Get More Music Students With Your Website
You can get better results from your marketing by examining and fixing any potential “points of failure” in your marketing chain. A few potential points of failure to examine are your
- Online Ads
- Social media
- Phone sales
- Email marketing
- Internal marketing
These different aspects of your marketing should be under constant scrutiny and review. When your marketing isn’t getting the results you desire you have to pop open the hood and look for the leaky valve. Quite often the culprit is your website. In this episode, I discuss how to attract more music students with your website.
– – Show Highlights – –
Your Website Is Your Digital Storefront
Your website is your digital storefront. All marketing, all internet traffic leads to your storefront, to your website. Your homepage is where a prospective student either becomes more curious and more excited to do business with you. It’s often that last piece in the equation where someone says, “Okay, we’re signing up for music lessons here. This really looks great. This really speaks to me.”
Before a person is a student in your music school, they have no confidence in you yet. Why should they? They’ll have some confidence in you if they’re coming to you as a referral, but there’s no history established. Once someone’s in your school, three to four weeks later, their feelings about you are a lot more solidified, but your website is an opportunity for you to help them start to form some confidence in you.
All of Your Marketing Rests on The Shoulders of Your Website
Maybe they see a Facebook ad, “Oh, this looks interesting.” They click on the ad and then they land on your website, and your website’s that opportunity to help increase their level of excitement and confidence. Your website is hands down, your most important marketing asset. All of your marketing rests on the effectiveness of your website. It is for this reason that your website is one aspect of your music studio that you shouldn’t go cheap, that you should spend the money to broadcast the right message so that your message comes through loud and clear. It’s just too important.
If you were going to build a house, would you try to save money by not hiring an architect and just do the blueprints yourself? What kind of house do you think you’d wind up with? You’d most likely wind up spending more money in the long run. You’d save the money by not hiring an architect but it probably wouldn’t be that effective. You’d probably wind up spending more money in the end, cause you’d have to hire an architect.
Don’t Make This Mistake When Building Your Website
This is what often happens with music schools. They want to save money. They build their website themselves. It looks homemade, it looks cheap, and it sends the wrong message to your customer. Your website’s an opportunity to show your customer how much you care about them. Your professionally designed website tells your customer, “We want your first impression of our business to be a positive one. We want you to feel confident in our ability to both help your child and serve you.”
I’m not a big fan of getting in debt. If there’s any debt that you can justify, it’s the debt that you might have to take on to hire a professional web designer. It doesn’t have to be an exorbitant amount. $600-$1,200 should allow you to hire a competent web designer.
Your Website is Not an Expense-It’s an Investment
A professional web designer is going to help you generate more sales. A music school can generate sales without a nice-looking website or a professional website, and they can generate sales even without a website, but you can generate more sales with an effective website that’s communicating a message that builds curiosity and desire in your website visitor. If you don’t have a background in design, I would not mess with these drag and drop websites where you build it yourself. Bring in a professional to save you money in the long term and to make more money in the long term.
A few things that you want to have going across your website is customer-centric sales copy, not product-centric sales copy. Sales copy that’s talking about you, the quality of your lessons, your teaching staff, their expertise, their backgrounds, the details, the features of your music lessons. That type of language is going to go right over consumers’ heads.
Clean and Clear Design Wins the Day
Sales copy that’s about the customer and how you’re going to help them, and the outcome that they’re going to experience is much more effective. Sure, this is going to take more time and effort. You have to put yourself in the customer’s shoes. You have to see your business from their side of the table and write about them. Instead of using language such as, “We offer quality music lessons taught by our expert instructors.” There, you’re just bragging about yourself. Instead of bragging about yourself, talk about the child. “Our hope for your child is that our lessons help them discover their potential and be a better version of themselves. Your focus should be on the child and the outcome that they’re going to experience through your music lessons.
It’s important to have clean, clear, and simple design. We all know from music the importance of simplicity, the importance of space. Music can’t be the Rites of Spring all the time. Were you’re filling up all the space. You need to create space. The more space you create in music, the more you invite the listener into the music, and the same applies to your website.
Broadcast Your Confidence
The more space, the more inviting, or specifically the more white space, the more inviting. Something to also avoid is what I like to call “spaghetti on the wall design.” This entails throwing up multiple images and throwing up copy and different buttons, hoping that something’s going to resonate, something’s going to stick with your website visitor. The more simple, the more clean your website is, the more confident you appear to be in your business, and the more confident the website visitor becomes in you.
