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How do I start my Digital Enrollment Marketing Plan?

chasing the shiny object

Things to do BEFORE You Spend a Dime

Chasing buzz-words and shiny objects tends to lead you right back where you started…but with less resources to try it again.

School Marketing is an investment in time and money, and you MUST get a return on that investment. It can be time consuming if you do it yourself, or expensive if you hire someone else to do it…and it doesn’t pan out.

You already know that you need a plan, or what I call a “blueprint” before you spend one dime or one-minute chasing those shiny objects. But how do you get started?

Start with a Situational Analysis:

How can you make any plans if you don’t know how you compare to other choices your parents have? Regardless of how detailed you want to get, you can safely break down any introspective look at you own web presence into three categories:

1: Site: Your website is the hub of all things marketing. All roads lead back to your site regardless if they came from a Google search, a social post, or a direct mail piece. How does your website stack up next to other school choices, and to other leading websites in your industry?

  • Professional Look: If your website looks homemade or out of date, studies have shown that your school or business is perceived as less trust-worthy. How does it visually compare to other choices that parents or consumers have?

  • Current Design Standards: Todays websites are designed for mobile first, with desktop layouts falling into place. This is a big departure from the way sites were designed just a couple of years ago. Scrolling is no longer taboo. In fact, since most websites are being viewed on smartphones, scrolling is now the preferred method of navigation.

  • Readability: Don’t assume that your customers are as interested in you as you are. People don’t read on the Internet, they scan, they see Headlines, Images & Bullet Points. Get to the point quickly. Consumers will gravitate to images before the will read a block of text.

Free Resource: “25 Website ‘Must-Haves for driving Traffic, Leads & Students to your School” for Driving Traffic Leads & Sales

2: Search: Parents and consumers who are actively searching for something are farther down the sales funnel because they are looking for YOU, you aren’t looking for them. They are typically more pre-qualified than social media leads.

  • Run your own Search: As a digital marketing agency, we use a variety of fancy schmancy software programs to aid us in determining where our clients rank in relation to their competitors. However, if you search for something that your next best customer is likely to search for, and only your competitors show up, they’re getting the business, and you’re not.

  • Different Search Channels: Google is the 800 lb. gorilla, but do you show up on other places where your customers might be? Yahoo/Bing, CitySearch, various directories? Once again, if you’re competitors or only other schools are showing up and you aren’t, you’ve got a problem.

  • Paid Search: Pay-Per-Click advertising is the single quickest way to get people who are actively searching for your products and services to your website. Are your competitors running paid advertising? If they are, and if they have a great website, they are getting customers that you aren’t.

3: Social: Believe it or not, a robust social media presence can actually give your search engine optimization a boost. Not only does it help establish your brand, traffic to your website alerts Google that you have something interesting going on (called “social signals”).

  • Uniformed, Branded Profiles: If someone went to your Facebook page and then Twitter and then your Google My Business page, would it look like the same company? That’s all part of your company brand.

  • Fans, Followers & Activity: “Likes” do NOT equal sales. However, it’s worth taking a look to see if your competitors are more popular than you are. It’s a branding thing….

  • Paid Social Advertising: Ask yourself, how does Facebook make money? Is it from helping you build your business for free? Nope, companies have less and less direct access to their markets for free. The game is rigged…but that’s ok, Facebook advertising is still reasonable, and under the right circumstance, very effective. Have you ever been to a competitor’s website or Facebook page, and then noticed they keep showing up in your Facebook newsfeed? Coincidence? I think not.

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