As you market your private school, you know that no school holds a monopoly. Research says it this way: “there are no companies with a dominant market share in this industry.” This is an even playing field where approximately 30 thousand schools are all competing for students. While school options in your location are a small subset of that larger number, people have many choices, just the same. Since competition for enrollment is a fact of life, using the right marketing approach can help you share the things that make your school unique, and help you reach your enrollment goals.
People used to rely upon an outreach coordinator or admissions counselor for the information to make an enrollment decision. Now, they complete the majority of their decision process online before they ever talk to anyone at your school. This shift has created an important reality: the online content that visitors find on your website is a major factor in who enrolls. This trend is effectively addressed by using “inbound marketing” and it has direct application to private education.
Use these principles to help guide your marketing and content approach:
The key to good inbound marketing is showing value and usefulness.
You’ll know when you’ve accomplished this because parents and students will become the human element of your marketing campaign. These connected customers will post reviews and share on social media about what they find online. You’ll see their behavior in your website analytics because they’ll stay on your website longer than just a minute or two.
So many websites only focus on the school itself – like a giant sales flyer. Real growth will occur by addressing the needs of parents, students and families.
Every marketing campaign must have a plan.
Your plan is a blueprint that is designed with demographics and trends in mind so that content is released at the right time on the right channels. That’s when it will have the greatest impact. The simplest version of this plan can be a shared calendar that identifies key dates for action by prospects and re-enrollment, with dates for when specific marketing elements should start. A persona should be developed to target the right audience(s).
Create value and meet parent needs on your website.
Don’t wait to connect with prospective students and their families. They are going through a process that will lead to a decision about enrollment. The sooner you serve them in that decision process, the more likely they are to come your way. As they begin thinking about their children’s needs for education, you should show value and usefulness online. This crucial point occurs long before they come to a final decision about which school they will attend, and even before they begin comparing schools.
SEO is the other side of your content equation.
While good content creates connected customers, proper use of search engine optimization (SEO) techniques makes your school visible on Google, Bing, Yahoo etc. Every private school wants to be found on the first page of a search, but you don’t want content that’s littered with stilted web search jargon. SEO-packed content is a mistake you must avoid. This makes an article seem obviously contrived and signals low value. SEO needs to flow throughout your content; it should never be obvious. Inbound marketing makes SEO a natural part of the strategy, and search engines reward valuable content that is an expression of natural language.
Don’t let your content get stale.
For most people, going to a blog and seeing the same article that’s been there for weeks–or even months–will turn them off to the website. Google tracks whether content on your website is fresh. Content has to be current, especially when you know the people reading it are students and families making decisions about which school to attend.