Updated: Feb 4
by Rica Perez, Digital Engagement Specialist, Truth Tree Consulting
It's easy for independent schools to make digital marketing mistakes with so many tactics and strategies available today.
You need help promoting your website, but you want to avoid spending your likely tightening budget in the wrong place.
With a robust, full-pay enrollment now more critical than ever, you need to know what to look out for to make sure you're staffing for or hiring the best digital marketing person(s) around.
Read on to learn about eight private school marketing mistakes to avoid.
1. Missing Your Target Audience
Increased traffic to your website doesn't necessarily mean you're reaching your target audience. As far as digital marketing mistakes go, this is an easy one to fix.
The best way to ensure you don't miss your target audience is to take the time to understand their demographics. Don't assume you know your audience right away. Instead:
Find out what they want from your school
Learn about their problems to determine how you can solve them
Appeal to their location
Your customers may come from a broader or narrower demographic than you realize. The solution is for you to do your research.
2. Not Communicating With Customers
Whether you're responding to parent emails too slowly, or completely ignoring them, this is a typical digital marketing mistake. Part of missing your target audience comes from not understanding their needs.
The only way to understand your customers is by communicating with them. Prompt responses to queries invite loyalty because they show that you're committed to providing them the information they seek. In turn, these parents are more inclined to give you feedback because of your diligence.
Personalize your communication with families, too. Automated responses only go so far, but a little thought, like virtual thank you cards, goes a long way.
3. Rushing Your Market Strategy Timeline
There's a reason the saying, "Patience is a virtue," holds up. If you expect results too quickly, you'll be sorely disappointed.
To avoid this classic digital marketing mistake, you need to set realistic goals. The best way to do this is to look at previous trends in your enrollment and outreach, which have been successful. If you don't have this sort of data, turn to similarly-sized schools that have invested in digital marketing and compare numbers.
Don't expect a crazy jump in enrollment numbers the first admission cycle after the release of any promotional material. Instead, anticipate a slow build as the marketing strategy draws in more traffic over time.
4. Misinterpreting the Data
Misinterpreting relevant date is a common digital marketing mistake. If you have unclear goals for your marketing strategy, determining your key performance indicators (KPI) becomes a challenge.
If you have too many statistics available, you could be easily overwhelmed. After setting realistic goals, use KPIs to define your progress. When measuring the relevant data, you'll then have the information you can use.
There are certain tools available, such as Google Analytics, which help you check the effectiveness of your marketing strategy. You'll also receive unique insights only accessible through this platform.
5. Ineffective Marketing With Social Media
Visual content is all the rage in digital marketing today. If you're not using images on social media platforms, you're making a digital marketing mistake.
When marketing with social media, it's crucial that your content engages your target audience and is appropriate to your school's mission. Facebook and Instagram are great platforms to consider.
When using social media platforms, make sure your goals are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-sensitive. Use strong visuals from your school to create an experience for potential customers. Interactive media will help your school stand out.
6. Using Clickbait
This is a big no-no. Clickbait is sensationalist, attention-grabbing content that misleads a customer about the actual service or product offered.
I've only seen a few schools use clickbait tactics. While it can give you good numbers, the hazards will erode your private school branding. Valuable content that stays on-brand and on-mission will maintain your school's reputation and credibility.
7. Only Using Paid Advertising
Although paid advertising is an excellent option for digital marketing, it is by no means the only one available. Pouring all of your resources into one avenue is a digital marketing mistake.
If you have a strong in-person, organic following, developing high-quality content, or improving your website's landing pages is a better resource for you to invest in.
8. Underselling Your Website
Promoting your website is crucial to generating potential customers and increasing enrollment for any private school. You may be struggling to promote your website if you're stuck with outdated marketing tactics.
Although regular blog posts are a great form of content, they can become redundant rather quickly. They also don't translate well onto social media platforms. Other, newer types of services can help you move on from this digital marketing mistake.
Modern marketing methods, like SMS marketing, are a great way to personalize communication and avoid the tired tactics of poor email marketing for schools. Switching to a new marketing tactic is a good idea—if you notice that your current strategy isn't reaching your target audience. Otherwise, if it isn't broken, don't fix it.