Does a School Need Marketing? Yes, of Course.
Does a school or university need marketing? Is it a business? Does it want students? How about faculty? Staff? If the answer to any of those questions is yes, then your school needs marketing.
Rob Cairns of Stunning Digital Marketing was gracious to invite my writing partner Warren Laine-Nadia and me on his podcast to talk about our marketing book for schools.
Is This Book Only for Universities and Colleges?
No. “The Only Online Marketing Book You Need For Your School” (available on Amazon) is a resource for any school — online or off. This means it is perfect for course creators as well as Montessori schools, ballet academies and basketball boot camps.
The beauty of this book, when compared to our others, is that it includes a chapter on accessibility written our friend, Anne-Mieke Bovelett.
During the podcast, I was asked how the user experience (UX for nerds) affects a school’s ability to market itself. I told a story of a woman attacked on the campus of USC in the 1980s. So there is a trigger warning for you.
Essentially, from the website to the admissions process, from the tuition to the faculty, from fellow students to the safety of the campus, everything a school does (or doesn’t do) affects its marketing.
How Can You Use This Book?
This book is an “easy read” as Rob Cairns mentions, but don’t let that fool you. It is meant to be a reference manual and a resource.
Are you about to hire a marketing agency?
Read this book first.
Are you hiring a new marketing employee?
Read this book first.
Are you going to DIY your marketing?
Read this book first.
About the SDM Show
Podcaster and friend Rob Cairns had us both on previous episodes, but for this book, he thought why not have us both? Honestly, I talked way too much and I wish we could have heard more from Warren but you can’t have dead air so it is what it is.
Fortunately, Warren wrote a recap emphasizing some of the most important points for universities and colleges: the role our identity plays in marketing.
You can listen to Episode 208 on the landing page or on anywhere you listen to podcasts.
From the center of the universe, Toronto, Ontario, Canada. This is the SDM show with your host. Rob Cairns the SDM show focuses on business, life productivity, digital marketing, WordPress, and more. Sit back, relax, grab your favorite drink and enjoy the show. Here is Rob.
Rob Cairns (00:18):
Hey everybody. Rob Cairns here. I’m the Founder, CEO, Chief Creator of amazing ideas of Stunning Digital Marketing. In today’s podcast, I sit down with Bridget Willard and Warren Laine-Naida. And we talk about their great book, “The Only Online Marketing Book You Need for Your School.” We share some tips, tricks, from this amazing book. Sit back, relax, grab a drink, and enjoy the conversation.
Rob Cairns (00:54):
Hey everybody, Rob Cairns here. Today, I’m here with Bridget Willard and Warren Laine-Nada and we’re talking about their book, “The Only Online Marketing Book You Need For Your School.” And I, before we get to this podcast, I have to thank both of them for being so gracious. For the first time in 200 episodes, I actually lost the recording. Thanks guys for joining me again. How are you today?
Bridget Willard (01:19):
Warren Laine-Naida (01:20):
Hey, Rob. Doing good. Thanks for having us back. Oh,
Rob Cairns (01:24):
It’s always a pleasure. So let’s dive into how did you and Bridget start writing books together?
Warren Laine-Naida (01:35):
Uh, Bridget, do you want to take that one? Ladies first or women first?
Bridget Willard (01:39):
Warren Laine-Naida (01:40):
So you’re welcome.
Bridget Willard (01:40):
Uh, Warren and I had both been writing books in 2020 as our coping mechanism for the pandemic. And so we were like both helping each other with promotions and stuff. You know? Just it’s much easier to promote someone else’s book than your own. It just feels less slimy. And then Warren was like, you know, I was thinking about writing a series. Why don’t we do this together instead of constantly, you know, trying to do this alone? And I was like, okay. Because, you know, Warren and I already write together for client work. So why not a book?
Warren Laine-Naida (02:21):
Yeah. That that’s pretty much sums it up. Uh, yeah, something useful. We wanted to write a book that, that, that, that people could use because a lot of all of the books you just read, uh, the one is really something that, that people could use little people like us.
Rob Cairns (02:39):
Yeah. And I think this book, having read it, uh, twice now, that it’s, that it’s, um, really usable for the average person. I think it’s an easy read. So I’ve read. I read marketing and tech books all the time and some of them are easy. Some of them hard. I don’t find this a hard read, to be honest with you. I think it’s a, a really informative book from my perspective. Um, and I kind of wanted to dive into some of the parts of the book. So you did a series, so would one of you talk about the series and the other books in the series real quickly please?
Bridget Willard (03:16):
Well, first of all, I wanna, I wanna say that we take, “it was an easy read” as a compliment, which is most riders would be like what? That’s terrible. Because we wanted this to be a quick overview for someone who is either about to hire marketing and development teams or wants to do it themselves. And so that it’s a reference book. So thank you for saying it’s an easy read. That was completely intentional.
Rob Cairns (03:52):
Yeah, my pleasure. It was. It’s well done. I mean, I, I have some books that I read, I’m reading one right now — and I won’t name the title — and I’m like, I get a chapter in and I’m like, I need to put this down. It’s a good book. It’s just hard read. And with yours, your guys’ writing, and it didn’t surprise me ’cause I’ve read some of your other books. I, I think I actually own every book, the two you put out either together or on your own, either in paper format or Kindle format. I think they’re really worthwhile. And I actually recommend them to people because I think the two you, as a team, do a really good job on breaking the jargon down.
