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Schools to change website to be more attuned to interests of prospective families

Written on May 28th, 2008

Overarching goal is to make it easy for seeking families to contact school

Although the Niagara Association for Christian Education recently revamped its website, it has plans to make additional changes based on feedback from Christian school marketing expert Dan Krause.

NACE, which operates John Knox Christian School in Stoney Creek plans to change its website to be more attuned to the interests of prospective families.

The overarching goal is to make it easy for seeking families to decide to contact the school, says Tony Kamphuis, executive director of NACE, which is a member of the Ontario Alliance of Christian Schools (OACS).

NACE hosted Krause, founder and president of GraceWorks Ministries for a three-day seminar on marketing Christian schools last weekend.

Krause had a number of suggestions for developing a website that is likely to generate more leads and ultimately result in new families joining the school.

He recommended gearing the site exclusively to the interests of prospective families and creating a separate page or even separate website for current families.

Krause had several suggestions for making it easy for prospective families to contact the school through the website. One of his ideas was to link contact-the-school pages to each specific topic of interest on the site.

Kamphuis says Krause’s view is that “everything about your website should be about them picking up the phone to call or coming to visit.”

Kamphuis notes that NACE recently put a virtual tour of its schools on its website but Krause suggested the virtual tour might send a message to parents that they don’t need to visit the school.

Krause has also found in his research that the quality of the school building ranks in the bottom 25 per cent of elements of a school that parents think most important.

Parents are most interested in knowing whether the school is going to be a good place for their child. A visit with the principal or similarly qualified staff-person is the best way to convince them that it is; the school website should be one of the paths leading up to that visit, according to Krause.

In addition to the NACE schools, five other Christian schools in the area were represented at the conference.

Marlene Bergsma attended as a volunteer on behalf Smithville District Christian High School), also a member of the OACS, and says she found the sessions very encouraging and thought-provoking.

She says the sessions provided specific tools the school will likely use to recruit more families but adds it’s ultimately not just about benefiting the school.

“(I see) this as an opportunity to have more families experience the blessing of Christian education and to do God’s kingdom work,” she says.

Located in Colorado Springs, Colorado, GraceWorks provides tailored solutions for problems Christian schools across the continent are facing, from school marketing to planning to annual and capital funding.

The non-profit organization’s mission is to “partner with like-minded leaders to help create, restore, and build-up 10,000 outstanding Christian schools world-wide by 2045, resulting in a generation of world-changing leaders of the caliber of Paul, Moses, Esther and Daniel.”

For more information on what NACE has learned about marketing, contact Tony Kamphuis at tkamphuis(at)nace.ca.