After a hiatus, Summer Camp Magic is back!
To sum up the last few months, I moved to Florida, and since the move, I’ve been unable to find a job in camping. Instead, I’ve been working at a digital marketing agency and continuing to look for camp jobs.
At my current job, I’ve learned a lot of things about digital marketing that can apply to summer camp, so I decided to write a few blogs about what camps can do to improve their digital presence. The first, and the foundation of all, is improving your website.
Summer camp revolves around relationships, and camp recruitment is no exception. It’s all about talking to people – parents, campers, staff, community members, anyone – and making sure they trust you and your camp. You’ll have countless conversations about your camp with those people over the course of the year, but to start those conversations, you have to find those people. And your website is an important tool in doing so.
Websites provide many opportunities for you and your camp, but for today we’ll focus on three areas:
- Getting found
- Giving a great impression
- Answering questions
Your website can help you get more campers! It’s an easy way for more families to find you, but getting found isn’t as simple as getting a website and hoping it’ll get you found. The process of getting found is a little more complicated than many people realize.
For example, if you Googling “summer camps in (your state)” and you pop up first, that may not be the case for families looking for summer camps. Google tailors searches based on personal details, so your frequent interaction with your camp most likely skews the data.
To make sure you’re getting seen by everyone, you need to do things to help your SEO – search engine optimization. Each search engine has different algorithms for determining your rank, but the overall sentiment is the same: the better your user experience, the better your search engine ranking.
There are small and easy things you can do to improve your SEO, so in the next few weeks I’ll make a blog dedicated to simple SEO for camps. In the meantime, you can check out this Active Webinar.
Giving a Great Impression
For many families, your website or your social media are the first glance into your camp. If they have old pictures, outdated information, or a bad overall look, or if they obviously aren’t outdated often, they can do more damage than good.
I’ll do a separate blog on social media eventually, but your website serves as a year-round virtual brochure for parents. Just like they don’t want to see your 2015 brochure in 2017, they don’t want to see your old information. Parents (primarily the ones to visit your website) feel better about your camp when they see that you care about your website.
Is your website giving a great first impression? You can ask friends and family to click through it and see, or you can set up Google Analytics and measure your bounce rate. If your bounce rate is high, your website probably isn’t giving a great impression.
Many camps may not realize it, but the ability to edit your website without going through a middleman is a great advantage. While some businesses rarely change their basic information (think supermarkets, engineering firms, etc.), camps change information much more often. At minimum, your dates are changing annually, and more than likely, you have holiday camps or different information (such as session capacity notices) that need to go on your website at different times. If you can do it yourself, it saves a lot of time and makes you more likely to actually go through with the change.
If you’re using your website correctly, it serves as an extension of your staff. It stands on the front lines and saves you from facing basic questions such as “How much is your camp?,” “When are your sessions?,” “What do we pack?,” etc.
Those questions seem obvious to have on your website, but consider other questions you get often or even semi-often:
- Do you accommodate special diets?
- How many people can we request in our cabin?
- Where do you get your staff?
- Will you post pictures?
- Can my child bring (insert a thousand different things here)?
- Can my child do laundry at camp?
You can take these questions (and more) and answer them on your website. It makes parents happy because they can get all the information in one place, and it makes you and your staff happy because it saves you valuable time. It’s also a great reference point for parents: “Yes, your child can do laundry at camp. You can find out more about that here.”
Don’t Forget Your Website
So when you’re preparing for camp – setting dates, making plans, changing policies, hiring staff – don’t forget to also prepare your website. It’s a crucial part of your camp’s success.
To make sure you see the upcoming post on search engine optimization, subscribe to the blog!
Let’s make magic.
Want to learn more? Hop over to my first blog about summer camp SEO.