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Digital Marketing Strategies for Private Schools: Part 2

Welcome back to our exciting 2-part series on private school marketing. We continue our exploration of harnessing the power of digital marketing to boost enrolment and reach that magical point where we hear the word "waitlist" echoing in your school halls.

"It's a shift from hoping and guessing to knowing and managing, from broadcast to narrowcast, from one-size-fits-all to tailored messages"

Let's focus on a critical aspect of our strategy - hyper-targeting those last five families (if that doesn’t make any sense, see Digital Marketing Strategies for Private Schools: Part 1). This focus is integral to our strategy because getting your school to a waitlist situation hinges on this very point. We realise it's a lofty task, so let's delve into the 'how.'

In the past, schools have traditionally relied on expensive advertising methods. Billboards, radio and TV ads, shopping centre screens, bus ads, and leaflets were the norm. The aim was to cast the net wide and hope for a few catches. Unfortunately, this approach has some significant drawbacks, the primary one being its inability to measure and manage its success accurately. Essentially, we're left with best-guess strategies and an unclear picture of the impact of our marketing efforts.

traditional vs digital advertising graphic using 30 student icons

In contrast, digital marketing brings a specificity that traditional methods lack. It's a strategic tool for telling your unique story to a well-defined audience. With digital marketing, it’s about measuring and managing. Unlike the organic method of posting on social media platforms, paid digital marketing goes a step further in targeting the right audience.

Understanding your numbers

As a school, it's natural to want certainty - a steady stream of enrolment inquiries. To achieve this, it's crucial to get your digital marketing efforts to the point where you are paying for leads. An example of a typical, targeted, paid digital marketing campaign would involve understanding key numbers - total ad spend, number of leads, the cost of each lead (CPL), and the cost of acquisition (CPA). Knowing these numbers for your school is vital for effective marketing.

five students as icons depicting total ad spend, number of leads and cost per lead

Understanding the lifetime value of a single enrolment allows us to work backwards to determine how much your school should spend on obtaining that enrolment. As we amass and analyse data over time, we gain insights into our lead conversion rates, which allows us to fine-tune our marketing expenditure effectively.

five student icons focusing on one students cost per acquisition, return on ad spend and lifetime value
*2023 National School Fees Report. EdStart. Median average yearly fee in WA $9340pa x 7

Targeting and re-targeting

The power of digital marketing lies in targeting and re-targeting. With sophisticated algorithms at our disposal, we can continuously refine our audience to narrow in on the 'other families.' Over time, and with multiple iterations, we reach a point where we can confidently predict our cost per lead, conversion rates, and CPA. It's a process that requires some understanding and skill, but it's far from rocket science. It's called 'algorithmic re-targeting... and it works!

simple graphic of three circles representing algorithmic re-targeting

In this ever-evolving digital marketing landscape, video reigns supreme. Videos offer a direct and engaging way to tell your school's story. It evokes an emotional response, crucial for swaying the decision-making process of our target - those last five families.

There are three types of videos we recommend focusing on for your future marketing efforts: low-production value videos (think TikTok-style), medium-production value videos (short-form verticals like Reels), and high-production value videos (in-depth promotional videos).

three device screenshots showing exmaples of low, medium, and high production value videos

As we revamp our marketing strategies, it's crucial to avoid some common pitfalls. These include investing excessive time on yearbooks, allocating marketing personnel to non-marketing tasks, over-reliance on traditional advertising methods, and using main outbound messaging channels only for existing families.

"A school with a waitlist immediately paints a picture of exclusivity and high demand, creating a 'must-have' sentiment among parents. It's human psychology 101: we desire what we cannot easily have"

Instead, we encourage a relentless focus on those five families yet to be reached. Embrace new technologies and platforms, create a lot of video content, and align all your activities towards full enrolment. Give your marketing personnel the time and freedom to implement and manage this shift in strategy.

A school with a waitlist immediately paints a picture of exclusivity and high demand, creating a 'must-have' sentiment among parents. It's human psychology 101: we desire what we cannot easily have. Your goal, therefore, is to shift the dynamic from hoping for more enrolments to managing an overflow of them.

Do this, don't do that.

Let's revisit the key points we've talked about in these two blog posts:

1. Stop investing your resources into outdated marketing strategies that you can't measure or manage.

2. Start targeting your digital marketing efforts towards those elusive five families. Understand the numbers associated with your digital marketing - total ad spend, number of leads, conversion rate, cost-per-lead, and cost-per-acquisition.

3. Use the power of social media retargeting to fine-tune your audience and discover who those families are. It’s like slowly revealing a picture until it becomes clear, and that picture is your target audience.

4. Remember, video is king. Embrace low, medium, and high production value videos, and leverage platforms like TikTok to reach those five families.

5. Avoid spending your valuable time and energy on non-marketing tasks and ineffective strategies. Your social media should be a platform to attract new families, not just communicate with existing ones.

6. Focus all your efforts on understanding and meeting the needs and desires of those last five families. Think about what they value - happiness, care, quality education, facilities, values, and special programmes.

7. Keep creating content. One high-production video every two years, two medium-production videos a month, and more than one low-production video a week should be your minimum aim.

8. Innovate. Embrace new technologies like ChatGPT and new platforms like TikTok. Have a single-minded focus on full enrolment as your marketing goal and give your marketing team the time, freedom, and resources to manage this.

Let's wrap this up :)

Your journey to a waitlist is in your hands. The transition from traditional marketing to a targeted, digital, and measurable approach might seem intimidating, but remember, it's not rocket science. The data and the tools are readily available, waiting for you to harness their potential. It's a shift from hoping and guessing to knowing and managing, from broadcast to narrowcast, from one-size-fits-all to tailored messages.

Your five families are out there, each seeking a connection that resonates with them on a profound level. They're awaiting your school’s compelling narrative. It's time to embrace the new era of targeted, digital revolution and start shaping the pathway to your ever-growing waitlist. And remember, the anticipation of securing one of the coveted spots at your school can be immensely compelling for prospective families.

As this digital voyage may seem overwhelming, partnering with a seasoned expert like Monday Media can help ensure a smooth transition. We've turned 'waitlist' into a favourite word for countless schools; let's add yours to the list. It's high time you experienced the powerful allure of a waiting list through the lens of targeted, measurable, and effective marketing strategies. Step into the future with Monday Media, and let's turn your school's potential into a reality.

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