Marketing a private school is one of the tasks which can be daunting for school administrators of the small to medium-sized school. That is mainly because most heads of school have as their principal duty raising money. That responsibility is a full-time job by itself. Naturally, heads of school have a host of administrative duties as well. Moving down the organization chart, private school business managers have to keep the books balanced, manage the cash flow and deal with the overall management of the physical plant. Academic deans manage the teachers and what happens in the classroom. As a result, the admissions office ends up with the marketing brief, such as it is, in smaller schools. Most of the time marketing in the small school consists of making sure the website is updated, regular posts to the social media pages are done, and an admissions catalog is produced annually.
This state of affairs contrasts sharply with large private schools which can afford to hire the professional marketing staff needed to promote their schools effectively.
What is remarketing?
So, I can just imagine you reading this and thinking that you barely have time to market your school, much less remarket it. Anyway, what exactly is remarketing?
You and I are targets of companies' remarketing efforts every time we surf the web. For example, I was looking at bread machines the other day. After I left Amazon, I went to The Guardian to check the headlines and then went on to Facebook. Each time I clicked on a new page up popped an ad for bread machines. That's remarketing in essence. A vendor is not repackaging an older product, but instead is keeping something you looked at in front of your, hoping, of course, that you will decide to buy the product. In sales jargon that is a virtual call to action.
Why should you use remarketing?
In the following video, Eric from the AdWords Team gives you an overview of remarketing.
Remarketing kicks things up several notches because it tags people who have visited your site with a cookie. After that first visit, the user will see an ad for your site on every page he visits. The ads keep nudging the prospective customer to take action, such as calling your school to request more information.
Remarketing is a very precise marketing tool. The remarketing tool places your website in front a customer who has expressed some interest in your school and its programs.
How do you set up a remarketing program?
It is remarkably easy to do. So the overworked, under-staffed admissions department in a small school literally can set it and forget it. Google offers a remarketing program. And so does Facebook. I recommend that you start with Facebook. Here's what Read what The Ridiculously Awesome Guide to Facebook Remarketing has to say about Facebook's remarketing tool.
"Perhaps one the most powerful tools Facebook has to offer is the ability to serve personalized ads to a list of contacts you’ve already acquired. With customer lists, Facebook ads become more like email marketing by targeting specific people with personalized messages. Whether it be email addresses, phone numbers, or even Facebook user IDs, you can pull a list of contacts from your CRM or wherever your customer data is stored, upload it directly to Facebook, and target people with ads that are relevant to where they are within your sales funnel."
This short video discusses Facebook retargeting, which is another word for remarketing.
Does your school have apps? If it does, these apps can be another source of leads. A simple piece of coding is all that is required.
Who can handle your remarketing program?
Apart from the initial setup which involves choosing keywords and a few other technical details, a remarketing program is a low maintenance operation that will take one or two hours a week to manage. The time-consuming part of your remarketing program hopefully will be answering all those email inquiries and arranging all those visits which will result from your remarketing program.
Implicit in this discussion of remarketing is the assumption that your school has a robust, dynamic website. Why is that important? The simple answer is that folks probably won't request information from your school the first time they visit your website. They will look around for a few seconds then head off somewhere else. But that cookie has them tagged. So, your school's ad will keep getting served up. Eventually, they will circle back to your website and perhaps do more exploring. Make sure your website is fresh and appealing. Last year's news will quickly send your visitors elsewhere. A post about yesterday's field hockey victory over your rivals will make a positive impression. Remember that the decision process involved in choosing a private school is a lengthy one. Much nurturing is involved. Your dynamic website will make that nurturing process much easier for all concerned.
When should you implement a remarketing program?
Schedule your remarketing program to coincide with your prospecting for applicants. Each school operates on its own specific timetable. For example, if you wrap up recruiting for the next academic year in May, then you should including remarketing in your planning for next year's recruiting activities.
Ryan Masters shows you how to set up AdWords for your Google and Facebook remarketing campaigns in this video clip.
What about hiring professionals to handle your marketing?
Marketing professionals offer many advantages, among them being the fact that you won't have to hire another member of staff. Make sure that you have a financial guru work out the cost-benefit analysis so that you understand clearly what you are getting into. Finally, make sure that the marketing professionals you interview understand the dynamics of the private K-12 market. You are selling a service. The decision timeline is a long one. That requires skilled, consistent handling of the nurturing part of the process.
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