Crafting Smart School Marketing Strategies that Work

School marketing

Here is a bit of truth: People judge your school by its online appearance. And their criteria are completely different from two or three years ago. Before the pandemic, online reviews, testimonials, and digital marketing campaigns were important but not necessary.

Today, a school marketing strategy formulation is essentially the science of survival in competitive markets. Designing a comprehensive marketing strategy that incorporates your communication methods and channels, brand promotion techniques, and student enrollment strategies will help establish your brand in a new landscape. 

However, meeting the new expectations of prospective students and parents can be challenging. That’s why you must equip yourself with the most sophisticated, market-proven, and efficient tools.

In this article, we will explore the importance of designing a marketing strategy, the steps you should take, and the effective methods you can apply to improve your online exposure. So, let’s begin:

why marketing matters

Why Is School Marketing So Important?

We are living in an era where the actual products and services of a business are as, if not more, important than its digital representation. That’s why digital marketing, including schools, has become a central factor in a brand’s survival. 

You can also think of it from parents’ and students’ perspectives. The first thing they notice about a school is its online image, whether in the form of a website, online reviews, ads, etc. This online image shapes your clients’ perception long before they can experience your services, interact with your teachers, or attend classes. 

So, it is crucial to have a compelling image that reflects your work’s quality. In fact, online promotion is so essential that companies spend between 6 and 14% of their total revenue on marketing. Here are 5 Reasons why you need school marketing:

#1 Build Trust

Marketing has a few universal rules that apply across various industries. One of these rules is that without clients’ trust, no brand can survive. Schools and educational institutions are no exception. If parents don’t trust you, they will not spend their hard-earned money on the educational services you offer.

Notice that the quality of services doesn’t have the slightest importance in determining a brand’s position here. Even if you promise the highest quality services in the market, it won’t matter if your target audiences don’t trust you can deliver them.

On the other hand, once you win minds and hearts, with a compelling brand image, effective communication approaches, and customer-centric services, your organization can easily position itself at the top of the game. In short, establishing loyalty and trust is the most effective way to set your school apart from competitors and help your school grow.


#2 Outshine the Competition

If you are looking for the most effective way to outshine the competition, you will find no better option than digital marketing. With the increasing number of schools and universities offering similar programs, you have to deliver something that stands out from the competition. 

Digital marketing can help your brand to differentiate itself by highlighting its unique features, accomplishments, and accolades. For example, schools can use content marketing to create high-quality content that showcases their expertise and highlights their unique resources. 

By producing blog posts, videos, and infographics that provide value to their target audience, you can easily establish yourself as an authority in your field. Plus, digital marketing resources have different beneficial byproducts. 

For instance, you can integrate analytics tools to monitor your competitors and adjust your strategies according to the best practices in the market. This will also help you identify gaps in the market, capitalize on them, and stay ahead of the competition.

#3 Increase Enrollment

One of the primary reasons why schools need digital marketing is to increase enrollment. Just consider the first thing you do when you want to know about a business and whether you should purchase its products or services. Most people turn to the internet as a globally accessible and fairly reliable source of information.

While the digital space is a place to learn about various brands and businesses, it is also an exceptional opportunity for schools to develop a strong online presence and attract prospective students. Digital marketing can help you optimize your efforts and create targeted campaigns that reach the right people at the right time, leading to increased enrollment rates.

For example, you can leverage search engine optimization (SEO) to improve your rankings and drive more traffic to your website. Creating an SEO-optimized website, publishing relevant content, and using high-value keywords can improve your ranking and visibility on search engines like Google.

brand awareness

#4 Build Brand Awareness

Growing as a successful educational organization depends on building awareness and reputation. A bad reputation can immediately repel parents and students, leaving all your hard work fruitless. On the contrary, schools with excellent reputations are loved by everyone and can easily set a high bar in their niche.

You can build brand awareness in a few ways, but digital marketing is probably the most efficient path to establishing yourself as a leading brand in your industry. Using various digital marketing channels such as social media, email marketing, and content marketing, you can share your story and values with a wider audience and build a loyal follower base.

Building brand awareness is especially the golden ticket for schools that want to differentiate themselves from their competitors. You can attract the right students and faculty members who align with your mission and vision by highlighting your unique offerings and a compelling value proposition and showcasing your strengths and resources.

engage parents and students

#5 Engage with Prospective Students and Parents

Digital marketing is an excellent opportunity to develop platforms and communication channels to engage with prospective students and parents. Many social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter provide schools with great tools and advanced targeting capabilities to connect with their target audience and answer their questions in real time.

Moreover, high audience engagement levels are essential in building trust and establishing a positive reputation. For example, you can email marketing strategies to keep in touch with prospective students and parents or send newsletters and updates to keep them informed about the latest news and offerings.

