According to Semrush, 64% of marketers agree that word-of-mouth marketing is the leading effective form of marketing. Moreover, this technique drives five times more sales than paid ads. What does this mean for private schools concerned about stagnant or declining enrollment numbers?
Word-of-mouth marketing has historically been the dominant force behind enrollment in private schools. Nevertheless, this dominant force continues to be relevant, yet the meaning of word-of-mouth marketing has evolved.
Pondering about ways to increase enrollment in private schools? The solution is to stop relying on tactics that are past their prime. Capitalizing on word-of-mouth marketing means updating your definition of word-of-mouth.
Consequently, improving private school enrollment starts with refining your private school’s messaging, utilizing digital marketing, and treating your current community as a catalyst for growth.
Perfecting Your Private School’s Messaging
Using broad statements about expansive ideas is a facile method to rely on. In response, many businesses, especially schools, promote their institutions with empty phrases. To improve your private school’s enrollment, you need to become as specific as possible.
Being specific will help your school stand out from other institutions that blend into the background. When it comes to public vs private schools, public schools mainly rely on children automatically enrolling due to location. In comparison, private schools must inspire parents and students to choose them.
To inspire this desire in parents and students, you must narrow your message. To narrow your message, you’ll need to first identify exactly what makes your school unique.
For example, private high school marketing should focus on which departments have extraordinary success with students. If there is a high number of students who graduate and pursue a specific major or trade, emphasize this achievement. As a result, parents and students interested in that area will be more likely to enroll.
In addition, if a private school prides itself on a unique program not run by other schools in the area, stressing that feature will draw prospective students to that school. Also, in an era of intense technological advancement, highlighting state-of-the-art equipment used for training and education is essential.
Finally, explaining the unique values of your private school will set you apart from competing schools, public and private. An institution’s messaging should underscore the values that its administration and faculty wish to impart to their students. If these values are not trite but bold and meaningful, potential students will embrace them.
For these reasons, crafting the right message is the foundation of improved enrollment in a private school. Once you have perfected your private school’s messaging, utilize it to fashion a robust marketing plan.
The Digital Shift in Word-of-Mouth
Now that you have the perfect message, apply it to your marketing channels. Private schools certainly rely on word-of-mouth to gain enrollment from referrals. Modern times, however, have brought about new ways to instigate this type of marketing.
Digital marketing is quickly taking over the marketing industry. According to Ziflow, about $99.22 billion will be invested in improving search in 2024. Further, about two-thirds of that investment will be directed to mobile device placement.
Accelerating enrollment in your private school means participating in this movement.
Digital marketing is an umbrella term under which many different marketing techniques fall. For example, you could focus on content marketing, social media, and search engine optimization (SEO). For many private schools, the center of their efforts is their website.
Chiefly, a private school should master all the pillars of digital marketing and direct all these efforts towards the channel for enrollment.
Design The Website
When parents and students research schools, they will almost always conduct an online search first. The internet is a rich and accessible resource for people and will provide the first impression for a majority of your prospective students. To impress, you must invest in advanced web design.
Your new messaging will play a key role in informing your website. For example, if you emphasize your advanced technology, you shouldn’t have an outdated website. If you highlight your deep values regarding humanity, your website should express that both in text and in more artistic aspects.
Remember to dedicate pages specifically to the successful aspects of your institution, such as your impressive science program or your thriving theatre department. Consequently, prospective parents and students will be able to easily find further information about their interests.
Most importantly, welcome new families warmly by dedicating a section of the site to targeting their needs. Market to them by offering information and forms for enrollment, lists of departments and resources, and contact information for further discussion.
Making sure new families feel welcome and excited about your private school means making it easy to integrate into your community. To demonstrate, try adding your social media feeds to your website and including personal biographies on faculty and staff with photographs.
Once you complete your website, you’ll have the landing pages necessary for converting interest into enrollment.
Running the perfect website will accomplish nothing if you do not have traffic driven to it. Search engine optimization is essential when crafting your website copy and other marketing materials. According to Brightedge, 1000%+ higher amounts of traffic are driven to your site by SEO methods rather than organic social media.
In many ways, search engines stand in place of personal referrals. Whereas many people heavily relied on asking neighbors, friends, and family about recommended institutions, a majority now turn to the internet. Search engines now recommend the best-suited institutions based on the criteria that prospective parents and students enter into their search bars.
Referring to your perfected messaging will be essential when optimizing your website’s searchability. Researching keywords, both related to your emphasized values and achievements and related to your location, is foundational to your SEO. Once you have chosen keywords, you need to naturally and frequently work them into your web copy.
When done correctly, search engine optimization will rank your institution above others in search results. Consequently, prospective parents and students will use your website as a baseline against which they compare every other institution. If no other institution compares, your school will win enrollment.
Be Active on Social Media
While statistics prove that SEO is more effective than organic social media, the public still demands a robust presence on social media platforms. After all, your private school’s community is a very important aspect of the success of your institution. Therefore, facilitating a thriving community online is a great addition to your website’s content.
Social media is the closest digital form of word-of-mouth. Real people who are involved in your institution are interacting with each other and with prospective community members. Potential parents and students can reach out to the current community to ask questions and receive advice.
Additionally, running a successful presence on social media, including interacting with the current community, can turn your followers into influencers. With a satisfied and active community, your current parents and students will highly recommend your institution to others without any financial investment of your own.
Furthermore, a strong presence on social media is impressive to potential parents and students. Outsiders will be able to get to know your institution without ever physically visiting, instantly feeling more connected to the school and community.
Finally, social media is not a private forum. Social media platforms actively promote discovery, even to people who may not be actively searching for schools. With effort and luck, your private school might be discovered by accounts that end up falling in love with your institution.
Learn from Data-Driven Insights
A serious benefit to maintaining a website and social media presence is access to data-driven insights. Social media platforms and website hosts offer comprehensive reports on traffic and engagement. As a result, you can learn more about your audience and narrow in on exactly which tactics are benefitting your enrollment.
Fine-tuning your efforts takes time, but a skilled marketer can assist you in gaining more insight through the reports. From this new information, you can choose to amplify your efforts in areas that achieve the best results.
Nurture Your Success
Increasing enrollment won’t occur with only one visit to your website or social media account. Choosing a private school is a monumental decision for families that will require several touchpoints. Consequently, you’ll need to set up several ways that your institution reaches out with information and guidance when new families need it most.
For example, you must provide a way for interested parties to sign up for more information. Generally, this opportunity comes in the form of an email or SMS subscription. Providing a subscription button on your website is important when building a list of leads.
The first touchpoint might be visiting your website, but the next touchpoint needs to be an active choice made by your institution. Automating these following touchpoints will allow your institution to personally reach out to each lead effectively.
Some examples of next touchpoints include text messages or emails with announcements about events or deadlines. You could also allow families to schedule calls for financial aid or meetings with specific department heads.
In return, you’ll be actively nurturing leads in a personalized manner that converts interest into enrollment.
More Ways To Increase Enrollment in Private Schools
If you’re ready to invest in a better strategy of ways to increase enrollment in private schools, following these tips will galvanize your growth. If you require further help, hiring a professional is an exceptional alternative.
For more ways to increase enrollment, or to hire a marketing expert, contact Vujaday.