Updated: Feb 9
All You Need to Know to Grow Your Enrollments Online
As a dedicated administrator, you're eager to grow your school by increasing enrollments, which in turn increases funding, which then can be used to improve your infrastructure, teacher pay, technology for students, extracurricular opportunities and more! Wow! The benefits of reaching your enrollment goals can really snowball into something special.
But before we dive into the different digital platforms and strategies that will help to max out your enrollment lottery and bolster your waitlist, let's first THINK like a parent.
Think Like a Parent
For the next few minutes, take off your administrator hat and slip into the shoes of a parent who is looking for alternative education options for their student. Maybe their student needs a school that offers a more advanced curriculum like an early college program. Maybe the parent might be interested in a more flexible schedule to accommodate their work schedule. Or maybe the parent might want a school that focuses on certain subjects like science, math or our hard-fought, American freedom (queue the eagle cawing in background).
So, what does your school have to offer and how is it highlighted via your online presence?
Let's say that I am a parent who is sick and tired of the public school system and am looking for a better option for my student.... After driving by your charter school campus multiple times a week, I decide to do some investigating into what you have to offer! I type in your name into Google and the first thing that I see is your Google My Business profile on the right side of the Google Search Listing with your name, contact information, photos and most importantly your reviews!
Like most parents, I would rather send my student to a good school rather than a mediocre school. If I see that your school only has 5-10 Google ratings with an average below 4.5 stars, my consideration of your school pretty much comes to a screeching halt, and I begin looking elsewhere. If I'm going to go through the hassle of transferring my student from their current school and friends, my first impression of your charter school better knock my socks off.
If you do pass the initial Google reviews test, I'll visit your website and begin clicking around. I'll look at your photos and videos. I'll read your "about us" section, and I'll subconsciously determine whether your website looks clean or whether it was designed back in the 2000's.... But most importantly, I'll look to see if there are any parent testimonials! I want to hear from other parents that your school is the bomb!
Depending on how this experience goes, I might go through the trouble to submit an enrollment form on your website or schedule a tour.
Parent Googling Your School Experiment
Let's try something together. In a separate tab of your web browser, type your school into Google.
Did you appear?
Were there lots of complimentary photos of your school?
Was the contact information correct?
What was your average Google star rating?
Do you have at least 70 reviews?
Did you pass the initial test? If so, visit your website and ask yourself the following questions:
Does your website look clean?
Is your website cluttered with lots of photos, videos, sliding banners, buttons, etc.?
Do you have an "enroll now" call to action on your homepage?
Can I schedule a tour of your campus?
How many clicks does it take to arrive to the enrollment form?
Does it take me longer than a minute or two to fill out your form?
Do you have parent testimonials on the site?
Do you have quality videos and images on the site?
Are all of your tabs and pages filled with content? Is that content useful or fluff?
How did your school do? These are just a few of the many things that we need to have in mind when putting on the shoes of a parent who is looking to switch their student to a charter school.
Digital Marketing for Charter Schools
Let's use the example of a restaurant to describe how digital marketing works.
The restaurant is the internet, Google & Facebook are the head chefs and your charter school is a potential dish to serve customers. Not only does your website need to exist on the menu, but it needs to prove itself to the chefs that it is the superior and most popular dish. Only then will it earn a special spot on the menu where it will stand out amongst the rest.
So let's get your school front and center on the menu by reviewing some common problems that charter schools face as they try to grow their program:
Common Problems, Easy Solutions
1) Do you rank high in Google and other search engines?
Go to isearchfrom.com, select your country, then in the "more options" section search for and select the city closest to you, and then try searching for "charter school near me." (Here are some other keyword inquiry examples that you could test: early college high school in [your city], STEM program, Montessori education options)
Did you appear on the first page of Google? Was your school one of the first three options?
If you were disappointed by any of the results, your campus is in need of some search engine optimization (SEO). To learn more about SEO for charter schools, you can reference this article that we wrote specifically about SEO strategies for charter schools.
2) Do you receive engagement on social media?
Do you post weekly on social media? (Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, Twitter, Linkedin, Snapchat, Pinterest, etc.)
Do people like, share and comment on your posts?
Do you post valuable content or is it all fluff?
Valuable content = an article about how to identify mental health warning signs in children written by a school counselor, a video with your school's top ten sport highlights of the year, a summary of how your school follows Martin Luther King Jr's example on MLK day, a Facebook Live Q&A event with your school's principal, etc.
Fluff = A picture of a leprechaun on St. Patrick's day, a Martin Luther King Junior quote on MLK day, a contextless meme, etc.
3) Are you running Facebook or Instagram ads?
If you aren't running ads on social media, then the only people viewing your content are parents and students who already follow your page and know who you are. This is inherently a problem because if you want new students, you need new people to see your content!
Most schools can see great results by simply creating scroll-stopping Facebook ads that target parents with children between the ages of 3 and 18. Make sure to target within a 10-20 mile radius of your campus. (unless you have a virtual program)
And don't forget a clear call-to-action like "Enroll Now" or "Schedule a Tour."
4) Is your website growing?
Your website should always be growing in regards to your content and the value that it offers to new visitors. The best way to do this is by creating a blog or video section where you are constantly uploading new articles, videos and pictures that bring value to the website. Does your front office get asked a question frequently? Write about it in a blog article and put that topic to rest!
Plus, Google loves to see a website that is constantly growing. If your website hasn't been added to or simply updated within the last month, Google might suspect that you are stagnating, and your Google ranking might begin to suffer.
5) Is your online presence indicative of your amazing program?
Be critical of your website and social media presence because you know that parents are! Your first impression will most likely be a digital one, so make sure that your school shines on the web.
By starting now, you will be surprised at how your enrollments will begin to fill up in just six months to a year by following digital marketing best practices. Having more enrollments equals more funding and more funding equals a brighter future for your students.
Feel free to reach out to our team at Charter Connect for more tips about growing your school via digital marketing platforms.