What are the Best Inbound Marketing Channels for Schools

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, over 3.4 million students attend charter schools, and almost 5.5 million students attend private schools. With so many students enrolled in independent schools, more and more parents are spending time online researching schools to determine which one is the best fit for their family.

For this reason, schools have learned they must use an integrated marketing strategy to market their school across their inbound marketing channels.

Think about your online search activities. Most of us search for products and services, scroll through social media, read website and email content, check reviews before making a purchase and listen to podcasts for education and/or entertainment.

Inbound marketing allows schools to reach the right audience at the right time by using the right content and the right channels.

What are the Best Inbound Marketing Channels Schools are Using Right Now?

The best inbound marketing channels are the ones your families are most active on. Multi-channel marketing (the practice of interacting with families on a variety of channels) is important because you need to be where they are – and they are everywhere!

Today, there are so many inbound marketing channels you can use to reach families than we could have ever imagined even a few years ago. And, as the number of channels continues to rise, we need to consider a multi-channel approach to engaging with potential families.

Here are some effective inbound marketing channels schools have had success with include:

Channel #1. Search engine optimization (SEO)

SEO is the practice of improving your website structure to increase its visibility and ranking in search engines, such as Google, Microsoft Bing, and other search engines. The better your visibility, the more likely your website will be found by people using a relevant search query. The goal of SEO is to attract organic traffic (not paid ads) from search engines.

SEO is an inbound marketing channel because it helps draw searchers to your website.

Channel #2. Website content

Your website is generally seen as the hub of your school’s online presence. It’s purpose is to educate people about your school and related content (i.e. how to choose a private school for your child), as well as build credibility and trust in your school. The goal is to invite parents to complete an inquiry form and facilitate a meeting with an admissions officer or a tour of your school.

Website content is a big part of your content strategy.  Search engines need content to crawl in order to index and understand the context of your site.

The main types of content on school sites generally include:

  • Academics/Programs pages describing the features and benefits of your school programs
  • Pillar pages broadly cover topics and establish your school as a trusted authority. They serve as the content hub of your website.
  • Blog pages cover topics related to the pillar topics in detail. They deepen the relationship with parents and help encourage website visitors to want to learn more and submit inquiries.

Channel #3. Blog

Having a blog is essential for inbound marketing. If you want parents to find your website, one of the best ways is to publish valuable content on your blog that answers their questions and helps them solve their problems. A blog expands your reach and online visibility by giving search engines content they will index and serve to searchers.

Hubspot conducted a study of 1,531 organizations (mostly small or medium sized) and found that entities that blog have far better marketing results. Specifically, the average business that blogs has:

  • 55% more visitors
  • 97% more inbound links
  • 435% more indexed pages

Read more: 50 Captivating Blog Topics for Schools

Channel #4. Video

Video is a powerful inbound marketing channel that helps schools attract families. A recent study by Wyzowl showed that as many as 91 percent of consumers want to see more online video content. Video is easy to use in a multi-channel marketing strategy; each video can be published on many channels.

Read more: 6 Top Tips to Increase Video Production Productivity for School Marketers

Channel #5. Social Media

Social media platforms are a great way to showcase your school, develop a loyal community, engage with your audience, tell your school’s story, promote your content, share school news and updates, boost traffic and SEO ranking and increase inquiries.

The key is to determine the social channels your families engage on and the types of content they like to consume on those channels.

Read more: Top 6 Social Media Platforms for Schools

Channel #6. Landing pages

Landing pages are useful as an inbound marketing inquiry tool. The goal of a landing page is to collect inquiry information from parents interested in learning more about your school. Some landing pages offer an irresistible free opt-in (also called a lead magnet) in exchange for an email and other pertinent information.

Once parents fill out the form and consent to receive a follow up call, meeting or email, you can continue to nurture your relationship with the family through email marketing.

Read more: 12 Tips to Increase Landing Page CTA Conversions

Channel #7. Email marketing

Email marketing allows you to nurture a relationship with subscribers. Unlike social media, email marketing is a channel your school owns. You own your lists of subscribers, contacts, and inquiries. Your emails allow you to communicate directly with people who have trusted your school to enough to give you their information.

It’s important to value your relationship with your subscribers. Send out email content that adds value to their lives. They may not be ready to enroll their child in your school yet, but with time and helpful content that addresses their questions, concerns and potential objections, you’ll be developing a relationship with them that may lead to an enrollment.

Read more: Best Practices for School Email Marketing Campaigns

Channel #8. Reviews

Are reviews an effective inbound marketing channel? Yes, they are. Today’s parents are educating themselves before making a final decision or reaching out to an admissions officer. Parents who read reviews are usually close to deciding whether to submit an application.

According to a survey by BrightLocal, 82% of local search users read online reviews before making a purchasing decision. In addition, 89% of consumers who are aged between 35-54 trust online reviews as much as friends or family members.

In order to utilize this channel, be sure to encourage parents to leave reviews on sites like Facebook, Google and Yelp. Be sure to feature testimonials on your website as well. This is called “social proof” and is invaluable in helping families decide to enroll their student with your school.

Channel #9. Press releases

A press release helps schools reach audiences, create awareness for the school and publicize events. Press releases are essential in telling the story of your school. They help promote your school’s news, innovations, achievements and growth. PR on trusted sites helps positions you as community leaders in the field of education. They are also good for SEO, helping to drive traffic to your site.

Read more: How School Marketers Can Work with Local Media to Coverage for Your School

Channel #10. Podcasts

New podcasts are springing up every day. Schools are taking advantage of this podcast trend. In the US, 82 million people listened to podcasts in 2021. That number is projected to surpass 160 million in 2023. School marketers have recognized the potential of podcasts to engage target potential families.

Podcasts help schools achieve their inbound marketing goals by attracting families who may be a good fit. Podcasts enable schools to produce and publish content that speaks to the specific needs and problems of families. A well-positioned podcast enables schools to position themselves as an authority by hosting interviews.

Listen here: The LionShare Enrollment Podcast with Paul Warner and McDonough Works Alumni Podcast with Jason Schwartzberg

Final Thoughts

The best inbound marketing channel depends on your families – where they like to consume content and what type of media they engage with most. Most schools find that a multi-channel approach works best. To determine the best inbound marketing channels for your school, start by setting your goals, or key performance indicators (KPIs) and then use Google Analytics to measure the performance of different channels. Over time, you will notice trends in your performance in search and on social channels.

Read more: Basic Google Analytics Guide Schools Can Use to Improve Inbound Marketing Efforts

Want to get your school higher rankings on Google? When you sign up for our DIY (Do It Yourself) SEO Coach Software or for one of our DIFY (Do It For You) SEO monthly packages, we’ll help you optimize your school’s website and Google My Business listing for higher Google rankings and more traffic!

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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