Private schools in Australia must constantly compete for attention, striving to distinguish themselves in a market brimming with choices. Beyond just academic excellence, parents and guardians are seeking institutions that align with their values, aspirations, and expectations for their children’s holistic development.
For private schools, a strategic marketing program is not just a luxury—it’s a necessity. Effective education marketing strategies are needed to increase enrolment, elevate brand awareness, boost funding, entice more prospective families to school tours, and effectively advertise scholarships and other unique offerings.
In this guide, we’ll explore education marketing strategies that cater specifically to the needs and goals of private schools in Australia, ensuring they not only thrive but also lead in the realm of educational excellence.
1. Make sure your website offers a great experience.
A school’s website is more than just a digital brochure. It’s a reflection of the institution’s ethos, values, and commitment to excellence. For private schools in Australia, ensuring that the website is modern, well-designed, and mobile-responsive is paramount. Parents and students alike are increasingly turning to online platforms to research and make decisions, so a website that’s easy to navigate with a strong user experience (UX) can significantly influence their perception.
The design should be intuitive, guiding visitors effortlessly to the information they seek. While it’s essential to cater to parents, who are often the primary decision-makers, it’s equally vital to appeal to students, showcasing aspects of school life that resonate with their aspirations and interests.
Highlighting academic programs is a given, but diving deeper into student achievements, awards, and the latest news can provide a comprehensive view of the school’s culture and standards. Furthermore, spotlighting unique or new offerings can differentiate the school from competitors, emphasizing its commitment to innovation and holistic education.
2. Identify your Unique Value Proposition
Every private school has its own story, ethos, and strengths. Identifying and articulating your Unique Value Proposition is about pinpointing what makes your institution truly special. Is it the avant-garde curriculum that challenges conventional teaching methods? Perhaps it’s a unique blend of traditional and contemporary teaching approaches that fosters holistic learning. Or maybe it’s the array of extracurricular activities that nurture talents beyond the classroom.
Whatever it is, your UVP should be compelling, resonating deeply with the aspirations and values of prospective families. It’s not just about stating facts but weaving a narrative that encapsulates the essence of your school.
Once identified, this UVP should be the golden thread that runs through all your marketing materials, from brochures to digital ads. It becomes the heart of your campaigns, ensuring consistency in messaging and reinforcing what makes your school the ideal choice for discerning parents and students. In a competitive educational landscape, a clear and impactful UVP can be the difference between blending in and standing out.
3. Build your campaigns with your enrolment funnel in mind
The enrolment journey is a nuanced process, with each stage representing a unique set of needs and expectations from prospective families. Building campaigns with this funnel in mind ensures that your messaging is tailored, relevant, and effective at every touchpoint. This also means that in addition to being strategic, your campaigns will be empathetic, guiding families seamlessly through their enrolment journey.
At this initial stage, families are likely exploring multiple options. Your messaging should focus on broad awareness, introducing them to your school’s ethos, values, and overarching benefits.
These are individuals who’ve shown a deeper interest, perhaps by visiting your website or attending an open day. Tailor your communication to provide more detailed information, perhaps highlighting specific programs, teaching methods, or extracurriculars that align with their interests.
At this stage, families are seriously considering your school. Your messaging should reassure them of their choice, offering insights into student success stories, support systems, and the unique experiences they can expect.
These are the families who’ve been offered a place. Your communication should now shift to onboarding, helping them transition smoothly. Highlight resources available, introduce them to the school community, and ensure they feel welcomed and valued.
Recognizing that each stage of the funnel represents a different mindset and set of needs ensures that your campaigns are not only strategic but also empathetic, guiding families seamlessly through their enrolment journey.
4. Create marketing personas for both the students and their parents
Understanding your audience is pivotal in crafting effective marketing campaigns in any industry. For private schools, this means recognizing the distinct perspectives and priorities of both students and their parents. By developing detailed marketing personas for each group, you can tailor your messaging to resonate deeply with their unique concerns and interests.
Often the primary decision-makers, parents are typically concerned with the tangible and long-term benefits of the school. They might search for:
- “Best private schools for university placement in Australia”
- “Private schools with strong STEM programs”
- “Schools with pastoral care and student support”
Parents might lean towards using Google to find official school websites, online parent forums, and educational review sites.
While academic excellence is essential, students are also keenly interested in the school’s culture, extracurricular opportunities, and overall environment. Their searches might include:
- “Schools with best sports programs”
- “Private schools with drama and arts festivals”
- “Student life at [specific school name]”
Students are likely to explore social media channels, YouTube (for school event videos or virtual tours), and even TikTok or Instagram for a more candid look at student life.
5. Invest in a really great CRM
For private schools, building and nurturing relationships is paramount. A Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system is a game-changer in this aspect. An education CRM manages all your institution’s interactions with prospective and current students, as well as communications with alumni, employees, donors, and other members of the education sector. It’s a great way to centralise essential information, from basic details like name and contact information to educational backgrounds, allowing for personalised messaging across channels.
