School Websites

Marketing company or CMS? - Which one is right for your school?

Why are schools choosing a website company over a marketing company when creating a new website and updating school branding? Learn the pros and cons of working with both.

Your school is realizing stagnant or lower enrollment numbers and it’s time to make a change. What’s the first thing everyone thinks of? Marketing your school! Social media, email campaigns, local advertising, and of course an eye-catching website: your first impression to prospective families. You may be wondering whether you should hire a school website company or a marketing company. The prices may be similar and there are reasons to go with both. How do we know which one to hire, if they are both offering a new school website design? Here are some things to consider when choosing which avenue will drive the best results for your school. 

Marketing companies are great for business

They do all the work for you up front - They will help you create your logo, school branding, and build a website for you. A lot of times everything is set and ready to go, like buying the home with all the staging furniture. Because it is all created up front, there usually is a charge for any changes that need to be made, or a monthly allotment of changes that can be made. Rarely is the client able to make the changes themselves and on the fly. 

Static content - This is a great option for people whose content rarely changes—like doctors, for example. Doctors have the same business hours, same schedules, and really just need a website explaining what they do, with the option to maybe book an appointment. There is very little support needed, because nothing changes.

All marketing services - Marketing companies have experience in branding, email campaigns, as well as creating paid advertisements. These additional services are usually a la carte and can be quite expensive. However, some school website companies include branding services as well to help with marketing your school, and they could even be built into your website package—be sure to ask first! 

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School website companies are here for the long-term relationship

They build everything for you - In addition to designing your website, school website companies should be migrating content from your old site to the newly designed one. School website companies have experience in what’s important to schools directly. For example, ADA accessibility is key to a lot of districts; a strong school website company will provide guidance for building an ADA-compliant website as well as built-in tools to maintain accessibility.

Dynamic content - If your content is changing or could change at any moment, working with a school website company and school-specific CMS will be easier and more cost effective than a marketing company. School website companies understand that website content could need to be updated at any moment due to a water main break, snow day, or a basketball game win. This would include adding new media like a video of graduation or an announcement from the superintendent. The best school website companies will put the power and tools of marketing your school in the hands of your school leaders. 

What happens after you acquire your “customer”? - Once a school acquires a student, there’s a digital relationship that takes place. The website is used as a tool to engage families, alumni, and community members long after the enrollment box is checked. School website companies provide tools to do this, such as a consolidated digital platform allowing for a C.O.P.E. (create once push everywhere) content strategy. 

Although a marketing company provides a lot of the branding efforts, it’s very important that the content never or rarely changes that you are putting on your website. It’s a lot harder to make those changes because most of the time they are managing the content for your school.  The best school website companies empower your school with tools and support to make necessary changes to the website. Some companies even provide brand and marketing feedback as well to their clients, so you could end up with the best of both worlds.

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Also check out our checklist on How to Interview a Website Company

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