Digital Marketing Tips for Schools
Increasing enrollment, generating positive engagement in the community, sharing news and updates – there are many reasons digital marketing is an important part of a school’s strategy for growth.
Traditional media may have been effective in the past, but as content consumption habits have changed for parents and students alike, an effective online gameplan is a necessity. Knowing which aspects of a digital strategy to focus on can help maximize resources and yield unparalleled results.
The best part about digital marketing is that it’s accessible to nearly everyone – both as creators and consumers. Getting your message in front of students, boosters, administrators, and prospective students has never been easier…if you know what you’re doing.
In this post, I’ll lay out a few components of a school-focused digital strategy that can be implemented by nearly any institution.
1. Spread the Word Via Online Groups
Schools thrive on a sense of community, and social media can be the perfect place to cultivate a relationship between members of the community.
While there certainly is no substitute for events where individuals associated with the school gather together, it’s a challenge to get people in the same room. Setting up a group on Facebook, which has many optimizations specifically for groups, gets people communicating on a daily basis.
Another benefit of online groups is that you can create several based on the varied areas of interest within the greater community. For example, you might have one group that focuses on topics relating to athletics, and might have another dedicated to community service.
When you’re able to get everyone on the same page (literally and figuratively), people will engage in discussions that can have a profound impact on the organization.
2. Increase Enrollment through Ads
Without an entirely new class of students enrolling each year, schools wouldn’t be able to survive and grow. In today’s increasingly-competitive world where there are more options than ever, getting your school in front of prospective students is essential.
One of the major benefits of digital marketing is that you can get your ads in front of the people who fit the description of the ideal enrollee. Aside from basic identifiers like age and location, advanced targeting options exist that can help maximize the efficiency of your advertising dollars.
Remember those online groups discussed above? Facebook and Google will allow you to advertise to people who closely match the characteristics of members already in your community. Let’s see a newspaper do that!
Even schools with small marketing budgets can take advantage of online advertising. Most platforms have a very low minimum cost so you’re free to increase and decrease your budget as necessary.
3. Reach Alumni Wherever They Are
A strong alumni network is one of the best resources any school can have. As many administrators know, it can be a challenge to reconnect with former students and staff after they’ve moved on to a new place. Luckily, there are plenty of ways to reach this valuable group. They include:
- Email Lists: In today’s digital, chances are you have an email address for nearly everyone who has been associated with your school in recent years. Regularly sending emails that encourage giving back, whether financially or by volunteering, is a great strategy.
- LinkedIn: It might not be as widely-used as Facebook or as fun as Instagram, but LinkedIn is the perfect place to get current and former students together (digitally, of course). Setting up a page that specifically focuses on alumni matters will help people get back in touch.
- Facebook Groups: While all social networks attract a slightly different user-base, just about everyone from the class of 2019 to the class of 1985 has a Facebook page. Set up a page that’s easy to find (“[School Name] Alumni”) and watch generations of former students and faculty come together!
4. Invest in Your Site
Your website should be built around two things. First, functionality for current students, parents of students, faculty, and alumni should always be considered. Second, it should be designed in a way that makes a lasting first impression for those who are looking for schools to enroll in.
A quality website should be a one-stop destination for all the information that someone needs to know when it comes to your institution. Documents, event calendars, handbooks, donation information, and any other relevant resources should all be readily available.
Put yourself in the position of a potential-student looking for the right place to enroll. It’s likely that your initial research is going to consist of website visits to all the places you’re considering. Is your website giving an accurate portrayal of the quality of the school?
Websites aren’t cheap, but due to how much people interact with it on a daily basis, it’s always worth it to invest heavily in this part of your digital strategy. Remember, education is a competitive industry and if you aren’t staying up-to-date digitally, you risk falling behind.
5. Hire Outside Help if Needed
An unfortunate reality of the education system is that there are situations where the necessary resources aren’t available to everyone. For example, keeping a team of full-time digital marketing experts in-house might be an expense that just isn’t in the budget. That doesn’t mean you should ignore the problem.
If you’re lacking in the digital department, hiring an outside agency is a viable solution. You might be thinking that you can’t afford to bring in help, but in today’s online world, you can’t afford not to.
Most agencies are happy to work with schools to accomplish their goals at an affordable rate. If you don’t feel confident in your current online strategy, don’t hesitate to ask for help!
No matter what your specific goals might be as a school, it’s likely that part of the solution can be found in an effective digital marketing strategy. With so many options available to grow enrollment and drive engagement from alumni, the potential is undeniable.
Collaborate with faculty, staff and administrators to clearly define areas of improvement and craft a strategy to get it done.