A robust CRM for your private school can help you:
- Track and anage students through the entirety of their enrolment journey
- Handle all student and internal communications
- Measure institutional progress
- Monitor fee payments and reminders
- Measure your marketing ROI
In essence, a CRM like HubSpot’s education-focused CRM is not just a tool but a comprehensive solution that addresses multiple facets of a private school’s operations and marketing, ensuring efficiency, transparency, and enhanced engagement with students and parents.
6. Prioritise search engine visibility
We always recommend investing in an SEO program for our clients in the education sector. Search engine optimization (SEO) is not only cost-effective but also offers a significant return on investment. When done right, it places your school in front of prospective students and parents precisely when they’re actively seeking educational options.
Here’s why SEO is a cornerstone of effective education marketing:
By understanding what students and parents are searching for, schools can craft content that directly addresses their queries. This could range from detailed program descriptions, scholarship opportunities, and virtual tours, to the unique value propositions that set the school apart.
High Research Intensity
Choosing a school is a significant decision, and it’s one that involves extensive research. Parents and students delve deep into websites, reviews, and forums. By prioritising SEO, schools ensure they’re prominently featured in these searches, offering authoritative and helpful content that guides decision-making.
Top of the Rankings
With the right SEO strategies, schools can climb the search engine rankings. Being at the top not only increases visibility but also lends an element of trust and authority. When parents and students see a school ranking high for their search terms, it instils confidence in the institution’s relevance and quality.
7. Leverage Google Ads
Google Ads, with its powerful targeting capabilities, can also offer private schools a direct avenue to reach prospective students and parents right at the peak of their interest. Again, as families turn to search engines to research educational options, Google Ads advertising ensures your school’s message appears prominently, capturing attention and driving engagement.
Unlike organic SEO strategies, which may take time to yield results, Google Ads offers immediate visibility. Your school can appear at the top of search results, ensuring maximum exposure to your target audience.
With Google Ads, schools can craft campaigns tailored to specific keywords and phrases. Whether parents are searching for “best private schools in Australia” or students are looking up “schools with top arts programs,” Google Ads allows you to cater to these specific queries, ensuring your ads resonate with the searcher’s intent.
Google Ads operates on a pay-per-click (PPC) model, meaning schools only pay when someone clicks on their ad. This ensures cost-effectiveness, allowing schools to set budgets that align with their marketing goals and financial constraints.
One of the strengths of Google Ads is its analytics capabilities. Schools can gain insights into which ads are performing best, which keywords are driving the most traffic, and what the conversion rates are. This data is invaluable for refining marketing strategies and ensuring optimal ROI.
8. Send paid ads to a lead capture page
Sending potential students and parents to a dedicated lead capture page can significantly enhance conversion rates. These pages are meticulously crafted with one goal in mind: to convert visitors into leads.
Landing pages work well for paid advertising in the education marketing sector because they’re purpose-built for lead capture and designed for a singular focus. Whether it’s getting visitors to sign up for a school tour, download a brochure, or register for an open house, every element on the page serves this conversion goal.
Some considerations in preparing great landing pages for education marketing leads:
- Keep it simple and focus your message
- Set up A/B testing to test variations in calls to action, imagery, and copy
- Continuously refine and optimise
A well-optimised lead capture page can be the linchpin that transforms casual browsers into engaged prospects, setting the stage for deeper engagement and eventual enrolment.
9. Engage on social media
Social media stands as a powerful platform for educational institutions to connect, communicate, and cultivate relationships. Here are just some of the ways that social media advertising can bolster your education marketing campaigns.
Broad Audience Reach
Both prospective students and their parents are active on various social media platforms. While students might be encountering Instagram ads or TikTok ads, parents might be seeing advertising on Facebook or ads on LinkedIn. Engaging on multiple platforms ensures that schools can reach and resonate with their entire target audience.
Potential for Tailored Campaigns
Social media advertising tools allow schools to create targeted campaigns that cater to specific demographics. For instance, a campaign promoting a school’s sports achievements might be targeted towards younger audiences on Instagram, while a webinar on the school’s curriculum might be promoted on Facebook to reach parents.
Each social media platform attracts a unique demographic. Understanding the age groups predominant on each channel can guide content creation. For example, visually appealing posts about school events or student life might be more suited for platforms popular among younger audiences, while detailed posts about school programs, parent-teacher meetings, or admission processes might resonate better with older demographics.
Build Community, Foster Engagement
Beyond promotions, social media offers schools a platform to build a sense of community. Sharing student achievements, celebrating school milestones, or even posting behind-the-scenes glimpses of school life can foster a sense of belonging and pride among students, parents, and alumni.
