Attracting new students to your school can be challenging, especially in today’s highly competitive education industry. With so many options available to parents and students, school marketers need to find effective ways to stand out from the crowd and attract more students to your school.
In today’s blog post, I share 23 ways you can effectively attract more students to your school.
Craft marketing messaging for your school
Schools, like other brands, need to know who they are, who they’re talking to, and what makes them unique. The target families you’re talking to are the “who.” Crafting a clear value statement helps families understand what you have to offer.
In addition to the substance of what you’re saying, your school needs to pay attention to how you communicating. The “how” of your messaging is a mixture of voice and tone.
The voice of your messaging is equivalent to personality, and the tone is the mood or attitude of your messaging in any given situation.
When sharing your content, make sure you use the best voice and tone to represent your school and not contradict the substance of your message.
Learn more here: Crafting Your School’s Message
Enhance the user experience of your website
Many people think that having a visually pleasing website equates to a good user experience. The bottom line is that a successful website hinges on one thing – how visitors perceive it. Does it give visitors value? Is it easy to use? Can they find what they’re looking for easily?
A positive user experience on your website improves the usability, accessibility, and efficiency of interactions on your website. Keep in mind visitors often make split-second decisions about whether they “like” your website or not based on design elements.
Make sure your website is mobile-friendly
While virtually all websites can be viewed on a mobile device, not all sites will present well. A mobile-friendly device is also known as having a responsive design. These sites are easy to read and navigate when viewed on a smaller screen. And, since 58.43 % of traffic comes from people viewing your site on a mobile device, having a responsive website is essential.
Google rewards mobile-friendly websites. You can check how Google sees your mobile usability through Google Search Console (GSC) (be sure to link your GSC account in your migrated GA4 account.) Learn more about how to use Google Search Console here.
Leverage the power of SEO
To fully leverage the power of SEO, you will need a two-pronged approach – technical SEO and content marketing. When it comes to content marketing, it’s crucial you create content that is not only optimized for search engines but also offers relevant, valuable information for your target families.
Optimization is the process of increasing the visibility and authority of your content and website by improving the technical aspects of your website and blog. This includes using keywords strategically, writing compelling descriptions and headlines and improving your site’s speed and performance.
Read more: How SEO Works Step By Step
Start (or keep up with) a blog
Using a blog as a marketing strategy for your school is one way you can reach potential families. Blogs make it easier for families to find your school through Google. It can also give parents a better understanding of your school, what you offer, and how you’re different. And, when you employ a multi-channel marketing strategy, blogs offer another touchpoint for families.
According to Hubspot, approximately 60% of people read blogs at least once a week. A blog gives your school the opportunity to create informative content for little or no cost. It also is a great way to keep a website updated with fresh content, improving your SEO. You can then publish links to your blog post on social media networks, giving families a reason to click through to your website.
Want ideas for blog topics? Read 50 Captivating Blog Topics for Schools
Start an inbound marketing campaign
Inbound marketing is marketing that attracts prospective families to your school, as opposed to traditional marketing that broadcasts messages to a broad spectrum of people. The benefit of inbound marketing strategies is that they build credibility and trust with your target audience.
Set up your Google Business Profile
In order to gain more visibility on Google, your school needs a Google Business Profile (formerly Google My Business). Google Business Profile (GBP) is another name for your Google listing. Your GBP allows your school to be listed in Google Maps and Google Search.
Your GBP listing helps local families find your school. It also gives them a way to interact with your listing. You can respond to reviews, answer questions, enable direct messaging, and set up alerts. You can also publish posts to your GBP, much like you publish on your social media networks.
Learn more: SEO Coach – Get to the Top of Google!
Build an email list
Having an email list is an important aspect of your marketing strategy because it is the best way to connect with your subscribers as well as nurture inquiries (leads). Emails are great because subscribers can open them at any time that works for them, they can read headlines and still get the gist of what you’re trying to communicate (helpful for busy parents), and the average expected return on investment (ROI) is $40 for every $1 you spend on email marketing.
One of the best ways to build your email subscriber list is to have a lead magnet, such as a downloadable ebook. A lead magnet is a free item you offer in exchange for someone’s email address.
Want a list of 24 lead magnet ideas? Check out this blog post: How to Start Email Marketing for Your School
Write mobile-friendly emails
Since more than half (56%) of subscribers will read your emails on a mobile device, and up to 80% will discard them if the email doesn’t display correctly on their device, it’s essential your emails are mobile-friendly. Here’s another statistic: 45% of consumers have unsubscribed from an email list because the emails or website didn’t work properly on their mobile phone. Once a user opts out, it is very unlikely they will resubscribe to your list.
