How to Market a Private School – 8 Strategies to Boost Enrollment

How to Market a Private School – 8 Strategies to Boost Enrollment

August 12, 2021
(Reading time: 7 - 14 minutes)

The first thing that should come to mind in marketing your private school is higher-quality learning, followed by a high-quality social environment. If those two have been established, the next thing to do is build an audience. 

Here are eight techniques you can tap to market your school. Make sure to consult a school marketing specialist to help you out. Your consultant will work with you on the following:

  • Building a Facebook community
  • Improving your website
  • SEO – Improving your organic visibility
  • Using Google Adwords to drive search traffic
  • Engaging with students and alumni via LinkedIn
  • Communicating through email newsletters
  • Learning from competitors
Marketing’s job is never done. It’s about perpetual motion. We must continue to innovate every day.

1. Research your market

Every school needs market research, which is essential for building a marketing plan. Market research is a time-consuming activity to do. Nonetheless, you must conduct market research because it will give you data on the needs and priorities of your target market. 

Market research can also give you pertinent data that you can use to segment your market. After data analysis, you will have a particular segment to focus on your marketing resources. 

Also, the data you will collect can help your team create personalized messages. 

For gathering data, you will conduct surveys and interviews, check activities on your websites, and list down demographics of people that showed interest in your school, such as: 

  • Website visitors’ locations
  • Age and gender
  • Socio-economic status
  • Employment of parents/guardians
  • Social affiliations
  • Ethnicity

Some questions to ask your research respondents include: 

  • Have you heard of (our school)?
  • Would you recommend (our school) to associates or other parents?
  • What is the best thing you have heard about (our school)?
  • What is the worst thing you have heard about (our school)? 
  • If (our school) is not available, which school would you be interested in and why? (to gauge customer priorities and market competition)

With market research, you can identify problem areas in your school operations. With a better understanding of areas of vulnerability, you can improve your weak points to build a more solid reputation.  

Keep in mind that market research does not only give you numbers. It helps unravel market sentiments and behaviors, which, in turn, help in creating personalized messages, identifying the choice of ads your audience prefers to see, building the kind of engagement students and parents would want to experience with schools, etc. 

2. Build a Facebook community

Now that you have a game plan, it is time to start targeting different platforms for marketing. Number one on your list should be Facebook. 

Placing ads on Facebook is one targeted method to reach audiences, and Facebook ads are one of the best ways for schools to reach out to their parent base. 

Here are tips for creating and posting ads on Facebook: 

Experiment constantly

Half of Facebook users log in to the platform every day, allowing schools to have daily opportunities to engage with their target audience. All you need to do is grab your audience’s attention by creating multiple ads and engaging content on the platform. 

Also, make constant changes in your Facebook content. For instance, rotate your content’s images, body, and titles. Do the same with your landing pages. 

Track ads performance

Facebook has advertising reports for users. For each of your ads, you can use a tracking link that will allow you to pull reports weekly. That is how most users track their Facebook ads performance. 

Use Facebook audience targeting

There are rich targeting options available on Facebook. You can set up a profiling system within the platform, and Facebook will supply you with more potential customers to target.

Ask yourself these questions when profiling: 

  • What are the ideal interests of your market? 
  • What is your market’s demographic? 
  • What is your target market’s income range? 
  • If you are promoting an app, event, or page, can Facebook’s Friends of Connection feature be used for that purpose? 

Use promo codes

Promo codes are known to boost CTRs in online advertising. If you cannot do this strategy for lack of promo code access, use a CTA (call to action) in your ads. Alternatively, questions are also good inclusions in ads. 

Less is more

Well-performing ads are simple and have few words. Being straightforward can do wonders in all your marketing strategies. 

However, whatever marketing strategy you use, and whether it is on Facebook or another platform, you should always think about local market targeting for a good reason. 

