Are you ‘all in’ with using inbound marketing to reach prospective parents? Because of the pandemic, you should be all in. Even without a pandemic, you should be all in.
The internet has completely changed our lives. While some schools have made the jump and are all in, there are many still testing the waters, straddling the edge of the inbound marketing pool with one foot in and one still firmly planted in traditional outbound advertising strategies.
It is time for school marketing and enrolment leaders to go all in by implementing these 15 strategies.
- Marketing focused website. Your school’s website should be designed to reach prospective parents. This is your most important marketing priority. You should budget for it and you should spend your limited resources on this key tool. If you don’t have a marketing focused website, you won’t be able to effectively reach prospective parents.
- Story focused website. While it takes time and effort, the payoff is significant for using key marketing messages and stories of real people. Prospective parents want to read and watch real stories of the real people at your school.
- Content hub. Your school’s website should be the hub of your content. Through dynamic content including news and a blog, your website will have an active online presence. The key is that your content be dynamic, not static or stale.
- Blog. A dynamic blog communicating content that is practical and relevant to current and prospective parents will significantly increase traffic to your website. A school-wide blog will allow for a variety of contributors.
- Search engine optimisation. It is critical for prospective families to be able to find you through search engines. This strategy should involve an ongoing investment in a professional with expertise in this area. It is a good use of marketing dollars to outsource this initiative.
- Search engine marketing (paid search). Paid search is an effective strategy to generate leads through search engines. This strategy works best when combined with landing pages (strategy #7) and downloadable content (strategy #8). Again, this is a strategy that is best implemented when outsourced to someone with this expertise.
- Landing pages. Landing pages help increase the effectiveness of your paid search campaigns. By using a program like unbounce.com, you can design landing pages that work to generate leads through search engines. If you can also offer a downloadable ebook, you will increase the effectiveness of your advertising.
- Downloadable content. Incorporate downloadable content throughout your marketing efforts to create lead magnets that draw in prospective parents. In exchange for their contact information, prospective parents can download your prospectus, a guide, an ebook or other helpful content.
- Facebook and Instagram. Social media is a major component of your inbound marketing strategy. Facebook and Instagram continue to be the top social media platforms where you will find your prospective parents. Your storytelling efforts should be focused on these channels.
- Social media campaigns. Through my Enrollment Catalyst Program, I guide school leaders to implement posts on three levels: a) captured moments of school life, b) weekly campaigns, and c) monthly campaigns. You need a posting strategy that will guide you.
- Social media advertising strategies. Facebook ads, boosted posts, custom audiences and re-marketing are all important strategies for your school marketing. This is a series of blog posts in itself. You should be utilising your social media channels to reach your audience through targeted advertisements.
- Video. Video provides a powerful and compelling way to bring your school to life. Through both amateur and professional videos, you will be able to tell your school’s story on your website, YouTube and via other social media channels.
- Live video. Whenever you use live video on Facebook (or other channels), the reach is exponentially greater than a traditional post. I have seen schools use live video to broadcast events. Rarely have I seen them use this format for interviews or a weekly show. Until now.
- Webinars. Consider implementing a series of webinars to reach current and prospective parents throughout the year. Present topical content that is relevant for your community by using online tools like Zoom or GoToWebinar.
- Online reviews and directory sites. There are many online directory sites that provide opportunities for reviews. It is important to make sure your school’s information is up-to-date and to encourage your parents to write a steady stream of positive reviews.
While there is certainly more you could include as part of your inbound marketing strategy, it is critical that you take the step to be ‘all in’ to realise great results.
How many of these 15 strategies have you effectively implemented at your school?
Dr Rick Newberry is the President of Enrollment Catalyst. Based in the USA, his goal is to provide school leaders with effective marketing and enrolment strategies, as well as staff accountability, direction, and results needed to grow their enrolment. enrollmentcatalyst.com