Increasing private school enrollment numbers doesn’t have to be a complicated process, but it should be a strategic one. Increasing and maintaining your school’s student population is a four-step process consisting of planning, promotion, recruitment, and retainment, but how exactly do school administrators get new students in their seats?
Keep reading our list of best tips for increasing enrollment and marketing strategies for private schools.
How Do You Increase Enrollment in a Private School?
Research, research, research. You should know your school and its competition like the back of your hand. What are your competitors doing that your school isn’t? What gaps are there in the current market? What sort of families are you hoping to attract? How can your school improve its current enrollment tactics?
Answering these questions is the first step to creating a successful private school marketing strategy.
1. Create a Parent Advisory Board
Current parents are a great resource to tap into when planning a student recruitment campaign because they know what prospective parents are looking for in a school. Round up a team of trusted parents to provide insight into their experience enrolling in your school.
2. Analyze Local School Enrollment Trends
Perform a competitive data analysis of your local neighborhood schools to better understand who you’re competing against, what they’re offering to prospective families, and how they’re reaching their target audience.
3. Understand Your Target Audience
Speaking of target audiences, understanding these forwards and backward is crucial to meeting and exceeding your enrollment goals. Creating customer profiles or buyer personas is a great way to better understand your families, their needs, and what they value in a school system.
4. Map Out Your Enrollment Journey
Second only to understanding your target audience is understanding how they interact with your enrollment processes. You can work towards streamlining this process by mapping out your enrollment journey from start to finish and addressing pain points and frequently asked questions associated with each step.
Once you’ve collected and analyzed your data, it’s time to take action!
Because most of your marketing activities will take place online, you should invest significant time in updating your digital presence so that prospective parents have no trouble finding the information they need when they visit your website.
5. Establish an Inbound Marketing Plan
Inbound marketing focuses on creating and sharing content that expands brand awareness and attracts website visitors who may be interested in getting more information about your school.
6. Develop Your Brand
Pinpoint what differentiates your schools from other charter schools and private schools in your area—this is your brand. Refine and further develop this to improve brand recall and help your content impact prospective families.
7. Optimize Your School’s Website Content
Perform a website audit and update your school’s website accordingly. Robust search engine optimization (SEO) increases your website’s reach by allowing your content to rank higher in powerful search engines like Google.
8. Leverage the Power of Local Google
Registering your site with business listings like Google Business Profile, formerly Google My Business, is a great, free way for smaller schools to reach their local audience. These sites allow you to rank for location-specific queries, such as “local schools near me.”
9. Invest in Consistent, Meaningful Social Media Ads
Americans spend roughly two-and-a-half hours on social media each day, so if your enrollment marketing strategy doesn’t include social media ads, you’re throwing away the chance to create profound brand awareness. But make sure you’re targeting your audience with the right type of content at the right time in their enrollment journey to see the highest return on investment.
10. Break Through the Noise with Video Content
Dynamic content is much more likely to get website visitors to stop scrolling and start paying attention to your content. Video is also a great way to highlight your students and teaching staff and share their stories to better connect with and relate to prospective families.
11. Create a Lead Magnet to Generate Leads
Lead magnets provide engaging, relevant content aligned with your target audience’s pain points and are a powerful way to drive traffic to your school’s website.
Consider sharing something for parents in your area looking to enroll in a private school, like a how-to guide for selecting the best private school in your city, only once they’ve submitted their contact information to be added to your mailing list.
12. Share Information via a Weekly Blog
In addition to boosting your SEO efforts, a weekly blog is a great way to give parents a peek behind the curtain and into the daily operations of your campus. A series written by the principal or another school figurehead can bring your campus culture to life and help parents see if it will be a right fit for their child.
13. Highlight Your Staff
This can be done via profiles on your school’s website, social media account, blog posts, or video content. No matter how you choose to execute it, bringing attention to the quality and expertise of your teachers is a great way to pique the interest of prospective parents.
