A Few Technological Tricks

By Laurie Palagyi

“If you build it, they will come.” It’s a great line from an old, familiar movie. Sadly, it’s also an incredible misconception when it comes to finding new campers and families online. The truth is, while the Internet is an invaluable tool that can open a camp up to a world of potential customers, attracting and converting website traffic to new campers is not so simple. In fact, most camp websites don’t convert visitors at all, and a large percentage of sites send traffic straight to their competitors. Lucky for the competition, but lousy for your bottom line—so don’t be that website.

Let’s talk about Ameera, a camp director whom we will use to explain the in’s and out’s of capturing and growing a camper base through a website. Ameera is struggling with internet marketing. She is savvy enough to know that an attractive website leaves the right first impression on her audience. Because her site is sleek and up-to-date, she manages to secure good traffic. But while she is paying for ads, she is only getting a small return on her investment—just a few new campers trickling in through the site. How can she convince more visitors to become campers?

Welcome to a common dilemma, one you likely have arrived at already.

But what if Ameera’s website could somehow grab new campers and swiftly and effortlessly deliver them to her front door? What if an enticing coupon or discount offer appeared right on her site, one that site users can acquire by entering their email address? And what if Ameera had an efficient system for follow-up, a process to further encourage potential campers to book a call or visit her camp? Best of all, what if Ameera can automate the process? If this sounds expensive or impossible, you’re in for a pleasant surprise.

The Problem
Let’s highlight the problem: Attracting new campers and growing a camp through Internet marketing is hard. Really hard.

Did you know that 74 percent of camp website visitors will leave forever without ever becoming a customer? A whopping 74 percent just leave. Shocking, right?

Most people visiting a website for the first time scan it quickly. If nothing stands out in the first three to five seconds, or the color is wrong, or the font is too small, or information is difficult to find, they quickly move on. Why stay if there are five or 10 similar camps to check out?

If your site isn’t eye-catching, and visitors aren’t enticed, they move on. Every time this happens, you lose a huge chunk of potential income and profits. And sadly, it’s happening every day.

Even more disheartening—it actually gets worse.

Those who pay for traffic with ads or directory listings are losing 74 percent of every advertising dollar. Further, many prospects will actually call and try to become a customer outside business hours or when staff members are too busy to answer the phone. Ninety-nine percent of these potential customers are lost when you don’t pick up the phone.

For every potential camper lost, it becomes tougher to grow a camp, pay employees, take vacations, fund your kid’s college tuition, and retire someday.

To top it off, most camp owners and directors have no idea this is happening. They spend thousands of dollars on website design, SEO, pay-per-click advertising, and social media and get only a few new customers because their website doesn’t convert visitors into customers properly.

This is a big deal. Your camp, your job, and your growth are at risk here.

The Solution
The great thing about this problem is that it can be solved easily.

Keep reading and I’ll reveal how to:

●        Give website visitors a compelling reason to stay
●        Convert more website visitors into potential campers
●        Convert more potential campers into real campers
●        Generate more sales, more profit, and more success for your camp.

This can be done without needing a new website, coding skills, or weeks of extra effort!

Here’s how it works:

1.       People visit the website.
2.       When they arrive, a valuable coupon or discount offer tailored to the camp appears “out of thin air” that doesn’t block site content.

Why coupons?

Coupons have been a persuasive sales tool since Coca-Cola created the first one in 1887. In fact, over 75-million online coupons were used in 2015, and 65 percent of people say a coupon helped finalize their purchase decision. An incredible 91 percent of coupon users say they will purchase from the company again. From a shopper’s perspective, coupons equal money. And money talks, right?

When implementing a coupon, it’s important to provide potential campers an engaging offer, one they’re willing to give up their contact info to redeem. The goal is to “trigger” them visually with an irresistible opt-in offer.

For example, “Get $450.00 Off New Camper Tuition.”

3.        To obtain the coupon or discount, the visitor enters some contact information. Once this is done, you will immediately receive an email with the contact information so you can see new camp leads grow.