There are a lot of tactics you can use to make your emails mobile-friendly, such as keeping your headlines short (easier to read), using pre-header text (the first line of your copy, giving the reader more context to your headline), keeping your copy concise, making sure your images display correctly, keeping your calls-to-action easy to see, leaving “white space” so it’s easy to click-through without accidentally clicking something else by mistake and running A/B tests.
Segment your email list and use personalized communication
List segmentation is about sending your email list personalized and targeted messages. Subscribers prefer these types of emails because they are relevant and resonate with them. This leads to more contacts with the admissions teams, more enrollments, and happier families.
Want to learn more? Click here for 8 Effective Ways to Use Personalization in Your School Marketing
Maintain a social media marketing strategy
The real reason why social media marketing is more important than ever is because social media is where schools, families, and students are connecting. Here’s the thing about social media – it’s where real people – even if they are representing brands – engage with other real people. People value authenticity, not advertising. This is why smart school marketers are shifting their budgets to communities versus traditional marketing channels.
Share visuals and videos
Speaking of social media, sharing visual content on social media platforms is a great way to boost engagement. People are more likely to stop scrolling and pay attention if they see an image or interesting video.
Videos are one of the most popular forms of content for social media. They are a great way to share an inside view of what makes your school special. Want video topic ideas for your school? Click here for 27 Video Marketing Ideas for School Marketers
Like videos, images are all over social media. A strong, powerful, or interesting image can capture your audience’s attention and engage them with your school. Schools especially can use images to tell student stories and share what is happening in your school.
Both videos and images can enhance your social media strategy, but effectively using each depends on the context. Include both in your strategy, but consider how you will use each one.
Make teachers the stars of your marketing campaigns
Making teachers the star of your marketing efforts is a powerful marketing tactic. No matter what aspect of your school you highlight, invariably parents and students will describe your wonderful faculty and staff and the incredible things they do for students every single day.
Your teachers are your school’s strongest marketing asset. They are what makes your school special. Without faculty and staff, your school is just a building, equipment, and supplies. Your faculty is what brings your curriculum to life. In order for families to get a positive view of your school, you need to talk about the quality of your teachers in your marketing messaging.
Share what makes your school special and unique
Every school wants to be seen as a unique school, and parents want to know what makes your school unique and special. The challenge for marketers is Identifying what makes your school unique, communicating that, and making it believable. While there are a few broad statements parents want to see, such as “we help each student be the best learner they can be” and “we want each student to flourish and thrive”, take some time to really consider critical differentiators parents are seeking. Here are some examples:
- Gender – are you a single-sex school? If you’re a boys or girls school, parents will want to know this. Be sure to highlight how this makes a difference to students.
- Co-ed – if your school is co-ed, be sure to state this and tell parents how this helps students cope with real life.
- Faith-based – if your school is faith-based, be sure to express how your faith is integrated into your school and how they make a difference in relationships
- Size – if your school offers small classrooms with a small teacher-to-student ratio, this is a plus. Talk about how this leads to more personalized, individual interactions with your faculty and staff.
- Special program – do you offer a special type of program, such as a garden or Olympic-sized pool or equestrian program, giant Redwood tree where kids gather, etc.? Whatever special program or feature your school offers, be sure to highlight it in your marketing messages.
What other differentiators can you identify? Be sure to ask parents, faculty, staff, and students what they think makes your school unique too!
Learn more: How to Write a Unique Selling Proposition
Run pay-per-click ads
Pay-per-click (PPC) ads are a good way to drive traffic to your website. Since you only pay for an ad when a viewer clicks through to your site, it is a cost-effective marketing tactic. Instead of wasting money on ads, no one is clicking on, you’re only paying for true impressions because you know someone has truly seen your ad if they click through.
Another advantage of PPC ads is that you’re able to measure the effectiveness of the ad and targe the ad by audience type or keywords. Plus, if viewers aren’t converting (however you define a conversion, such as filling out an inquiry form or downloading an ebook), you can quickly make adjustments by decreasing the budget for non-performing ads and increasing the budget on those that are doing well.
Create an inquiry landing page and follow-up process
Inquiry landing pages are a crucial tool for any school wanting to attract and enroll more students. An inquiry landing page is a page offering interested parents to fill out a short inquiry form inviting them to
An inquiry landing page should be a dedicated page to streamline the inquiry process, remove distractions and make it easier for parents to take action.
Once you have your inquiry landing page in place and decide how you will drive traffic to it (hint: PPC ads), make sure you have a follow-up strategy in place. This should involve an autoresponder email series, assignment of the lead to a dedicated admissions officer, and fast follow-up from the admissions team member. Inclusion in your CRM is another sound tactic, so your team member can easily track touchpoints and where the family is in their enrollment journey.
