Eight Web-Based Strategies for Every School’s Marketing Budget

It’s hard to believe that the 2011-12 budget year for schools will soon be here. July 1st typically marks the beginning of a new budget and a new infusion of marketing dollars.

In my work with several schools coaching them in their enrollment and marketing effort, it is interesting to see how marketing budgets are changing. Instead of budgets dominated by traditional outbound marketing strategies (print, radio, etc.), the focus is changing to inbound, web-based strategies.

As you consider your new marketing expenditures, I recommend that you make the following eight strategies part of your budget:

1.  Website Enhancements – It may be time for a complete overhaul of your school’s website or you may just need to invest in some key enhancements that may include improved copy that is keyword rich or videos that tell your school’s story. Keep in mind that your website is your most important marketing and communication tool—it is the face of your school.

2.  Mobile Website — With the increased use of smartphones, it is critical to develop a mobile version of your school’s website. One of the school’s that I have worked with, Saint Stephen’s Episcopal School in Bradenton, FL, just launched their new website and corresponding mobile version. Take a look at their site on your PC and then see the mobile version on your smartphone (www.saintstephens.org).

3.  Search Engine Optimization (SEO) – While it is important to have a great looking website, it is essential to commit resources to SEO strategies that include the effective set-up and use of title pages, page descriptions and keywords. In addition, it is helpful to work with a company that specializes in these services to provide ongoing analysis and consultation (let me know if you need some recommendations).

4.  Google AdWords – While organic search results can be generated through SEO, you will want to allocate your marketing budget dollars to paid search through Google AdWords. This approach helps you to target keywords and drive the viewer to your website or specific landing pages geared to the specific ads.

5.  Facebook Enhancements – You will want to consider taking your school’s Facebook page to the next level by incorporating a branded landing page, sign-up form and other enhancements. NorthSocial.com provides some of these helpful applications for you to integrate into your Facebook page.

6.  Facebook Ad Campaign – As the number one social media site, your prospective parents are most likely on Facebook. You should allocate marketing dollars to create Facebook ads throughout the year that drive the viewer to “like” your school’s page as well as to view your website and specific landing pages that generate interest in your school.

7.  Video Vignettes – Video is an important tool to use to market your school. By incorporating short video vignettes on your website, Facebook and YouTube, you will be able to tell your school’s story through students, parents, alumni, faculty and staff. You should invest in some video cameras and produce some of your students to provide some of the videos you need.

8.  Blog – Incorporating a blog into your school’s website can help you tell your school’s story as well as to provide ever-changing, rich content source that is important for search engine optimization. You might want to take the approach of launching a head of school blog or a general school blog that is written by multiple contributors from your school team.

The Web has changed how we market our schools and it is also changing the allocation of our marketing budgets. These eight strategies should be part of every school’s marketing budget for 2011-12 and beyond.