According to a survey conducted by the nonprofit National School Choice Awareness Foundation (NSCAF), 53.7 percent of parents are considering new schools for their children. Most school searches start online, which means it’s important for your school to be both searchable and have online curb appeal. Here are 5 ways you can improve searchability and engagement with your school’s website.
1. Enhance Search Visibility
93% of school searches start at a search engine like Google, so if you’re considering advertising, you’ll want to enhance search visibility with Google Ads. To use Google Ads effectively, you’ll want to create content based on common search terms—or keywords—that someone might use when looking for a school like schools near me, schools with enrichment programs, or top 10 schools in my area. Provide content that responds to these keywords, and your ad will show up higher on the list.
Tip: Google’s free analytics offer insight into your ads’ effectiveness, allowing you to make data-driven decisions. Google Ads are also cost-effective: schools set their budget and only pay when someone clicks on an ad.
2. Design an Engaging Website
Your school’s website is a glimpse into your thriving, unique programs. Not only should you provide cohesive branding and authentic photos, but your site should be intuitive, easy to navigate, and engaging.
A good guiding principle is to design your site for current families and prospective ones. Feature enrollment information prominently both in the navigation bar and on a button on your home page. You can also choose to add a pop-up window when enrollment deadlines approach.
Then, create your website content by anticipating prospective families’ questions. Present an authentic representation of all you have to offer by featuring videos, photographs, and testimonials from students, teachers, and parents. Professionally produced content adds value, but student and teacher-generated images and stories offer genuine insight into daily life in the classroom.
Another best practice is to keep the website up to date with a current calendar of events, visit days, and enrollment deadlines and include upcoming school events that are open to the public.
For more on website content, check out the free webinar Click to Enroll: Redesign Your School’s Website for Growth.
3. Create Compelling Social Content
The list of social media outlets is ever-expanding. Facebook, YouTube, TikTok, and Instagram are only a few of the channels schools use to attract prospective students. Your school doesn’t need to be on all of them—what’s important is that you are where your prospective families are online. Talk to current families about where they spend time online and go from there.
Each social media channel has unique viewers interested in different content, so what works on Facebook may not work on Instagram or TikTok. Follow other schools and see what they’re posting to get an idea of what might work for your school.
It’s a lot of work to manage several different social media accounts, so involve others in the fun! While a school representative should always approve any content before it goes online, trusted school ambassadors, including parents, teachers, and students themselves, can become your storytellers. You can create a digital media club for middle and high school students who, with the support of a trusted faculty advisor, can develop an effective social media strategy that will appeal to prospective classmates.
4. Keep Your On-line Data Up to Date
A first stop for many prospective families is a school review site like greatschools.org, niche.com, privateschoolreview.org, and publicschoolreview.com. Someone on your administrative team should have access to these sites to update information like enrollment numbers, course offerings, and demographics. Keep these up-to-date and correct any errors quickly.
The reviews posted to these sites have become an effective tool for evaluating a school. Each review is vetted, so school personnel cannot ghostwrite these. A little persuasion may be necessary to encourage current parents and students to write the reviews, so offer some school swag as a reward for posting.
Recognize that not every review will be glowing, and a negative one will sit on the site for a while. The silver lining? It may be an opportunity to uncover a problem that your school needs to address. If you get a negative review, keep in mind the advice offered by Jay Baer in Hug Your Haters: How to Embrace Complaints and Keep Your Customers. Treat it like a phone call complaint. Ignoring it is equivalent to hanging up, but on social media, where others are watching. Respond promptly, address concerns, and turn it into an opportunity to showcase your commitment to transparency and good communication.
Tip: These sites are closely monitored internally. All information will be confirmed before your school’s profile is updated, so keep an eye on the progress. It may take 2 – 3 days to complete an update.
5. Showcase the Talent at Your School
Blog posts are a great way to show your community the great things your students are accomplishing. Once you’ve posted to your website, share it across social media and on channels like LinkedIn to spread the word.
Your educators have a wealth of information to share, and along with a guest blog post on your own site, there are plenty of digital media outlets that accept articles written by teachers: sites like Edutopia, The Educators Room, and We Are Teachers. Member publications of Parent Media may publish helpful how-to articles written by teachers as well. When a member of the school staff publishes, share the article broadly with praise.
Other ideas include:
- Teachers can offer a webinar on classroom management
- A counselor could create a YouTube video on how to help a student get organized
- An administrator can present as a thought leader advising others on topics like navigating budget cuts or offering professional development
- A student can present a classroom project on TikTok as an example of how learning happens at your school
The greater the online presence a school has, the more effective its enrollment marketing strategy. Use these tips to expand your reach to more prospective families and see your school population grow.
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The Charter School Digital Marketing Guide
Download this workbook will help you achieve your enrollment goals. Refine your school’s messaging, set strategic marketing goals, and achieve them through a variety of digital marketing programs.Get the Guide