Why Setting Goals Is Vital for Your Marketing Strategy
Creating a strategic marketing plan without clear goals is like going on a road trip without a destination. You might cover a lot of ground, but you’ll waste time and gas in the process.
As a private school principal or administrator, setting S.M.A.R.T. goals (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Bound) allows you to:
- Track progress and ROI of marketing tactics
- Keep your team aligned and motivated
- Identify what's working and what needs adjustment
Top 5 Marketing Goals for Private Schools
Here are 5 goal areas that should be part of any top private school's marketing strategy:
1. Increase Student Enrollment Leads
For many private schools, the #1 goal is getting more student enrollment leads in the door. Specify exactly how many more leads you want to generate in a set timeframe.
For example, our fictional private school, Greenfield Academy, may want to aim to increase inquiry leads by 30% year-over-year through enhancements to its school's website and digital marketing campaigns.
2. Boost School (Brand) Awareness
Building general awareness of your school within your community and target demographic is vital for long-term growth.
Set goals around increasing followers and engagement on social media, securing earned media placements, or running paid campaigns to get your brand in front of more people.
Going back to Greenfield Academy, they may set a goal to Increase followers on social media by 25% and achieve 5% engagement rate on posts.
3. Drive Website Traffic
Your website is often the first touchpoint for prospective students and parents to engage with your school.
For example, Greenfield Academy determined they needed to increase website sessions by 30% year-over-year to drive 100 prospective family visits during admissions season. Additionally, they focused on achieving a 10% inquiry form conversion rate from their website traffic.
4. Improve Student Retention
It's not enough just to attract new students - you need to keep them. Student retention directly impacts school revenue.
Aim to increase current student re-enrollment rates through retention marketing, parent surveys, Financial Aid, and academic improvements.
For example, increasing the current student re-enrollment rate from 80% to 85% for middle through high school grades for next year could be a goal that Greenfield Academy wants to achieve.
5. Build Parent & Community Loyalty
Parent and community loyalty leads to word-of-mouth referrals and donations - the lifeblood of many private schools.
Use Net Promoter Score (NPS) surveys and donor participation goals to strengthen engagement. Offer exclusive benefits through a formal loyalty program.
For Greenfield Academy, getting survey responses has always been a challenge. They set a goal of a 60% parent response rate on annual satisfaction surveys.
Turning Goals into Results
The specific marketing strategies and tactics needed to hit your enrollment, brand awareness, website traffic, retention, and loyalty goals will vary for your private school. Here are some proven tactics to consider for each goal area:
To Increase Student Enrollment Leads:
- Refresh your school's website with targeted landing pages
- Create lead magnet content offers like eBooks or whitepapers
- Run paid search and social media ads targeted to your parent personas
- Email marketing campaigns segmented for prospective student families
- Sponsor local events to get in front of potential applicants
To Build Brand Awareness:
- Increase social media content volume and run social media ads
- Tap influencers and brand ambassadors to share your messages organically
- Secure earned media placements in local newspapers and TV news segments
- Host an open house and community events to foster engagement
To Drive More Website Traffic:
- Optimize website pages for keywords prospective families search
- Produce blog, videos, and other content to attract search traffic
- Run pay-per-click ads through Google Ads and Bing Ads
- Refresh old content and fix technical SEO issues onsite
To Improve Student Retention:
- Send surveys to uncover pain points and address concerns
- Create loyalty programs with perks for current students & families
- Host special events just for current students & families
- Leverage email, social media, and text to regularly engage enrolled students
To Increase Loyalty And Referrals:
- Implement a formal, tiered parent ambassador or loyalty program
- Recognize top referrers and community supporters
- Host exclusive events for top-tier loyalty members only
- Send loyalty program members special offers and perks
Overcoming Key Marketing Challenges
As a private school marketer, you may face these common challenges:
- Small budgets compared to bigger schools
- Demand by the school board to “hard sell” your school
- Only a short window each year for student recruitment
- Difficulty showcasing what makes your school's experience unique
Here are some tips for overcoming those challenges:
- Get creative on maximizing results from small ad budgets
- Focus messaging on nurturing vs. hard-selling your school
- Make every touchpoint count during that short window
- Leverage student testimonials and compelling content
The key is understanding the constraints but still finding ways to execute strategies tailored for your school.
Setting clear enrollment, brand awareness, website traffic, retention, and loyalty goals is key to successful private school marketing. By defining specific targets and timelines in each area, you can track progress and focus your strategy on tactics that directly support hitting each goal.
The key is regularly reviewing performance data and then optimizing efforts and budgets based on which initiatives and campaigns drive results.
Your marketing goals only provide the roadmap, but it’s executing strategies tailored for your school that gets you there.
Does your private school need help developing data-driven marketing goals or executing programs to achieve them? Then book a free consultation with me today! I am here to help you set and achieve the right goals to attract, retain, and engage more students and families.