Trustee Table Takeaways: How Schools Can Maximize Their Recruitment Strategy

Here are the top five takeaways from Episode 25 of the NAIS Trustee Table podcast, "Data-Driven Marketing–How Schools Can Maximize Their Recruitment Strategy." In this episode, Kevin MacNeil, vice president of Metric Marketing, shares insights on admissions and enrollment challenges facing independent schools, how schools can best leverage their advertising dollars, and ways schools can keep prospective and current families engaged.
  • What is the most common problem for schools struggling to keep their admissions numbers up? The pandemic pushed schools to engage with potential families virtually: virtual open houses, virtual school tours, and virtual admissions meetings. However, many schools are not capturing or utilizing the right data in the digital space to drive effective decision-making around admissions. For example, many schools have Google Analytics, so they believe they are gathering the necessary data. Often times, however, the data being collected isn’t aligned to the key performance indicators unique to the school, which would better inform enrollment and marketing decisions.
  • If schools are doing a lot of advertising and not seeing results, is it due to a lack of data or are other issues at play? While using the right data to make advertising decisions is important, there are other critical considerations as well. While traditional advertising still has a place in the customer journey, most advertising is now done in the digital world. When schools are too tied to old advertising mediums, they are often too focused on only one part of the customer journey–building awareness. Schools should consider investing more resources in the middle of the customer journey, when a family is moving into consideration and closer to taking action. Ultimately, advertising should balance a diverse group of tactics, along with a clear understanding of the school’s brand, to bring families into the school.
  • What can schools do to keep prospective and current families engaged? In the digital world, there are several different ways families can engage with a school via the internet. One thing schools need to do is to stop thinking about one channel versus another and start thinking about how these channels work together to fulfill a customer’s journey. Some channels work better for targeting a prospective family, while others, such as social media and personal communications, better engage current families. Designing a cohesive marketing strategy using all channels increases engagement across the board.
  • What are some solutions to help schools lower attrition rates? Attrition rates are tied to the end of the customer journey, which is loyalty. Having the right data is critical to maintaining family loyalty. Schools need to understand how their communication with current families is working or not working. Social media content, community management, and personal touch points, as well as the technologies being utilized (MailChimp, school admin software, etc.) must all be measured and assessed on a regular basis. Without this data, it is impossible to create and implement a cohesive marketing plan.
  • What is one action item school leaders should consider right now? Make sure you have the right data to make the right decisions. Often when facing challenges around marketing and attrition rates, schools become caught up in opinion-based decision-making. Examining the relevant data in relation to foundational elements such as documented brand guidelines and value proposition is key.