4.       You automatically and effortlessly follow up with each new lead by email, delivering the coupon or discount and sending email reminders to book a call, visit the camp, or sign up for an informational session.

5.       You get a new camper when the prospect redeems your offer!

In the end, you will convert nameless visitors into viable prospects and keep them from wandering off the site and into a competitor’s lap.

According to ConversionXL, adding a dynamic opt-in to a website will increase monthly visitor conversions by 30 percent on average across all industries. Speaking from experience, I know that conversions on business websites can jump up by 20 percent to 200 percent. What’s more, 40 percent of consumers will share a coupon offer with their friends online. This automatically generates free referral business, and it’s basically free marketing.

When you combine an opt-in coupon or discount with an automatic follow-up system, website conversion rates climb, even if a website is a bit archaic or in need of work. Since most businesses create loyal customers with repeat revenues, this system can have a massive effect on business growth.

Nuts And Bolts
This process requires two main components and three hours of time to implement:

1.       Opt-in system. An opt-in system is software designed to create and deliver the coupon or discount code. This is what a website visitor will see pop-up on the screen. There are numerous opt-in companies to choose from. Most systems cost around $10 to $20 a month to subscribe to and offer pre-made, responsive options.

Helpful hints:

●        Once you’ve created an opt-in, make sure it displays correctly on all devices, including mobile, desktop, and tablets.

●        Most companies offer helpful tutorials and live chats; if things get tricky, reach out for help.

●        Create an enticing offer. One hundred dollars off of $5,000 tuition isn’t enticing. Think about what it would take for you personally to sign up for the offer.

2.       Auto-responder. An auto-responder is designed to automatically send follow-up emails to coupon holders, urging them to book a call, visit a camp, or sign up for an information session.

Helpful hints:

●         Make sure to connect the auto-responder to the opt-in system.

●         Write a three-email sequence and space each email four days apart, skipping weekends.

o    Email one: Deliver the coupon, which gives the reason they signed up in the first place. Supply a code or directions on how to implement the coupon. Make sure to give a deadline; typically two weeks works well.

o    Email two: Follow up to make sure they received the first email and ask if they have any questions.

o    Email three: Remind them that the coupon will be expiring soon and suggest they book a call to discuss further.

Example Email:

Sub: [Coupon Code] Your Coupon Code Inside!
Body:

Hi,

Thank you for your interest in the West End House Girls Camp!

Use coupon code firsttimecamper to receive $450.00 off your summer camp tuition.

CB0318_Palagyi_Website2.jpg

We love the West End House Girls Camp.

And, We love our campers and families!

So much so that we are widely recognized as the premier summer camp in New England.

To set up a call to learn more and talk with one of our Directors, hit reply and type “learn more” and we’ll be in touch!

Laurie Palagyi
Executive Director

P.S. Do you have friends or extended family who would like to use this coupon as well? If so, feel free to forward it along!

Attracting new campers and growing a camp through Internet marketing doesn’t have to be difficult. By implementing this simple and inexpensive system, you are likely to increase new camper leads and expand your camp. Growing a business can be a pleasure—not a pain—when you learn to harness the incredible tools technology offers.

Laurie Palagyi is the Executive Director of the West End House Girls Camp. She believes in the power of camp to change lives and is passionate about creating innovative outdoor experiences where all kids can flourish and be empowered. To this end, Laurie enjoys helping camp and recreation professionals learn how to grow and market in efficient and effective ways. Reach her at laurie.palagyi@wehgirlscamp.org.

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Camp Basics
The West End House Girls Camp is a diverse, all-girls, residential summer camp with the mission to positively influence the lives of girls by providing them with skills, support, and opportunities needed to grow into healthy, productive, and responsible women.
Student to Instructor Ratio: 4:1
Location: Parsonsfield, Maine
Cost: 1 week $785, 2 weeks $1,580
Ages: 7-17