According to a survey, approximately 54% of individuals belonging to Gen Z spend four hours or more daily on social media. You may be surprised, but parents are not that far behind as on average, Millennials and Gen X spend 2.25 and 1.5 hours daily on their social media accounts.

These facts have significant implications for marketers and school administrators. For starters, when people spend a significant amount of time in front of their screens, you have the chance to leverage marketing tactics and drive them to your website or social media accounts

However, you should prioritize building an active, reliable, and positive brand image over everything else. While social media ads can help you build a strong presence in the digital realm, they should be fully compatible with your value proposition and school mission. In short, gaining attention shouldn’t come at the cost of losing respect and reputation.

save money

#7 Save Money

Last but not least, digital marketing is probably one of the most cost-efficient marketing strategies you have at your disposal. Compared to many traditional marketing methods such as print ads and billboards, digital marketing strategy practices are fairly low-cost and easy to manage.

For instance, you can create accounts on most social media platforms for free and present your content to a wide range of audiences. A well-designed school marketing strategy ensures that every dollar spent on promoting your school brand is well-spent.

Sometimes, you have a limited budget, and managing a brand promotion campaign can be challenging. A flexible, well-thought-out marketing plan can help you start your campaign even on a small budget and gradually expand your marketing campaign.

The cherry on top is that digital marketing strategy is a great opportunity to track your return on investment (ROI) more effectively, analyze your spending, and identify effective tools and measures. Collecting all this information enables you to make data-driven decisions, optimize your marketing budget, and focus on the strategies that deliver the best results.

marketing plan

Types of Marketing Plans

The end goal is very different in each marketing plan. Ideally, you want to take all aspects of your school offerings to the next level and optimize everything to perfection, leading to ultimate educational success. Most of the time, however, this is not a realistic plan. This is why we always suggest finding your urgent marketing needs and developing a plan to address them.

The best approach here is to continuously improve your marketing strategy as you explore new angles and find the gaps and shortfalls within your plan. You can start by understanding the differences and potentials within each marketing plan and see which path can help you the most.

Here are some of the most common marketing plans for schools:

Traditional Marketing Plans

Traditional marketing plans incorporate a wide range of solutions, such as print advertising, direct mail, billboards, and radio or television ads. Although digital marketing is now a more prevalent practice, traditional marketing strategies can still be effective in attracting local audiences.

For instance, print advertising in local newspapers or community magazines is an excellent way to target potential students and their parents. Direct mail can also be effective, as it allows you to reach specific demographics with customized messaging. 

Moreover, some schools and educational institutions still use billboards and radio or television ads to reach new audience segments. That said, compared to digital marketing, traditional marketing plans are quite expensive. Many schools even question their effectiveness when it comes to targeting younger demographics. 

As experienced marketers, we never recommend traditional marketing as a standalone strategy. But you can still benefit from it by integrating some traditional marketing practices into a more comprehensive plan.

Content Marketing Plans

Content marketing is one of the oldest and most effective ways to attract and engage potential students and parents. By creating original content relevant to their target audience, you can establish yourself as an industry expert and build trust and credibility among your target audiences.

Content marketing strategy is especially great if you want to reach audiences with different preferences, needs, and questions as you can diversify your plan to include all sorts of content, ranging from blog posts to videos, infographics, social media posts, etc.

Content marketing plans are relatively low-cost but they can significantly improve your school’s online visibility and trustworthiness. However, building an effective content marketing plan requires a significant investment of time, resources, and dedication to ensure the content is useful and engaging.

social media marketing plan

Social Media Marketing Plans

Social media marketing is one of the most effective ways to reach a broader audience and engage with potential and current students and parents. Social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn allow schools to connect with their audience in a more personal and interactive way.

By sharing updates, photos, and videos of campus life, events, and student achievements, you can showcase your unique culture and values. Additionally, social media platforms allow schools to target specific demographics with paid advertising.

Social media marketing plans are relatively low-cost and can have a significant impact on a school’s visibility and engagement. However, they require a solid social media strategy to ensure that the content is relevant and engaging. Additionally, they can be time-consuming to manage and require ongoing monitoring and optimization.

email marketing plan

Email Marketing Plans

While email marketing today is often regarded as an outdated, ineffective strategy, many schools have successfully used email marketing campaigns to keep their audiences informed and engaged. 

For instance, you start by sending newsletters, updates, and other forms of content directly to the inboxes of potential and current students and parents and provide them with all the information they need to know before enrollment.

Emails are great tools to promote events, new programs, or other school initiatives. You can leverage your email marketing as a strategy to nurture relationships with potential students and their parents and keep them involved in a wide range of school events and get-togethers.

search engine marketing

Search Engine Marketing Plans

Search engine marketing (SEM) falls under paid search campaigns. This method allows you to use paid advertising to appear at the top of search engine results pages (SERPs) and enhance your online exposure by targeting specific keywords or demographics. 

