Inbound Marketing Explained
So, what is inbound marketing, and how can it help private schools?
If you haven’t heard the term before, here is how inbound marketing works.
You may already be familiar with traditional private school marketing as you may have been involved in your school’s marketing efforts. However, you may feel that something is still missing, and you need to learn and focus on particular strategies that are more effective and will be more beneficial for learning institutions like yours.
One of these strategies is inbound marketing for schools, which may sound new to you, but it is actually nothing new.
Simply put, inbound marketing is about connecting with people who have shown interest in your school. It’s called “inbound” because your audience seeks you out first, usually after engaging with helpful content you’ve created. When applied to your school, inbound marketing is the process of attracting potential parents and students.
On the other hand, inbound contacts are referred to as warm contacts. This means your potential students and their parents who have engaged with the content of your school’s website.
Inbound Marketing for K-12 Private Schools
You may ask how this inbound strategy can help market your independent private school.
In all likelihood, your school runs a website where you upload images, videos, and other marketing materials. Like your school, other similar institutions also have their websites.
These other schools are your competitors who know how to take advantage of the power of their online presence – their website content – to lure more applicants and drive more revenues to their business.
The specific thing that they do with their website’s power is what is known as content marketing. This type of marketing plays a significant role in inbound marketing for learning institutions and other types of businesses in general.
The key is to create content that people who browse the net are looking for. As applied to your school, this means developing the type of content your target audience is searching for – parents, students, families, the local community, and the surrounding areas.
A private school inbound marketing campaign begins with well-thought-out strategies that are compatible with how Google makes searches work for various businesses. Complying with Google and considering its algorithm is important because most people today search for particular products and services through the giant search engine. Now, to use Google for this purpose, related keywords are used.
If you don’t know yet, Google is a sucker for keywords. Let’s say a user makes a Google search using a particular keyword that happens to be one of the keywords you used in your content. When Google crawls through your content with the keyword, your page will be included in Google’s search results page. The idea is to make your page land at the top of such results pages. This will drive more traffic to your site. And this is why it is called “inbound marketing.”
Significance of Keywords in an Inbound Strategy
You are now familiar with the basics of Google searches, keywords, and content marketing, as well as how to take advantage of these and use them as tools for your school’s marketing campaigns. The next step is to learn how to find the right keywords and what you should and should not do when using these keywords. After that, you can proceed with other aspects of inbound marketing.
Research is crucial for identifying the right keywords for your school. You want to find keywords that are relevant to your business and commonly used in your target area.
However, keep in mind that competition for keywords is fierce these days. You’ll likely need to dig deeper to find less standard terms that aren’t already saturated.
Once you have determined the appropriate keywords, the next step would be to create your content for these keywords.
Example of Keywords in an Inbound Strategy
Let’s say you work for Greenfield Academy, and your school is located in East Lansing, MI. You intend to write a blog post based on your chosen keywords – “k-12 private school in East Lansing, MI.”
You want to optimize the post for search engines using your preferred keywords as much as possible. Once done, you are ready to post your content online, hoping that potential parents in Lansing and surrounding areas will come across your post while searching for k-12 private schools near them.
Distributing your keywords evenly throughout your blog post is only a part of the strategy you should implement. Make sure to insert keywords naturally, meaning your sentences with the keywords must read smoothly and not be forced. You must also avoid stuffing your article with keywords because search engines like Google frown on this practice. Worse, search engines may even punish your site, which will only put all your efforts to waste.
Following are some parts of the blog post where you can include your keywords:
Inserting your keywords in these places will allow your post to be found more easily among the massive number of blog posts on the net.
Let’s continue with our Greenfield example since the school is located in East Lansing, Michigan. You may be tempted to use keywords like “school in East Lansing, MI,” which is obviously logical.
However, you should not use the keyword phrase right away. First, it would make a lot of sense to check if this would be a good keyword idea. So, how do you do it?
On the Google search box, type in the keyword “school in East Lansing, MI.” As you are typing the phrase, a pop-up box will show a few suggested search keyword phrases similar to what you are typing. In our example, you may find “high schools in East Lansing, elementary schools in East Lansing, and trade schools in East Lansing, among others.
The suggested keyword phrases are the most popular ones closely related to the search. It wouldn’t hurt to include these other keyword phrases in your blog posts to help improve your chances of landing on the top of Google’s search results pages (SERPs). Just make sure to choose ones that apply to your school.
Now that all keyword-related matters are settled. Publishing or posting your blog is the next step.
After your post is live, you need to promote it. Keep in mind the use of a variety of social media platforms. This will not only help keep you relevant (which is, incidentally, another aspect to consider for a well-planned inbound marketing campaign for your school.) Using several social media platforms will also make it easy for your followers using different platforms to share your content if they are compelled to do so.
Solidifying the Inbound Marketing Strategy for Your Private School
You may think that everything you need to do has already been addressed, so it is time to rest for a while and celebrate. Not so fast! You have only completed the basics, and there are more important things that you still need to do.
Remember that marketing is an ongoing process; thus, you have ongoing tasks. Particularly for inbound marketing, there are some aspects that you need to pay close attention to.
Beyond inbound marketing, experts may also suggest trying these other effective strategies for private school marketing:
Having a Responsive Website
You have to have a responsive website design. This way, you can ensure that your pages will work well when viewed on various devices and screen sizes.
A responsive website design ensures that all page elements adapt well to the screen size used, regardless of the device, like tablet PCs, desktop computers, and smartphones. Both parents and students can then navigate your website seamlessly to get the particular information without waiting a long time for your pages to load.
Using a Content Hub
Also called a pillar page or hub page, a content hub is a web page focusing on a central topic or theme. For a private school, this would be a page dedicated to the different services you offer students. A pillar/hub page acts as a central reference point that multiple other pages on your site link back to.
Some of the benefits of using a pillar/hub page as your central content hub include:
- Increased user engagement
- Improved website traffic
- Lead generation
- Increased time spent on your website
This central reference page lets visitors easily understand your site structure and quickly access specific information through linked pages.
Applying Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Keywords play an important role in search engine optimization. SEO is the process that makes your website and individual web pages visible and relevant to both users and search engines. However, keywords are not the only consideration when optimizing your pages for search engines.
SEO today likewise puts a lot of premium on content relevance and quality, social media branding, and website user experience. Therefore, providing high-quality content that your audience will find relevant and informative is important.
Using Video Content
One powerful and compelling way to promote your school to prospective parents is through videos. You can tell the story of your school through a well-prepared video presentation. It would be a more effective way to send your message across than merely listing your school’s past milestones and achievements in text.
There are many online directories where people can leave reviews about local businesses, including private schools. Make sure to register your school on some of these local directories and keep your business listing up-to-date. Also, encourage positive reviews from current parents - this peer feedback can be very influential for new parents exploring schools. Some top directories to consider are Great Schools and Private School Review for more information.
Hopefully, this guide gives you lots of useful ideas to make your inbound marketing more effective! Marketing is constantly evolving, but these strategies will serve your school for years to come.