School marketing has changed dramatically over the last decade or so. If you want to spend your marketing budget wisely, consider the differences between inbound and outbound marketing and how you can effectively use these two different strategies to market your school.
Before we move forward, we need to clarify what we mean when we talk about inbound and outbound marketing, as well as understand the differences.
What is Outbound Marketing?
Outbound marketing focuses on broadcasting marketing messages to the world, using traditional media like radio, television, printed materials, direct mail postcards and billboards. The focus of outbound marketing is the marketer going out and finding potential families and trying to convince them to enroll in your school. While these marketing tactics have been used effectively by marketers for many years, their effectiveness is steadily decreasing as consumer behaviors have changed.
For example, many people watch video programs using a variety of services, such as paid cable channels, Netflix, Amazon, Disney+, and Hulu, instead of free television stations. Many prefer to record programming on their DVRs or other recording devices so they have control over their viewing schedules and can skim past commercials. And some people enjoy spending time watching YouTube and other social media video content.
Radio, newspaper and telemarketing advertising media are struggling as well. Many people choose to listen to satellite services like Sirius or apps like Spotify which have no commercials, instead of traditional and public radio stations. Today, most Americans get their news from digital platforms like news websites, apps, or search engines, like Google. And the National Do Not Call Registry has rendered the telemarketing industry virtually obsolete.
What does this mean for school marketers? If the traditional mass media are losing their effectiveness, where else can we turn to market our schools?
What is Inbound Marketing?
So, what is inbound marketing and how can you use it to market your school?
Inbound marketing is using marketing tactics to help a targeted audience find you. The focus of inbound marketing is potential parents finding your school and demonstrating an interest in your school on their own. Inbound marketing uses social media like Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube, blogs, and search engine optimization to help potential families find your school. The exciting thing about inbound marketing is that it really is effective at helping potential families find you.
How Inbound Marketing Works
How does inbound marketing work? The process works by attracting the right type of traffic to your school – parents who will most likely be a good fit for your school’s mission.
Step 1. Website
The process begins with a great website. You need a mobile-friendly website that offers an excellent user experience to get in the game. If you don’t have a Google-approved website, your chances of success at inbound marketing are nonexistent.
A website offers a wide variety of benefits for schools, and most of these increase in value exponentially year over year. A website will make your school look professional and increase your credibility with prospective parents. Your website helps you attract new families through relevant content optimized for search engines. It enables you to showcase your programs, student success stories, and alumni testimonials. You can even integrate Google Maps into your website to make it easier for families to find you! Since in the U.S., over 90 percent of people are online. Without a website, you are invisible to these people.
Learn more: 7 Reasons You Should Redesign Your School’s Website
Step 2. Social media marketing
The next step in an inbound marketing strategy is using social media networks because they will open the door and potentially connect you with interested families. Online social networking gives you a chance to use content to capture potential families’ interest.
Social networks to consider include:
Step 3. Blog
I know some of you are going to groan when reading you need a blog, but you truly do need a blog. The fact is a blog can help attract potential families to your website. A blog builds trust in your school by establishing your credibility as an expert in your community.
In today’s digital world, a blog is an essential component of marketing for any school. Not only does the right content make it easier to find your school via Google search and drive traffic to your website, blogging gives you and your audience a better understanding of your school.
Read more: 50 Captivating Blog Topics for Schools
Step 4. Search engine optimization (SEO)
SEO is the key to making your school searchable and visible for your target audience. However, there’s more to SEO than the search element. SEO helps build trust and credibility through SEO elements, such as optimized on-page elements and content, quality backlinks profiles, machine-learning signals, positive user behavior.
Organic search (not paid search) is typically the primary source of traffic to your site. If your website is known and trusted by Google and other search engines, it will work in your school’s favor. To be known as a trusted resource by search engines, you need a high-quality website and SEO strategy.
A good SEO strategy can create a better user experience. Google’s algorithms focus on user experience. Ensuring visitors have the best user experience possible is one of the ways SEO benefits your school, in terms of maximizing your site’s visibility and improving your site’s ranking.
Developing a local SEO strategy can increase traffic, engagement and inquiries on your site. The benefits of SEO for schools with a local audience is immeasurable. Effective local SEO is essential for ensuring your target audience can quickly and easily find your school, which puts them one step closer to enrollment.
SEO is a relatively inexpensive way to increase inquiries for the long term. Another major benefit of SEO for your school is that it’s relatively inexpensive to implement, which makes it a viable option for most schools. Yes, it does cost money to develop and deploy a SEO strategy, but the cost is well worth it.
Does you school need help with your SEO? Be sure to check out SEO Coach for Private Schools. We have a Do-It-Yourself as well as Do-It-For-You options.
Step 5. Email marketing
Using email marketing to nurture prospective families is a cost-effective and winning strategy for schools. When used to nurture a relationship with people who want (having specifically agreed) to be on your email list, email marketing is an effective inbound marketing strategy. Generally, parents sign up to be on your email list so they can download highly desirable content, such as an ebook, white paper or case study.
Learn more: Why Email Marketing is Still Important to Schools in 2022
Step 6. Paid search
Paid search, also called pay-per-click (PPC) advertising, is when an organization pays search engines to place their ads higher on relevant search engine results pages with the goal of having interested people “click through” to their landing page based on select keywords. PPC ads can be very effective because you can target your audience, they are cost-effective, and you can see results relatively quickly. SEO can take weeks or even months to get the results you want, but paid search ads can appear on the first page of Google immediately after launching the ad, meaning you can see results right away.
Learn more: When Should You Start Running PPC Ads for Your School?
In conclusion, here’s what I want you to think about. The way people look for education for their children has changed. Many marketing strategies used in the past are simply not as effective as they used to be. Today, parents are relying less and less on traditional media and turning more to digital media, where they find useful, helpful information they can trust to make better, informed choices. The question you have to ask yourself is: “Is your marketing changing with them?”
Inbound marketing isn’t a fad, and it isn’t going to go away. If you want to succeed in the months and years ahead, you need to embrace it and learn to use it to your advantage. Inbound marketing needs to be a central element in your overall marketing strategy.
Feeling a little overwhelmed by all this? Don’t! We can help! Learn more here