Something else to avoid is stock photos. I don’t think stock photos are terrible to start with, but they’re just too perfect. They don’t look real. They have this corporate or sterile feel to them. One can argue that it’s false advertising, these aren’t your students. This isn’t what the inside of your studio looks like at all. That caring, nurturing teacher sitting next to the student isn’t your teacher. What I recommend is to hire a professional photographer, spend three, four hundred dollars, have them come in one day and take photos.
Avoid Keyword Stuffing
Keyword stuffing is a real no-no. Keyword stuffing is when you take the keywords that you want to rank for in Google and just start plugging them into your website. “We offer guitar lessons in Creve Coeur, Olivette, Frontenac, Chesterfield, and South County.” Google is smarter than that now. It can identify keyword stuffing. Most people don’t Google “music lessons in Cleveland.” They Google “music lessons near me,” and Google knows where they are and they know where you are and they’ll make that match.
Identify your keywords and try to find a way to organically and naturally weave them into your writing. One little keyword stuffing effort I see is where a music school will say… Maybe they want to rank for piano lessons in Dallas. They’ll write in their copy, “Are you looking for the perfect place to take piano lessons in Dallas Texas?” Nobody would ever say that.. People don’t talk that way. They don’t talk with the city name in there. As a reader, when I see someone keyword stuffing, it really turns me off. You don’t want to turn your readers off, so avoid keyword stuffing.
The First Frame of Your Music School’s Website
In this episode, I want to specifically talk about the above-the-fold of your website. The above-the-fold is the first frame that people land on when they come to your website. The term the above-the-fold is from the newspaper industry. When you put a newspaper on a stand, you fold it in half and you have your main headline above-the-fold. That’s what people see on the newsstand. It’s important that that main headline above the fold builds curiosity because that’s what’s going to sell the newspaper.
Your above-the-fold on your homepage should be designed for leads. This is not for your current customers. This is where sales are going to get made. Your above-the-fold should look like a billboard. Billboards, I think, are the perfect example or reference point for designing your above-the-fold. Where do you see billboards? You see billboards when you’re driving down the highway. You only have a second to look at the billboard, so you only have a second to take in the message and to form an impression.
How Your Music School’s Website is Like a Billboard
Next time you drive down the highway, take note of the different billboards. Look at how clean and simple their designs are. It’s not safe to have a long attention span on a highway. You just glance at the billboard and you look away. That’s exactly how people interact with your website.
They’re just looking for impressions, quick impressions. Look at your own behavior when you’re on a website. How much of it do you really read, especially when you’re shopping, when you’re checking out that new restaurant in town? You’re just trying to get a feel. You’re trying to get an impression. Something you’ll notice about billboards is that the image is stretched all the way out to the borders. It fills up the entire billboard frame.
Your above-the-fold should do the same. Quite often, I’ll see on a website, there’ll be an inch on the right border and the left border of just empty space. The whole website design is down the middle with these thick borders on the side. Don’t do that. That’s an older look. Any new website, any website that was built in the last, even five years has it’s design pulled out to the edges.
The Most Important Photo On Your Website
Let’s talk about the image, your featured image or the hero image on your above-the-fold. Probably one of the most important decisions that you’re going to make with your website is what image you place in the above-the-fold. That hero image should show the outcome of what a child looks like after they start music lessons. Ideally, your hero image features a happy-looking kid playing music or a kid that’s really focused, working hard. He’s connected. Maybe it’s a photo of a kid laughing as they’re talking with their music teacher, with their hands on the piano. Maybe it’s a picture of an animated child with a guitar in her hand.
Your featured image should not be hands on a piano, hands-on a guitar neck. What’s the message there you’re sending? You’re telling the website visitor that you sell guitars, or you sell musical instruments. Don’t make your featured image the front of your building. What’s the message there? That you’re in some sort of real estate business, that you sell commercial real estate. Show the outcome. Use an image that encourages the website visitor to dream a little bit and to place their child in the photo in their mind.
Framing the Above-The-Fold of Your Website
Next, I want to talk about the triangle pattern on the above-the-fold. If you look at a lot of websites, and this is really coming from the Donald Miller school. Typically, your logo should be to the far upper left side of your website. All the way to the other side, on the right at the top, should be a call to action button, and then another call to action button in the center of the above-the-fold, but dropped down towards the bottom of the frame. The logo, the upper right-hand call-to-action button, and the lower call-to-action button make the points of a triangle. These three points help frame the above-the-fold. They also help guide the website visitor’s eyes. It guides the path that their line of vision should take.
Your main menu options should be listed on the top, not on the side. This is very specific to the music school industry, where I see maybe eight to ten main menu options listed on the left-hand side. Not that there’s a right or wrong way to do your website design, but it’s important… Or, I encourage you to ask yourself, “Do you think it’s more effective to have a website design that’s familiar to website visitors or one that’s unconventional, that feels off balance?”
