Your flight school website is perhaps your most important asset when it comes to attracting new students.
So why are so many flight school websites so difficult to navigate and use?
When a prospective student lands on your page you only have a few seconds to convince them to stick around. If you don't check off all the right boxes they'll move on to the next school.
And nobody wants to watch prospective students walk out the door.
In my experience there are 5 critical elements that can help your flight school truly stand out. These elements really aren't any different than what other websites ought to have. But in this article we'll explore how each of these elements can be used specifically for flight schools.
The header on your site is how flight students are going to find the information they need about your school. Simplify your top level navigation to the elements that are the most important. Consider including your contact page, your pricing page, your about us page, and your courses.
If you’re like most schools you offer multiple ratings and licenses. Don’t list every license and rating in your navigation. Perhaps simplify it into two sections, one for your private pilot rating and the other for all of your other ratings.
If there is one offering that your school specializes in, such as Airbus ratings, make that prominent. If that’s your specialty there’s a good chance that’s why people are landing on your site. The goal of your navigation bar is to make it as easy as possible to find information on your website.
Don’t be afraid of using a drop down to show secondary navigation links. This is a great way to simplify the options on your top level navigation.
The Skymates Flight Academy website is a great example of using a drop down to simplify your top level navigation.
While you want to simplify your navigation as much as possible remember that the goal is usability. We want to make it easy for users to find the information they're looking for without overwhelming them with choices.
Another way of doing this can be seen on the homepage of Fly Dallas Texas.
When you land on the homepage of this site you're left with two options, Flight Instruction or Aerial Photography. This is a much smaller business then Skymates Flight Academy so it makes sense that their navigation would be smaller. Once you land on either of those pages Fly Dallas Texas does display more options in their navigation panel.
However big or small your business is be sure you examine the navigation of your website. Do all that you can to make it simple and easy to use.
Calls-to-action are everywhere. Every time an ad invites you to do something that is a call-to-action (CTA).
A CTA is basically any invitation for the user to do something. A great example of this can be seen below from Manpacks.
Not only does the green button really stand out from the rest of the site but the added arrow and social proof make it even more tempting to click.
When it comes to your flight school adding more CTA’s to your website is critical. Before you start throwing buttons and action inspiring words onto your pages you need to figure out what exactly you want users to do.
Continuing with our Manpacks example, after you click on the button you are taken to this page:
Their primary goal is to get you to purchase their products. This page does a great job of showing you exactly what they have to offer. They are looking to make the shopping process as simple as humanly possible.
So what is your goal? What is the one thing you want potential students to do? Is it to register for a discovery flight? Is it call your office? Is it to fill out a form requesting more information?
There’s no perfect answer.
Now before you continue reading go take a look at your schools website.
- How many CTA’s do you have on your home page?
- How many do you have on your primary offer pages?
- What exactly does your CTA say in each place you have one?
Take a few minutes and think about what you want your website visitors to do. If your website isn’t optimized for accomplishing that goal then make the necessary changes.
One last thing to note. CTAs aren’t always buttons. A CTA is as simple as:
Have you seen our all new aviation throw pillows: https://goo.gl/0MtiAv
A CTA is any invitation you are extending to your user to take a specific action.
Website images are so important! With the rapid advancement of technology everyone's a photographer. Beautiful images are everywhere.
If people land on your site and see pictures of your planes taken 15 years ago they won’t be impressed. That doesn’t mean you need to drop big bucks to get a professional photographer to come in and take pictures of your planes and staff.
More than likely you already have a powerful enough camera in your pocket. You just need to learn a little more about framing your shots and lighting. This really simple course will teach you the basics of photography.
Now I know you don’t have time to learn to be a photographer so at least take a look at section 3 on lighting. Using the skills taught here can drastically improve your pictures.
On your website you ought to have a list of the planes you have available along with pictures of each. When it comes to listing your planes and their pictures I’ve found a couple of important things you need to include.
Number one is the avionics. Some students aren’t interested in learning on a G1000 while others don’t want to train using anything else. In the short description of the plane include what types of avionics it uses and include a picture of the cockpit.
Number two is the plane. The pictures of your plane ought to show that it is clean and well maintained. Don’t go take pictures of your planes without first washing them. I’ve seen flight schools that showcase their planes covered in bugs and dirt. Here's a great example from Texas American Flight Academy.
Put yourself in your potential student's shoes. If that’s what you saw would you really be inclined to pick up the phone and sign up for flight lessons?
Do yourself a favor and clean your planes before you snap pictures of them.
While you’re taking pictures snap a few of your staff too. If the turnover among your flight instructors isn’t too bad include a picture of each of them along with a short bio. And by short I mean short. 100 words is plenty. Just enough to convince prospective students that your instructors are well qualified to teach.
Do you have customer testimonials on your website? You ought to. Social proof is a critical element to increasing the conversion rate of your flight school website.
According to a study by CompUSA and iPerceptions:
“63% of consumers indicate they are more likely to purchase from a site if it has product ratings and reviews.”
Adding customer reviews to your site adds greater legitimacy to your business. As potential students read through your site seeing real reviews from students like them they will feel more confident in your school’s ability to teach them how to fly.
CAE Oxford Aviation Academy does a great job of using social proof on their website.
Getting these reviews is really quite simple. Just talk to your students.
Ask them what they liked about their training. What went well? What could you have done better to improve their experience?
Based on their feedback ask the student for a review. And be sure to ask them for permission to post their review on your website.
4-6 reviews on your site is plenty. However once you have them on your site continue to ask your students for reviews. You can learn a great deal from these reviews. Look for patterns in these reviews and make changes to your business when appropriate.
It’s also important to cycle out the reviews on your website. Change out old reviews with new ones. If you get a review that’s particularly powerful promote it on your website and social media profiles. Social proof on your website will increase your list of potential students.
About us and Contact Us Pages
Your About Us page and Contact Us page are both essential.
About Us Page
Potential students want to know who you are, how long you’ve been instructing students, and why you love aviation. All of these come into play as prospective students decide which school they would like to attend.
Your About Us page should be prominent as many students will look for this page. If you are the primary business owner include a picture of yourself. Tell your story. Here’s a few ideas to get your mind going.
- How did you begin flying?
- How long have you been flying?
- What’s your favorite plane to fly?
- Why do you think more people should fly?
- What benefits to being a pilot have you seen in your life?
The primary purpose of this page is to build a personal connection with prospective students. This personal connection will allow a bond of trust to begin to form. If they see that you’re a passionate pilot with a long history in aviation they’ll have greater confidence in your ability to teach.
Flying is a serious investment. And with any investment, the investor needs to first trust the person they are giving their money to.
Contact Us Page
The contact us page ought to be relatively simple. At a minimum you should have a phone number and an email address students can use.
You should also have your address listed.
Having a Contact Us form is even better than simply an email. Have a line for their name, email, subject line, and message space.
To make your life even easier add a drop down menu instead of a subject box. In the drop down box have options such as Discovery Flight, Private Pilot License, and Advanced Ratings.
When you add these you can quickly asses why the person is writing in and make a decision as to who should respond.
In this article we’ve reviewed 5 elements your flight school website needs to have. These five elements are:
- Simple Navigation
- Powerful Images
- Social Proof
- About Us and Contact Us pages
Each of these elements will improve your website's ability to convince potential students to choose your flight school over all their other options. Continue to review your website. Analyze your website analytics and figure out where you’re losing website visitors. Website optimization takes continual testing and reviewing. As you improve your website you’ll see more and more students writing in, requesting more information.