What is Inbound Marketing for Schools?

Most schools around the world have embraced inbound marketing. This marketing approach focuses on attracting prospective families to your school. Inbound marketing is the way to go if you want to position your school as the best choice for prospective families.

What is Inbound Marketing?

As a school marketer, you’ve most likely heard the term “inbound marketing”, but what does it really mean? There are so many digital marketing strategies available these days, sometimes it’s hard to keep track.

Inbound marketing is a strategy whereby marketers utilize branding, content marketing, search engine marketing (SEO), pay-per-click (PPC) advertising and social media marketing (SMM) to draw potential customers to their organization. Usually people are directed to a website or landing page, where they are invited to share their email address and possibly other information in exchange for an irresistible opt-in, also called a lead magnet.

The idea behind inbound marketing is to engage families naturally, demonstrating why your school is the best choice for their student, instead of using pushy sales tactics which turn people off these days.

Why Inbound Marketing Works

Inbound marketing is an effective marketing strategy because it attracts families to your school instead of using traditional outbound or broadcast marketing tactics. Inbound marketing focuses on showing up in places your target audience is already searching, with helpful information where you demonstrate how your school will fulfill their child’s needs.

Inbound marketing is a cost effective marketing strategy. It is less expensive than radio, television, billboard and printed advertising. These methods are not only expensive, but it is difficult or impossible to track the return on investment (ROI). For example, how could you determine how many people visited your school based on seeing a billboard ad? Inbound marketing methods can be tracked, analyzed and reported to determine how well they perform.

There are many different inbound marketing tactics school can employ, and not every tactic is right for every school marketing team. Depending on your audience, you may find one tactic is highly successful while another falls flat. Most schools use a marketing mix that includes multiple inbound marketing tactics.

Inbound Marketing Methods for Schools

Here are a few of the best inbound marketing methods for schools. These tips will help you determine your own strategy and may even lead to improvements in the number of inquiries your school receives.

  1. Search engine optimization (SEO)

SEO is a cornerstone strategy for inbound marketing. SEO is the way a website is optimized for search engines. Schools who have done a good job with SEO will find their website ranking high on Google’s search engine results page (SERP).

SEO can be somewhat time-consuming and tedious, and a challenging topic to learn. However, it is absolutely necessary for schools that want to increase their visibility to families who fit the demographic of their target audience.

If you’re having trouble with SEO, or don’t know where to start, you may want to consider SEO Coach. SEO Coach offers two types of services – a Do-It-Yourself software platform that includes SEO Academy, a one-stop-shop to learn SEO. The other service is a Do-It-For-You service that will help you optimize your website and Google Business Profile listing for higher Google ranking and more traffic.  Learn more: SEO for Private Schools

  1. Content marketing

Content marketing refers to using content, including a blog, to attract new visitors to your website. Content is an essential part of a good inbound marketing program, and this content can go beyond a blog or source of articles on your site.

The purpose of content is to give value to your target families. Since a school blog can be news-heavy or focus so much on events, a rich content strategy can supplement this, providing additional value to visitors.

Read more: 50 Captivating Blog Topics for Schools

Content is one of the most important factors of an inbound marketing strategy. Content is important because it offers information and value to your target audience. On-page SEO optimizes your headlines, HTML tags (title, meta, and header), and images. Content should contain the keywords you want to optimize for and can determine whether or not your site is helpful for visitors. Learn more: How SEO Works Step by Step

  1. Social media marketing

Social media is usually a very effective inbound marketing strategy for private schools. Since a large percentage of parents are on social media, establishing a social media presence can help you connect with potential families.

Social media is a powerful tool that can boost your inbound marketing performance. Publishing great content on social media can get the attention of your target families. The idea here is that you’re not trying to force-feed how fabulous your school is to potential families, but instead invite them to consume your content and learn more about your school by clicking on links leading to your website.

  1. Pay-per-click advertising

Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising qualifies as an inbound marketing strategy because it is shown to potential parents based on a query they’ve submitted. Search engines also use context to determine whether to show an ad or not, qualifying it as inbound marketing even further.

PPC advertising refers to being charged every time someone clicks on an ad you’re running through an online entity like a search engine, social media platform or other channel. The most well-known PPC ads are Google Ads and Facebook Ads, but most search engines and social media channels offer PPC advertising.

When it comes to PPC advertising, you select the keywords you want matched with queries, and if your bids are among the highest, you ad will appear on the search engine results page (SERP) above the organic results.

One advantage of PPC advertising is the speed at which you are able to reach families. With SEO and other strategies, it can take time to build connections with people. But with PPC ads, you can start receiving traffic to your site almost immediately. So if your school is looking for a quick way to reach families, consider PPC advertising.

  1. Video marketing

Publishing videos can very effectively support your inbound marketing strategy. If you publish them on YouTube and tag them appropriately, people may find them and learn more about your school. If you publish them on your website, families enjoy watching them and it can give them an inside view of your school. If you publish them on social media channels, they may be interesting enough for people to want to click through to your website.

Your videos should be professional, but they don’t have to be perfect. There are lots of topics suitable for videos, click here for 36 Video Topics That Will Generate More Views & Engagement for Your School.

  1. Marketing automation

Automation is not a marketing method, but it is a helpful tool that can play a crucial role when used with an inbound marketing strategy. Automation can be used to customize your follow up with prospective families based on factors such as their persona, online behavior and their stage in the admissions journey.

With automation, you are able to streamline several of your marketing tasks, as well as making it easier to segment and personalize your marketing. You can automate workflows for email campaigns and SMS communications.

Inbound marketing is an essential strategy schools should use to attract more families. If you’re ready to implement an inbound approach, SchneiderB Media can help you with a do-it-yourself and a do-it-for-you SEO service. Check it out here: SEO Coach: SEO for Private Schools.

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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