SEM is a great strategy to reach potential students actively searching for programs or information about a reliable school. Additionally, search engine marketing allows schools to track their return on investment (ROI) and adjust their strategies to maximize their marketing efforts. 

While Search engine marketing can be costly, it has exceptional potential to improve your brand awareness through sophisticated practices like ad targeting, keyword selection, and ad placement.

marketing plan

How to Craft a School Marketing Plan

Make no mistake! Higher education marketing is difficult. It requires dedication, knowledge, and strategic planning. Moreover, you need to know what practices and strategies have the most potential to contribute to your business objective and help prospective and existing customers realize the value of your educational services and products.

Here are some tried and true tips to get you started:

Step 1: Self-Evaluation

Successful marketing is careful marketing! This means every strategic decision you make, should be based on a thorough assessment of your current situation. For crafting a school marketing strategy, start with an in-depth marketing analysis to explore every aspect of your business and identify internal strengths and weaknesses and external opportunities and threats.

This process is called SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) analysis and helps you find obstacles and gaps in the market and use them to your advantage. SWOT analysis is essential to optimizing the effectiveness of your marketing strategy and improving your organizational efficiency.

run a campaign

Step 2: Run an SEO Campaign

Branding in the digital space has some rules and principles. One of the most significant sets of rules that can determine your online visibility is SEO. So, if after all your efforts in content marketing, email marketing, and so forth, your website seems to lack enough traffic, it’s probably because you have neglected SEO.

SEO campaigns help you promote your website and social media accounts and attract the website traffic you need by improving user experience. Integrating relevant, high-value keywords in your blog posts, for example, can be a great way to enhance content findability and increase your overall discoverability.

SEO significantly boosts your ranking in search engine result pages (SERPs). Ranking high on SERPs with local SEO and other methods will drive more traffic to your website and indicates your brand’s credibility.

Step 3: Leverage Inbound Traffic

Inbound marketing is a tried-and-true strategy to attract new students by creating valuable content and offering customized user experiences. Unlike outbound marketing, like cold-calling, cold-emailing/spamming, direct mail, billboards, and event sponsorships, inbound marketing only targets specific audience segments that are more likely to convert.

Inbound marketing is particularly beneficial for school managers who want to form strong connections within their school community and try to address their concerns. Interactive email sign-up and well-planned content marketing are a few examples of effective inbound marketing that can significantly increase student enrollment.

Step 4: Get Verified!

Social proof is one of the greatest assets for any business. When parents want to decide where to send their children for education, they look for other people’s opinions about the quality of your educational services, teachers’ expertise, on-premise resources, equipment, etc. Having social proof will establish your school as a trustworthy institution

The best way to receive recognition from prospective parents is by asking current students and families to share their thoughts about your organization. Online reviews and testimonials will highlight the positive experiences of current students and parents and provide relevant insight for new customers who want an inside look into your school.

Step 5: Promote Your School

Once you prepared your school’s website and social media accounts, it’s time to promote your brand. Google has different methods to provide users with the most relevant information about businesses with an active online presence. Google local listing is one of these strategies that will show your school on Google Search and Google Maps and third-party websites.

Registering on Google’s local listing is important to rank high on search engine result pages. The entire registration process takes around 15 minutes, but it will significantly improve your online visibility.

track your performance

Step 6: Track Your Performance

The final step is evaluating your marketing campaign. Remember that all marketing strategies will inevitably experience ups and downs. The important part is examining your performance regularly and identifying efficient and inefficient marketing tactics.

Many metrics go into tracking marketing performance and digital advertisements. The most important metrics are engagement, impressions and reach, the share of voice, referrals, conversions, and response rate and time. These analytics combined will give you a 360º view of your school marketing, especially on social media platforms.

Tracking your progress also lets you predict trends in the long run because these indicators show how students behave and what they are interested in. This way, you are always one step ahead and can make an educated guess about how to deal with future problems.

wrapping it up

Wrapping it up

Though developing marketing plans for schools is a relatively new practice, it is not just for large companies. There are many digital marketing initiatives and tactics out there, but finding the best combination that works for you can be challenging. 

On the other hand, without a solid marketing strategy, it’s very challenging to gain online visibility. For better or worse, online visibility is a determining factor in establishing a reputable and reliable brand. So, you need every resource available to direct your digital marketing activities and create a solid plan for your school. A few steps to get you started is Marketing Your School Part 1, and Part 2.

Here at School Webmasters, we can help you face all marketing challenges. We know you’ll benefit from our Marketing Your School Calendar. It contains marketing tips, guidelines, and 250 pages of detailed marketing steps for every day of the school year in one handy reference.

At School Webmasters, we offer you the ultimate school marketing solution, from website design to social media management, website maintenance, logo and design services, and more. You can easily get a quote right now or contact us (call 888.750.4556 and speak with Jim) and let us point you in the right direction.