Educational institutions are built on the fact that we want more for our children in their educational pursuits. The rise of charter school systems proves that like-minded educators that create a specialized delivery method focused on specific outcomes will deliver results for today's youth. However, these educators have been focused on changing the lives of children via education techniques, not marketing their unique school and finding those children and parents to make them aware of the new, focused offering available to them. So, how can innovative educators and education institutions find and reach potential students for their school?
Identify Which Digital Platforms Will Reach Your Target Audience
There are so many directories and social media platforms today that you have to strategically choose which platforms you want to advertise on, especially when you’re working with a small budget. Here are some of our favorites for school marketing:
Snapchat has a youthful user base, which makes it great for advertising both higher education and charter school organizations because they typically have younger buyer personas. Snapchat offers two methods of advertising, which each have their own benefits and should be chosen based on your school's specific goals.
The first method is called “Snap ads.” These show your ad between viewing content that the users are interested in, similar to television commercials. They are great for driving traffic to your website because if the user is interested in your ad, they can swipe up and be redirected to the webpage of your choosing. If your goals are focused on lead generation, this is a great tactic to use.
The second method involves “filters” and “lenses.” Both allow you to provide Snapchat users with the option to use the filter or lens that you upload, but they are only available for a limited time and in a specific location, both of which you select through geofencing. These work well for brand awareness because (ideally) they are fun and interesting enough to be used in photo opportunities, which the users send to their friends and family. However, there is no opportunity for redirecting people to your website. This tactic is best used for building brand awareness and recognition.
While TikTok is relatively new to the stage, it has amassed a large user base in a short amount of time. TikTok has short 15 sec to 3 minute videos that one can endlessly scroll through from all around the world. While this platform is young, its influence has grown to rival other platforms such as Instagram, with many of this younger generation ending use of other social media platforms in favor of TikTok. Like Snapchat the users are typically between 12 and 24 years of age.
TikTok has one type of advertising. This is in-feed video ads that are up to 60 seconds, which are inserted into the personalized feed of the apps users. This is great for driving traffic to your website, as the users can click the link on the bottom of the ad to be redirected.
Facebook and Instagram
Facebook and Instagram both have very large user bases which can be segmented by user's individual interests, making them ideal for advertising. There are two popular methods for advertising on these platforms as well.
The first method is called a “Conversion Ad.” Here, you would upload a promotional photo or video with a short amount of text that explains what you are advertising, headline, description, and call-to-action button. When they click the ad, they will be redirected to the web page that you select.
The second method is called a “Lead Ad.” With lead ads, the person that clicks on your ad is not redirected to your website. Instead, they are prompted with a form within the platform they happen to be on. The form is completely customizable, so you can ask industry specific questions like, “which academic year are you interested in?” This can help you collect more specific information from a targeted audience while increasing brand awareness.
Search Engine Marketing
Google is the most used search engine in the world, making it prime real estate for digital advertising. Google offers more refined targeting than any other digital advertising platform, ensuring that your ads only receive quality impressions. When someone clicks on your Google search ads they are taken to the webpage that you specify, minimizing the chances of someone leaving your page because they can't find the information they're looking for.
It should be noted that while Bing is not in the same realm of influence as Google, advertising on Bing can also be extremely effective. Bing feeds bing.com, aol.com, yahoo.com, Alexa, and more. It's also the default search engine for most PCs. By advertising on Bing, you may be able to reach a previously unreachable audience (Google users) and do so at a significantly lower cost per click.
A competitor campaigns is a search ad strategy that is meant to show your ad when someone searches for a competing school. Its purpose is to get your ads in front of people who are looking for a competitor and give you the opportunity to say, 'consider us instead!' This technique can be very effective, seeing as how you and your competitors likely share similar buyer personas, and maybe the people searching for your competitors just haven’t heard of your school. Your school might even be a better fit for them!
We should also point out that running a competitor campaign can get fairly expensive because you are (in general) not going to naturally rank high for a competitor's brand name. Your quality score will typically be lower than desired causing cost-per-click to rise. That may not matter though if you are able to pull a few leads away from your competition.
Display ads show your ads to people who have recently visited your website, meaning that this tactic is dependent on your website having a lot of traffic, or to people based on demographic and geographic information. Typically the most impactful method is to use display advertising as a remarketing tactic to reach those that have already visited your website, signaling some sort of interest. If you do have good traffic, then display ads keep your school at the top of your prospect’s mind. In display advertising, your ads must have an image to show (moving/animated graphics work best), and it will appear on other websites when the person who recently visited your website goes somewhere else online. When someone clicks your display ad, they are also taken to the webpage that you determine.
We have seen a lot of success with each tactic on each of these platforms when it comes to school marketing, but if you don’t have the budget for digital advertising, there is another (more affordable) inbound tactic that is sure to yield higher student enrollment numbers.