14. Mobile Optimize Your Website
More than half of all web traffic originates from mobile devices, so ensuring your school’s website content is essential to maintaining an effective online presence. Perform a website audit to check whether or not your UX design is making the grade before you start to promote your school and drive traffic to the site.
Digital marketing is important, but as far as enrollment goes, the importance of in-person recruiting events cannot and should not be ignored. The following marketing strategies are designed to help you show off your campus culture and provide information about your school to prospective parents and students
15. Create a Lead Tracking & Applicant Management System
Remarketing to leads who have already expressed interest in your school is essential to getting the highest ROI for your marketing efforts. Software platforms like Hubspot and Salesforce allow your internal team to efficiently organize and manage the contacts you need to reach out to.
Some programs even allow you to create and share email marketing campaigns!
16. Offer Prospective Families a Free Trial
Free trial periods are a great way to convince someone who’s on the fence to buy your product, and the educational version of a free trial is an open house or campus tour. Nurture leads by showing them around your campus, introducing them to staff, and allowing them to sit down and speak with a student ambassador.
17. Streamline Your School Tour
Most of your marketing efforts have led up to getting families in your school’s doors, but your work doesn’t stop there. Ensuring all families receive the same top-notch experience that touches on all your identified talking points is key to increasing the likelihood that family enrolls at your school following their tour.
18. Follow Up After the Open House
Once you’ve had the chance to wow prospective families with your engaging, informative school open house or school tour, be sure to reach out within the same week. If a family is touring your campus, they’re likely touring other schools in the area, and you want to make sure you stand out in their minds—and in their inbox!
19. Include Testimonials on Your Website
72% of consumers take action only after reading positive online reviews. Although deciding to enroll at a school isn’t exactly the same as a purchasing decision, school marketing teams should still think of it the same way. And testimonials don’t just have a positive impact on conversions; they’re also a great way to incorporate meaningful video content into your school’s website.
20. Enlist Current Families to Submit Positive Reviews
Whether written or video, positive reviews profoundly impact purchasing behavior, and current satisfied parents are an excellent source for word-of-mouth marketing content. Consider linking to a parent survey on your website or launch an email campaign to solicit reviews from current parents and families.
21. Host a Community Event
Hosting an event, like a carnival or fall festival, not only helps increase brand awareness for your school; it also shows prospective families that you’re contributing to the local landscape and actively engaging with families in and around the community.
Your enrollment marketing strategy may have plans to promote your school at every phase across the enrollment journey, but unless it contains steps for retaining students, you’re going to be missing out on one of the most impactful marketing strategies for private schools and charter schools: word-of-mouth marketing.
22. Improve Parent-Teacher Communication
Standardize communication practices between parents, teachers, and school administration. Keeping parents informed without the frustration of a dozen different communication tools will increase parent satisfaction and, ultimately, the likelihood that they’ll continue their student’s enrollment at your school.
23. Build Email Workflows
Once a student enrolls at your school, your marketing efforts don’t just stop—you still need to convince them that your school was the right option. One way to do this is by streamlining the onboarding process and automating emails to welcome newly enrolled families.
Email workflows can also be used to effectively promote community events, remind families of upcoming deadlines, and nurture leads!
24. Send a Satisfaction Survey to Families at the End of Each School Year
Leverage your greatest asset when it comes to giving prospective parents what they want: current parents’ opinions! Send out an annual survey asking parents to share their opinion on various topics from enrollment to communication to general operations and use this information to create an even stronger campaign for the upcoming school year.
25. Incentivize Parents to Enroll Siblings Too
Last but not least, the easiest way to boost private school enrollment numbers is to ensure each family enrolls siblings of current students in your school as well.
Your A+ Private School Marketing Agency—Versa Creative
Still not sure you’d earn an A in private school marketing 101? No worries! At Versa Creative, our team of experts has a strong portfolio of educational clients spanning the academic spectrum from Montessori to university, and we’re ready to help your campus grow.