by Sean Devlin, Front Rush
The recruiting process is about engaging recruits and getting across the university’s and coach’s message, goals, and – ultimately – the brand. This engagement comes in a variety of flavors including email, phone calls, face-to-face, and more recently Facebook and Twitter. One major facet of this engagement that needs to be treated very seriously is the athletic website. Often times this is one of the first and most powerful medium’s that can get across your school’s message.
Perusing the web and doing random Google searches for various universities, you can come across many different athletic websites. Some of these websites are great, some of these are not so great. Some of these are clearly from high budget universities that can afford to bring in a professional firm and make the site very ‘flashy’, others are from universities that may not have the budget but have clearly invested thought into the site, and others resemble a basic web page created too many years ago.
So let’s first talk about the importance of the site and we can worry about the logistics later. In this web savvy world, your recruits are used to seeing and interacting daily with professionally built tools and websites – think Facebook, Hotmail, Google, Gmail, etc. If they come to your site, the first thing they want and expect is a site that is professional looking in design. Having a poor quality design, will immediately undercut your recruiting message. It gives them that ‘huh?’ message right off the bat.
The second thing that your recruits will look for is the content. They want to come to your site and find the things that they are looking for – so the goal is to make it easy for them to find it. We often times see an athletic site that is difficult to find a specific sport, or find out who the coach is, or find out how to get in contact with the university. As a user, this instantly gives frustration and negative feelings — the exact opposite emotion that you want your recruits feeling. Think about what parts of the site that your recruits want to see and put them right up front and easy to find.
The next thing is to give a reason for your recruits to come back. A very effective medium for this is a team blog. In this blog, you can give updates about your team, insight into your program, information about your University. This gives a recruit a reason to come to your site, and keep coming back if you keep the information fresh and new. Every time they come back, your brand gets drilled deeper into their decision making process.
So the issue is then a couple of things.
- There are budget limitations.
- You may not feel that you have direct access to have these changes made.
Well with budget limitations, that just means that you can’t invest in a professional firm to re-build the site but that doesn’t mean that most of the above can’t be done. Get the coaches together and make the case to your IT group or SID. By investing time into the site and thinking about the goals of it, the return will be obvious. In addition, for the blog, this can be done totally free of charge. A couple of killer applications for creating a blog are tumblr.com, blogger.com and wordpress.com
If you do have a budget than take a look at a professional firm, there are a couple that we feel actually are dedicated to building athletic websites. Some examples of companies we would recommend to our clients are ICS/Sidearm (internetconsult.com), Presto Sports (prestosports.com), and Jump TV (jumptv.com).
The importance of putting time into the site and thinking about it from a marketing perspective cannot be stressed enough. This is a major location that your recruits are going to land. Get your department together and get moving in the right direction if you feel your online presence needs some work.
Step one in the process of evaluating your website? Email the experts at Front Rush. They’ll assess your needs at no charge, and give you recommendations on what the next steps need to be. Visit them at www.frontrush.com or email the nation’s leading technical guru for college athletics, Sean Devlin, at firstname.lastname@example.org.