Things have drastically changed in the past decade, and with the constant competitive pressure and changing demands, many schools understand that they need a strong marketing plan to thrive in the market. Marketing strategies can serve as a success roadmap for your school in the long term.
However, putting the ideas into words and actionable steps can be unfamiliar and confusing for many schools that are doing this for the first time. If you and your team feel the same way, keep reading because we’re going to give you 10 school marketing strategies that work. But first, let’s touch on the importance of marketing for your school.
Why Does Your School Need Marketing?
People do everything online. Increasing access to the internet and the rise of social media platforms in recent years have created numerous opportunities for businesses. The education sector is no different from any other industry.
In fact, the international e-learning market is expected to hit $458b by 2026, meaning that it’s an online competition between your school and other institutions to capture eyes and show what sets you apart from the rest.
Any school has two primary goals: one is to keep the current students, and the other is to boost enrollment numbers. The key here is to deliver the right message, make an excellent first impression, and keep parents satisfied. In today’s market, a massive part of that goes back to how you manage your website and social media platforms.
Of course, this is easier said than done because you need a series of actionable steps to help you get there. But first, you need to understand your target audience.
What’s the Goal?
Before you start drafting a school marketing plan, you need to know your objectives. Your goals are the only thing that gives you direction and ensures you’re working in line with the general mission of the school.
You can even set weekly or monthly milestones to see how you measure and where you need to make improvements. Of course, it’ll take time to see actual results in the beginning, so patience is critical.
As you’ll see below, we’ve listed 10 effective strategies, but the key is using the right combination of these elements, which depends on your marketing objectives. For instance, if your goal is to enhance brand awareness, your plan would be different than if you wanted to improve communications with parents.
The Target Audience
To properly identify your target audience, you must first understand the needs of prospective students and parents looking for the right school to take them where they need to go.
Your entire marketing strategy should revolve around how you can meet those needs. In other words, how can your school services and programs solve their problems?
Students and their families make the decision about which school to attend. The essential question is, “What do people seek in a school?” What are their top priorities? What factors do they use to make their decision?
10 Sure-Fire School Marketing Strategies
You can still gain results through conventional strategies, such as flyers and print ads, but you have to leverage the tremendous opportunities the internet offers. Here are 10 strategies that will significantly improve your chances of attracting and securing top students.
#1 Connect Through Social Media
There’s no debate about the influence of social media on our everyday lives. With 4.59 billion users worldwide, social media networks such as Facebook and Instagram are the perfect place to showcase your school’s values to millennials and Gen Z users, who make up a good portion of your main demographic.
Similar to identifying your target audience, it’s better to define your social media marketing (SMM) persona because it’ll help you tailor your content and online activity to their goals, needs, and values. The marketing persona tells you about the age range, gender, goals, and values of users who mostly visit your social media pages.
You can keep that persona in mind while promoting future events and sharing your school’s philosophy. Make sure to post a video of your academic and sporting achievements, show off your cool campus vibe, and show students what it feels like to be there.
When used correctly, social media can be a massive public relations and marketing asset.
#2 Organic Visibility Via SEO
Your school website is a significant point of contact with students and parents. It’s effectively the first place they visit to gain more information about your school. Therefore, optimizing your website experience is vital to getting organic search visibility that turns visitors into actual enrollments.
One of the best tools you can use here is Google Analytics because it tells you much about your audience. In addition to showing top-visited websites and conversion stats, Google Analytics lists the top search keywords people use to search about schools.
That gives you a huge advantage because incorporating those search words into your website will rank much higher on Google. Plus, it’ll show you the main concerns among parents and students, giving you the chance to post videos and articles around those topics.
But, SEO (search engine optimization) is not just search words. If you want to make the right impression on parents and students, your website must load in a matter of seconds before your site visitors become impatient and find their way to another school website.
Once you bring them to your website, you must help them find information quickly. Navigation must be simple, intuitive, and effortless.
Remember that visitors generally spend about 60 seconds on your website, meaning you only have one minute to give them the information they’re looking for and prevent them from closing the window.
People judge your school based on your website. Nothing screams amateur more than a cluttered school website filled with unnecessary graphics and spinning icons that make the browsing experience annoying.
#3 Use Data-Driven Digital Ads
Digital advertising can be a particularly efficient tool for promoting school services, which is why global digital advertising investment is expected to exceed $700 billion by 2025. According to projections, by 2023, advertisers in the United States would spend 68.8 percent of their advertising expenditures on digital commercials.
The most significant benefit of digital ads over conventional advertising is accurate targeting based on demographics, intent, interaction patterns, and other factors. That lets you precisely identify their needs and present your services as the best solution.
Search engine ads, Facebook ads, banners, and video commercials are among the most popular digital advertising platforms in 2022. Each of these channels has advantages and disadvantages, so it’s better to consult with a team of professionals who can use the right mix of these tools.
No matter how much you spend on these ads, make sure to gather all the data so you can analyze their effectiveness and improve it in the future.
#4 Facebook is Great for Schools
Facebook is an excellent platform for your school to build an online community and stimulate engagement. It can be another way for you to communicate with parents and students. Upload videos, announce events, gather feedback, ask questions, and ultimately boost communication.
Facebook creates a world of opportunities because it allows you to get in touch with parents by providing real-time updates and spreading the word about the upcoming events and what’s going on right now in the school.
Since communication goes both ways, you can get immediate feedback by viewing comments and posts about your operation. You can then use these valuable insights to adjust your programs and determine what people really want.
Sharing images and videos of your campus, faculty, and students can help portray your brand image and boost engagement. As the engagement levels rise, you’ll see more user-generated content about your school, which is a massive advantage based on the Facebook algorithm.
