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Market intelligence for international student recruitment from ICEF
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26th Apr 2023

How paid advertising and inbound marketing strategies support K-12 schools

This special feature is sponsored by Higher Education Marketing.

Families typically have a lot to consider when deciding on primary and secondary education for their children, factoring in the student experience and school location, among other aspects that set each school apart from its competition. With that fierce competition, it can be a challenge to create effective marketing strategies for both public and private schools, but choosing the right approach can propel your institution toward success.

Paid advertising and inbound marketing are both effective strategies your school can use. Here, you’ll learn how to leverage them to drive positive results.

Gain a broad reach

Paid advertising can be as broad or narrow as you need it to be. That’s because your goals dictate how you approach a paid ads campaign. Primary and secondary schools looking to increase the number of enrollments can turn to paid ads that drive lead generation, while those seeking to boost brand awareness can tailor their ads to maximise reach instead.

To get great results from your paid advertising strategy, you’ll want to start with SMART goals. They are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound goals that can give your paid advertising strategy structure. 

Generate inquiries with a paid ads campaign

You can target residents in specific area codes or neighbourhoods through your ads. This is particularly helpful for schools with data on specific areas or with specific countries of interest for international student recruitment. 

Example: Using geo-targeting in Google Ads, schools can define their target audience and focus on reaching prospects in specific cities or postal codes:

Once you’ve targeted your audience, you can begin crafting compelling ad copy and a unique landing page for your ad. Here, optimising your ad’s text, call to action (CTA), and design are all key steps. 

Use paid ads to generate homestay leads 

Schools can go further with geo-targeted ads and ensure they’re delivered to the right demographic with the right interests.

Example: With Facebook ads, your school can reach a particular demographic and select its specific interests:

You can even use paid advertising to generate homestay leads. The landing page or lead forms can pre-qualify leads through key questions—the language spoken at home or whether they have previously volunteered as homestay hosts. Focusing on the experience and benefits of homestay or creating content on welcoming a new student into a new family and making lifelong connections can also help you generate homestay leads.

Connect with families 

Inbound marketing can boost your private or public school’s digital presence, enabling you to create valuable content that resonates with its intended audience and directly addresses their pain points. Good inbound draws them in with relevant insights that serve as the basis of a meaningful relationship. It also motivates prospects to engage with your school while answering their questions, delighting them in a way that organically promotes loyalty to your school.

Schools need a strong understanding of their audience to use inbound marketing successfully. This creates the need for reliable parent and student personas. Any content your school creates must factor in your personas’ motivations and concerns, making it more targeted and impactful.

Example: Randolph-Macon Academy uses inbound to connect with its prospects, crafting blog posts that speak directly to specific personas. The one below is aimed at their parent persona, highlighting how the school prioritises all the elements that parents value in their children’s education:

Source: Randolph-Macon Academy

Your personas can help you develop USPs that influence how you position yourself in paid ads and seep into all aspects of your inbound marketing.

Embrace multi-channel marketing 

A big part of inbound marketing is knowing which channels your school needs to use. Consider where your prospects go to learn more about your school and begin establishing your presence in those channels with high-quality content. If you’re using more than one simultaneously, ensure that each channel complements the other.

Your efforts should not only seek to inform but also engage, making your content personalised and valuable. Your school’s ads and landing pages also rely on inbound marketing in this way. Here, using personas can elevate your ad, allowing it to resonate more effectively.  

Develop leads for each stage of the admissions funnel

Your school can use inbound marketing specifically for lead generation, guiding leads from inquiry to enrollment through strategic content and CTAs. This is why it’s important to create content and offers, like lead magnets, for prospects in all stages of the admissions funnel: top (awareness), middle (consideration), and bottom (decision).

At the top of the funnel, you can create content that introduces your public or private school and motivates prospects to learn more about it. This can include a downloadable guide with tips and insights about the type of school you’re advertising. In the middle of the funnel, your content will shift to push prospects to engage more seriously with your school. Here, you can highlight open days or campus tours. At the bottom, content is designed to direct prospects to interact with admissions more personally—like a CTA that invites prospects to schedule a meeting.

The importance of strategy 

A digital marketing strategy is key in today’s competitive education marketing landscape. This can include both paid advertising and inbound marketing.

There is a strong need for primary and secondary schools within the public and private sectors to review these efforts and optimise their strategy, especially as new trends and best practices emerge. This way, your team can make data-driven decisions that propel your institution toward success.

Learn how you can get personalised insights into your efforts!

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