Bridget Willard (04:35):
Rob Cairns (04:35):
And what we, what we call in the business, dumbing it down for the average person. And I think that’s really important.
Bridget Willard (04:43):
That’s what we wanted to do, right, Warren?
Warren Laine-Naida (04:45):
Yeah. It’s gotta be really user friendly. I mean, if you, if you, if you can’t use a tool, then what’s the point of it? And that really goes also for, for books. You know? Explaining things like online marketing. Definitely.
Rob Cairns (04:59):
Yeah. It. It’s true. Um, before we dive into some of the points in the book, one of the things I wanted to talk to you both about, and I honestly don’t remember if it’s in here or not in here is before we look at different parts of marketing for school, one of the things I think every school needs to do is sit down and look at what their budget is to play with.
Warren Laine-Naida (05:28):
Bridget Willard (05:31):
Nobody wants to have a budget because they don’t. They think that if I, if they say that their budget is $10,000, that the vendor will come in at $9,997.
Warren Laine-Naida (05:43):
Rob Cairns (05:44):
I’m not, I’m not saying tell your vendor what it is, but I don’t know how many times either of you have sat down with clients and you sort of say, you know, I think this work you’re gonna do is gonna cost you a couple thousand dollars and they look at me and say, “I thought it would be cheaper. I thought it would be nothing.” Or they’ll say, “”oh, I’ll do it myself. And my argument to that is if you do it yourself and it takes you 10 hours, what’s that person’s salary for 10 hours? That’s a budget.
Warren Laine-Naida (06:20):
Warren Laine-Naida (06:23):
I think, um, sorry, uh, just about the budget. I, um, I think, especially for school, I mean, for anyone, but for schools, I guess specifically, you know, the. The budget is also a question of, of like overall resources, like time. Do they have the people? Do they have the time? Do they have the, um, the, the abilities? And then, and then the money. I, I, I don’t know. I, I think I’ve had less, less question of money from coming from schools than other places, you know, because they, they do seem to have some budget for, for marketing, especially private schools. Um, but it’s more that, you know, they maybe need to use the money for something else because they say, oh, “why do we need to market? We’re a school.” So, um, yeah, I think just general resources.
Rob Cairns (07:19):
I think one of the things that marketing the schools, that’s a little different is, people have an attachment to their school. People have attachments in the US to the university they went to, the high school, they went to. In Canada, It’s the same thing. And we have those attachments.
Bridget Willard (07:46):
Bridget Willard (07:48):
We absolutely have those attachments. Um, whether it’s going to football games, uh, uh, I mean in the United States it’s about to be March Madness, which is all about college ball — college, uh, basketball. Um, we have those loyalties and those loyalties have to do with our identity. I was just talking to a friend of mine, um, who found out that, you know, somebody got hired at at their, um, place of business because the hiring, the supervisor went to the same college. It wasn’t like that great of a college, but it was still the same college. That loyalty. And, and, and my friend was saying, oh, maybe they have a better program.
Bridget Willard (08:32):
I said, it not has anything to do with a better program. They, that person. Like say. Okay, so I went to Fresno State then I went to San Diego State. That’s where I graduated. And then I got my Multiple Subjects, Teaching Credential from Fullerton State. And those are when I say state, those are all California. So let’s say San Diego State. Go Aztecs! Okay. And so I say, I went through their liberal arts program, which I have the opposite reaction to. I would never hire anybody at my school who went through their liberal arts program to be a teacher because those people were not that bright. I’m sorry, but they weren’t. And they shouldn’t be teachers.
Bridget Willard (09:12):
But a lot of times people will say, “oh, you went to that school. I went to that school. It’s the best program.” It’s the best program ’cause I went to it and I’m hiring you to validate my own identity. That is how deep, uh, the branding goes for colleges, ballet schools, uh, yoga centers. I mean, oh wow. You got certified by this program? Wow. That’s amazing. And even, um, in the WordPress world, “oh, I really wanna hire you to write. Did you go through this certain program?” No, I’m just writing for clients. Right. But oh no, I didn’t go through that program. So you better not hire me, you know? Right. Did you go through this program or that program? All of these courses, whether it’s, uh, HubSpot certification or going to Harvard Medical School all have to do with how people see themselves and their identities. And that is why marketing for schools is deeper and more important in our culture than any other type of marketing.
Rob Cairns (10:32):
I would agree. I mean, you look at our mutual friend, Todd Jones, he’s one of the biggest Arkansas sports fans that I know and there’s, that’s his identity. And I, I look at my family and um, my uncle sat on the board of directors of Florida State University at one time, so my family is deep dive to FSU university for that exact reason. And they will ever go away. I mean, no, you know. It’s, it’s so true.
Rob Cairns (11:02):
Um, which brings me to my next point, you wrote a chapter about donations. Um, how does that identity impact donations?
