How to Market a Private School in 2022

How to Market a Private School in 2022

January 3, 2022
(Reading time: 5 - 9 minutes)

Let's face it; if your 2022 plans were to go back to “pre-pandemic normal” methods of marketing your private school, such as bragging about student-to-teacher ratios and strategies in educating the whole child, then you need to evaluate your thinking. 

Frankly, your private school is under a new microscope. COVID wasn’t like throwing a rock in a pond and waiting for the ripples to dissipate. It has been and is more like a hurricane that keeps battering the fragile outer banks’ coastline. 

The communications and school marketing strategies that used to work for your school didn’t work in 2021; they won’t be working in 2022 and beyond. As I mentioned previously, the landscape has completely changed. Your ideas must be modified, reimagined, or even abandoned to accommodate today's families' expectations.

Here are seven ideas of how to market a private school.  

1. Consider Redesigning Your Website

Now before you say, well, you are a marketing agency that works with private schools, of course, you are going to tell me I need to redo our website. There is plenty of research across numerous industries that proves that a poorly designed website can be the weak point of many private schools. With that said, understand that we only suggest this if you really need it. 

A bad website experience, especially for mobile users, can kill your reputation and lead to poor engagement, site traffic, and more. 

Consider these stats:

  • 79% of people who don’t like what they find on one site will go back and search for another site (Source: IMPACT])
  • Mobile users are five times more likely to abandon a task if a site is not optimized for mobile (Source: Search Engine Watch)
  • 40% of consumers will leave a page that takes longer than three seconds to load. (Source: Think With Google)
  • 47% of consumers expect a web page to load in 2 seconds or less. (Source: NeilPatel.com/KissMetric.com)
  • 94% of first impressions are design-related. (Source: 8 Ways Media)
  • 52% of users say that a bad mobile experience made them less likely to engage with a company (Source: Animoto Online and Mobile Video Study)

I know that launching a new website can be a lot of work in order to do it right. But before you spend time, money, or effort on marketing a private school, you need a solid foundation. This is your top marketing plan this year if your school's existing website ticks any of the following items:

  • Your school’s website is three years old or more
  • Your school’s website is not mobile-friendly or responsive
  • The school’s website “looks old” in comparison to competitors
  • Your school’s website is difficult to navigate
  • Your school’s website is not ADA-compliant
  • Your school’s website is difficult to update

Considering a website redesign? These articles may help: 

2. Improve and Optimize Your Search Engine Strategy

Every private school’s search engine strategy should have three main elements:

  • Search Engine Optimization
  • Online Reviews
  • Paid Per Click Advertising (PPC)

Depending on your school’s goals, you should consider investing in at least the first two, if not all three of these vital search engine strategies.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

A quality blog, keyword research, and on-page content are all necessary parts of an effective SEO plan. Combine this with the long-term play (6-9 months to see its effects) many many school marketers don't have the time or resources for it. Therefore, many school marketers neglect SEO in favor of faster options. 

Nevertheless, a solid SEO strategy is critical to your school’s survival in the digital world. According to WebFX, 90 percent of online experiences start with search. 

​​According to SISTRIX:

  • The average clickrate for the first position in Google is 28.5%
  • Beyond position one, the percentage falls quickly: In the second position, the average clickrate is 15.7%, and in the third position, 11%
  • In the tenth position, only an average of 2.5% of people searching click on the result.

(Source: Why (almost) everything you knew about Google CTR is no longer valid

And we all know that page 2 is where the dead bodies are hidden. Therefore it is crystal clear that if you want your private school’s website to be found online, you must find the time and/or budget to optimize your website. (Many private schools, including Lutheran Private Schools, trust Cube Creative Design to create and manage their search engine strategy.)

Online Reviews

Online reviews are now your school’s first impression, and if you don’t have at least a four-star to five-star review, you may never even receive a valid click-through to your school website.

Even before the global pandemic, reviews would directly impact a school’s website traffic. After prospective parents were stuck at home, even the less tech-savvy ones have become savvier and learned to rely on reviews for everything! Therefore, they are even a higher priority than before 2020.

