitment process. It can inform you about the type of questions being posed, the seasonality of the questions (different questions get asked in August and September than in February) and this may impact the way you post on your website or social media.
In fact, I’d be worried if it had no impact!
Learn More About Chatline Data Use
To learn more follow the link below to our sister site and implement the lessons provided in the YouTube video
GDPR could prove expensive for colleges. Are you spending too much?
GDPR is Vitally Important for FE .. & Could Prove Expensive
We have seen GDPR posts everywhere in the last months. And for good reason. This regulation is going to hit the sector very hard. For ages, we’ve kept all sorts of lists of people that have shown a vague interest in our offer. They’ve been kept by MIS, the marketing department and countless staff have kept their own private lists, often because they don’t trust the others to do their job properly. Continue reading →
Unanswered Phones Represent the Biggest Marketing & Recruitment Leakage in FE
I’ve written about unanswered phones before. It is no good spending £000s on marketing only to ignore the calls when a prospective student calls.
Sadly the blight of unanswered calls continues. In the last two weeks, I’ve repeatedly called two providers that have failed to answer. One just lets the phone ring and ring without going to answerphone. The other plays back testimonials (with background noise) for several minutes before saying it has not been possible to connect you and cutting the call. Continue reading →
I first started using email in 1996, the year Hotmail was started. It was useless in terms of FE marketing for one simple reason. There were very few people with Hotmail or any other sort of email accounts. None of my friends had one and none of my college’s target audience understood what email was.
It was several years before colleges started using email to communicate with prospects and even longer before we all had websites.
Fax still ruled and mobile phones were so big and heavy that “mobile” seemed to be a misleading description.
So I’ve been using email for FE marketing so long that I suppose that makes me a bit of an expert.
Expert or not, there are lots of words of wisdom written about email marketing, I have to think twice about. So much accepted wisdom is just plain mad. Continue reading →
As Bots, AI and Natural Language Sequencing Grows in Popularity, Can They Be Used to Produce Videos?
So to Answer the Question; Can AI Be Used to Produce Videos?
Yes, our AI powered bots are now producing videos. They use website copy to automatically produce the script and. They then select keywords from that script to select images from a vast collection of photos and can even find suitable music from similar music databases.
Over time the system’s AI learns to improve image selection.
These videos are ideal as video teasers to take someone from an online ad or social media to a full webpage where the sales funnel or conversion process can continue.
This type of video is proving very successful in attracting initial attention.
Where a longer video is required we recommend making a series of mini videos that can then be run in sequence. About one minute seems to be the ideal length for each min video.
Bots Can Be Used Wherever You Have a Digital Presence. That Not Only Includes on Social Media such as Facebook; but also on Websites, in CRM Systems, Chatlines and even Telephone Systems. So anyone can use a bot.
Several FE marketing colleagues contacted me during the FE Marketing Silly Season
All were highly hacked off.
What is the FE Marketing Silly Season? Why were people hacked off? They were hacked off simply because they had worked hard all year and felt that their professionalsim was under attack.
And what is it? The FE Marketing Silly Season is when provider senior staff look at numbers and decide that action is needed. By that I mean an extra marketing push is needed. My colleagues tell me that the senior staff then come up with all sorts of marketing initiatives and insist that the marketing department implement them immediately. Continue reading →
Websites Cost a Lot of Money, So Correctly Briefing Your Website Designer is Vital if You Want Value for Money from Your Designer
How to Brief a Website Designer
Over the last ten years I’ve specified a lot of education websites. I’ve also reviewed a lot of website specs drawn up by providers. So How to Brief a Website Designer is now second nature to me; but lots of people struggle with it. Specifying the website is key to getting your site right, but it needs detailed and concise specification.
A lot of good web designers tell me that too many clients haven’t much idea what they want in a website except it should be a “good site” or a site like one of their competitors.
No designer can give you value for money with such an imprecise specification. The good ones will probe for detail but the unethical designers (and there are a lot of them out there) will rip you off by fulfilling your imprecise instructions at high cost (then blame you for not briefing them properly).
Website Specification Detail
In the last few years I’ve specified many websites and my experience is that a specification needs to be at least 30-40 pages in length to be detailed enough to provide a designer with sufficient information. And I don’t mean a document full of screengrabs of sites that are liked or disliked; I mean hard facts.
It is necessary to specify your customer profiles, the products and/or services you wish to offer, the Calls to Action you require to be followed and the apps, plugins and functions you wish to provide. In most cases it is the function we wish to provide e.g. an appointment booking system, rather than the actual app or plugin to be used as the designer should have a more up to date knowledge of these and how they will interface with other systems and functions. Continue reading →
Psychological Nudging: The Government’s Behavioural Insights Team, aka The Nudge Unit, has been in existence for many years, but few people know of it.
