1. Consider Redesigning Your Website
Before you say, well, you are a marketing agency that works with private schools, of course, you will tell me I need to redo our website. Plenty of research across numerous industries proves that a poorly designed website can be the weak point of many private schools. That said, understand that we only suggest this if you 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:
- 8 out of 10 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)
- 6 out of 10 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)
- More than 50% 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 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 other schools
- 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:
- Tips For a Prospect-Focused School Website
- Boost Your Private School's Enrollment with Content Marketing
- 8 Great Strategies to Boost Private School Enrolment
- Increase Conversions on Your Private School Website
- A Guide to Color and Website Accessibility
2. Improve and Optimize Your Search Engine Strategy
Every private school’s search engine strategy should have three main elements:
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 for an effective SEO plan. Combine this with the long-term play (6-9 months to see its effects) 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, 9 out of 10 online experiences start with a 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 click rate
- 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.
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 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.
Reviews would directly impact a school’s website traffic even before the global pandemic. 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:
- 9 out 10 people 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)
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 for administrators, teachers, students, and parents. Many school professionals are still dealing with significant burnout. Email workflows are a wonderful place to start if you want to improve your email marketing approach while saving time.
Automated emails are called “email drip campaigns” or “email workflows” and should be considered part of a school’s content marketing strategy. These automated emails are automatically sent based on a subscriber’s contact information, preference, or behavior. For example, a contact submitting an inquiry form can trigger an automated email workflow. Still, 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 events 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 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 regularly?
- 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 search for institutions that give the best academic services like what you provide.
6. Invest More on Video
Incorporate video into your website, social media, and email marketing campaigns to get the most out of this compelling content.
There’s some good news if you’re already short on time and resources! 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 videos in your school’s marketing plan this year:
- Start small and upload one new video weekly on YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram.
- To make fun and engaging videos, create a list of video ideas, such as teacher tips, testimonials, and interviews.
- 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 your community. Word-of-mouth marketing can still be an effective strategy. By leveraging the power of word of mouth, students and parents can recommend your school to their families and friends.
Word of mouth can significantly influence up to 50% of purchase choices in local and abroad businesses. 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 seriously consider this technique and allocate significant resources to it.
Parent expectations are now higher than ever, and your private school’s marketing and communications strategy must also adapt. As you start to plan the marketing and communication for the upcoming school year, create a list of “must-haves” for your marketing and communications plan based on this blog.