Inbound Marketing and How It Can Help Your School
The way people research for schools has changed. Have you? Majority of the schools around now know that the orthodox way of publicizing schools is no longer pulling in parents and students like before. There were times when schools will have to send out their brochures before they can reach out to prospect students, or the parents will have to travel far to the schools before they can even make inquiries – these methods worked then, but not anymore. And this is because of the way the marketing world has evolved overtime. Parents are no longer responding to radio adverts, paper flyers and billboards that tell them to visit their schools.
We still have lots of students and parents applying to schools, but the way they get to research them and decide on the one to pick is totally different. Rather than waiting for the schools to reach out to them, they now go out to seek for information by themselves. Now that schools have noticed this, they also have stopped spending huge cost to fund advertising methods (traditional method) that are now rendered ineffective, and are now taking into the universe of inbound marketing. The traditional method of marketing is most times seen as intrusive and costly, but inbound marketing is less expensive and less disruptive, with more information and outreach. Schools have now seen the effectiveness of inbound marketing and how they can draw in prospect students. This article will help you shed more light on inbound marketing, why you should implement it for your schools, and the benefits you stand to gain.
What is Inbound Marketing?
Since we are focusing on the implementation of Inbound Marketing for schools, we will explain the concept in that direction. Inbound marketing is basically a method that involves captivating, pleasing and involving parents and prospect students to apply to your school. ‘Inbound’ in Inbound Marketing tells that the method under this concept reaches out to parents that are looking out for information about your school or any topic which is related to your school. Parents now with the help of the internet seek for the information they need, it is then left to you to provide them with answers using the same channel. And this is where the concept of Inbound marketing is used, you attract them with the things they want to know. With constant communication you are then able to turn them from mere web visitors to your applicants.
Methods of Inbound Marketing
There are various methods of inbound marketing that can be done, but not every one of them applies to all schools. Considering your target audience, you might find one to work better for you than others will do, while a combination of multiple methods will work. We will now talk about some applicable methods, and these can help you improve the way you search out for future applicants to your school.
1. SEARCH ENGINE OPTIMIZATION (SEO)
As a school, the use of website is crucial. That is where SEO comes in, it is a process whereby you optimize your school’s website for search engines (Google, Yahoo, Bing etc.). To optimize your school’s website involves you making sure that the contents they contain are relevant to keywords and phrases being searched on by parents and students. Let’s say your secondary school is in Lagos, this should give you the idea that students will be searching for phrases like ‘Secondary Schools in Lagos,’ ‘Schools in Lagos,’ and many more like that. The major benefit of optimizing your website is that it will allow you rank higher in the search engine for useful keywords and phrases, but having a poor SEO will have your website not showing in the search engine results.
Here are some SEO tips for schools:
Use keywords and phrases that you expect parents and students to search for.
Include your contact information (school address and telephone lines) on your website and other third party websites like SchoolsCompass.
Lastly reduce the size of the images used, website with slow page loading time are ranked low.
2. BLOGGING AND CONTENT MARKETING
Blogging is one of the quickest ways to start an Inbound Marketing program. Blogging for schools is very effective as it helps the school put out more information about themselves and what the applicants should expect. This all results to another important factor which is the use of contents, these contents are used to convey the keywords and phrases that help your website to rank higher and also provide useful information to your audience.
There are various topics a school can blog about; like about their environment, the facilities they have, their extra-curricular activities, special events happening in school, and so many more like that. Doing this helps you utilize keywords that will help you rank higher, and also increase the interest of parents and prospect applicants.
3. USE OF VIDEOS
Like people will say, seeing is believing. This saying also applies to parents that seek to enroll their wards in schools. Using videos is the best way to gain applicants that are not living in the same area as the school. Place the videos on the right channels like YouTube, your school website and on the social media channels, when people see this they then redirect back to your school website to read more about your school. Ensure that the videos are professional, and videos of different types can be taken; videos of special events in the school, tour guide around the school, videos of interviews of staff and students and also videos of testimonials from parents.
4. SOCIAL MEDIA AND THIRD-PARTY SCHOOL MARKETING PLATFORMS
Since the majority of target audience are on social media platforms (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram), why not attract them using the same channels. Using social media does not end at just creating an account, it is even more effective when you share contents (blogs, images and videos) of your school through them. Let us go back to our former example of ‘Secondary Schools in Lagos’. When a school sets up a social media account (Facebook, Twitter and Instagram), the following steps should be taken into consideration:
Ensure to link it to your website where it can be seen.
Employ your students to follow, like, and repost contents shared. This will allow it to show up on the time-line of their contacts as well.
Also share the link to your new contents. Also keep your followers engaged as it encourages potential applicants to also join in.
Note that it is not all the available social media platforms that are suitable for all schools. While some schools find Facebook effective, others might find Twitter to work for them.
In the case of third-party school marketing platforms, an example is SchoolsCompass, an online community where schools are able to reach out to parents. The combination of the listed methods can also work for some schools, using these third party online platforms also serve as means of marketing your school, eliminating the cost involved in putting up the billboards and printing paper flyers.