Take these statistics into consideration:

  • 90% of consumers read online reviews before visiting a business. (Source: BrightLocal)
  • 88% of consumers trust online testimonials and reviews as much as recommendations from friends or family (Source: Big Commerce
  • 65% of people believe that online search is the most trusted source of information about people and businesses. (Source: 2014 Edelman Trust Barometer)Online Reviews

Pay Per Click Advertising (PPC)

PPC ads are an effective digital marketing technique that can significantly increase your school's brand awareness online and increase website traffic. If your private school's website isn't ranking well in Google and you don't have time to establish an SEO plan, you may want to consider running paid ads to get on page 1 almost instantly. (Contemplating sponsored advertising for your school. We can help here too!)

3. Use Automated Emails

The past few academic years have been some of the hardest ever for administrators, teachers, students, and parents alike. Many school professionals are still dealing with major burnout. Email workflows are a wonderful place to start if you want to improve your email marketing approach while saving time. 

Automated emails are also referred to as "email drip campaigns" or "email workflows"  and should be considered as part of a school's content marketing strategy. These automated email are automatically sent based on a subscriber's contact information, preference, or behavior. For example, an automated email workflow can be triggered by a contact submitting an inquiry form, but it can also be initiated by a student’s enrollment year or the parents persona.

These automated emails save time and enhance email interaction. They may be used for nearly anything, such as: 

  • Welcome to the newly enrolled families
  • Nurture inquiries from prospective families 
  • Onboard new faculty and staff
  • Remind members of the community about forthcoming events and deadlines
  • Promote school event and fundraisers

4. Start a Blog for Your School

A blog is an excellent opportunity to provide advice, establish thought leadership and authority, tell student and parent stories, build a solid content library, elevate the voices of your community, and increase your organic search results. While a private school blog is not as crucial as some of the other marketing techniques on our list (such as your website), it is an excellent place to start for schools wishing to take more control of their presence and the stories being told about them online.

Before starting a blog for your school, ask yourself:

  • Do we have the resources to post on a regular basis?
  • Who will be responsible for writing the blogs?
  • Where will our blogs live (our website or a third-party site)?
  • What will our editing process be like?
  • Who is our intended audience, or who is our buyer persona?
  • What are the topics we want to write about?

5. Social Media

Social media engagement such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are platforms you can use to increase your branding. You can also use these platforms to improve your parent engagement by choosing the best social media platform for where they are at.  

Marketing for private schools means you need to be helping families find your school as they start searching for institutions that give the best academic services like what you provide.

6. Spend More Time and Money on Video

Incorporate video into your website, social media, and email marketing campaigns to get the most out of this compelling kind of content.

If you're already short on time and resources, there's some good news! It's never been simpler to make a video, and after a year of communicating via low-resolution video, no one expects Hollywood-level quality.

Consider the following if you want to include more video into your school marketing plan this year:

  • Start small and upload one new video on YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram each week.
  • Create a list of video ideas such as tips from teachers, testimonials, and interviews to make fun and engaging videos.
  • Enlist the help of students as they are great resources for creating video content.

7. Use Word of Mouth as a Marketing Strategy

As a private school, you are most likely targeting a local audience in the community where you operate. Word of mouth marketing can still be an effective strategy. By leveraging the power of word of mouth, both students and parents can recommend your school to their family and friends.  

Word of mouth can significantly influence up to 50% of purchase choices in both local businesses and abroad. This is also no different for your school; because of the power of word-of-mouth marketing and the importance of local marketing to your area, you should give this technique some serious consideration and allocate significant resources to it.

Final Thoughts

Parent expectations are now higher than ever, and it’s essential that your private school’s marketing and communications strategy adapt as well. As you start to plan the marketing and communication for your in the upcoming school year, create a list of “must-haves” for your marketing and communications plan based on this blog.

If you need help developing a private school marketing plan or just need to implement one, reach out to me for a free consultation. I will be happy to have a free no-obligation consultation with you.

Adam Bennett

Written by:  |  January 3, 2022

Adam is the president and founder of Cube Creative Design. Since starting the business in 2005, he has created individual relationships with clients in Western North Carolina. He places great value on the needs, expectations, and goals of the client.

See Adam Bennett's' bio: cubecreative.design/about/adam-bennett