10. Focus on content marketing
For private schools, a great content marketing program not only promotes the institution but also provides genuine value to students, parents, and the broader educational community.
Content marketing for a private school might include:
- School achievements in academics, sports, the arts, or community service
- Student achievements to offer a glimpse into the potential journey of future students
- Educational resources, including study tips, e-books on curriculum topics, and insights on learning strategies
- Career and training outlooks to highlight the value of different programs and fields
Content marketing for private schools is about building trust, showcasing excellence, and offering value. It’s a long-term strategy that, when executed well, can foster deep connections, enhance the school’s reputation, and drive enrolment.
11. Invest in video content
For private schools, video offers a dynamic medium to showcase the vibrancy, ethos, and unique offerings of the institution. When crafted with intent, video content can be a potent tool to educate, compel, engage, and entertain audiences, leaving a lasting impression.
Just a few of the many possible avenues for video content for private schools:
- Educational topics, from curriculum highlights to innovative teaching methods
- Compelling testimonials featuring real students, alumni, and parents
- Engaging day-in-the-life videos to offer a visual journey of a typical day at school
- Entertaining campus tours to showcase facilities and include fun facts or interactive challenges
- Interactive webinars on topics related to admissions, upcoming events, or educational trends
By investing in diverse and high-quality video content, private schools can effectively capture the essence of their institution, making it easier for families to visualise, connect with, and ultimately choose their school for a transformative educational experience.
12. Create a school blog
A school blog serves as a dynamic platform to share insights, news, and stories that reflect the heart and soul of the institution. Beyond its storytelling potential, a well-maintained blog offers tangible benefits that can significantly enhance a school’s digital presence and engagement.
With the right content marketing strategy, a school blog can be great for your SEO. By targeting specific keywords and topics that prospective families might search for, a blog can drive organic traffic to the school’s website, increasing visibility and engagement.
Each blog post can further be repurposed into multiple pieces of content for social media. Whether it’s sharing a snippet, an infographic, or a compelling quote, the blog provides a steady stream of content that can be shared across platforms, keeping the school’s social channels active and engaging. Share an array of content ranging from academic achievements and event recaps to student spotlights and faculty insights to paint a comprehensive picture of the school’s culture and values.
Another important key to blog effectiveness is consistency. Commit to regular updates with new content and refresh old, outdated content as needed. This will not only keep your audience engaged but also signal to search engines that the website is active and relevant in search.
13. Consider setting up a retargeting or remarketing campaign
Retargeting and remarketing are terms often considered interchangeable, though they do have different meanings in digital marketing.
Retargeting usually refers to the placement of online ads and display ads based on someone’s previous interaction with your website. If a visitor reads a blog about a course you recently added to your curriculum, for example, the retargeting ads that pop up later while they are browsing other sites will remind them to revisit yours.
Remarketing instead involves re-engaging past visitors or customers through email campaigns, reminding them of their previous interest or nudging them towards a conversion they didn’t complete. If you have collected partial information from them via a form, for example, but they didn’t complete the process, you can email them to remind them to finish booking the school tour or whatever they had left unfinished.
14. Email Marketing / Newsletter
Though it may feel a little “old school”, email remains one of the most direct and effective communication channels, especially for educational institutions. With the ability to send tailored messages to specific audience segments, email marketing offers private schools a platform to nurture relationships, share updates, and drive engagement.
Email marketing is also incredibly cost-effective compared to many other marketing channels. With the right strategy, schools can reach a large audience at a relatively low cost, ensuring that every dollar spent delivers value.
As a bonus, your email list is 100% yours and the line of communication will not be impacted by factors like Google or Facebook algorithm updates.
Invest in a good email marketing platform in order to:
- Send customised messaging to different segments of your audience, from prospective students to current families or alumni
- Announce upcoming events, whether it’s a fundraising event, school play, or upcoming sporting event
- Share testimonials and updates, including student success stories, notable awards, and other achievements
- Stay connected with alumni to keep them connected and engaged
15. Expand your reach with digital out-of-home advertising
Ready to think outside the box? Consider digital out-of-home (DOOH) ads for your school. This type of advertising marries the visibility of traditional outdoor advertising with the dynamic capabilities of digital technology. Unlike static billboards or posters, DOOH leverages digital screens to engage consumers on the go, offering timely, interactive, and flexible campaigns that can be adjusted in real time.
These out-of-home ads might appear on displays at:
- Outdoor digital billboards
- Train stations
- Bus and tram stops
- Phone boxes
- Shopping malls and airports
Combining the broad reach of outdoor advertising with the adaptability of digital campaigns, DOOH allows for tailored content specific to times of the day or real-time events, creating a cohesive multi-channel marketing approach.
Ready to kick off your education marketing campaign? Contact BizWisdom today to schedule a discovery session with our team and let’s get started!