Do you know how many parents looked into your school this week, even if they never actually contacted you?
Do you know every step along the way that your latest applicants took to bring them to their enrollment decision?
Do you know exactly which one of your advertisements created the most traffic to your school?
No? Then you must not be employing an inbound marketing strategy.
Maybe we're being a little too blunt, but the facts are plain: inbound marketing provides you with way more, well, facts. Knowledge about your customers - like where they're coming from, how they found you, what they're most interested in about your school, how long it takes them to decide to enroll, and more. And you know the evergreen adage: knowledge is power.
Would you like to have all this information at your fingertips? Any school admissions director or school administrator would benefit greatly from knowing all this and more. After all, you're working hard to keep tuition affordable, pay your faculty well, and offer the best education around. You want to make sure that whatever you're doing to grow your school and keep enrollment numbers healthy is working and providing a solid return on your investment.
Here's the thing about inbound marketing. Not only is it significantly less expensive than traditional advertising methods (it costs about 62% less per lead), but it gives you far more: more qualified leads, more information about your leads, more communication with your leads, more freedom, more personalization. More...for less.
So, as your team is gearing up for the next school year and looking ahead to yet another enrollment cycle, you're probably wondering what kinds of school marketing activities will bring in new families most efficiently. Inbound marketing allows you to see just that, with multiple metrics available through your online platforms, like:
1) Where your traffic comes from
Not only can solid content marketing practices show you how many people visit your website during any given period, but they also show you which pages they are visiting, how they found your site (Google, social media, directly entering the URL, etc.). Taking it a step further, you can view which days got the most visitors in recent weeks and months, helping you to learn what kind of activity is generating the most potential leads. Maybe you published a hot-topic blog post that generated a lot of chatter on social media, and so you saw a huge uptick in site visitors on that two-day period. Hopefully, you capitalized on that with a compelling call-to-action in the blog that garnered you some new contacts (more on that later). So, while social media may have been your biggest driver that month, perhaps your search engine traffic is low. While you keep up your social media strategies then, you might want to work on creating search engine optimized blogs and other content that will help parents find your school easier when they're Googling things that concern them.
2) Time and travel through your site
This is a great way to tell how effective your website is at engaging potential families. Do they hang out for a while, or leave after barely a minute? Where do they go after visiting your homepage? What are your most frequently-visited pages by new (prospective) families? You can chart out your website visitors' journeys with adequate metrics, letting you in on how their minds work, what they want to know, and what hooks them in.
3) Email open and click through rate
Find out not only how many people opened your last email, but also who exactly clicked on your links to learn more information, how much time they spent reading it, what time they opened it, whether they read it on a desktop or mobile device, and more. Use those metrics to determine which topics are ringing truest to your school's current and potential families, and continue to provide similar information as time goes on.
4) Social engagements
Your social media posts shouldn't be a one-sided conversation. Find what makes your followers tick and click and go with it. What kinds of posts generate the most comments, likes, and shares? Which posts are sending the most visitors to your website? What do your parents (and potential parents) want to talk about? Find out, and get the conversation started!
5) Conversions and contacts
Once someone visits your site, do they like what you provided enough to stay in touch? You certainly hope so, right? Employing smart inbound marketing strategies means that just about all of your website landing pages are peppered with "Calls to Action" that invite your visitors to give you their contact information in exchange for a valuable resource (think: webinars, white papers, e-books, blog subscriptions, videos or podcasts). When you provide information on your website that positions you as a helpful partner or resource for parents, you will see those visitors being converted into leads, or contacts.
Then, once they're in your system, the details made available to you about your school's contacts are eye-popping. In Hubspot (the platform we use at Schola), for any given contact, you can find out how they first came to you, which emails they are opening, what resources they have downloaded, which of your site pages they viewed, and more. Do you know all of that about the people who saw your last print ad? Probably not.
If you want to make sure that your school is investing your valuable time and money into marketing that is actually bringing in new applicants, the analytics available with inbound marketing activities are invaluable. These metrics give you insights into what's working, what's not, and what makes your parents tick, without you even having to ask. That's something that a $10,000 TV spot (that will probably be skipped over on the DVR) can't even do for you.