Recruiting is big business. The fierce competition to sign the best athletes begins on the internet. Recruiting websites are sporting the latest digital bells and whistles and making use of sophisticated social media strategies. Even though many universities farm out their sites to specialty providers, a recruit’s first visit is often to the school’s website. Here are seven tips gleaned from looking at seven different college sports recruiting websites.
1. Make sure the entry to your recruiting site is obvious and easy to navigate. The Louisville Cardinal home page has an easily noticed, no nonsense path to the recruiting site on the main navigation bar.
2. Use a customized design that lets recruits know they are in an exclusive section of your website. The creative use of photos and video thumbnails on the Wichita State recruiting pages creates an interactive experience and assures visitors they won’t have to read a lot of text. This is the recruiting site for volleyball in the “Future Shockers” section of the Wichita State website.
The design is similar in branding to the regular volleyball home page, but is much more focused in its presentation and contains no advertising. The action shots create energy on the page. The regular volleyball section of the website is below.
3. Make sure that important links to recruiting forms and information are accessible. The Butler University recruiting site is clean in design and just one page. Each important area of information is highlighted by a Butler blue tab and links to all the important forms and information recruits need are right up front.
4. You can never have too many good action shots of student-athletes. Potential recruits like to see student-athletes highlighted on the website. This team portal on the UConn recruiting website has a professional action shot depicting each sport. Good action shots create energy, whereas mug shots or staged stills are static. Use pictures from competitions and highlight athletes that are top performers in their sport so recruits will recognize them–create celebrity with your photo galleries.
5. Show off your social media directory. The University of Wisconsin’s website sports a “recruiting” drop down menu with a wealth of information including a link to their vast social media directory. With the amount of time recruits spend online, it only makes sense to link them to all the social media the department has to offer.
6. Size doesn’t matter. Texas A & M-Corpus Christi is an FCS school with a pretty sophisticated recruiting site. They are a school with a little over 10,000 students, but their website has all the feel of a big school. The pull down menu for the recruiting section highlights 11 categories of information including interactive sport guides.
7. Make it about the student-athlete experience first and foremost. When you visit the University of Washington Athletics home page, you know it’s all about the athletes. Their recruiting link lands on this page with its own sub menu and is loaded with images.
The link to their social media directory includes listings for featured athletes.
Also, the UW site has a social media page called Dawg Swag where selected athletes’ social media posts are promoted. The section includes photos from Instagram, tweets, Vine videos, and more. All the material comes from UW athletes. Everything here is designed to let prospective athletes know that UW is actively promoting their student athletes.
Summer is a great time to give your recruiting section a facelift, or put one together if you don’t have one on your site. Even if you use an off-site recruiting service, make sure your recruits have a place to go on your website. Please feel free to put a link to your recruiting site below in the comments section and show off your handiwork!