Warren Laine-Naida (11:13):
Oh, probably for, you know, for, for schools. I mean, this is probably more of a North American thing. I mean, I’m sitting in Europe, it’s not so much, uh, here. But. um. Alumni and, um, you know, certainly, um, if you have a successful business or, you know, um, uh, estates are bequeathed to schools, um, alumni work together with schools. So I mean, donations are really the financial extension of that marketing and that identification that we have with schools.
Warren Laine-Naida (11:50):
Um, in North America it’s, it’s very strong because, you know, so many people grow up and, and spend their entire lives in, in one area. And, um, it might have a, you know, well-known high school. It might have a well-known college or university, which they might attend and work or be connected to in some other way. So, uh, um, you know, that, that donation is like the final point to, um, to continue to contribute and support your school, um, throughout your lifetime. So it’s, it’s, you know, donations are really that sort of that continual marketing, um, uh, yeah.
Bridget Willard (12:32):
Yeah. And even, even in public schools, uh, everybody knows about the PTAa — parent teacher, um, organization or whatever it’s called — um, uh, bake sales.
Warren Laine-Naida (12:45):
Bridget Willard (12:46):
You know, and, and so like, you know, if you’re on a keto diet, you’re not gonna eat cupcakes or something. Or, you know, little, uh, these schools turn our students into little shysters, um, who are selling gift wrap and jams. And, you know, we all know about the Girl Scout Cookies and everything. Like how about just have an online donation form for your parent-teacher organization or your drama program or the mathletics program. And let me donate to that and I’ll buy whatever I want. I don’t wanna buy your chocolate bar just so that that kid could go on a field trip.
Warren Laine-Naida (13:23):
Yeah, yeah. It’s it’s go ahead. Sorry.
Rob Cairns (13:26):
And what is the, uh, best donation platform out there online? As far as the two, you are concerned,
Bridget Willard (13:32):
GiveWP.com. It’s the most robust online platform for WordPress — by far.
Rob Cairns (13:40):
Bridget Willard (13:41):
I didn’t work for them or anything.
Rob Cairns (13:43):
I would agree. Maybe you should actually, that’s a great,
Bridget Willard (13:46):
No, I did. That’s where I start that’s. That was that’s one of my claims to fame.
Rob Cairns (13:52):
That one, I did not know that about you.
Bridget Willard (13:55):
So from 2015-2017, I worked for Thought House, which is an advertising agency in San Diego and GiveWP was essentially our client. So I’ve, I, they sent me to, um, WordCamps to give keynotes and, and other talks. And to be a booth babe, they don’t call it that ’cause that’s, you know, WordPress people would hate that.
Warren Laine-Naida (14:16):
That’s a surprise.
Bridget Willard (14:18):
Um, no, I mean, and I’ve talked to them about like donations. And the thing is you, yes, you could collect money from PayPal and you could collect money with Stripe and a Gravity Form. But what you don’t have data on is, uh, form by form, uh, performance. Right? But with GiveWP — which is now owned by Liquid Web and part of the StellarWP family — with GiveWP, you can have as many donation forms as you want, and then you have appropriate reporting. And you’re collecting that donor data right there. So, you know, you don’t need to have it connected, necessarily, to Salesforce or something like that. You know, you, you have that information, you can email those folks. You can, um, you know, test your donation forms and see what works. Even if it’s all going the same bank count.
Bridget Willard (15:11):
Now there is a, there is a, a former client of mine called, uh, University Christian Ministries for the uni, uh, for, uh, University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee.
Bridget Willard (15:25):
And they are, you know, help students with, uh, Bible studies and lunch programs and things like that. And so I helped them use GiveWP, and I wrote the donation form, um, landing page documents, uh, so that even though this money is all going the same place, there is a specific donation form for the lunch program, for, you know, every single one of their programs. So that I can give based upon something that relates to me.
Bridget Willard (15:56):
Donations — and the reason why we donate — is also closely tied to our identities. I donate to the National, uh, Domestic Violence hotline. Every month, they get $20 from me because as a child of abuse, I understand and relate to that. We donate because of who we are and how we identify.
Rob Cairns (16:23):
Oh, I, I, so don’t disagree on that one. We, we do. And it’s a lot based on experiences that we’ve gone through or somebody close to us has gone through, and that impacts our donations. There’s no question about that one. Um, in your book, you talk about research and I think this applies to schools, but it applies to any marketing. Why is research important?
Warren Laine-Naida (16:54):
Um, well, you know, I, I think it’s pretty much part of, of, of, well, as you say, any marketing. um, you’ve, you’ve really got to, and we could maybe just use an example of the donors and the community, as an example, you, you need to, you need to find out, you know, who is, who is interested in your school and why. You, you, you know, you’ve really got to do a lot of, um, a lot of that groundwork. Um, and you know.
Warren Laine-Naida (17:22):
Just, and to continue with the, with the donor example, I guess, um, there would be, you know, really good example, why researching, um, the community, people who have attended, people who are connected in some way through business or other organizations, um, what the school means to them. You know, what does the school provide and why is it of any interest?