Attract visitors and customers from your local market because these are the ones who are most likely to inquire about your school. So, consider the local folks when you think about Facebook audience targeting. In the same way, use local marketing keywords when you optimize your website for search engine optimization or SEO – which brings us to the next point. 

3. Optimize your website for SEO

Check on Google how your website performs in search results. For instance, type in the Google search box the keyword “California private school,” assuming your school is in this state. 

Do you see your website or web pages in the search results? How does it rank? Your pages should show at least on the first couple of search results pages. 

If not, check performance using other keywords. For instance, include the words “San Jose” if you operate in that city. If your school or web pages still do not appear on top of search results, you might want to consider working on your SEO. That means you optimize your website for Google ranking. If it improves your search results positions, you will have more organic visibility, more organic traffic to your site, and more enrollments. 

What are strategies to use for website SEO

Optimize your content

Optimizing the content of your school’s website is a building stone for drawing traffic. The best materials to use are those that are useful and full of insights. 

Your audience consists of parents and students looking for the best school to provide the skills and knowledge to prepare them for their future. Make sure that your content delivers that message and states why you are the best option for them. 

One way to come up with great content is to use stories about school-to-home bonding. Here you are targeting parents who think that schools have a responsibility to connect and inform them of their children’s whereabouts. Parents need to work with schools to protect and advance their children’s interests. 

School security is a primary concern for all parties involved, so work on that aspect when you build your content. Remember, it must be insightful and beneficial to all parties concerned. 

Furthermore, your website must have fresh content all the time. Post articles about recent and future events, security improvement, policy changes, milestones achieved, awards received, and plans. 

You want to post fresh and informative content because you want more visitors to your site. The more visitors you have, and the longer they engage with your content, the higher Google will rank your pages. 

Below are additional tips for content strategizing:

Avoid duplicate content. Duplicate content leads to SEO issues that can result in search engine ranking penalties. Check your site’s internal content for duplicates, as Google is stricter in those terms - so be strict yourself. Even near-duplicate content can cause a negative impression on Google. 

Be responsive across all devices

Try loading your pages on a PC or mobile device. Does it load fast, and how fast does it load? 

Site speed matters to your operations. If it is slow, your website visitors will not hesitate to leave your site, and Google will mark that out as a sign that your site is irresponsive

Make sure that you check your site’s mobile performance. More than 50% of searches in Google take place on mobile devices. Also, ensure that the texts are readable and graphics properly load whatever device the user is using to gain access. 

Use social media for website SEO

Use social media for website linking. If you have an SEO-friendly website design, it is easy to lure your audience on social media to your site. On the reverse, you can also attract your website audience to your accounts on social media using the plug-ins on your website. 

Use the plug-ins you have on your website. If you do not have such plug-ins, collaborate with a website design agency. When such plug-ins are already in place, they will automatically create graphics of your social media pages, show the number of likes and shares, and display your latest social media posts. 

The reverse strategy for that is to create beneficial, informative, and relevant content. Then engage with your audience in social media and take advantage of opportunities to share links to your great content while having social media engagement. 

4. Use Google Adwords to drive search traffic

For beginners on Google Adwords, it is an online advertising platform. To get your ads in front of your audience, you need advertising platforms such as Google Adwords. 

Using these advertising platforms, you can create optimized campaigns that drive high-quality and relevant traffic to your school and website using these advertising platforms. There are two ways you can advertise on Google: 

  • Through the search (where keywords play a crucial role)
  • Display network 

Google Adwords is a paid service where you pay for every click potential customers make on your ads. The strategy is for capturing a highly targeted audience with high intent to purchase, but it can be very costly for businesses if not done strategically. 

What you can do with that is to use the Google My Business (GMB) service. It is a free service that allows you to manage and optimize your school’s profile on Google. 

Once your profile is optimized, you can increase your chances of driving high-quality traffic with less expense via the Google Adwords service. 

Does the service mean immediate traffic? 

It does, as long you target the right audience and have something beneficial to tell them. First, choose the keywords that your target market uses in your ads. Second, use texts, images, and strategies that can entice your audience to take action. 

