“I’m very concerned about my health, about my life.”
This was the sentiment echoed by a concerned Texas educator in 2020, with the height of the pandemic casting looming shadows over every national school district.
Those months were dark times, but with the end of the pandemic shining through the clouds, schools can start picking up the pieces of what was once a shattered system.
With those challenges, comes a very unique opportunity — a chance to adapt for the future. So, how can you harness the best marketing strategies for schools to match the oncoming march of the digital age?
Let us show you how.
First, it all starts with an objective.
1. The Best Marketing Strategies for Schools Begin With a Goal
Schools that want to build a solid marketing plan must have a solid foundation. Moreover, a marketing plan that is built on one thing—an actionable strategy.
Before you start building content, strategize an email “drip” campaign, or redesign your website, you must tie all of those creative decisions into a cohesive idea that identifies your strengths and weaknesses.
Each school district tells a different story, inherent in its location, competitors, or demographics. Hence, you need to align your strategy to appeal to your demographics to outperform the competition.
Truly, looking at where your internal strengths and weaknesses lie, while identifying challenges from outside your school walls, will be key to building a winning digital marketing strategy.
Therefore, this plan needs to have something at its core.
2. Plan Out Your Parents Journeys to Enrollment
Marketing funnels are crucial to mapping out how someone goes from prospect, to lead, to converted customer (or enrolled student, in our case).
- At the top, you need to reach prospective students. This is the awareness phase, and it is where your SEO strategy will pay dividends.
- Once the tendrils of your SEO reach prospective parents, then you can pull them into the interest phase—which is where they want to know more about how to enroll.
- Finally, you have them in the action phase, which is where they enroll.
But before you even start devising your master marketing plan, there is one important pillar of your school that you need to check: your website.
3. Optimize for Mobile Phones
Before the pandemic, an outdated website could have been enough to get students through your doors. Moreover, with the onslaught of covid, families shut their own doors and jumped onto their phones.
It’s a jarring reality that bears out in learning statistics for February 2021, according to the National Center For Education Statistics:
- 21% of students were enrolled in in-person learning
- 35% were enrolled in hybrid learning
- 43% were enrolled in remote learning.
With the unfortunate rise of variants, the resilience of the pandemic has forced districts to adapt to a new norm: the importance of digital trends. Thus, you must be sure that your school website design is optimized for mobile phones, due to families now expecting everything to happen rapidly and conveniently.
If your website doesn’t appear accessible, then you run the risk of stale enrollment rates.
You would be surprised at how many top companies don’t have their websites mobile optimized. The number is even more startling with small businesses, where 91% of them have websites that aren’t mobile optimized.
Don’t be one of them.
4. Update Your Website’s Design
If your school website reeks of late 2000’s HTML, then a website redesign might be in order. Indeed, dated looks will not appeal to the expectations that our tech-savvy generation has. You can be sure that bigger districts are doing the same, so don’t skim on this step.
Not only is it economical, but the return you get on a successful redesign is huge—along with boosting your school’s branding efforts.
Once that is finalized, then you will have an image that you can put front and center in your marketing strategy. Now, comes the thing that is the backbone of any marketing strategy worth its salt: content.
5. Create a Blog
Blogs are the cornerstone to organic traffic, as they allow prospective students and parents to locate your site through search engines.
Indeed, a blog boosts your school in Google’s eyes. This further pushes the story, and narrative of your school, as well as allowing for coverage of student success stories, recent events, or trends in education.
But sometimes blog content is too slow of a grind. Thus, for faster results, PPC is your solution.
6. Invest in a PPC Campaign
Should you have the itch to reap the results sooner, then you might consider paying to get your ads in front of student and parent eyes as quickly as possible. PPC for schools—paying to rank in Google—is a great shortcut around the slow burn of content exposure, and you only pay when someone clicks on your ad.
Just don’t shortchange SEO. If you put it on the back burner, then you are going to see your rankings start to flatline, no matter how much money you throw into your PPC campaign; the success of which can be gauged by your conversions and your click-through rate.