Warren Laine-Naida (17:45):
Um, because this is gonna be able to give you a lot of information. Different demographics, the different interest groups that you have when it comes to your school, and it allows you to do your marketing based on that. You know, who is interested in, you know, um, vocational training? Who is interested in sports? Um, who is interested in donating other than money? So donating their time, donating computers for our, for our computer class? Donating, you know, whatever it might be?
Warren Laine-Naida (18:17):
Um, so, and this all goes really back to, you know, what we always talk about, well, not we, but what people that marketing always talk about is being so important. And that is the, the advocacy of your, of your, um, of your customers, of your community. Um, and you know, that really, I think takes time to, um, you know, to, to research, to look into and to understand. And it’s, it’s always in flux. So, um, yeah, marketing, uh, I’m sorry. Uh, research is just as important for schools’ marketing as it is, um, for schools, uh, in, well, in their science projects or things, you know. Research is something that just sort of goes through the whole vein of, of the school life.
Bridget Willard (19:07):
Rob Cairns (19:11):
And, you know, we, the other thing you spend a lot of time in is you wrote a chapter on user experience. And the problem in the digital world we have is most people assume user experience means the website, the ads, the online community. And I would argue as a marketer, user experiences so much more than that. Do you have any thoughts on that?
Warren Laine-Naida (19:39):
Yes. Bridget, do you have some thoughts on that?
Bridget Willard (19:42):
Well, I mean, I’m not a UX nerd. But I, I mean the. But the thing is that in order to make a sale, you have to have 7 to 10 touches. We know this ’cause we say it over and over again, but marketing is about human behavior. All of the technologies, um, will always evolve and change. But what does it take for someone to decide to be part of this thing? Right? Whether it’s, uh, uh, you know, to, um, buy Air Jordans and collect them and fill up their closets with a bunch of shoes and then say that’s an investment. Okay. Is it that? Or is it that they are wanting to show their prestige because they’re a fellow at, at Stanford University or Oxford. Okay. So what is it that what’s that experience that they have?
Bridget Willard (20:46): (Trigger Warning)
So here’s an example. Uh, I’ll leave her unnamed, but someone I know got a full ride in the 1980s for USC. Now, USC is in a bad part of town. And before they started buying up more of neighborhood — and that’s a completely different topic. But before they started buying up the neighborhood and, and making more of a safe spot, um, the University of Southern California, USC, uh, it was a very dangerous place to be. And, and just as another note, violence against women on college campuses is a reality and a big, big problem. So for the first, um, semester, she went there until, uh, until she was attacked. And that experience, uh, never left her. She, uh, dropped out. And then went to a state college much closer to home and, uh, lived at home because that didn’t, uh, she went to a college that did not have the prestige of USC. Um, she still excelled in her life, but the user experience of being a woman, being a young female, at USC in the 1980s was enough for her to decide, to pay for her own college. And get rid of that and, and deny her own access to a fully-funded college experience at a prestige school.
Rob Cairns (22:27):
Rob Cairns (22:28):
That is a tough one. Bridget.
Bridget Willard (22:30):
So user experience is the whole experience of the college. That’s why branding is so important, right? So you could say that you’re this and say that you’re that, but branding, as we all know, three marketers on a podcast, who’s gonna get a word in edgewise? Um, branding is all about what people say about you. It’s about their experience. Yeah. So everybody for a long time, excuse me, for a long time, people were all about Converse at, you know, wearing Chucks. And I could not wear those shoes for a long, long time. I, after I lost a lot of weight, then I had a better problem and better experience with Chucks. But before they were originally like really, really flat shoes, and if you have a high arch, it doesn’t matter how much I wanna be part of the Chuck’s culture or how much I wanna fit in stylishly. My experience of wearing those shoes is poor.
Bridget Willard (23:26):
And though, and it goes the other way around, like my experience of Fresno State was amazing. And when people would say, oh, Fresno, [gag sound]. I loved Fresno. Um, it had a, such a diverse, uh, culture. It still does, uh, historically a diverse culture and the food there is so fresh because it’s right there, it’s right there in the heart of agriculture. And you have Armenians and Hmong and Greeks and Italians and the best Mexican food I had in California. So like that experience made me really appreciate living in Fresno and I enjoyed it. So I would recommend people go there. So that’s the whole thing is with the branding. The experience is more than just the website, but then if you ha hear all this good things and then you go and try it for yourself and they fail you along, along the way, that’s a bad UX.
Rob Cairns (24:29):
So true. And, and the branding’s like really key. I, I went to a, uh, community college back in the eighties in Toronto and a place called Centennial College. I still have strong ties to the school. I still have a couple of Centennial sweatshirts in my closet, new ones. Um, you know? And people say, oh, I didn’t know, you went to Centennial. And I’ve had a couple people whose kids have gone because they talked to me and found out about my experience at the school. So.
Bridget Willard (25:01):
Rob Cairns (25:01):
that’s so important too. It really is.
Warren Laine-Naida (25:05):
Uh, it’s just, just to step in about the user experience. Um, yeah, I mean, it goes both ways for, for schools. This, this branding is, is really important. You know. Probably when we think of colleges and universities, you know, our parents went there, there’s a lot of advertising. There’s a lot of hype. We want that university lifestyle. It’s a very important part of our coming of age when we’re 17, 18.
