Eleven marketing ideas for schools

In your role as school Head, no two days are the same. Each day’s issues could include unhappy parents, curriculum decisions, faculty evaluations, strategic planning and even reading to the kindergarten class.

With so many balls to juggle, how do you discuss marketing with your school marketer, especially if you don’t have a marketing background?

Here are 11 ideas for you to discuss with your marketing team to help your school recruit and attract talented students.

  1. Evaluate and optimise your website. In today’s online world, many families will have decided against enrolling in your school before you’re even aware they’ve been looking. It is therefore essential that your website can be found by search engines and answers families’ questions in an easy-to-read format.
  2. Publish blog posts regularly. While it can be challenging to find the time to blog regularly, a school blog can position your school as an expert on topics related to education, improve your school’s website in search rankings, increase enrolments and boost retention. A blog is the foundation of a content marketing strategy, which also gives you content to publish on social media.
  3. Optimise your website for local search engines. Local search engine optimisation (SEO) for schools is an important marketing strategy. Local SEO will help get your school listed in search results on Google and other search engines. If SEO is done correctly, your school will also show up in Google Maps, making it possible for families to find your school quickly and calculate the distance from home or work.
  4. Develop a robust social media plan. Social media networks offer schools an opportunity to convey familiarity and build community with families by sharing content that encourages engagement. Social media should keep families up-to-date on school activities, events and news, as well as promote educational content published on your blog.
  5. Email marketing. Email marketing is one of the most powerful marketing tools on the planet. Everyone checks their email — most people check it several times a day! Are you using email marketing at your school?
  6. Share stories about your school’s successes. People love stories and parents are no exception. They want more than the latest statistics about how great your school is — they want real examples of your programs in action. Use testimonials and real-life examples to show how successful your educational programs are. This will give parents the information they need to decide to enrol their children in your school.
  7. Create parent personas. Parent personas are based on a profile of your ideal target audience. They are used to focus your marketing activities to attract parents who are likely to enrol their children in your school.
  8. Video marketing. Video continues to be one of the best marketing tools of our decade. If it isn’t already, video marketing should be central to your outreach and campaign efforts.
  9. Offer gated content. Gated content is used to generate leads by providing prospective parents with valuable information in exchange for their name, email address and possibly other information such as the number and ages of school-age children. Gated content, also called a content offer, is usually a downloadable ebook, whitepaper, webinar or any other asset that offers information parents will find valuable. The benefit of using gated content is that you are gathering contact information from families that enables you to nurture your relationship with them in the future.
  10. Adopt marketing automation. Marketing automation can be a useful marketing tool as it automates repetitive tasks such as emails and social media posts.
  11. Invest in paid advertising. Online paid advertising is commonly referred to as pay-per-click (PPC) advertising. PPC ads, usually Google Ads or Facebook Ads, can be a great way to drive traffic to a landing page. With Google Ads, schools can optimise for relevant keywords. Facebook Ads are effective due to the granular level of audience targeting that is possible. Well-written ads address the needs of the family and encourage them to take action on a landing page. A re-targeting advertising campaign is usually one of the best uses of school marketing budget funds. These campaigns allow you to display ads to users who may have visited your school’s website or, at the very least, have searched for terms related to your school.

These 11 ideas are not meant to be an exhaustive list but rather should be used as a jumping-off point for you to discuss ways to improve marketing at your school with your marketing team. Good luck. I hope this list will be the beginning of fruitful discussions about attracting more students to your school. 

Brendan Schneider is the Director of Advancement at Sewickley Academy in Pennsylvania USA, and a leader in the field of inbound marketing for schools. He is also the Founder of SchneiderB Media, a digital marketing agency specialising in helping schools use inbound marketing. 
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SMJ Brendan Schneider

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