Thus, one’s success depends on creativity, discount offers, and other things that can entice people to click through to your site and take a look. 

5. Engage with students and alumni via LinkedIn

Use the effect of networks, such as alumni networks, and harness such an effect to boost enrollment. LinkedIn is a sure hit of a platform for that. 

Many companies have forgotten they sell to actual people. Humans care about the entire experience, not just the marketing or sales or service. To really win in the modern age, you must solve for humans.

Modern consumers no longer blindly trust the company or service under consideration. Instead, they turn to their network of acquaintances, colleagues, and associates for advice before deciding on a purchase. 

According to LinkedIn research, alumni of schools can influence a prospective student’s decision to enroll. If you can form such a network, there will be people who will help you market your school to their children and friends. 

First, establish your school’s presence on LinkedIn. This step is important because it allows you to be closer to the people you are trying to engage on the platform. Do that by creating your profile on the School/University Page of LinkedIn. 

Increase your presence on the platform. If your school’s alumni create their LinkedIn profiles and notice your presence on the platform, their next step is to link with you. That increases your chances of being recommended to more and more students through the coming years.

Find your school’s alumni on LinkedIn. Use the platform’s Alumni tool to access real-time data of the alumni you are considering.  Drill down your search based on their business roles, work location, and home address. 

6. Communicate through email newsletters

You can use email newsletters to communicate with your target audience, which also applies to new converts to your school. The idea is to keep in touch while updating your information on school events and developments. 

There are free email newsletter platforms that allow users to send thousands of newsletters at once. There are dozens of them to choose from, and many enable creating simple text emails or HTML email newsletters with splashes of design elements and images. Click here for steps to creating a simple email marketing process. 

To make newsletters, you need to create a sign-up form, an email editor, and basic automation features. Always consider sending welcome emails to new prospects and converts. 

Follow your first email newsletter with regular email updates, and when they get used to it, your audience will grow to expect your newsletters to come their way regularly.

7. Learn from your competitors

Have an in-depth analysis of your competitors, especially those that appear on top of search results pages and the ones that have a high number of enrollments. 

What is your competitor’s web content? Can you copy their SEO strategy, create content using that strategy, post content on social media the way they do, etc. The answer is: of course, you can. However, you should sound original, if not more authentic than them. 

Do they use offline strategies that you can emulate? What community engagement do they utilize? Do they offer discounts and coupons via community events? 

Would you consider putting up billboards in strategic locations to inform people of the mission and vision of your institution? Does your competitor even utilize such a strategy?

Alternatively, you can always use face-to-face marketing strategies with a part of your target. Some families need to interact in person to get direct answers to their questions. 

8. Consider employing word of mouth

Word-of-mouth marketing is one strategy you can use. The trick is encouraging your existing students and their parents to share their experiences with your brand with peers and family. 

Word-of-mouth is considered the most credible form of marketing driven by authentic user experience. For this strategy, the idea is to give your audience something to discuss relevant to your school. 

It might appear to your team that word-of-mouth is hardly a large-scale approach, but one that thinks that way about word-of-mouth is dead wrong. Experts agree that the method generates more than twice the sales from paid advertising for products of diverse categories. 

Advantages of word-of-mouth

  • It is free-of-cost advertising.
  • It builds a brand’s social proof.
  • It helps develop brand loyalty.
  • It can help increase your conversion rate fast. 

Here is one word-of-mouth tip you should always bear in mind as an administrator of a private school: Good Customer Service. Many surveys show that over 50% of unsatisfied customers tell their family and friends about poor customer service experiences, while 32% will search for another business. 

Show your parents and students importance and treat them with respect. Always listen to complaints and act on them quickly. Do these, and positive word-of-mouth will surely follow. Now, if you need help with your private school’s website or marketing efforts, contact us. We offer a free consultation and would be happy to help!

Adam Bennett

Written by:  |  August 12, 2021

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

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