Bridget Willard (25:35):
Warren Laine-Naida (25:36):
Um, so there’s a, there’s a lot of storytelling that goes into university branding and marketing. And, and that is, is probably for all of us –anyone who attends to higher education — um, this is quite literally a life changing moment. So, um, you know, either to go to the bad experiences will, will stay with us. Um, and, uh, I, I know from, from my own experiences, I mean, when I was in Canada, um, I went, I went to Simon Fraser.
Warren Laine-Naida (26:05):
I went to University of Western Ontario, which they oddly rebranded to Western University, even though it’s in the east. I don’t understand that. Um, um, you know, any of my experiences with, you know, Queens University or McGill or UBC, I mean, every university has its own brand, its own story. And you really feel that when, when you are there. Um, in Europe, it’s, it’s not that much because we don’t really have that sort of, there’s not the campus university. So, um, you know, universities are just buildings located in different places of the city and you don’t really have that, that storytelling that goes into creating, you know, the, the, the user experience or the brand.
Bridget Willard (26:47):
Um, that’s really like the, the bigger picture of the user experience. And on the other side of user experience is as you say, like the, the website itself. Um, and that can be very technical on one side or sort of in, in the middle, um, you know, what most of us, you know, understand to be a website that works on my mobile phone or not.
Warren Laine-Naida (27:10):
Um, we were really lucky. We got, um, for that chapter, we had Anne-Mieke Bovelett [@Bovelett on Twitter], um, who you can find, um, every pretty much everywhere geek, um, geek, @GeekOnHeels. Um, and she’s really a usability / accessibility expert. So, you know, they were talking about the fonts, the contrast of color, um, accessibility, really on a technical, um, level.
Warren Laine-Naida (27:38):
Um, but I think, you know, we’ve got it on both ends of the spectrum. Either it’s our, our experience with the product, um, that the website talks about. And in this case it could be a school. Um, on the other end, the accessibility of does the school’s website work? But right in the middle, I think for me, what’s really, really important when it comes to user experience, um, is quite honestly when I’m on this website and I’ve responded to the marketing and I’ve seen the social media posts and I’ve clicked, does the website answer my question? Has it solved the problem that I’ve gone there for it to solve?
Bridget Willard (28:22):
Warren Laine-Naida (28:23):
If it doesn’t, then I’ve got a bad user experience.
Bridget Willard (28:28):
Warren Laine-Naida (28:28):
So, you know, it’s, it, it really has. It’s a, it’s a wide spectrum when we talk about UX. Um, and you could probably write a whole book just on that.
Rob Cairns (28:39):
There’s your new book, my friend. Yeah. I, I, I, it’s so true. I mean, and, and the problem we have in this business is website owners that don’t hire somebody, tend to write web content for themselves, not for their potential customers, viewers, or clients. And that’s a mistake. You should always be doing the UX in terms of the people that you’re doing it for, not for you.
Warren Laine-Naida (29:09):
Oh, for sure. Most people design their websites like this as well. It’s usually the first thing, uh, that I, that I do. It, it was the first thing I did when, when I came to, um, my most recent university, um, was just tear the website apart. You know, with the question, can anyone explain to me, you know, if you don’t work here, what these navigation terms mean? You know, because we usually build our websites and name our navigation, um, structures from a very internal perspective. And no one outside of university is gonna understand that. But university websites or any school or any website, the audience is more than likely not going to be you. So, um, yeah, we have a tendency for, as you say, not only write content that it seems to be for ourselves, but we build our websites like that as well. Um, yeah, it’s not good.
Rob Cairns (30:14):
So, So true. And while we’re talking about websites, Bridget, um, what’s, uh, going on, um, with analytics? And, and we have to kind of dive in there. We’re, we’re in a bit of a problem right now where the EU, as Warren knows, and we know, is starting to block analytics. There’s all kinds of lawsuits, but we need those analytics because as a school, you need to know what’s working and not working on your website.
Bridget Willard (30:46):
Okay. Well, I have distinct opinions on analytics. And what I wanna say about Google Analytics or Matomo Analytics or Twitter or Facebook, it’s not the two tablet, stone tablets that came from Mount Sinai. It’s not divine scripture. It’s just data. And I think in this world, we, uh, this, this like last 10 years, we obsess over data as if it is the only fact. And what I constantly remind my friends and my clients and my peers is that data is a picture in the past.
Warren Laine-Naida (31:32):
Bridget Willard (31:33):
Of what you did. So it’s behavior from the past. Okay. So in her talk, um, uh, TEDTalk, Brené Brown is famous for saying, data is, “stories are data with a soul.” Okay. So we need context for data.
Bridget Willard (31:53):
So, for example, if you have a five page website for your ballet school, and you’re only getting 40 clicks, and then the next day you get 200, um, why? Google Analytics doesn’t tell you why. They might show a, a source or a referer, but you don’t really know why. You know, you. Maybe you didn’t even have a campaign, but it could be just, uh, Russian bots. And I say that totally generically have nothing to do with anything that’s happening in the world right now. But it could be just bots, bot traffic. You know, a lot of times we get bot traffic and we’re like, oh man, look at all the people that went to my website. It was nothing. You know.
