Which Elements To Include In A Digital Strategy In Schools

The creation of a good digital marketing plan is one of the major factors that make the educational systems link with students and parents in this internet-based world. Families nowadays tend to take time to research their online presence before enrolling. Therefore having a strong online presence can attract your community and drive enrollment.

This article will step you through important phases for you to create a succeeding and all-inclusive digital marketing plan for academic institutions.

Conduct Research to Gain comprehension of your audience

The first step is agreeing on the motivation, worries, and values of your customers and their parents. You can gather insights by:

  • Surveying existing parents: Ask what factors influenced their decision to enroll their children. Find out what online sources they used to research schools.
  • Monitoring online conversations: Check school review sites and community forums to see what prospective families are discussing. Look for common questions and concerns.
  • Observing competitors: Study what nearby schools and those you consider peers are doing with their digital marketing. What value are they providing online? How could you differentiate?

Knowing audience insights ensures your messaging and channels connect with what matters most to prospects.

Audit Your Existing Digital Properties

Conduct an audit of your current digital presence — e.g. website, school information system portals like online school management software, social media channels, online reviews, and listings — to identify strengths and gaps.

Assess the:

  • Mobile-friendliness, speed, and navigation of your website
  • Quality of content across info pages, program descriptions, etc. 
  • The usefulness of the school mobile app (or lack of one)
  • Activity level and follower engagement on social media
  • Ratings and reviews on sites like Facebook and Niche

The audit establishes where you already have assets to leverage and where investments could improve conversion rates.

Define Your Goals and KPIs

With research insights and audit findings clarifying your starting point, the next step is defining success. Determining key performance indicators (KPIs) and targets keeps efforts focused on what matters.

Example school digital marketing goals include driving:

  • Website visits
  • Online program interest form completions
  • Social media engagement
  • School shopping funnel progression

Ultimately, goals aim to increase student enrollment and advance brand awareness.

Map The Buyer’s Journey To Touchpoints

In the digital age, the path people take in discovering, evaluating, and selecting schools spans many online interactions. Map out this “school shopping funnel” with all associated research touchpoints and moments of influence.

Then look at your website, social channels, ads, and other assets. Determine how to plug content holes and tie platforms together to lead prospects through each phase toward application.

Develop A Strategic Content Calendar

Your owned platforms — especially your website — require regular, valuable content that speaks to target audiences. So create an editorial calendar that considers:

  • Interests per buying stage: What information does each type of visitor need? For example, new users may be searching for school philosophy and curriculum. Those already in the funnel need logistical details for the next steps.
  • User intent per asset: Optimize pages and posts by aligning topics with purpose. A blog can cover soft stories about school events while program pages are more technical.
  • Keywords and search volume: Reference keyword research tools to see topics and questions people search related to schools. Identify terms with high search volume but low site visibility as content opportunities.

Mapping content to platforms, stages, and semantic keywords keeps messaging highly relevant.

Select Marketing Channels And Campaigns

With so many digital marketing mediums now available, focus efforts on channels aligned to end goals with the greatest return potential.

For student recruitment, typical programs include:

  • Paid search (PPC): Bid on school-related keywords so searchers find you
  • Retargeting ads: Follow site visitors with relevant display ads across sites
  • Social promotions: Highlight school differentiators and events
  • Content amplification: Get informational and advice content seen by more prospects

Measure channel cost versus new contacts generated and leads converted to gauge effectiveness. Shift budgets towards better-performing initiatives or those reaching critical targets.

Standardize Processes For Strong Foundation

With increased digital activity comes the need for structured workflows and governance. Document guidelines, policies, and best practices for:

  • Creating on-brand, on-message content
  • Optimizing SEO elements like metadata and alt text
  • Managing social media and online review responses
  • Sharing updates across departments and locations

Streamlined processes facilitate scaling efforts as your strategy expands while ensuring quality control.

Continuously Monitor And Refine

Digital marketing for schools is never “set it and forget it.” You need to continually track impressions, engagement, conversions, and sentiment across channels.

Monitor what content resonates based on web traffic and online chatter. Notice which keywords and topics gain more searches over time. Watch how rankings and ratings shift.

Use those insights to keep improving content and enhancing focus areas. The more data-informed your decisions, the more effective campaigns will become.

Key Takeaways For Developing Your School’s Digital Marketing Strategy

Driving growth for private schools depends increasingly on digital presence. By taking a structured yet tailored approach, you can break through the online clutter to engage prospective families. Remember to:

  • Understand your target audiences and buyers’ journey: What information do they need at different stages? Where do they look for it?
  • Conduct audits to find website and social media gaps: Identify what’s working and not working to focus efforts on holes and problem areas.
  • Map content topics to user intent and keywords: Optimize pages and posts by stage and search volume.
  • Focus budgets on best-performing channels and campaigns: Measure contacts and conversions generated by each program.
  • Standardize processes early on Document procedures for efficiency and knowledge transfer as marketing expands.
  • Monitor metrics closely: Continually assess impressions, rankings, conversations, and trends to refine strategy.

With these foundational elements in place as part of an integrated plan, your school can cut through the digital noise to connect with those most likely to enroll.

Still, have questions about developing an effective online strategy for private schools? Review these additional answers to common FAQs.

Which digital marketing channels work best for driving school leads?

Every school has unique audiences and goals. Yet generally the digital channels that convert best for academies include:

  • Paid search (PPC) reaches parents as they search for school options online
  • Social media ads (Facebook, Instagram) promoting open house events and application deadlines
  • Retargeting placing relevant display ads across sites to engage those already visiting your website and others in the household 
  • Content distribution getting helpful school advice articles seen by more local parents

Testing across emerging channels tells you over time which platforms and initiatives yield the highest engagement.

What should a strong school website include and prioritize?

Your institution’s website remains the hub that anchors digital presence. Ensure your site has:

Core pages covering:

  • Curriculum details and program overviews
  • Campus tours, open house, and visit request forms
  • Application process, dates, and enrollment checklist
  • Tuition information and payment plans 
  • School news, announcements, and event calendars

Optimized on-page elements:

  • Mobile responsive design
  • Fast page speeds
  • SEO metadata like alt text and XML site maps
  • Quality navigation, INTERNAL site linking, and search 
  • Tracking pixels installed

Calls-to-action to drive conversions like:

  • Request admission packet
  • Schedule a tour
  • Watch the school video
  • Attend a virtual open house

Prioritizing site content and features that focus users on enrollment funnel activity lifts conversion performance over time.

How can schools improve social media and online reputation management?

Social platforms and review sites are critical in showcasing the school community and excellence. Boost engagement and sentiment with strategies like:

  • Expand reach: by promoting events, and student and faculty achievements. Ask engaged parents to tag posts.
  • Humanize content: through photos/videos from school activities. Feature student collaboration stories.
  • Monitor listening tools: for school name mentions and hashtags. Join related local parent conversations.
  • Request validated reviews: from happy parents and partners to improve star ratings.
  • Respond promptly: to all feedback and online questions. Offer contact info for individual outreach.

Proactively managing social profiles and reviewing site presence builds advocacy and trust among target school shoppers.

The online visibility and reputation of schools matter more than ever to recruitment and reputation. By developing an insights-driven digital marketing strategy bridging key channels into a cohesive funnel, schools can repeatedly engage prospective families while showcasing community vibrancy until ready to enroll.

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