If you want more help in planning out a PPC campaign for your school, then check out this helpful article on the matter.
With the world becoming more and more digital, SEO is going to be vital to make sure your school thrives in this new landscape.
7. Enlist the Help of AIDA
Before you start thinking about your marketing on social media, you need to integrate one very crucial acronym into your content: A.I.D.A.
- Attention: Seize the prospective parents, or students, attention.
- Interest: Stoke their curiosity through interesting facts, news, trends, etc.
- Desire: Ignite their desire through something they are looking for, perhaps a need for more engaging classes.
- Action: Give them the solution for their desires, causing them to take action.
Utilize this tried and true copywriting technique to entice prospects and convert them at higher rates.
8. Market Across Social Media Channels
Building out your social media channels will be key to increasing awareness of your school, especially in this tweetin’, tiktokin’ age.
When it comes to social media posts, be aware of the demographics that frequent each one. If you put a post out to Facebook, just be aware that those who use the platform are officially “old”. Accordingly, you will want to keep your messaging geared towards parents.
Conversely, if you post something out to Instagram or TikTok, then remember that those platforms will be your portals to your students.
9. Give Your Content a Purpose
Always remember that it’s not enough to simply nail the tone and design of any piece of content — it also needs a function. For example, let’s say that you have just created the flashiest promo piece for a science fair that will go out to parents. It’s catchy and pokes fun at recent trends.
You end it, thinking that this will drive attention to the science fair. Yet, it’s missing the most important thing: a call to action (CTA). No matter what the piece of content is, you need a CTA.
Indeed, without clear directions to go and sign up for the fair, donate, or enroll your student, the piece of content will only be empty calories.
10. Make Your Content Quick and Snappy
Nothing sings to SEO more like content that gets to the point. Consequently, the more blocks of text that plague your site, the higher your clickthrough rates will soar.
So be sure to optimize your web copy to make it as clean and efficient as possible.
Check out more insightful tips for social media success here!
After you have built out your social media strategy, and have an editorial calendar planned out, then you have great material to start filling up your next essential piece:
Your email drip campaign.
11. Construct an Effective Email Marketing Plan
Email marketing should be something that excites and thrills every school marketing team, as you already have something that many marketers crave from the beginning — an email list.
With the vast network of parents’ contacts, you have the first step to a successful marketing campaign. You have also already built out another great asset — your content.
So, the voice of your school planned out, accompanied by a backlog of content. You now have marketing materials to push in your emails.
Just remember to keep your funnel at the top of your mind. Names that you are contacting for the first time should have different kinds of content being shown to them.
You don’t want to market that science fair if they’re not enrolled. Instead, you want to promote how your school is top in event planning for your students — it is all about boosting awareness of that “what is in it for me?”. In every post, you must be pushing the value that your school offers to parents and their children.
12. Keep Tabs on Your Campaign
Once you have optimized your website, created your content, and launched your email campaign, then you don’t just want to sit back on your laurels as you chug barrels of covid-edition stale coca-cola. In fact, the launch of a campaign is where the most danger lurks. This is where the success of your campaign will fail, or fly into the stratosphere of marketing bliss.
Tracking keys metrics will drive the success of your campaign, such as
- Website visitors
- Cost per lead
- Number of leads
- Clickthrough rate
If you see any of these KPIs (key performance indicators) dropping, then that should signal to you and your team that something needs to be tweaked. That’ll allow your campaign to keep churning at maximum efficiency.
So a campaign isn’t something that should be put on autopilot — it should be something that is cared for, much as you care for your students.
Still Need Help?
The best marketing strategies for schools are those that don’t yield immediate fruit but build long-term trust with parents and sustainability for the future. Thus, the digital marketing tree is worth growing, even if it’s a slow build.
But should your school need any help, we stand at your service with top-notch SEO offerings.
So reach out, and let’s get your school back on the map.