CX MARKETING FOCUS ON
Daring to be digitally different Canford School, a co-educational independent school for day and boarding pupils, explains how it transformed its digital marketing through an innovative website redesign to uphold its standard of excellence.
n 2018, Canford School was named Best Boarding School of the Year by industryleading magazine School Parent, and was rated amongst the top 10 most beautiful schools in the UK by The Telegraph. The 250-acre campus is situated in Wimborne Minster in Dorset, and currently has 660 pupils aged 13-18, which is the highest number in the school’s history. The school boasts impressive on-site facilities, including a golf course, a real tennis court, a sports centre, and the grounds have also proven a popular wedding venue for the general public. Philippa Scudds, Director of Marketing and Communications at Canford School, says: ‘Canford is thriving at the moment – we’re very lucky.’ Canford School collaborated with Finalsite, a global provider of school marketing and communications software and services, to completely redesign their website and, by extension, improve the first impression many prospective parents and potential customers would have of the school. Scudds describes the typical website structure many schools follow, and why Canford School wanted to take a different approach. “Lots of school websites focus very much on recruitment of new pupils, and obviously education is the core business of the school, so I can understand why schools do that.” However, she says that there are other stakeholders that Canford wanted to give “pretty equal weight to” on their new website as they are “equally important” in many ways, and part of the “school community”. She clarifies who these different stakeholders are. “You’ve got your current parents, they’re your existing customers, and all your former parents and pupils (we
call them ‘old Canfordians’, and they are often very helpful to us in terms of career support and advice to our current pupils). We’ve also got a whole section of people who aren’t interested in their children attending the school, but like to come and make use of our facilities, such as the 500 members of our sports centres, and the club members who row on our rivers, or people who play golf on our course, or real tennis on our court. There are a lot of stakeholders who all contribute to the life of the school, and in some ways financially as well through their membership.” Scudds also highlights the schools’ other connection to the local community: “We’ve got over 8,000 hours of community service that our pupils do each year, and those are local links with churches, businesses, hospices, childcare facilities, and more”. She notes that it is possible that the reason “few schools” give adequate emphasis to similar areas on their websites at present is because they may have several different websites running simultaneously to cover these, which is what Canford School used to do. She highlights the issues this approach raised: “When I joined the school about 10 years ago, we had separate websites for different facilities; these were all branded in different ways and lacked consistency”. She explains that this lack of consistency didn’t align with Canford School’s communications strategy, and that they wanted to move towards a uniform standard of excellence in their messaging across
everything they put online. “It was really important for us to draw all of those websites into the same overall school website when we were building the design.” She continues: “Another thing we’ve done is ensure we’ve trained staff that are now responsible for those different parts of our website, and we’ve still got centralised ultimate control of what’s put out there. So that’s given us much more clarity and consistency of the branding across everything that we’re marketing.” She says this has proven successful in