Don’t Overwhelm Website Visitors with Too Many Options
A balanced website will have the main menus on the top going across, not on the side. Your main menu options should also be as limited as possible. If you have five, six, seven options going across, you’re overwhelming the website visitor.
Do you remember the first time you went to The Cheesecake Factory to eat and you opened that menu and it’s a hundred items to choose from? How long did it take you to finally pick the meal that you wanted? It took me a long time. If you go to a restaurant with only four entrees, wow. Okay. That’s really easy. You’re going to be ready to order within just a few minutes. People don’t have 20 minutes to sit on your website and try to sift through it. The minute you start forcing people to start decoding things or figure out what they should click on, you run the risk of losing website visitors.
Watch Out For The Dreaded “Back” Button
You’re always going up against that back button in the web browser. If your website requires people to think, to decode, to pick the best choice for them, or to identify what menu they should click on, they’re not going to do it. They don’t have that time. They’re going to click the back button. Three to five menu items is ideal. I would try to keep it as close to three or four as possible. You need “music lessons,” and that’s really the only thing you need. You’re going to want to have more, of course. “About us” is great. “Testimonials” is really good. Those three right there pretty much covered it all. Under the “About Us”, that’s where you can put teacher bios, calendar. You can put stuff there for the people that want to dig in a little bit to your website.
Something also to consider is that Google can read those menu items. If you list “Services” or if you list “Programs”, it’s not really going to help your cause much. Nobody Googles “music services near me,” or “music programs near me.” They Google, “piano lessons near me,” or “music lessons near me.” When that menu says “music lessons,” Google sees that and they can match it up with a person’s search.
Optimizing Your Menu Items For Users and For Google
Under your music lessons, you could have piano lessons, guitar lessons, drum lessons. These are search terms that people are going to use. Also with your menu options, going from left to right, they should be listed in order of importance. What’s the most important menu or menu item? It’s music lessons. That’s what you want people to see.
Don’t put staff bios on the far left. I’d put those under “About Us”. No one cares about your staff. Not at this point. They only care about them when you tell mom that her son’s taking music lessons with Adam. Now, she wants to see what Adam looks like, so when they get to the school, they can identify Adam.
Inspire Website Visitors to take Action
You need a call to action button, not “contact us”. When people land on that landing page, they ask themselves the question, “What do they want me to do? What should I click on?” There’s one thing you want them to do. You want them to start the sales process.
Let me clarify a few things first. Sometimes, you’ll hear me say landing page. I just want to clarify. A landing page is any page inside of your website, so your piano lessons page, that’s your landing page. Your homepage is, obviously, your homepage, but your landing page should feel like your homepage or a homepage, because if someone Googles “piano lessons near me,” Google is likely to serve up your piano landing page. When they click on the piano landing page, you don’t want them to feel like they’re in the guts of your website. You want them to feel like you’re there to welcome them. Again, a featured image in the above-the-fold, each landing page should have a similar above-the-fold design, just like your homepage.
Make Your Call to Action Pop
Your call to action should be a button. The button should be a color that really pops, really sticks out on your website. Great color to choose is a color that’s maybe a bright color that’s in your logo. Let’s say in your logo, there’s orange and there’s blue in it. Take the orange, it’s a little brighter than the blue, and make the call to action button that same shade of orange. You’ve got that symmetry.
You’ve got these two call-to-action buttons as I talked about in the triangle, but you got a little orange in the logo as well. It helps tie it all together. Your call to action should be a call to action. It should have an action-oriented word and it should also create a sense of urgency. “Start today.” Great call to action. “Enroll now.” The action is to enroll, and now is creating urgency.
Clarity Over Creativity
Don’t try to get creative with your call-to-action buttons. Creativity can sometimes confuse the website visitor. A popular call to action I’ve seen is where people say, “Rock enroll.” That requires decoding. What do you mean, rock enroll? Rock, and then enroll? Oh, rock ‘n’ roll! Very clever, but it has the potential to confuse the website visitor. As Donald Miller says, if you confuse, you lose.
When it comes to messaging, you want to be clear and simple. Creativity often requires decoding. “Rock enroll” is a great example. You have to decode what the meaning is or what the pun is. Website visitors don’t have time for that.
Call To Actions to Avoid
These are some call to action phrases to avoid: “Learn more.” What do you mean, learn more? Everything I need to know should be on your website. What more is there to learn? It’s very similar to one I see a lot, “Request info.” I don’t need more info. Isn’t it all on your website? You’re telling me that you’re just going to email me more information? All I want to know is, what are you going to do for me? What are you going to do for my kid? How are you going to help my kid? You should be able to summarize that in just a few sentences. I don’t need a long brochure. I don’t need more info. I’m here to sign up for music lessons. Where do I do that?
