Digital marketing to change misperceptions and boost boarding school enrollment
- Darlington came to Truth Tree after working with other marketing companies seeking Truth Tree’s industry expertise and top-notch customer service.
- To dispel the misperception that Darlington was a “reform school” and position itself as a boarding school with top academics and sports, and a supportive environment for all students.
- Increase visibility (and subsequently, enrollment) to their Boarding program.
- While Boarding school enrollment was the priority, Darlington did not want to neglect their Day school advertising efforts.
- We started with the “Tried and True Truth Tree Technique” involving benchmarking and data mining before advertising en force. Read more about our benchmarking technique with Clairbourn School and Berkeley Hall School.
- In our ad campaigns, we treated the Day and Boarding schools as separate entities, with the Boarding program getting the lion’s share of the ad budget. We also conducted individual benchmarking campaigns for both Day and Boarding programs as the families we’d be targeting would be searching using different search terms, would ostensibly be in different locations, and would respond to different CTA’s and copy. We also focused most of our ad dollars on the Google platform versus Facebook/Instagram.
- Darlington had a virtual and in-person event that we promoted months before the event along with concentrated campaigns that called out Application Deadlines to instill a sense of urgency into our proven ad copy.
- Due to the constant open communication between Darlington and Truth Tree, we were also able to Geo-Target certain areas on Display and Facebook/Instagram for very short-run campaigns during recruitment events that featured many schools in certain locations that were happening across the Southeast. The main goal for this was to get in front of parents who were attending these events and expose them to Darlington’s brand. For these campaigns, our goal was reach and exposure rather than clicks, so we set targeting to be shown to as many unique individuals as possible. While not many conversions were earned through this campaign, we found that there were many people exposed to Darlington’s brand, Facebook and Instagram being the platforms where we achieved the most reach.
- During and after the big “enrollment push” from Fall 2022-Winter 2023 we also launched very specific search campaigns revolving around the extensive “Academy” programming that Darlington has available for their students. These campaigns ranged from sports-specific training programs for students who may have a future in athletics and also featured their Teaching and Learning Center for students who have diagnosed learning differences and may need a little extra support with their academics. Capturing specific searchers via extensively researched keywords and audiences really increased exposure to these programs.
- Truth Tree was also able to launch a Scholarship-specific Search campaign for the state of North Carolina. Since this was a very specific campaign promoting a Scholarship with special requirements, we were required to include specific callouts within the ad copy so that the message was clear, concise, and most importantly earned clicks. Through our ad campaigns, we were able to help Darlington secure the students needed to award those scholarships.
- Along with the PPC side of Truth Tree’s offerings, we also supported Darlington’s SEO efforts to help them climb up the SERP rankings.
Keys to Success:
- Darlington’s admissions and marketing teams are in constant communication and collaborate extensively on strategy. It cannot be understated how important this synergy is to Truth Tree’s digital marketing efforts.
- While Truth Tree has over 5 decades of private/independent/public school admissions and marketing experience, we are unable to have a first-hand account of exactly what’s going on in the school’s specific area as things are happening. The Darlington team has always been open to sharing information on the quality of leads filling out forms, overall inquiry/application/and enrollment numbers, and just an overall vibe of what is going on locally that may help Truth Tree in identifying proper demographics and strategic and tactical adjustments
- Flexibility in campaign creation and budget allocation. Truth Tree remains flexible in taking Darlington’s feedback and executing new campaigns or campaign adjustments on the fly, with a quick turnaround. This ensures that campaigns are thoughtfully created with the proper goals in mind.
- Mutual trust between both Truth Tree and Darlington. Darlington trusts Truth Tree as experts in the private and independent school digital marketing field. This mutual trust makes communication a breeze and execution of tactics even easier.
- Proper expectations from Darlington. The team at Darlington understands that Truth Tree can’t promise more enrollment but we do promise qualified web traffic delivered at the highest possible efficiency. The residual of this is typically more applications and higher enrollment. The Darlington team realizes that digital marketing is not a magic wand and takes a ton of dedication and work from all involved.
- Overall new user web traffic increased 20%
- 69% increase in Inquiries
- Tripled the number of accepted boarding school students on the national March 10th notification date than averaged in the past 20 years
Director of Communications at Darlington School
“After a great deal of research and lengthy RFP process, Darlington School decided to partner with Truth Tree for our digital marketing efforts this year and we are so pleased we did! From my very first call with Trevor Waddington to our monthly check-in calls with Jeremy Merkle, our primary point of contact, I have found Truth Tree to be responsive, strategic and efficient. We have seen a significant increase in inquiries and applications from qualified candidates. I would highly recommend Truth Tree if you are looking for a collaborative partner who truly understands digital marketing and independent school admissions.”