Inbound Marketing – Are You “All In” At Your school?

Several years ago, I wrote an earlier version of this blog post. I discussed 13 inbound marketing strategies and then asked if you were “all in?” at your school.

And now, with our experiences with “stay-at-home orders” and distance learning, inbound marketing is the primary way to reach families.

In this updated blog post, I will ask the same question. Are you “all in” with using inbound marketing to reach prospective parents?

Because of the pandemic, you should be all in.

Even without a pandemic, you should be all in.

The Web has completely changed our lives. To me, the irony is that it hasn’t totally changed the way we market our schools. While some schools have made the complete jump and are “all in,” there are many that are still testing the waters and are straddling with one foot dipped into the inbound marketing pool while one is still firmly planted in traditional outbound advertising strategies.

I believe it is time for school marketing and enrollment leaders to go “all in.”

In light of this, it is critical for you to evaluate your marketing efforts and consider jumping in with both feet in the world of inbound marketing. What would it look like to go “all in?”

15 Inbound Marketing Strategies Are You All In?

1–Marketing focused Website – Your school’s website should be designed to reach prospective parents. This is your most important marketing priority. You should budget for it and you should spend your limited resources on this key tool. If you don’t have a marketing focused website, then you won’t be able to effectively reach prospective parents.

2–Story-focused Website – Through key marketing messages and stories of real people, your website should be story-focused. While this takes time and effort, the pay-off is significant. Prospective parents want to read and watch real stories of the real people at your school.

3–Content Hub – Your school’s website should be the hub of your content. Through dynamic content including news and a blog, your website will have an active online presence. The key is that your content is dynamic, not static or stale.

4–Blog – Your school’s website should feature a blog that communicates content that is practical and relevant to current and prospective parents. A dynamic blog will significantly increase the traffic to your website. I am an advocate for a school-wide blog rather than a head of school blog since it is difficult for one person to maintain. A school-wide blog allows for a variety of contributors.

5–Search Engine Optimization – Your school’s website should be fully optimized for search engines. It is critical for prospective families to find your website through search engines. This strategy should involve an ongoing investment with a professional that has expertise in this area. I find that this is good use of your marketing dollars to outsource this initiative.

6–Search Engine Marketing (Paid Search) – Paid search is an effective strategy to generate leads for your school through search engines. This strategy works best when it is combined with landing pages (#7) and downloadable content (#8). Again, this is a strategy that is best implemented when it is outsourced to someone with this expertise.

7–Landing Pages – Landing pages help to increase the effectiveness of your paid search campaigns. By using a program like Unbounce.com, you will be able to design landing pages that work to generate leads through search engines. In addition, if you can offer a downloadable e-Book then you will increase the effectiveness of your ads.

8–Downloadable Content – By incorporating downloadable content throughout your marketing efforts, including your website, landing pages and on social media, you will create lead magnets that draw in prospective parents. In exchange for their contact information, prospective parents will be able to download your viewbook, a guide, an e-Book or some other helpful piece of content.

9–Facebook and Instagram – Social media is a major component of your inbound marketing strategy. In every school that I partner with, I always conduct a parent survey. Facebook and Instagram continue to be the top social media platforms where you will find your prospective parents. Your storytelling effort should be focused on these social media channels.

10–Social Media Campaigns – Through my Enrollment Catalyst Program, I guide school leaders to implement posts on three levels: 1. Captured Moments of School Life; 2. Weekly Campaigns; and 3. Monthly Campaigns. You need a posting strategy that will guide you.

11–Social Media Ad Strategies – Facebook ads, boosted posts, custom audiences and re-marketing are all important strategies for the school marketing. This is a series of blog posts in itself. You should be utilizing your social media channels to reach your audience through targeted ads.

12–Video – Video provides a powerful and compelling way to bring your school to life. Through both amateur and professional videos, you will be able to tell your school’s story on your website, YouTube and other social media channels.

13–Live Video – Whenever you use live video on Facebook (or other channels), the reach is exponentially greater than a traditional post. I have seen schools using Live Video to broadcast events. Rarely, have I seen schools use this format for interviews or a weekly show. Until now. Check out my recent blog post on how you can implement a Live Show at your school.

14–Webinars – Now that you have mastered Zoom and other online platforms, you should implement a series of webinars to reach current and prospective parents throughout the year. Through a webinar series, you can present topical content that is relevant for your community by using an online tool like Zoom or GotoWebinar.

15–Online Reviews and Directory Sites – There are many directory sites available online which provide the opportunities for reviews. It is important to make sure that your school’s information is up-to-date and to encourage your parents to write a steady stream of positive reviews. You should focus on the following sites: Facebook, Niche, Great Schools, and Private School Review.

While there is certainly more that you could include as part of your inbound marketing strategies, it is critical for you take the step to be “all in” if you haven’t done so already. I believe that when you are “all in” with inbound marketing, you will realize great results.

Are you “all in” at your school with inbound marketing?

How many of these 15 strategies have you effectively implemented at your school?

Watch the recording from my Live Show as we discussed “Inbound, Paid Search and Messaging – Optimizing Your Lead Generation Strategy for Summer.” Andy Lynch, Clark Morgan and Kaleen Goodeill from North Star Marketing shared their expertise in this interview style show on a very important and timely strategy as it relates to you being “all in” with inbound marketing.

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