Nowadays, advertising your school has never been easier. You can get your message in front of prospective parents through social media, search engine marketing, email marketing, TV advertisements, magazines, billboards, buses, and even on taxis! On the other hand, driving enrollments has never been harder. Schools are getting more innovative in how they market themselves, and there is a competitive nature to enrollments that has never been seen before. In short, schools must fight for every last enrollment.
There has been a fundamental shift in the way that prospective families are identified, nurtured, and converted into enrollments. In this post, we’ll discuss how your school needs to change the way you think about enrollments, and how to keep up.
1. Understand the customer journey
Prospective families don’t see one school billboard and enroll their child straight away. Instead, they will have multiple touchpoints across various channels before they make their decision. It’s important that schools understand this path to enrollment (known as the ‘customer journey’) so that you can be sure your school is engaging your parents with the right messaging at the right time.
2. Think locally
Speaking of touchpoints — your local community is often very involved when your parents are in the awareness phase of the customer journey. When they purchased their house, their real estate agent likely talked about the great schools in the area and mentioned that they send their children to your school.
Your school is a part of a local community — it’s time to act like it. Community marketing is less about enrollments and more about giving back to your community by connecting and engaging with people in your local area. Not only will your school build valuable relationships, but it will establish itself as a supportive and community-minded organization.
You can build relationships in your community through:
- Participating in local business meetings
- Reaching out and meeting up with local politicians and other prominent community members
- Supporting local fundraisers
- Joining and engaging with others on local community Facebook groups
- Volunteering for local causes
- Hosting charity events.
3. Gather testimonials
Choosing which school to enroll your child in is a huge decision. Like most big decisions, prospective parents take time to talk to friends and family and look for information from similar families on the Internet. Your school can prepare for this by asking some key families for testimonials. While it can be embarrassing to ask, schools who want to remain competitive will understand the importance of having social proof or building trust through others’ reviews.
You can gather testimonials by:
- Asking for reviews on your Google My Business listing or Facebook page
- Reaching out to parents for a review on your website or marketing materials
- Asking parents to speak at an open day or school event where prospective parents will attend.
4. Use your admissions team wisely
Your admissions team is your most valuable resource when it comes to driving enrollments. Nurturing a family takes time: meetings, phone calls, and regular follow-ups can quickly eat away at a registrar’s day. When you add in repetitive administration tasks, it’s easy to see why admissions teams can get overwhelmed. You can protect your admissions team’s time by implementing systems that automate repetitive tasks and free them up to get personal.
Constantly chasing parents for enrollment information? Implement an online enrollments portal that collects all the information you need, along with the required documents and payment.
Typing up the same emails over and over? Set up automated yet personal email communication that sends targeted information to parents who are still considering your school.
Getting sick of data entry into multiple spreadsheets? Get started with a customer relationship manager (CRM) that actively tracks and stores student and family information.
5. Diversify your marketing channels
It’s no longer a great idea to rely on a single marketing channel to promote your school. Different demographics are active on completely different channels, so diversifying your efforts will allow you to ensure no one is missed. When deciding where to advertise, it’s important to think about which channels are right for your school and go from there.
The school enrollments landscape will continue to shift and become more competitive. Shifting the way we think about enrollments is one way to ensure that your school continues to meet your forecasts. If you’re looking to streamline some of your clunky administrative tasks, consider implementing an online enrollments portal that is custom-built to suit your school requirements.
For more school enrollment tips and trips, take a look at our ultimate guide.