8 Effective Ways to Use Personalization in Your School Marketing

The most effective way to increase enrollment for your school is to attract more prospective families and let your admissions team provide an individualized experience for them.

Today, pandemic concerns may hamper the willingness of prospective families to visit your campus for a tour, so perhaps it’s time to consider a new strategy to build a personalized relationship with interested families. Schools are turning to personalization as a way to gather data about prospective families as well as increase enrollment rates.

What is Marketing Personalization?

People are constantly bombarded with all types of marketing messages these days. This may reach them in the form of a billboard advertisement, television commercial, radio spot, email newsletter, social media posts and ads, direct mail, or other forms of digital and traditional marketing.

There are so many brands constantly clamoring to be seen it’s only natural for consumers to try to block out all the “noise” that isn’t relevant to them.

This means if you’re trying to reach out to your target audience with impersonal content, you’re missing out on the opportunity to engage with them. When you personalize your content, you’re able to write copy that speaks directly to them with laser focus related to what they are interested in. For example, if you know a family is interested in your athletics program, you can create content that focuses on your athletics department.

In essence, marketing personalization refers to creating content and marketing messages that make your audience feel you know them and are speaking directly about what interests them in a way that feels personal and human.

A marketing personalization strategy usually includes tailored content, personalized email marketing campaigns, personalized advertising, text messaging, virtual events and website personalization.

Website Personalization Ideas for Independent Schools

When it comes to school marketing, the most common audiences we target with personalization include prospective families/parents, alumni and donors.

Our goal in marketing personalization for parents is to encourage the parent to engage with your school by asking for more information, engage with content or reach out by making a personal connection (text, private message, phone call, email, etc.)

When it comes to donors or alumni, the idea is to track their interests and then use that information to engage with them in other channels. In today’s article, we’ll focus on personalization for prospective parents.

Types of Website Personalization

There are three types of school marketing personalization to consider.

  1. Relevance

One of the greatest benefits of personalization is the ability to achieve a more relevant message for prospective parents in order to stand out and keep them engaged.

  1. Enrollment journey

Enrollment journey tactics strive to provide content that moves a prospective parents to the next step in the enrollment journey.

  1. CRM-driven

Once a visitor is identified, you can connect them to your customer relationship management (CRM) system. From there, you can use information about offline ways they have engaged with your school (i.e. visit to your school, a phone call, submitted an application, requested scholarship information, etc.) to fine-tune your personalization for them.

Relevance Personalization Ideas

Here are eight tactics you may want to consider to increase the relevance of your marketing based on actions a visitor has taken on your website.

  1. Related programs

Schools can use personalization to track student interests and who them programs they may find valuable based on their actions. For example, if a student or parent has spent time on a page related to a specific program, let’s say your Theater program page, you might want to show them information about your Music program. These could be presented as “related” content on the page or highlighted at other points while the visitor is on the site.

  1. Related content

Once an interest has been identified – perhaps by a visitor reading an alumni profile working in a specific field – you can offer academic information related to that career.

  1. Geographic personalization

You can promote your events to local visitors to your website or reach out to expand your geographic reach. Another effective tactic is to filter alumni profiles or testimonials to show those from the same geographic location as your visitor to increase relevance for them.

Enrollment Journey Personalization Ideas

Where relevance triggers are based on preferences or location, enrollment journey triggers are a little more complex because they’re based on actions or behaviors.

  1. Connect them with an admissions counselor

It can really make a difference if a prospective family builds a connection with a specific admissions counselor. You can use a data to connect them with the best person to work with them via email or text. Then, the admissions counselor can provide individualized messages based on the previous conversation they’ve had with the prospective parent or student.

  1. Promote events

Events such as an open house, tour or a webinar offer a non-threatening, low-key way for parents to engage. You can create events based on where the family is in the enrollment process. For example, a scholarship webinar might be a good event to promote to a family who is engaging and showing they may be ready to make a commitment. Or, perhaps they’ve spent time on the scholarship page on your site, so they may have questions.

  1. Ask them what they need

To help parents move forward in the enrollment journey, you might want to ask them directly what questions or needs they have. The answer can help gauge the readiness of the prospect to apply and can also provide helpful information for future personalization.

CRM-Based Personalization Ideas

First, you will need to connect your CRM to your website personalization software. Once that is functioning, you will be able to identify a specific visitor, offering you new opportunities to personalize the website as well as your interactions to help a parent move further toward enrollment.

  1. Connect personally

Once a prospective parent has a personal interaction with an admissions counselor, the CRM can track this information and the counselor can be informed of all future interactions. This ensures the parent feels special, remembered and helps them easily connect with the counselor again. This helps to “put a face” to your school.

  1. Improve targeting based on interest

Once you’ve learned more about the family, you can enter that information into your CRM. This information can be used to further improve your communications and experiences of the family on your website.

Get Started with Website Personalization for Your School

If your school isn’t already using personalization tactics and technology, it’s time to get started! More and more schools are investing in online channels, including their website, to personalize the experience and interactions prospective families have with your school. This is one way to provide a great digital experience for your prospects and show them how your school is the right one for their student.

How are you using personalization technology to improve the relevance and experience of your prospective families? Please share with the rest of the school marketing community below.

About the author 

Brendan Schneider

Hey, I’m Brendan, and this is my blog. After 28 years working in private, independent schools in mostly admissions, enrollment, marketing, communications, and fundraising roles, I decided to make SchneiderB Media my full-time job, where I help schools get more inquiries through my Fractional Digital Marketer program. I also started the MarCom Society, a membership created expressly to help, support, and train marketing and communications professionals at schools.

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