6 New Strategies for Achieving Your School's Marketing and Admissions Goals in 2019
With a new school year comes new targets to hit. But will you also have new marketing strategies? What will you do differently to reach the goals that you failed to reach last year? What strategies do you have in place to measure the effectiveness of your school marketing efforts?
New Year, New Targets. What's Your School Marketing Strategy to Deliver?
With the change in weather this week, it’s a definite reminder that September has arrived. And with a new school year comes new targets to hit. But will you also have new marketing strategies? What will you do differently this year in order to hit the goals that maybe you fell short of last year? What strategies do you have in place to measure the effectiveness of your school marketing efforts?
Unfortunately, most marketers (not just schools) don’t actually know which of their marketing activities have been successful and which haven’t, leading them to continue to do the same things year after year.
Data and Your School Marketing Strategy
We’re now at a point in time where the majority of your efforts as a school marketer will be digital – your school website, social media, email, on-line advertising etc.... It only makes sense as that’s where your audience is. It may have taken schools a bit longer than most businesses to make the shift to digital, but we’re here now. So the next step really is to make the most of on-line’s advantage – the ability to measure and adapt in near real-time, making digital marketing one of the most powerful means of engaging with your target audiences.
Access to your school’s website data is invaluable, providing insight into what has and hasn’t worked in your marketing efforts and allowing you to adjust your strategy accordingly in order to reach your targets. Below are six new strategies, that, guided by data, will not only help you to reach but surpass your school marketing strategy goals in 2019!
New Strategies, New Outcomes
Focus on The Social Platforms That Convert
If you’re like most independent schools today you’ll have a social media presence, showcasing your beautiful school, your brilliant pupils and your amazing staff. But do you actually know how effective social media is at helping you to reach your school’s goals? Google Analytics can not only tell you which of your social platforms drives the most traffic to your website, it can also tell you which converts the most – i.e. which platform drives the most Open Day registrants. You may be in for a surprise!
By obtaining this insight you can then focus on the social channel that benefits your school the most. I wouldn’t advise you stop using your other platforms – they may be great for engaging with parents and increasing your brand exposure – but rather, if you’re limited on resources (time, budget), put them into the social channel that converts. Maximise your ROI!
Create Content that Attracts
Contrary to what some may think, content is still king. There is no getting around that. When you think of it, content remains the driving force behind the majority of your school’s marketing efforts.
When developing your content strategy (and yes, you should have one), Google Analytics should be your first port of call as it can reveal a lot about what’s important to your audience. By revealing the blogs that they’ve read/shared the most, the words they searched for on your site and the pages they most frequented, you can gain insight into the content that resonates the most with them.
In addition, Google Analytics can reveal the content that’s brought you the most ‘New Visitors’ (i.e. prospective parents). You can even link your content directly to your goals and learn what content has led to the most registrations. This is marketing gold! Look to create more of that type of content to attract – and convert – new parents. (Don’t forget to optimise it for search while you’re there!)
Speak Directly to Your Audience
Both Google Analytics and your social platforms allow you to gather statistics about your website visitors that can give you that extra edge. By identifying their age, gender, location, devices, interests etc, you can develop true persona profiles of your audiences allowing you to personalise your marketing to resonate with them.
If the majority of your audience are connecting when on their mobile, keep your content short, use more bullet points and create mobile-friendly ads. If you have a more female than male audience, don’t be afraid to put a feminine spin on the language and images that you use. Personalise your content to reflect your target audience. Connection is key to developing the relationships that convert.
Target Your Low-Hanging Fruit
Both Google and Facebook offer insights into people who have already shown an interest in your school. Look to remarket to those visitors through Google or Facebook advertising. Remarketing is a great way to remind visitors who have visited your website or shown an interest in your Facebook Open Day event, that you’re still here and you’d like them to learn more about you. You don’t have to be that annoying ad that never goes away, but there is nothing wrong with leaving a memorable impression!
Expand into New Countries
This really ties in with the above in targeting the low-hanging fruit. Look at your Google Analytics to determine where your website traffic is coming from – you may find an untapped market in another country or city that you hadn’t previously considered.
Choose a country or city that has shown significant interest in your school (without you having made any effort!) and create a landing page on your website that speaks directly to them. Dependent on your budget you might even want to consider paid social campaigns to that country/city as well. Look beyond your immediate surroundings …
Optimise Your Best Converting Traffic Channels
Again, it’s all about conversions. Yes, traffic to your school website is fantastic for brand building, but at the end of the day wouldn’t you rather have 10 parents that registered for an Open Day vs 100 that came to your website and left immediately?
Look to your Google Analytics to determine the channels that are converting your goals – i.e. Organic, Paid, Referral, Social Media etc. If Organic traffic (people that find you in search results) drive the most conversions, focus on SEO to increase those conversion numbers. If Paid traffic (Google Ads, social advertising) is the most effective, perhaps add a little more to your budget. Or look to improve your SEO and change that shift (a better long-term tactic). If you’re seeing conversions with Referral traffic (links from other websites) look for other partnerships that you can benefit from. Can a local realtor link to your school website for families relocating? Look to build your online relationships and capitalise on their traffic.
It’s really all about focusing on what’s helping your bottom line. At the end of the day, for most school marketers that is your admissions numbers.
Steps to Tracking Your Marketing Successes
In order to effectively measure your marketing efforts in Google Analytics you’ll want to follow these steps:
1. Create goals in Google Analytics that are reflective of your overall marketing goals – i.e. Admissions and Open Day registrations
2. Use UTM tracking in your campaigns. UTM tracking is used by most businesses today and is a simple tagging system that allows Google Analytics to track exactly where the traffic and conversions are coming from. For instance, if you shared two different campaigns in both Facebook and Twitter – i.e. a blog and a video – Google Analytics would be able to tell you which social platform and which medium was the most successful. Life is so much easier when you know what works!
3. Once your goals are in place and you’re using your UTM tracking, create automated Google Analytics reports that track your campaign successes. Make it as easy as possible to monitor and adapt what’s working and what’s not
4. And lastly, don’t do the same as last year and yet expect different results. We all know what that means …