“Get started,” not terrible, but I still think “Start today” creates a greater sense of urgency. Every word, every phrase counts, especially in your call to action. “Start today,” has a little more excitement than “Get started.” I can start today? Really? Okay. I want to start today. I want to start the process. I know I’m not coming in for a lesson today, but I’m going to start the process.
Menu Options and Google
Don’t put your call to action as text on the site. Don’t put the call to action as a main menu option, “Contact.” Don’t make people think when they land on your website. If a person lands on your website and they say, “Huh, how do I contact these people?” Or, “I want to enroll. Where do I do that?” You lost. You should have that call to action button front and center, screaming to them “Start today.” And that call to action button should occur multiple times on that homepage, maybe three times. Each landing page should have a call to action in the above-the-fold and a call to action further down in the sales copy.
Another type of call to action that can be effective is a transitional call to action. It’s a less risky way for people to engage in your business. Maybe a website visitor isn’t ready to sign up. Perhaps they’re just window shopping or considering music lessons for later in the year. They want to sign up for lessons in a few months and they just kind of want to see who’s out there in their community, so they’re certainly not going to click on “Start today.” A transitional call to action provides the website visitor something of value. Perhaps it’s a downloadable report or video. They have to hand over their email, though, to get this report or this video.
How to Capture More Email Addresses
The big question is, what should that report or video be? Why would anyone hand over their email for a report? If your downloadable report is about practice habits, or how to buy a guitar or 10 ways music helps your child, they’re not going to hand their email over for that. They can Google how music helps children.
It has to be something of value, a downloadable report on a topic that’s not about music lessons, or the music lesson industry, but rather a shared interest between you and parents. Some sort of giveaway that talks about the emotional well being of children might be of value to parents. You might not be an expert on childhood development, but there are plenty of people out there on the web who are. You could hire someone to write a report for you. A copywriter, have them research it. You could do a little research, something on childhood development.
Show That You Care
Even if they don’t hand over the email for the report they’re likely to think” Wow, these guys really care about kids. They’re really focused on the overall wellbeing of the child.” Perhaps you interview a child psychologist about childhood development, record the call over Zoom, turn it into a video that they can access. They’ve got to hand over their email.
Your transitional call to action should not be, “sign up to receive our newsletter.” Nobody wants to read your newsletter. Why would anyone want your newsletter if they’re not a part of your music school yet. They don’t care about the student of the month. They don’t care about your upcoming events or practice tips. Your current students might. There’s no value in your newsletter for them. Your transitional call to action can be a popup that occurs on your website. You could have your call to action button in the center, and then right next to it, your transitional call to action. That’s really the most common place to list it.
Define Your Product and Outcome In your Headline
Last, I want to talk about the headline on your website and I want to distinguish between your headline and your tagline. A music school might have a tagline, “Play to learn,” or “Dream big.” You wouldn’t put that on your headline. That would go under your logo in the upper left-hand corner. Your headline should be featured text in a large font, centered in your above-the-fold.
It should identify what it is that you’re selling and the outcome that someone’s going to receive. “Music lessons the kids love,” easy one. I know lots of music schools use this but it works. There’s your brand promise, kids love your music lessons. You now have to be committed to making that a reality. You have to be able to ask yourself, “Why would someone love our lessons more than somebody else’s lessons? What’s so different or amazing about our lessons that kids love it?” You’ve got to figure that out. By saying music lessons, you’re now letting the website visitor know they’re in the right place. Maybe they thought your music studio was a recording studio. When they see the words “music lessons” it clarifies any potential confusion.
The Only Thing Customers Care About
I encourage you not to use an inspirational statement as a headline. One I see a lot is the use of 3 inspirational words such as “Explore, Discover, Create.” That could maybe be your tagline below your logo, but not your headline. Avoid a welcome message. “Welcome to Cleveland Music Academy,” People know the name of your school already. It’s there in your logo. To be honest with you, they don’t care about the name of your school yet. All they care about is what’s in this for them. That’s all they care about.
Tell them what’s in it for them. Your kid’s going to love it here. Your kid’s going to be inspired here. Your child is going to discover their potential here. Your child is going to learn how to be a better version of themselves here. That’s what they want to hear about. Not “Welcome to Cleveland Music Academy.” That would be a missed opportunity. Many schools simply list the name of their music school in the headline. This is also a missed opportunity.
Get More Music Students With Your Website
- What was your biggest takeaway from this blog?
- What’s one thing you can do today to optimize your website?