Kiddie Academy uses Yext to reach mums faster and create stronger communities
‘Proximity is a huge deciding factor for our customers. If a mum is going to drop off and pick up her child ten times a week, we have to be convenient. 80% of our customers live within a two-to-eight mile radius around an academy. So directory listings and maps are really critical to our business. Yext helps us do what we need to do with directories — fast.’
Since 1981, Kiddie Academy has provided a better way to care for and educate children while creating stronger communities. What began as a single academy in Baltimore County, Maryland, has since grown into an award-winning nationally networked franchise with 160 academies located in 24 states. As a leader in educational child care, the company strives to be the epicentre of learning and connectivity for communities.
“We began as a multi-unit, family-owned business and started franchising in 1992,” states Wendy Odell Magus, Vice President of Marketing. “As we moved into franchising, that focus on education grew into a focus on how we work with our franchisees. We need to make sure that they are the very best at what they do in order to deliver the brand to customers successfully.”
One of Kiddie Academy’s biggest selling points is its proprietary Life Essentials® curriculum, which focuses on social and emotional character education as well as physical and cognitive outcomes that are aligned with state preschool learning standards. Another factor that frequently comes into play is location.
“Proximity is a significant deciding factor for our customers,” explains Odell Magus. “If a mum is going to drop off and pick up her child ten times a week, we have to be convenient. 80% of our customers live within a two-to-eight mile radius around an academy. So directory listings and maps are really critical to our business. Reviews, maps, basic hours of business, languages spoken — those are high-level information categories that mums drill down through to determine which two or three schools they will visit.”
For Odell Magus, mobile is particularly important. “In the last eight years, mobile traffic to our web properties has gone from percentages in the high teens to over 50%,” Odell Magus states. “Mobile is a very important way that people engage with the Kiddie Academy brand. As we have launched new websites over the last five to six years, we’ve adopted a Mobile First strategy. When we initially told our agencies, ‘we are re-doing our website and want a Mobile First strategy,’ they came back to us saying, ‘okay, but we don’t usually do that.’ Today, of course, agencies recommend a Mobile First strategy!”
The Yext Location Cloud enables Kiddie Academy to update location data with new speed
Before partnering with Yext, Odell Magus was challenged to maintain all of Kiddie Academy’s data by hand. “We had already manually claimed and verified every single listing with Google,” she claims. “It was Herculean, even though we are a relatively small brand. The experience was just not designed for a multi-location brand!”
Odell Magus is acutely aware of the conundrum for multi-location brands that Yext helps franchisors solve. “Google My Business had been our nemesis because Google did not have a franchise-friendly mentality in the way it built the web interface. Google did not think about why we might need administrative controls and why they would want to give us administrative controls for basic brand information,” she explains. “Why wouldn’t they ask the franchisor to provide all the NAP – name, address, phone number – data for all the business locations? Wouldn’t we have the most reliable information for that, as opposed to user-generated content or even allowing the individual franchisees to take control of it? Franchisees have varying levels of expertise and they just might not get it right. We, as a franchisor, would get it right!”
She discovered Yext in 2011 at a franchise conference in San Francisco. “I thought what Yext was doing made lots of sense from a business perspective. I saw a promise that Yext could help me as it continued to grow, with a glimmer of hope that it could crack the Google My Business conundrum — and it has! With this combined user verified approach, we’ve finally hit the mother lode.”
Using Yext’s Location Cloud, which enables brands like Kiddie Academy to manage and update location information for every academy all from a single comprehensive dashboard, Kiddie Academy has deftly improved the way it handles location data. Unique to Yext is its global PowerListings Network®, with proprietary integrations that enable real-time updates across major online publishers, search portals, maps and apps including Google, Apple, Bing, Facebook, Yahoo! and more.
Since launching with Yext, Kiddie Academy has seen a 56% lift in search impressions. Yext-created Listings have driven 335,000+ impressions, and corrections that Odell Magus’ team made to existing listings have guaranteed accurate addresses for more than 1.8 million impressions. Kiddie Academy has also seen a 68% increase in Facebook “Likes”.
“We have really revolutionised how the company markets itself,” Odell Magus reflects. Looking ahead, she adds, “The reason we continue to be excited about Yext is that Yext continues to add publisher brands to its roster. Yext helps us do what we need to do with directories — fast.”