The Parent Portal: One of your School's Most Effective Marketing Tools

Posted by Sophie Costello on Jan 31, 2022 2:58:17 PM

Keeping your school community engaged is an ongoing process that, when done successfully, can transform parents and caregivers into advocates that champion your school’s brand.

While it’s no secret that happy parents are a crucial part of a school’s marketing efforts, it’s not something that can be achieved overnight. Special one-off events might wow parents, but it’s ultimately the everyday experiences that will make the longest-lasting impression.

To ensure that parents are genuinely invested and engaged with your school, it’s important to build on a solid foundation of positive experiences. Effectively using your Parent Portal is one of the easiest ways to build this foundation, and we’ve outlined our key tips for this below.


Keep it Simple

Technology is supposed to make everyday tasks easier, not make things more complicated.

When examining the systems that your parent community has access to and the services that are provided through them, it's important to consider the parent’s user experience and check to make sure there’s no confusion or misinformation. Below are some things to look out for:

1) What system does what


Between billing, events, learning management, and extracurricular activities (just to name a few), schools offer a lot of services.

Whilst it's not always possible for one system to cover everything, it is essential to understand what activities are split across each and ensure that you are not unnecessarily complicating matters.

Looking for ways to consolidate and reduce the number of systems parents need to access will not only improve their overall experience, but can free up staff who would otherwise spend chunks of time responding to emails or calls requesting the same information and asking the same questions.

For more tips on streamlining your systems, check out our software ecosystem blog.

2) Same tasks multiple systems

Whether it’s billing software or a learning management system, each of your systems will need to share at least some similar information, like parent contact details or student information.

Whilst it’s important to ensure that the data in each system is in sync and remains the same, having to enter duplicate information and complete tasks spread across multiple systems can cause a lot of confusion.

Asking parents to update the same information in multiple locations is bound to result in inaccurate data and frustrated parents, and the same is true for your school staff, where duplicating information across systems makes it easy for mistakes to happen.

For example, if the calendar in even one system is out of date it becomes difficult for parents to know what information is accurate, and it can take time to rebuild trust in your school’s systems once broken.

Maintaining a ‘single source of truth’ for your school community makes it easier for parents to know where to go for the latest, accurate information – and helps staff keep it up to date.

Look for systems that can integrate using APIs or other connections for an easy way to automate the syncing of data across your systems.

3) Multiple logins

When you do need to use multiple systems to cover all of your school’s needs, make it as easy as possible for your parents to engage with them using a dedicated Intranet or ensuring that each system uses the same authentication method, such as Single Sign On (SSO).

This saves your IT department the burden of having to manage passwords for your entire parent community, and saves parents from having to remember multiple passwords, and which to use for which system.


Keep them Coming Back

Once you have your Parent Portal set up, it’s important to give parents a reason to log back in.

A simple way to ensure that parents are engaging with your school's portal is to make it the only avenue for certain tasks, such as submitting permission slips, approving extracurriculars and other actions that may have once been a paper form or email.

The more activities that take place through the portal, the more opportunities your school has to engage parents on other school-related matters.

When disseminating other information through your parent portal, it's also crucial to consistently present new updates and information, as parents will return less frequently if they’re seeing the same information each time, or if they perceive it as ‘outdated’.

Whether it’s about an upcoming school fete, celebrating a team victory or a polite reminder of school pick up rules, a constant flow of fresh and relevant information will ensure that parents rely on your parent portal for the latest news.

Lastly, for your parents to get the maximum benefit out of your portal, they need to understand what they can actually do with it. As the saying goes, “you don’t know what you don’t know.”

This can be achieved in several ways including:

  • Parent information nights
  • Portal information sheets handed out at reception or sent out at the start of each new school year
  • Short explainer videos (disseminated through your portal of course…)

You can also check out our other tips for getting parents engaged in school with your school.

 

Keep it Cohesive

For many parents, your portal will be where most of the day-to-day interactions with parents will occur.

Tailoring your portal to the school’s specific brand and tone can go a long way towards making your parents feel like part of a community, rather than a generic customer.

Your portal should feel like a natural extension of your website and corporate image, with graphics, photos, and colours that align with your school’s brand guidelines. This is especially important as new students are enrolled, to avoid any disconnect between how your school brand appears to prospective parents and how it comes across post-enrolment.

Take opportunities to circulate information, celebrate achievements and share common interests in clever, visual ways like customisable banners and sliding homepage image options, extending your branding throughout the portal.

This can be extended to other forms of interactions like email, ensuring that everything stays cohesive to your brand and presenting a unified identity to parents at every step of their journey.

 

If you’re a TASS customer, we’ve put together some customisable templates for portal banners, email banners and Parent Portal homepage image sliders, to help you create cohesive imagery across your school’s TASS system.

Click below to explore these resources.

 

TASS image template link

 

Topics: School Management, TASS, Administration

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