I have a confession to make. It’s been over 16 years since I left University and studying for me was usually left to the last minute and an all-night cramming session. But in the last year and coinciding with several big internal projects, I’ve now found a renewed love for learning new things, reading other people’s blogs and finding new tools that make my job easier.
Further, I’m ashamed to admit, my inbox is usually cluttered full of links that I’ve sent myself, having found a new tool or a useful ‘how to’ blog post in the wee hours when I can’t sleep. This weeks have consisted of ‘Tips for Producing Video Content’ and ‘How and When Gen Y and Gen Z use Snapchat’. Who knows what it will be next week?
So I thought it might be an idea to share some of these tools or sites with you. I won’t cover the more obvious ones such as Google Analytics and social media schedulers such as Hootsuite and Buffer, as I’m assuming that you’ll already be familiar with these. But here’s my list of the best marketing-related tools on the market today: a gem of a product or resource that you really should check out. Most are free, but if they are paid, I have given an approximate price.
DIGITAL MARKETING AND ANALYTICS
1) If you want to keep up-to-date with news or insights straight to your inbox…sign up for Google Alerts
Set up Google Alerts for keywords related to your school. Not only can you keep an eye on where your school name is used (and your competitors!), but tracking mentions related to your business or brand can unveil opportunities for link building, brand building, collaborations, and more. We use this to keep up-to-date with the latest news on teacher recruitment, using the keyword ‘teacher recruitment’ funnily enough!
2) If you’re looking to see how users interact with your current website…use Hotjar
The ever-useful Hotjar allows you to create heat maps of your website to understand what users do by visually representing their clicks, taps and scrolling behaviour. You can really get some great insights into which areas of your website are working and which people are ignoring. This one is worth it’s weight in gold in my view.
£ There is a free trial available and a free plan for personal users, allowing you to collect data based on 2,000 page views per day.
3) If you’re contemplating a new website…use Google Page Speed Insights
If you’re in the process of having a new website built or contemplating it, we can’t stress enough how important it is to have a fast, responsive website (not to mention built mobile first). This isn’t just for a seamless user journey, but also for those of you that use Google Ads. Google gives every advertisement a relevance score, which determines where your advert ranks. Relevance score is made up of three components: expected click-through rate, ad relevance and landing page experience. So if your landing page takes ages to load, is lagging and poorly designed, your performance with Google Ads will be affected. PageSpeed Insights analyses the content of a web page, then generates suggestions to make that page faster.
£ This is a free to use site.
4) If you’re building a new website and want to test different versions…use Linksplit
The most effective way to make your website better is through A/B testing: splitting traffic between two or more different versions and seeing which performs better. And Linksplit makes it a lot easier to set up. It’s free for the first 10,000 clicks, and as a bonus, you don’t even have to sign up to get started. If you head to the site and enter your destination URLs, you’re given a single, short test URL to share with your audience. It couldn’t be easier.
5) If you want to brush up your Facebook or Instagram skills…check out AdEspresso’s Blog
AdEspresso is a tool that can be used to manage your Facebook campaigns, but as I use Hootsuite (who now own them), I can’t vouch for its performance. However, I do find their content SO useful. They have all sorts of free downloadable guides, webinars and blogs on a huge range of Facebook and Instagram related topics here. If they don’t have the answers, then no one will! Well, perhaps Facebook would, but have you ever tried to get through to them when your ad won’t post?!
£ Mostly free, although there are some features that you have to pay for.
6) If you’re still writing endless lists in notebooks…trial Trello
Trello is a collaboration tool that organises your projects into boards. In one glance, Trello tells you what’s being worked on, who’s working on what, and where something is in a process. Imagine a white board, filled with lists of sticky notes, with each note as a task for you and your team. With Trello, everything related to your online marketing strategy can be shared in the same place. It only takes a few minutes to set up a board. Even better, you can quickly invite your entire staff, all of whom can jump in on the action without delay.
£ The basic platform is free.
7) If you’re about to start a large, complex project such as a web build…look into Asana
Your web agency may well have their own bespoke project management system, but if they don’t, then we can’t recommend Asana enough. User friendly and intuitive, Asana enables you to work collaboratively with teams (so you can link your agency in too), add in milestones, assign tasks and ultimately, help you get that project finished on time. You can also keep all correspondence in one place, meaning you don’t have to go searching through a whole host of emails to find your last notes. A big thumbs up from us at Ambleglow who use this with our clients on large projects.
£ The Premium option is £7.99 per month, but money well spent if you have a number of large projects.
8) If you don’t have an in-house designer, but want quality social media assets…use Canva
Canva is a non-designers dream tool and perfect if you haven’t quite got to the point of learning Adobe Photoshop or InDesign. It uses a drag-and-drop format and provides access to a whole host photographs, vector images, graphics, and fonts, enabling you to make easy but impressive graphics for both web and print media.
£ The basic package is free. Canva Pro with more features is $12.95 per month.
9) If you want to join the school marketing community…find the hidden Facebook Groups
I would strongly advise any school marketer to sign up for InspirED School Marketing’s newsletter and receive your Daily Jolt. While they are US based, they have a wealth of information and tips to help make your job easier. Their podcast series is especially good and the team, as well as school marketers worldwide, post regularly in their closed groups on Facebook and LinkedIn seeking input from peers.
Other notable mentions include Marketing Mastery for Schools (Facebook Closed Group), and Communications & Marketing Professionals in International Education (Facebook Closed Group). Also, seek out Simon Hepburn from Marketing Advice for Schools on Linkedin. He’s got years of experience in schools marketing and he really knows his stuff.
Last point here. It seems really obvious, but I have invested a lot of time on LinkedIn networking (not selling!) in the last few months. Connecting with like-minded people who work in the same or an affiliated industry to me. By default, my LinkedIn feed is so much more relevant to my role and now full of interesting and useful content that gets me thinking.
LEARNING AND DEVELOPMENT
10) If you want to learn new skills…consider LinkedIn Learning
Launched in 2016, but not hugely marketed until now (maybe it’s me that’s only just clocked these?!), LinkedIn Learning is the new name for Lynda.com. It’s there to help you pick up new skills or enhance existing ones. There’s 13,000 on-demand courses to choose from – anything from creating a ‘Go to Market Plan’ to learning the basics of Dreamweaver. And you’ll get personalised course recommendations based on unique, data-driven insights from millions of professionals on the worldwide LinkedIn network. You can find out more here.
£ There are limited numbers of free courses on LinkedIn Learning, however, you can access LinkedIn Learning paid courses for free in a number of ways.
One way is by for registering for LinkedIn Learning free trial, which will give you 1-month free access to all premium courses. And, you can take this 1-month free trial benefit after 12-months.
Another way is by registering for LinkedIn, LinkedIn provides some premium courses on your feed each day and will give you full access for 24 hours.
I really hope this is useful and let me know if you’ve found any great tools that you can’t live without here and I’ll do a follow up piece with your recommendations.