Whatever you post, make sure that at least 70% of the content is entertaining and instructive. You can include student accomplishments, trivia questions, campus activities, and anything that encourages students to comment and share.
#5 Keep Smartphones in Mind
Not so long ago, people mainly used desktop computers and laptops to browse the web, but the arrival of smartphones and social media turned many into mobile internet users. Today, a massive fraction of millennials and Gen Z users consider smartphones as the primary connection device.
What does it mean? It means that your marketing strategy will have zero chance if you don’t have a mobile-friendly website. Your school website must look and feel good on a mobile phone, allowing users to easily navigate through pages, fill out forms, and view images and videos without having to refresh ten times.
You can also use Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test to see how easily people can browse your school website on a smartphone. All you have to do is to enter the URL and wait for the testing to finish. You’ll get a breakdown of all the issues that don’t let your mobile website load smoothly.
Here are several areas where you can make your school website more “thumb-friendly:”
- Images: Images that look great on a laptop may not be as good on a smartphone. For instance, a long shot of your campus may seem captivating on a large monitor because you can see every detail, but the same does not apply to your phone. So, pick images wisely. Plus, putting fewer photos on the website can streamline the mobile experience and boost load times.
- Headings & Font Size: You can make reading comfortable for visitors using 16-point or bigger fonts for headlines and your text. It’ll save users from constantly zooming in to read a small text block. Also, segment the text with relevant headings so readers can skip straight to the information they need.
- Menu Label: You want people to quickly find a specific page, and placing the menu label can really come in handy here. A menu label on the top of the page clearly outlines all sections of your school website.
- Clean Design: Again, avoid clutter by eliminating redundant information and unnecessary graphics and elements that make the website and slower to load. Analyze usage stats to determine what your site visitors want to see.
#6 Online Reviews Go a Long Way
You’d be surprised to know that 90 percent of people check online reviews before visiting a business’s website or making a purchase. As a result, online reviews must be an essential component of any school’s marketing strategy.
The easiest technique to encourage students to post reviews is to make the review process as simple as possible. Even better: make it enjoyable! Instead of requiring students to fill out lengthy forms, you may use a star rating system and make text comments fully optional.
You should respond as soon as possible when you get an online review. Don’t reject negative feedback, but don’t ignore it either. You should consider every bad review a chance to show prospective parents and students how you handle difficult scenarios.
If you’re not getting as many reviews as you’d want, you can often stimulate the review process by giving discounts, gift cards, extra points, and other perks. Usually, it’s enough to respectfully ask for reviews via email or one-on-one communication.
#7 A Video is Powerful
Nowadays, videos play a vital role in almost all school marketing efforts, and it’s only logical. After all, 92% of internet users worldwide respond to online videos, and people spend hours every week watching videos, especially millennials and Gen Z kids. That’s a massive audience that your school can reach by making exciting videos and posting them online.
Video lets you tell a story without needing a big pitch. Schools can easily blend brand messages with unique and engaging material by using subtle clues, which helps to develop an emotional bond, authenticity, and trust.
In addition to attracting potential students and parents, you can also use videos to engage current students. Give them a key role in the production by putting them behind the camera—or in front of it.
Your original work will show how much your students are involved with the school. Here’s a video idea: try coming up with clever, funny scenarios featuring teachers and the staff.
#8 Set Up Email Newsletters
Email newsletters are affordable marketing and communication solutions. You can start simply by sending a weekly or monthly email to current parents. That’s simple.
Also, you can leverage your website and other assets to create a database and use segmentation to deliver customized messages. While it may seem simple, newsletters are crucial to keeping engagement levels high.
You can use these emails to send regular updates about major upcoming events, new programs, and facilities. You can also announce that you’ve solved a particular issue your parents may have been concerned about.
#9 Set Up a Class Blog
Class blogs are evolving into a trendy tool to keep students and parents updated. They serve as an excellent platform for your school and increase the odds that your school’s website will rank better on Google, which prefers sites with frequent updates.
Also, they are an excellent method to show that your school is tech-savvy. They can also demonstrate that you are serious about online safety, which is a major worry for today’s parents when searching for new schools for their kids.
A class blog can be a nice way to tell your story and bring your students, parents, and teachers together.
#10 Review & Improve
As you finalize your marketing plan, think about any little aspects that will be crucial to remember, such as timing, innovation, and tone of voice.
The timing of your marketing can significantly influence its success: will it take place throughout the school year, during school breaks, or just before enrollment deadlines? Your originality and tone of voice are also crucial in portraying the right image of your school brand.
You can use tests if it’s a new project and you’re wondering how it will work. A/B testing is an excellent method for determining which elements of your marketing initiative are most effective. A/B testing is simultaneously running two versions of an ad to see which hits better with the target audience.
How We Can Help
It may feel like there are too many variables affecting the future of your school marketing plan. However, these ten school marketing strategies should be enough to give you a good starting point. You don’t have to focus only on one and ignore others. Creating a well-rounded approach includes a combination of these strategies to promote a school.
The real question is finding the right mixture, which, more than anything else, requires experience in marketing. If you’ve recently run successful marketing campaigns for your school, perfect; You can put your staff and money into creating and executing the right school marketing strategy, provided they are not busy with their current tasks.
However, if you’re like most schools and need a level of expertise, experience, and infrastructure to save yourself some time and costly mistakes, hiring a professional website service provider like School Webmasters is the solution. Our team has a long track record of reworking school websites and social media platforms to maximize their marketing success. We’re ready to start. Just give us a call!