Why is school marketing important? School marketing is a vital tool for new enrollment and engagement. It needs to be consistent, planned and...
9 private school marketing strategies to keep enrollment momentum
This might be the new education era of the Private school, if you maintain engagement—and enrollment. Read to learn nine enrollment and marketing strategies for private schools.
Private schools post pandemic are doing better than expected. During lock-down some families turned to private schools because of what they were offering with certainty of in-person options, as well as hybrid options. Parents polled were alright with paying for education if it meant getting the kids out of the house1. (As a blended family of six, with toddlers and teenagers, I can 100% agree with this.) However, not everyone opted for private school during the pandemic and families are finding other options such as charter schools, and even homeschool programs. Public schools have seen a decrease in enrollment, especially in states where housing costs are high— and with remote work being more common now, families are choosing to move to those less expensive states. Their extra money is going to new costs like private school2.
As life continues to go back to “normal,” private schools need to remain flexible, creative, and competitive to keep the enrollment momentum. Here are nine tips that private schools can use to stay competitive, build relationships with their new families, and promote an environment of academic excellence.
1. Get comfortable with Social Media
Even if you are a small private school, social media is where many families are living, getting their news from, seeing recommendations from, etc. If you have social accounts already set up, the key is consistency. Maybe that means you aren’t posting every day, but making the commitment to be consistent about posting every week. I have two elementary school options in my neighborhood. I follow one on Instagram, and they haven't posted anything in two months. I don’t know if that means it’s summer, or if they lost funding for the person who was posting—which leads me to worry what else they lost funding for. For times like summer, use a social media scheduler and schedule out your posts. You can be out of office and still maintain your online presence.
2. Brand your school with a mobile app
If your school’s website looks amazing on a mobile device, you’re already doing great! That’s one way to attract new families to your school in the first place. The next step is retaining them. Having a mobile app for your families that’s branded and unique to your school unifies existing families, solidifies your school’s branding, and is a great way to communicate alerts through push notifications. Some apps have a unique hall pass feature, a digital student ID, and digital school supply lists that families love.
3. Strive for website accessibility
Private schools have been less concerned about maintaining truly accessible websites because since they do not receive public funding, they don’t necessarily have to be compliant with this. However, under the umbrella of accessibility is language translation, and having your website be mobile responsive. Truly mobile responsive means the user has almost an identical experience visiting your website on a mobile device that they would have visiting it on a desktop. Translations are important for your website to include your entire school community. Sometimes it’s Grandma writing those tuition checks. Does Grandma speak English? Can she increase the font size on her screen to pay the bill online? Can she see closed captions on the video about fundraising? Another argument for accessibility is that Google favors accessible websites for SEO, and the alt text added to photos and transcripts from videos add another place to insert your keywords and rank higher.
4. Create a simple, modern website design
Your website can be modern and beautiful while still being easy to get around. Imagine a beautiful drone video of your campus above the fold. For your drop down menus try to not have too many items that the user would have to scroll to see the entire list. Mega menus are a great solution for this. Tip: Keep them translucent so the user can still see that beautiful drone video behind the text.
5. Move school payments online
Yes, there’s a theme here, keep it easy for parents! Allow parents to pay how they want to pay: online and on their phones. Having mobile responsive online forms with payment options is easiest for parents, and it’s also a great way to fundraise. A lot of times schools ask why they just can’t use a Google form, and for your private school the branding and image is most important. If your website and app all have the same branding, then any forms coming from the app or website should have similar branding. Also, having an easy-to-find donations page for fundraising is important.
6. Engage your alumni
Create an alumni section on your website that’s easy to find. Connect a separate alumni events calendar that alumni or their families can subscribe to. Encourage alumni to download the school app even if they don’t go there anymore to stay engaged with what’s happening on campus. App communication is free for both parties!
7. Maintain school brand consistency
Maintaining a similar look and feel across all platforms your community is engaging with solidifies the recognition and image of your school. Online or in person, the experience of your school brand should be the same. This means if someone visits your campus and is in the main office there's the same look and feel, same branding, logos, etc. as if they visit one of these online sources for your school as well:
School social media
School teacher pages
8. Make it sustainable
Private school marketing has to be something that you have time for and it has to be sustainable. With all of these updates and changes in place, your private school is set up for success in attracting new families and retaining existing ones. Start small. If you aren’t able to set up an alumni page, start with a social media page. If you aren’t able to get a school app, make sure your website is mobile responsive as a start. Whatever changes you make to take advantage of the enrollment uptick in private schools, make sure you can maintain those changes—like posting to social media just once a week as a start. Tip: Make sure you are using software that is “educator” friendly. That means built for educators, not tech people.
9. Communicate school safety
Communicate to your families and potential families how you are communicating safety. Have a tip section on your website as well as your app. Also, communicate to families what is being done in terms of website and digital safety. For example, everyone who has admin access to the website has two-factor authentication, all online payments are processed through a vendor who is PCI Level 1 compliant. Most families may not know what this means but sharing that you’re working on cyber security reassures families that it’s safe to pay through the website, login to the password protected parent section, etc.
This time is when parents have a choice of where to send their children and post-COVID they are choosing private schools. It hasn’t been deemed the era of the private school yet, but it might be coming. If you are a private school, this is the time to step up marketing, complete your communication suite with an app branded to your school, and engage with every channel possible your current families, prospective families, and alumni. Happy Enrollment!