We don’t mean to be negative, but as we work with a number of schools across the country, we can see some key school marketing themes that can become detrimental to your marketing strategy and we’d like to help you avoid them – and not to mention avoid the stress they cause! We want to set you up with some tools for success as you work to increase enrollment.
School marketers rarely have more than a team of 2 or 3 people who can also be involved with internal school activities and a number of other responsibilities. You need to be lean and mean to make sure your message is heard in the crowd. Start your next school year with a bang by including these marketing tips for schools in your plan!
Trying to be all things to all people.
Your work will be more efficient if you have succinct marketing messages or key selling points, and a very specific target audience – hone it into a max of 3 messages and 3 audience groups and rotate the combination of message and target audience in your content calendar. These groups of people should be those that are very easy to find and convert and are always satisfied with your service, ie: are the most likely group to refer onwards (free marketing anyone?). Simply make sure your content doesn’t actively put off the more peripheral prospective families and they will come via your digital channels.
A marketing plan that targets everyone at once turns into a sprinkler system rather than a hosepipe – you’ll waste time, effort and money and just get lost in the weeds.
Following the trends.
When you’re creating your marketing strategies, you may look at the multitude of blogs with detailed how-tos and tips miles long. This may seem counterproductive at first, but following marketing trends to the letter can be more effort than it’s worth. Unless you have +1 million followers, trying to figure out whether you should have 5 hashtags or 10, or waiting to post at precisely 2.34 pm takes longer and makes very little difference to the visibility of your content.
Keep it simple and prioritise content that is helpful, exciting and informative to prospective parents which leaves them with a positive impression (and follow the next few points) and the engagement will come.
Do your research and see what other schools or influencers are writing about and write similar but better – let them do the legwork for you.
Not following the data.
Following on from the marketing trends above – do you analyse each marketing channel fully for ROI? For example; do you have tracking in place to tell you if your Facebook page you spend 4 hours on a week is actually creating leads that convert?
Answer 1: No! I don’t have this data.
You’ll need to create a CRM and connect it to Google Analytics and your website to get this information. But as we said in our recent blog about 1st party data, this detailed information, unfortunately, may not last much longer. We suggest booking a free consultation with us to see how we might help you navigate this new digital world.
Answer 2: Yes! I have this data.
Amazing! Now figure out your (and any other team members) hourly rate and times it by the time you spend on each marketing channel per year. How does it compare to the admissions you have received from that channel? Is it still worth it?
We’ve seen so many independent and private schools and other education institutions waste money and time following what channels they ‘should have’ rather than what marketing channels are proven effective for them. Make sure you factor in the effort that’s required to maintain each of your channels and focus ONLY on the channels you can see working and nix the rest. It’s always good practice to run tests on other channels in case they have some opportunities.
Not engaging on social media.
This sounds like a straightforward marketing strategy tip, but this mistake is often made. Schools use social media as a platform for sharing their own content, but often don’t engage with comments, comment on other peoples posts, or reshare other accounts’ content.
Think about it – social media was created for sharing backwards and forwards. Their algorithms will always prioritise those that are fully active on their platforms and reduce the visibility of ‘spam’. Reply, comment and reshare to see your impressions start to improve for a successful marketing strategy.
Not driving potential families back to your school website.
We work on each marketing channel as independent tasks throughout our day, but where does your conversion point actually sit? For many schools, it’s on their website; through an enquiry form or a phone number. Successful marketing strategies link all channels back to your conversion point. Make sure all your social media accounts and your school blog and all other marketing material continuously link back to the key conversion pages on your website. This is a great way to build your internal school community as well if you have an online school portal – remember, if your current families are happy, they are more likely to refer you forwards!
Do you have a Linktr.ee or similar on your Instagram? Have you thought about creating a custom version on your website so that your call to action is clear, and website visitors can easily move around to your other fantastic content; see upcoming events and book school tours? First impressions are so important; a well-branded hub of social links is relatively easy to set up and will be sure to delight! Check out ours for inspiration.
Ignoring search engines.
SEO or search engine optimisation is a fairly new marketing strategy, but it is a key channel to improve the visibility of your school online and one of the few tools available specifically for boosting website traffic. Online search is now one of the biggest drivers for private schools admissions. It is the first place prospective parents go in starting their school search and comparing different local schools. Is your website optimised to show up in the right places?
- Ensure the mobile device experience of your website is high quality – do the pages look and work okay? Google and other search engines prioritise mobile experience first so this is crucial.
- Try to aim for your website to load in under 4 seconds – a lot of problems come from image sizing. Make sure to upload your images to the correct size for where they will be placed on the website and keep them as small as you can. There are a variety of image optimising plugins that can help reduce the loading time on your website.
- Create a keyword strategy – what search terms are relevant to your school, make sure to include them in your website content. Each page and blog should have a unique focal keyword, meta title and meta description. Try an SEO plugin like RankMath or Yoast to help you.
- Create a Google My Business (GMB) profile, and keep posting your blogs onto it, they don’t get a lot of visibility from users but it will help Google find your content, as the platform belongs to them, they will prioritise regular users. GMB is great for local listings – perfect for schools!
- List yourself on as many websites as possible. Have a look for any free listing opportunities or online reviews websites. This acts as a boost for your domain authority when you include a link back to your website.
Marketing your school doesn’t have to be complicated. Doing a few channels really well, remaining data-driven, and creating an easy decision-making process for prospective parents and your marketing budget can remain as small as possible. The education sector is tough, but we can work together to successfully market to and engage with those who matter! Be sure to read the rest of our guides and resources which cover other marketing strategies.