However it can teach FE a thing or two about marketing and business development.
Psychological nudging is used by government to encourage us to do things we might not otherwise want to do. Things like pay their road tax.
A few years ago the Nudge Unit suggested that DVLA changed their normal long-winded letter to suspected non payers and sent a very simple message to those suspected on non payment. It simply said, Pay Your Road Tax or Lose Your Car.
Payments from previous non payers doubled. And when a photo of the vehicle was added payments tripled.
Outside of government nudge methods also work. Where honesty boxes are used the level of non payment significantly drops if you put an image of a pair of eyes next to the box! Continue reading →
Colleges and Universities mainly use the .ac.uk domain names reserved exclusively for them. But they can also use other domains (urls) at their description and other training providers frequently prefer to use .co.uk or .com addresses for their websites and emails.
But what if the domain you want isn’t available? Well, you might still be able to pick it up. Some addresses aren’t used, people just buy them with a view to sell them. They cybersquat on them. Agencies that do this will offer urls at exorbitant fees. Think carefully before paying them. How much are they really worth?
Some addresses have been used but are going to expire for various reasons. It might be the businesses has ceased trading or changed business direction. In that case you can buy them once they are available.
I could probably be described as an old dog but I love learning new tricks. I love to learn how to market more effectively and with the rate that marketing technology is changing that means learning lots of new tricks.
But it needn’t be as time consuming or expensive to learn as many people think. In this video I show how I’ve taken one simple marketing channel and learnt more at no cost. In this case it is how to use VFX .. Video Special Effects . In this case I wanted to learn how to track moving images and add a special effect to them. A few years ago this would have been difficult to do as each frame would have been dealt with separately. Now it is possible to automate the process and track a moving object for the whole clip length … and do it in minutes.
Learn more in the video below. View time .. less than 5 minutes 30 seconds
There are dozens of things that can go wrong when a prospective student or employer decides to apply for a course.
Websites fall over, forms stop working, forms are unintelligible, Forms get lost, people have to retype forms , attachments get lost, stupid questions get asked, …
It ought to be really easy to apply for a course. But our survey of providers proves this wrong. Dozens of things can .. and DO .. go wrong. One college lost 3% of applications .. we found them stuck in a spam filter.
They’ve been told it will save money and give them access to a wider marketing skill base.
I think both of these reasons are flawed. But the truth is worse than that. In this video I go into the pros and cons of outsourcing. You can read more of my thoughts on outsourcing marketing in my recent article on FE News.
As Principal I employed very few consultants but did employ Stefan on the basis of a clear ROI.
I would recommend him to any college, university, business or Government agency as a reliable consultant who will become indispensable.
Ioan Morgan CBE Latterly FE College Principal & CEO
He certainly does what he says on the tin...... I've worked with Stefan for many years and he has an uncanny knack of cutting through the ****, focussing on the essentials and coming up with creative and inexpensive marketing ideas that work.
Stefan isn't called the 'Marketing Magician' for nothing you know !
His ability to see marketing solutions that really work is second to none, without spending a fortune.
I think Stefan's great strength is taking problems and solving them, in a clear and positive way, without a whole lot of jargon.
I recently had the pleasure on working with Stefan on publishing a new marketing book. "Creating Business Growth" quickly became a Bestseller in several countries around the world. This project came together and was guided from concept to successful completion by a true leader. That leader is Stefan Drew. Stefan is an experienced marketer and I highly recommend him.
Stefan is very thorough in his research and understanding of a clients requirements. He has a proven record of delivering comprehensive strategic marketing plans that address education / FE issues critical to the ongoing success of a ...MoreStefan is very thorough in his research and understanding of a clients requirements. He has a proven record of delivering comprehensive strategic marketing plans that address education / FE issues critical to the ongoing success of a college. I would recommend considering Stefan for any project that involves strategic planning, communication or digital marketing.
I have worked with Stefan and have learnt a lot from him. He has extensive knowledge in digital marketing and he is keen to share his passion for the kind of deep audience insights that digital marketing can offer. ...MoreI have worked with Stefan and have learnt a lot from him. He has extensive knowledge in digital marketing and he is keen to share his passion for the kind of deep audience insights that digital marketing can offer.
His enthusiasm for marketing is infectious and he is a joy to work with.
Stefan is very thorough in his research and understanding of a clients requirements. He has a proven record of delivering comprehensive strategic marketing plans that address education / FE issues critical to the ongoing success of a ...More
I have worked with Stefan and have learnt a lot from him. He has extensive knowledge in digital marketing and he is keen to share his passion for the kind of deep audience insights that digital marketing can offer. ...More
Stefan has a brilliant insight into the world of FE Marketing! I love discussing new marketing ideas with Stefan and value his professional opinion on efficient systems, processes and strategy.