New Speaker (32:35):
Uh, one time I was, uh, doing, uh, Twitter for a web host company, a hosting company. And we had 40,000 impressions in one day. 40,000! That’s great. Right? No. Because that’s the day our servers went down without redundancy because somebody literally cut a wire. Okay? One wire and the whole thing went to kaput. So data data is just one small picture. Okay?
Bridget Willard (33:10):
So if, if you are university, you have so much data it’s not even funny. Because most of the colleges within the university have their own website and you have your own marketing campaigns and blahty blah, blah, blah.
Bridget Willard (33:23):
But it’s one picture. But if you, if your ballet school has 200 hits one day, it could be because, um, Mary Jane, who, went that school 10 years ago was talking to her friend who just moved into town, was looking for a place. And then they all started telling their friends, and then they were looking. Or there was a scandal with one of the teachers. And so everybody wanted to look at that website. Or one little kid got featured on TikTok. And now everybody wants to go that ballet school. You don’t know why.
Bridget Willard (33:56):
There’s no such thing as a first-click lead. We always think, oh, we’re gonna put this in front of our customer. And then they’re gonna click on it and they’re gonna buy. Yeah. Maybe. There’s #TikTokMadeMeDoIt in a couple of those. You know, people buy laser vacuums, but that’s, non-durable manufacturing. That’s goods. That’s temporary.
Bridget Willard (34:17):
But for a school, what you need to know is of the course of time, do you have increased enrollments or not? That’s the only thing you should be going by. Do you have a big turnover in your staff? That’s what you need to care about. That’s the data that’s not in Google Analytics. You need to know why parents are sending their kids to that ballet school? Why people are going to your yoga training retreats. You need to know why. The website is one small picture of that.
Bridget Willard (34:50):
And for, for another example, ’cause I don’t have enough rants on this. I worked for a travel agency for a while. And I said, what’s your best, uh, lead gen source? And she’s said, Yelp. I’m like, great. What else do you use for social media? She goes, that’s it. So of course it’s the best. It’s the only one you’re using. Right? So once you add in Instagram and you start paying for Facebook ads, then maybe that’s a different story. Right?
Bridget Willard (35:19):
Even last month I had a client who I, uh, did some boosted Facebook posts for and you know, last month, uh, we didn’t do boosted Facebook posts. So the first month we had 8,000 impressions and the second month we had 200. Sad, sad. No, we paid for those 8,000. It doesn’t so like, you know, it’s like, it looks, you have one great day, one great month. You have all green arrows. So the next month, I always tell my clients, the next month you will see only red because what goes up must come down.
Bridget Willard (35:55):
You’re gonna look at the trend and the overall, um, actions. And it does be depend on your behavior as a marketing team and what tactics and strategies you’re employing. So should you care about data? Yeah, sort of, but you also need to give it a context.
Rob Cairns (36:16):
Oh, I agree with that. You gotta care about relevant data to your business. There’s there’s no question. I mean, a lot of people look at data and they don’t even know what they’re looking at and why? Oh, somebody told me impressions matter. Somebody told me likes matter. Somebody told me, hits to my website matter. Well, at the end of the day, I always look at, did those hits roll the conversions, which rolled the business. And that to me is a more important number than 20,000 people looking at a website because if those 20,000 didn’t roll over the business, what does that matter?
Bridget Willard (36:54):
Right. And Warren and I have talked about this a lot and we’ve written about it for our clients with, with regard to, um, open rates or click rates in email. Yes. So the Apple gets blamed for it, but it’s really California’s privacy laws that, um, took a hat tip from GDPR. You know? And so what, what the big problem is you should never should have cared about open rates anyway. Open rates is only about deliverability, right Warren?
Warren Laine-Naida (37:24):
Uh that’s right.
Rob Cairns (37:26):
I, as, as a guy with a large email list, I, I subscribe to that theory and I have for a long time. I don’t think at the end of the day, they matter. What I care about is what engagement came out of the email, what sales came out in email, what questions came out email. Those are things that matter.
Warren Laine-Naida (37:44):
I, I, my experience is being that, um, the, I mean, web. Analytics are fine, but, um, I have the impression, uh, that people expect that out of the box from the analytics also come a set of measurable goals. And um, that’s just simply not the case unless they’re vanilla ones. Um, you know, what’s the, what’s a good bounce rate? How many clicks is good? I mean, these are industry standard. And um, you know, to be honest, it really doesn’t, doesn’t matter. Uh, if you, if you don’t have business goals that your marketing strategy is supporting, then there really is no point in having analytics.
Bridget Willard (38:35):
Oh my God. Mic Drop.
Warren Laine-Naida (38:36):
You know, like, why are you measuring these things? What are you measuring? But it’s, it’s this very, it’s not, it’s, it’s not uncommon. And it goes back to exactly what Bridget says, that, that we have backed ourselves into a corner, not just in marketing, but I would say in general, um, as a society that numbers matter. And, of course, numbers matter, but numbers only matter if they are giving you guidance about a goal, uh, or a result. If you don’t have those, then the numbers, well, they’re, they’re nice, but they’re meaningless.