Learn more: 12 Tips to Increase Landing Page CTA Conversions
Ask new families how they heard about your school
One of the best things you can do for your school marketing is to ask parents how they found your school. But when you do this, don’t expect to get accurate feedback all the time, as parents often forget how they found you. Even if they realize they don’t remember, they will try to guess because they know the answer is important to you. They’re just trying to be helpful.
The best way to get the most accurate information is to ask as soon as possible after your first interaction with them. And, the more people you ask, the more likely you are to see patterns that will be helpful to you.
Ask families to write online reviews
Online reviews are essential for independent schools. They help establish trust and credibility with parents, boost SEO efforts, and impact enrollment decisions.
Dismissing the power of online reviews is a mistake. Reviews aren’t just for restaurants and retail stores. They can help schools too. Parents are researching and comparing your school with other schools they are considering; having positive reviews from other parents can make a huge difference in their enrollment decision.
Encourage parents of enrolled students (perhaps during Spirit Week or another school-related event) to write an online review, take a picture of it and post it on their favorite social media network. Make it fun by creating a dedicated hashtag and ask them to use it when they post the picture of their review. You could even give a prize to a select winner (put all names of participants in a hat and draw a winner).
Share testimonials from families, alumni, and community members
People trust schools who have testimonials from parents, students and alumni. As a matter of fact, 88% of people say they have read reviews to determine the quality of a local business, and this applies to schools as well.
There is a strong trend of people wanting – and expecting – businesses to share testimonials about their services. Make sure your testimonials are positive and fresh; you want recent raving reviews of your school!
Rent a table at local parent fairs or other community events
Attending parent fairs and community events is a great way to raise awareness for your school. It gives you a chance to cultivate relationships with parents and answer their questions, but also build relationships with other programs who serve families and can refer your school to them when it seems appropriate to do so.
Attending a parent fair or local event gives your marketing team something to promote and talk about and links to other conversations happening about the event on social sites as well.
Be sure to get creative with your swag by looking for something memorable, like reusable water bottles, a 3D puzzle, or ever-popular pencil case. You can also require the individual to complete a puzzle or an quiz before they get the sway, giving you a little time to talk with them.
While renting a vendor table isn’t usually cheap, it can be a great way to meet and interact with potential families if you attend the right event.
Partner with local merchants and community members
Community partnerships can make a huge difference in establishing positive relationships with local community organizations and merchants. These community partners can provide financial support, valuable insight into how your school is perceived in the community, as well as extending the educational experiences of your students.
Through community partnerships, especially nonprofits and mission-driven organizations, students may be given an opportunity to volunteer in the organization. This will give them real-world experiences and context for how they can have an impact related to their chosen issue. For example, they may be able to help in programs that address food insecurity, environmental concerns, and educational opportunities for younger students.
Merchants are often interested in partnerships as well, as a way to broaden awareness for their business as well as demonstrate a commitment to a chosen educational institution in their local community. This can lead to financial support as well as prizes for promotional events at your school.
Community partnerships can be a win-win for your school and community partners. Don’t neglect this valuable resource right in your own community.
Give away printed promotional stickers
Promotional stickers – like bumper or window stickers – are an affordable, visible way to promote your school and be a part of pop culture. Use printed stickers to build awareness and engage your families.
Yes, people still put bumper stickers on their vehicles. Come up with a clever design and message for your stickers. Promotional stickers come in all shapes and sizes, so don’t limit yourself to a boring rectangle shape.
Promotional stickers can be a cool gift for parents, but they can help spread the word about your school. And what’s cooler than that?
Publish a press release for events or special occasions
Press releases still matter. A well-crafted press release can help your school rank higher in search, catch the attention of local journalists, and lead to direct engagement on social media channels. Press releases will also become a part of your school’s public record, findable and searchable online in the future. They are a direct communications tool you can use to deliver messages to your target audience.
You can use a press release to announce:
- New construction, such as a new building on campus or even a new facility within a building (like a new science wing)
- New program or service
- New scholarship or large donation
- An upcoming event your community may be interested in
- Any newsworthy story related to your school
Learn more: How School Marketers Can Work with Local Media to Get Coverage for Your School
Attracting more students to your school is a vital part of helping your school grow. You can reach potential parents and students by using the best strategies and tactics for your school. If you need help with your online presence, digital marketing strategy, SEO, or other school marketing aspects, don’t hesitate to reach out to me to help your school gain more inquiries by using the best marketing tactics for your school.
Have any of the above marketing tactics worked well for your school? Are there any that should be added to this list that I didn’t mention? Please share your thoughts with other school marketers by leaving a comment below. I’d love to hear what you think!