Why Schools Need Digital Marketing
Published on 12/10/16
One of the biggest concerns for schools, of any size, is their budget. As schools get their funding on a 'per-pupil' basis - a lack of bums on seats can be a huge cost to the overall school budget. Under-enrolment can cause a school to struggle through the year and in some frightening cases it can even lead to closures. This is why marketing your school is something that shouldn't be taken lightly. It is what makes yourselves known by potential parents, students and teachers and ultimately what convinces them to choose your school over competitors.
Every prospective parent, student or teacher has a choice - and with an increase in options comes an even bigger increase in competition. The Education Reform Act of 1988 focused on expanding parents' choice over where their children go to school; promoting competition amongst schools - and by doing so - improving school outcomes and standards in education overall.
The number of school options available to families differs depending on where they live. However - on average, the majority of children have two or three schools to choose from. Due to an increase in options available, schools are forced to act more like businesses or brands; competing with one another by adopting marketing strategies in order to recruit students.
Having worked with schools for over 15 years, we understand that the marketplace has evolved drastically and now, schools must successfully differentiate themselves in order to stand out from their competitors; whether this is from their outstanding academic achievements, their latest facilities or the way they use technology and progressive teaching techniques throughout their curriculum. These differences are what gives any school the competitive edge, defines their characteristics and therefore the essence of their brand.
In such a competitive market, branding is as crucial to a school as it is for a business. Schools that communicate their qualities, effectively and in interesting ways, will perform better than their competitors in the pursuit of attracting new students. Knowing and understanding what makes your school different is only half of the challenge - it is how you execute and communicate this with your audience, that will determine the overall success of your marketing strategy.
The majority of schools focus on their website as their primary marketing tool for student recruitment, however - without a strategy in place, a website alone isn't enough. Schools need to drive traffic to their website by addressing parental and student needs when selecting a school. This will help to raise awareness by increasing online visibility and develop a strong, favourable reputation.
To prospective parents, students and teachers - a school needs to focus on being informative; providing sufficient information in order to obtain their interest and answer their questions before they even ask them. What does the school have to offer? Why should my child study here? What facilities and opportunities will be available to my child? What is the school like? It is always helpful to make a note of any questions your stakeholders may be asking when they visit you - and ensure you provide that information to them.
Post enrolment strategies aim to maintain open communication with their stakeholders.
Parents will expect to receive regular updates from the school about what is going on and how their child is doing. They also expect schools to respond quickly to their enquiries, as anyone would from any other service provider or brand. If you sent a complaint to a company about a product, you would expect to hear back within 24 hours and schools should be no different. Digital technologies such as email systems and social media can help to minimise the response time by making it easy to address issues as and when they occur.
Just as a growing business must invest in marketing to win customers, digital marketing should be considered as a necessary investment for every school.
It is easy to calculate the return on investment with digital, as everything is trackable through analytics. If you fill a certain number of places within the school off the back of a campaign, this can clearly justify any investment made into your digital marketing efforts.