Bridget Willard (39:17):
Yeah. And we, we have a whole chapter on email marketing. Right? And, and the thing is that, uh, Rand Fiskin, I mean, uh, SparkToro just had a blog post about asking people to unsubscribe. With MailChimp and HubSpot and ActiveCampaign and uh, all these kinds of marketing, uh, platforms charging by the user. You really want unsubscribes if you’re paying for somebody who doesn’t give a crap.
Rob Cairns (39:46):
Yep. Yeah. I, I agree. The biggest problem with email marketing is people don’t do what we call segmenting the list. They throw email at everybody. So I’ll give you an example of that. I run an email marketing list. I’ve got about 8,000 people on my list for, for a small business. That’s pretty, pretty good. I have great open rates, but I don’t really care. And I would rather, and I actually prune my list. So I’ll turn around and say, oh, Bridget, hasn’t opened anything in a month. And I’ll toss you in a sequence where I only email you once every two or three months. And the reason I do that is, frankly, I’m not wasting my time on somebody who doesn’t read what I’m sending out and isn’t interested. And they’re not my customer, to be honest, at the end of the day.
Rob Cairns (40:37):
So the problem with email marketing is too many people take their email list. And schools, I’ve seen it time and time again, and they keep sending the same stuff to the same people and they don’t pay attention to who’s opening and who’s not. And they don’t pay attention to, is this person interested in computer courses, but let’s send them, uh, science courses. Like what’s the point of that?
Warren Laine-Naida (41:03):
Yeah, yeah, yeah. That’s, it’s very true. I mean, emails are, you know, getting these opens. It’s the same as clicks, you know, it’s like, wow, we had 10,000 clicks in our websites. Like, what does that mean? It’s kinda like the, we’re now in the digital digital form of bums on seats, you know. And it’s just great that a hundred people came to our talk and the room was full. But if only one of those people bought our book or signed up for the course, then really, honestly, only one person attended our talk. The other 99, they’re just space filler. And maybe they blocked seats from other people who were really interested. So I don’t know. I, I really think the numbers are, are really great for marketing managers who want to show something on a, on a diagram and say, look, look, we’ve got, we’ve got volume. It’s like, well, a cow’s got volume, but you know, what, what are you gonna do with the cow?
Rob Cairns (42:05):
I agree. Um,
Warren Laine-Naida (42:07):
I love cows by the way.
Rob Cairns (42:09):
Uh, I know you do. Let’s talk a little bit about what schools could do better when they’re doing, um, and you touched on in your book, on social media. Um, I think a lot of schools, they post links like to find out about our school, come here. Wouldn’t they be better going back to the experiences and sharing some of that to get to energy up?
Warren Laine-Naida (42:35):
Definitely. Bridget, you are the social media guru. Do you want to answer first?
Bridget Willard (42:40):
I think the biggest mistake that everyone makes on the internet, everyone, uh, the girl selling Zyia leggings, the Pampered Chef person, the professor, the, you know, verified Twitter account with 40,000 followers. Every business, every human, the biggest mistake they make on social media is not replying to people.
Rob Cairns (43:09):
Rob Cairns (43:12):
So I have, um, a community I belong to. It’s not school-related. It’s called the TWIT network out of Petaluma. Leo LaPorte.
Bridget Willard (43:21):
Yes! That’s how I found out about Twitter and WordPress!
Rob Cairns (43:25):
Yeah. And I’ve been a longtime fan of Leo. One of his co-hosts on TV. Andy Walker. Shout out at Andy, went to school with me in high school in Montreal.
Bridget Willard (43:34):
Rob Cairns (43:36):
Bridget Willard (43:36):
That is so cool!
Rob Cairns (43:37):
The other co-host Amber MacArthur. Amber’s um, Amber’s in tech tech reporting in Toronto in business who I’ve met many times. But his current community manager is a guy by the name of Ant Pruitt. And I’m gonna shout it to Ant. What Ant does on his Discord channel, and in Twitter, when people say hello, when they say they comment about a show, he always takes the time to respond to people.
Bridget Willard (44:08):
It makes a difference.
Rob Cairns (44:09):
Ant is I was saying on Twitter this morning, strange enough, is a great community manager because he takes the time, build the community. You do not build the community on social media by not responding to people and ignoring them. Then it’s a one-way medium, like watching a television channel.
Bridget Willard (44:28):
Yeah. It’s just an RSS feed. And that’s how most people deal with it, uh, by not dealing with it. And it’s super rude. You know, like if there’s people that I talk to and I respond to ’em, whether it’s a brand or a person, and they don’t even have the, the 40 seconds left to say, “Hey, thanks, Bridget.” Why would I, why would I bother even, you know, talk about them ever again?
Warren Laine-Naida (44:52):
Bridget Willard (44:52):
Whether it’s Southwest Airlines or Fresno State, it doesn’t really matter. And if you don’t. I mean, if people say, “oh, well it doesn’t scale.” You know what? You don’t get that many replies. Okay? There’s not every day as, uh, United having to respond to “United breaks guitars” viral video from 12 years ago or whatever.
