In 2019, 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 -- the list is endless! On the other hand, driving new enrolments has never been harder.
We’re seeing that schools are needing to become more innovative in how they market themselves and that there’s a competitive nature to enrolments that has never been seen before. In short, schools must fight to acquire every last enrolment.
It’s also clear that there has been a fundamental shift in the way prospective families are identified, nurtured and converted into enrolments. With all of this in mind, we’re going to explore why your school needs to change the way you think about enrolments, and how you can keep up with the evolving landscape.
Understand the customer journey
Prospective families don’t see one school billboard and enrol their child straight away (although we wish it was as simple as that). In reality, they will have multiple touchpoints across various channels before making their decision. In fact, recent research on buying behaviour shows that it can take up to eight touchpoints with a company before a consumer is willing to make a purchase. In order to maximise on enrolment opportunities, it’s important for schools to understand this path to enrolment (known as the ‘customer journey’) so that you can be sure your school is engaging your prospective parents with the right messaging at the right time.
Speaking of touchpoints, your local community plays an important role in the awareness phase of the customer journey. For example, when your prospective parents purchased their house, their real estate agent likely talked about the great schools in the area and would have mentioned that they send their children to your school.
Your school is a part of a local community, so it’s time to act like it. Community marketing is less about enrolments and more about giving back to your community by connecting and engaging with the people in your local area. By doing so, not only will your school be able to build valuable relationships, but it will also establish itself as a supportive and community-minded organisation, so it’s a win-win.
Here are just a couple of ways you can build relationships in your community:
- Participating in local business meetings
- Reaching out and meeting up with local politicians and other prominent community members or influencers
- Supporting local fundraising initiatives
- Joining and engaging with others on local community Facebook groups
- Volunteering for local causes
- Hosting charity events.
Choosing which school to enrol your child in is a huge decision and like most big decisions, prospective parents take the 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.
Here are a few ways you can start gathering testimonials:
- 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.
Use your admissions team wisely
Your admissions team is your most valuable resource when it comes to driving enrolments. It’s no secret that nurturing a prospective family takes time: meetings, phone calls and regular follow-ups can quickly eat away at a registrar’s day. When you throw repetitive administration tasks into the mix, 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 so that they’re free to spend more of their time on the important tasks -- like building relationships.
Constantly chasing parents for enrolment information? Implement an online enrolments 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. Tired of manual data entry into multiple spreadsheets? Get started with a customer relationship manager (CRM) that actively tracks and stores student and family information.
Diversify your marketing channels
When it comes to marketing, it’s no longer a great idea to rely on a single channel to promote your school. We know that schools are made up of different parent personas who are on completely different channels, so diversifying your efforts will allow you to ensure no one is missed. When making decisions about where to advertise, it’s important to think about which channels are right for your school by making informed decisions based on your parent personas.
The school enrolments landscape will continue to shift and become more competitive, therefore schools must shift the way they think about enrolments too. In this post, we’ve covered just some of the ways your school can strengthen your enrolment journey, streamline internal processes and maximise opportunities with prospective families. To learn more, reach out to the friendly team at Digistorm.