Did you know 60% of the research parents do when looking for a child care happen online and before they even call your daycare? This means that, if they don’t like your website, or it’s not mobile responsive, guess what? They’re never going to call you.
Many of those in the child care industry are not great at looking at things with their business goggles on. They see paying for a new website as an expense.
However, we can tell you that, when we look at the stats for a bad website, we’ve seen as high as an 80% bounce rate with less than a minute on page. That means that 80% of parents who look at your website, decide that, just because of the poor look or design, they will not come to your daycare.
Think about that for a moment. 80% of parents with children who might enroll automatically cross you off their list of potential daycares without even calling or stopping in just because you have a bad website.
Now a good website takes at least 80 hours to build including all the design and customer service time, so they don’t come cheap. You’re looking at at least $3,000-$5,000 around most big cities. Most will try to charge you $7,000-$10,000, but you can find cheaper. We start out at $3,000 for a basic customized WordPress site, which we’ve found to be one of the most affordable out there.
That cost might seem high, but if you’re losing 80% of parents because of it, that’s tens of thousands of dollars in potential revenue. If a new website resulted in just 1 new enrollment that year, you’ve already paid for it and we can tell you from experience that it will result in far more.
Having looked at a ridiculous number of daycare websites, it’s amazing anybody calls some of them. In fact, We’ve found that, when a website is really bad, they actually don’t get tours at all from it. The majority of their tours come only from drive-bys or word-of-mouth referrals, which is never enough to fill a center.
Most daycare websites need a complete overhaul. However, not all web design companies know what makes for a good daycare website. So we’ve compiled a list that you should ensure is built into the specs for your site once you commit to making that investment in your center.
Child Care Website Tip #1 – Make It Mobile Responsive
This is the Number One most important thing for any website these days. With most websites we look at, the majority of parents are accessing from their phone. If your website is not mobile responsive, it’s incredibly difficult to look at on their phone and they will bounce (leave) immediately.
What’s more, Google doesn’t like it when you give visitors a bad experience. So they will drop your daycare down in the search rankings because it’s not mobile responsive. Then, they’ll drop it down again because you have a high bounce rate.
Now, the good thing is that everyone knows this, so all web developers these days will build mobile responsive websites and it doesn’t cost extra to do so.
If you’re not sure if your website is mobile responsive, just go to your site on your phone and see if it automatically fits to the screen. If you have to scroll left or right to view pages, if text is small and hard to read, or if menus don’t have mobile drop down bars, then you know it’s not responsive. It’s time for a new site right away.
Child Care Website Tip #2 – Have a Call Now and Schedule Tour Button
Have a Call Now button at the top of every page in your header. Your header is the section of the website that appears the same on the top of every page. You want it on every page, not just the home page, because you never know what page visitors will land on first.
Now, this needs to be a button. A button means that I can click on it while on my phone and it will automatically call your center. Listing your number and then putting “Call Now” in front of it doesn’t cut it.
These days, mobile users want it to be as easy as possible. If you don’t make it easy for them to call you, it will decrease the possibility that they will. You don’t want that.
Related to a call button, you should also have a Schedule Tour button as well where parents can type in their name and email to set up a tour. Your web developer can set this up, so you are automatically notified by email when someone fills out that form.
Also, don’t be surprised if your web developer suggests a different color, like orange for your button, even if it doesn’t match the theme of your site. It might not look as pretty, but data shows that visitors are much more likely to call if a call button stands out to them rather than blends into the site.
You can even add this button in the footer, or the bottom of every page as well, so that when parents scroll down, there’s another reminder to call. And it’s so easy!
Child Care Website Tip #3 – Have a Drop-down Contact Form for Questions
Many websites have a Contact Form where it asks parents to fill in their name and email and then you reach out to schedule a tour. This should be located at the bottom of every page on your site.
This alone is not as effective without a drop-down menu for two reasons – 1) You don’t know what they’re inquiring about, so you can’t personalize your call or prepare beforehand and 2) the parent can’t clarify what information they need.
A contact form with a drop-down box means you can have a list of the most common questions asked by your parents like, “How much does your program cost?”, “Do you have room available for age X?”, “Do you do split days?”, etc. As the Director, you’ll know the 5 most common questions. Just put those in.
For an example of what this looks like, check out the bottom of this great site here: http://www.kidskornerbuffalo.com/. There tours nearly doubled after they upgraded their website, so you can see what kind of results come from a simple revamp.
Child Care Website Tip #4 – Have Pictures of Staff (And Keep Them Updated!)
Bottom-line, your teachers sell your classes. Parents trust and want good teachers far more than they care about your facility, curriculum, or you as a director. They want to know that their child will be loved and educated by the person working with them the most each day.
All parents want to know about qualifications, length of time with the center, and years of experience. So this can be very beneficial to have on the site. However, it’s really the pictures of smiling staff that have the most powerful effect.
Even if you don’t include qualification information or years of experience – because we all know how hard it can be to find and retain great staff – it’s still a good idea for each teacher to create a little bio. This just might be where they’re from, what they like to do, and why they love working with children.
If you have long-term staff with great qualifications, definitely show it off. If you’re still struggling in that area, focus on other positive qualities of the teachers.
Child Care Website Tip #5 – Put Something Unique About Your School
Does this sound familiar, “Our school is a place for children to learn and grow. We believe that every child is special, with their own unique talents. Education and play are so important at this age, so we focus on teaching children through play” blah, blah, blah.