Bridget Willard (45:15):
You know. most of the time, it’s just like, “oh my gosh, I just got into what WGU’s program.” He’s like. We, All you have to do is say, “we are so excited for you. We cannot wait to meet you.” How hard is that? It’s 40 seconds?
Warren Laine-Naida (45:32):
Bridget Willard (45:32):
“Go you!” um, “thanks for sharing about our program.” “Oh my gosh. Your daughter looks so cute.” Oh my, you know, how hard is that? “Like, thanks for coming to our, our class.” It’s not hard.
Bridget Willard (45:45):
Half the time. Most brands don’t even like the comments they get. If it’s, you know, if it’s appropriate. Uh, or, or on Twitter, they’ll just press a retweet button. Which is, does, what? What does that do? Like if I say to you, Rob, “Hey, I really like your tie today.” And all you do is, is like, just look at me and, and stare at me. I’m just like, that’s like that guy’s freaking weird, right?
Rob Cairns (46:13):
Bridget Willard (46:13):
But it, but a normal person would say, “thanks.” Or, “Thanks. I got it at Brooks brothers.” Or, “thanks my mom gave it to me. Or, “thanks. I really was worried about getting this color with this thing.” “No, no, no. It goes great together.”
Bridget Willard (46:27):
That is the, um, social, um, kind of like a secured credit card, um, that, that builds trust in a relationship. So, um, affinity leads to loyalty and loyalty leads to sales. This is something about human behavior that we forget. Okay. So if I’m, if I feel good, when I interact with your brand, then I’m gonna be loyal to you, which means I am gonna keep tweeting, keep posting, keep talking about your brand offline. And that will help your sales. It’s a long game, but that will always help your sales.
Rob Cairns (47:08):
Warren Laine-Naida (47:09):
I think for schools as well for social media, what’s really important is that it’s, it’s really a place for, of community, um, for schools and, um, you know, for recruitment. Yes. But I think what schools forget, that we all forget is, um, and it goes to user experience is that if we have people on Twitter, we always have to think, why are these people following me on Twitter? And that can very well be different than why they’re following me on Facebook or Pinterest or TikTok. Every platform offers something different and our needs are something different on these different platforms. This is why we use all these platforms. Um, so I think we have to be very aware of that and responsible and not just post the same information on every, uh, platform. Uh, we have to use them responsibly. These are, these are, these are tools. And most of us just use it without thinking, because it’s so easy to use. Um, and then it’s very hard to really know if we’re connecting with people. Um, and which is really why we’re there. We need to connect and we have this relationship. Um, so, but I don’t think we really think about it that often.
Rob Cairns (48:34):
That is so true. And so well said, Warren. Uh, Bridget and Warren, thanks for joining me today. You can find their book, “The Only Online Marketing Book You Need For Your School” on Amazon. Uh, funny story. When I ordered my book, I actually got mine before Warren, the author’s book.
Warren Laine-Naida (48:52):
So that, yes. This is a very amusing story. Robert.
Rob Cairns (48:55):
That Is quite funny. It doesn’t, it doesn’t hurt that in the GTA, there’s an Amazon center within an hour from me. So that probably helps.
Warren Laine-Naida (49:03):
There you go.
Rob Cairns (49:06):
Bridget, if somebody wants to get ahold of you, how the best way?
Bridget Willard (49:08):
Best way is to find me is on Twitter @BridgetMWillard.
Rob Cairns (49:13):
Yes. And, and I will tell you, Bridget does answer her tweets. So harass her. And, and if you’re bored, you can follow her design tips every day about what clothes she’s buying and all of that stuff. Cuz I think that’s still on Twitter, right? Bridget?
Bridget Willard (49:28):
Yep. Well mostly, mostly Instagram. I like to give people different reasons to follow me everywhere instead of just vomiting all over the internet at the same time.
Rob Cairns (49:38):
Yeah. And Warren, how’s the, uh, best way to get ahold gf you.
Warren Laine-Naida (49:42):
I guess probably on Twitter as well. @WarrenLNaida. I offer no fashion tips whatsoever.
Rob Cairns (49:50):
But, but he, he does, he does enter his Twitter DM. So you know.
Warren Laine-Naida (49:55):
Rob Cairns (49:56):
So. Thank you guys for joining me. You both have a wonderful day.
Warren Laine-Naida (50:00):
Thanks for having us, Rob.
Bridget Willard (50:01):
Rob Cairns (50:04):
A very special, thank you to Bridget and Warren for joining me on today’s podcast, discussing thei book, “The Only Online Marketing Book You Need For Your School.” Go to Amazon. Get the book today. You’ll find it most helpful in marketing your school.
Rob Cairns (50:19):
Thank you for listening to this edition of the SDM Show. The SDM Show is brought to you by Rob Cairns and Stunning Digital Marketing. For more information about Rob Cairns and Stunning Digital Marketing, go to StunningDigitalMarketing.info. From here, you can connect to us on social media, go to our website, and even go to the podcast to subscribe. This podcast is dedicated to my late father, Bruce Cairns. Dad, I miss you very much. Keep your feet on the ground. Keep reaching for the stars, Make your business succeed.
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