The above is actually a great educational and care philosophy, but the problem is that it’s the same on every single child care website we go to in some variation.
You need to determine what’s unique about your center according to your market. This could include a phrase like “We are the ONLY center that….” or other differentiators you are proud of. For example, “We are the only center on the Southside of Indianapolis that incorporates a true Montessori approach” or “Our center has been NAEYC accredited for over 15 years, more than any other center in Carmel!”.
This information should definitely be on your About Page, but we actually recommend incorporating that information onto your Home Page and skipping the About Page altogether. With websites, less is more.
Child Care Website Tip #6 – Keep It Simple
Many businesses, daycares included, have a tendency to want to cram as much information as possible onto their websites. We strongly recommend against this.
Information should be just enough of what they need to know and they can contact you for the rest. Keeping it simple and uncluttered also helps provide a better user experience and actually lowers bounce rates, believe it or not.
Here are the pages that we recommend every center have:
- Home Page
- This page should include your educational philosophy
- What makes you stand out or why parents should choose you (see tip #5).
- Testimonials from current or former parents, preferably with their picture.
- Program Page
- What programs and for what ages do you offer.
- A bit about your unique approach to each.
- Staff Page (Updated and with pictures!
- FAQ Page
- This page should answer your most commonly asked questions from parents.
- Contact Us Page
- Embedded Google Map
- Contact Form
- Address, phone, and email contact information
- Picture of the front of the building.
That’s it. The rest is probably fluff. Some daycares want a page where parents can download enrollment packets, but these should be given during the tour and can be emailed easily. There’s really no reason to have them online.
Blogs are also very useful for building up Local SEO, which we’ll cover shortly, but are not necessary for most single-center child cares. In addition, they are a ton of work to maintain and we’ve found that most centers don’t have time.
For larger, multi-center operations, they’re a great idea, but you’d probably want to look at outsourcing such work to professionals rather than requiring already over-taxed teachers and directors to contribute, especially as they may or may not have strong writing abilities or understand SEO best practice.
Child Care Tip #7 – Include Testimonials
As mentioned in tip #5, you should have testimonials on your home page, ideally with a picture of the parent on there and where they are from. Parent testimonials build a lot of trust and go a long way in helping parents make the decision to pick up the phone and call you.
To get these, go to your super parents, the ones that have been with you forever and you know love your center. Most will be happy to give you a testimonial and we’ve found the easiest way to do it is just ask what they’d like to say and write it down. This works better than asking them to write something and send it to you.
Bonus Tip: You can do the same thing for online reviews. Online reviews are the 2nd most trusted factor after referrals from friends and family when it comes to choosing a child care. Check your Yelp, Facebook Review, and Google Review Comments. You want as many 5 star reviews as possible.
These are really beneficial both for SEO and for getting more parents to call and book tours, so offer something special for parents who do this for you. Maybe it’s a small gift card or their child gets to pick out a new toy from the prize box.
Child Care Website Tip #8 – Include a Video
Videos are incredibly engaging and build a lot of trust. Having a video of you as the director talking about your center, your love for children, and what sets your center apart will really help get parents to call.
We also suggest getting other teachers to briefly comment in the video as well. If you can pay to have something done professionally, great! Otherwise, using your phone to record is still very valuable. Just make sure the video is not shaky and that you keep it under 5 minutes.
We also don’t recommend showing the children in the center just due to the fact of parent complaints about using their child in promotional activities. Showing off the center can be a great idea, just do it after hours or take pictures of the center and splice them into the video. That way, you could even include photos with children if they all have their backs to the camera.
Child Care Website Tip #9 – Local Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Most web developers will do this for you automatically, but if you try to hire a freelancer or a cheap template website, then they probably won’t.
Local SEO is all about including local place names and other information so Google knows you are a small, local business. This means that, while you won’t show up when someone does a search for child care anywhere in the US, you are very likely to show up in search when somebody is looking from your city.
The main thing is to make sure you have the names of the cities you serve on the home page somewhere. Your web developer can direct you with the rest. If you’d like to understand this on a much deeper level, check out our post Local SEO: Creating a Local Business Content Strategy.
Child Care Website Tip #10 – Google My Business
This actually isn’t a website tip, per se, but it’s essential for any local business and over 60% have inaccurate information on their Google profiles. This means that, when parents search for you in your city, you won’t show up.
Or, just as bad, there is inaccurate information on Google Maps and parents will drive to the wrong location or call an old number.
Google My Business accounts are incredibly easy to manage and update. It will take you less than 15 minutes. If you haven’t done this yet, follow our guide here: How to Add Your Local Business to Google and Google Maps.
Good Luck With Your New Website!
Follow those tips and we guarantee you’ll see your number of leads start to double within 1-2 months. Your website is your home on the Internet. Just like your center, if it doesn’t look nice or isn’t friendly when parents check it out, they won’t stay. Want to see an example, check out one of our most recent page redesigns at Bizzy Beez Academy.
If you’re ready to get a new site and start booking more tours, you can contact us. Many agencies charge $7,000-$10,000 for a custom build. We run a tight ship with low overhead, so, including everything listed above, we’ll build them for $3,000 and it takes us about 2 weeks. Give us a call at 800-396-9927 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to get started with your free strategy call today.