Looking to increase school admissions, drive registrations for upcoming open days or just build overall brand awareness of your private school? The Small Films team has distilled down our absolute favourite school marketing tactics into a list of 55 marketing ideas for private schools. So if you’d like to raise the profile of your private school and want to speak to one of our video production team on how we can help support with video content, then do drop us a line. Over the years, we’ve been lucky enough to work with the likes of Eton College, Blundell’s and Marlborough College, creating awesome school films, so we’re well versed in bringing a school’s story to life.
1) Develop an email marketing strategy around key events in the calendar
Email marketing is one of the most effective ways to reach your target audience. Map out key events in your school calendar, such as open days, sports days, scholarship applications etc. and plan email content to help drive awareness around each.
2) Include your school in local online directories
To support a local SEO strategy, we always recommend listing your school in local online directories. These might be publications such as BerkshireLive.co.uk or getsurrey.co.uk. Run a search on Google to find the right directories for your school.
3) Set up a Google My Business Page and Bing Places
A Google My Business page is a really important aspect to help signal to Google where your school is based. It also is a mechanism to gather reviews, which, if your school receives positive feedback, is a brilliant way to build trust with your audience. A GMB page also helps your private school appear in map listings if a prospective parent searches for something like ‘schools in Berkshire’
4) Set up a Wikipedia page for your private school
A Wikipedia page is a great way to present your school as established whilst also providing another avenue for parents/future students to find out more information about you. Make sure it is as comprehensive as possible when filling out the content.
5) Create a school blog
Blogs are such a valuable marketing channel, but they are so often used incorrectly where the content isn’t interesting to the reader or uploaded too sporadically. When planning out your content, consider what is valuable to the reader and what their pain points might be. This will help you to create a blog calendar that brings traffic to the website and is more likely to convert.
6) Create a virtual walk-through of your private school campus
Don’t rely on prospective students being able to visit your school campus. They might want to get a better idea of what your school can offer before they make their journey. By creating a virtual walk-through of your private school campus, you can help give a behind-the-scenes view of what’s on offer.
7) Create a downloadable prospectus for your website
Your school prospectus is your No.1 piece of marketing collateral. By having a downloadable version on your website that is hidden behind a form, you can also gather lead details which you can then feed into your email marketing campaigns.
8) Write newsworthy press releases
Always consider what news you have to shout about. Has the school had a new state-of-the-art department built? Has your school made breakthroughs in sustainable practices? Whilst these types of news stories might not be featured in publications such as The Times or The Guardian, they’re likely to be picked up by more local press outlets such as Wales Online or Get Surrey.
Examples of private schools’ new stories
A Dumpton School video from the Small Films team
9) Send a monthly newsletter
Keep your school front of mind with a monthly newsletter. Always consider how you segment the emails and what sort of content they should receive. For instance, users that have joined your email list because they downloaded your private school prospectus might be interested in different content compared to parents of children already at the school.
10) Use your email signature for marketing your private school
Consider how you can boost your email signature with information that helps to market your school. That might be including award logos, accreditations or links to join your monthly newsletter or read the school blog.
Read our blog: How to promote a private school on social media
11) Mark notable milestones at your school
Significant milestones at your school shouldn’t go unnoticed, as not only are they a great way to reward your students and staff members, but they’re also a fantastic marketing opportunity. Celebrating 50 years since the school was founded, or has your Head Teacher reached a 30-year anniversary? Produce an event, hire a videographer and create an email and social media campaign to let everyone know.
12) Create an FAQ section for key pages of your website
FAQs on a website are a great conversion tool. They not only help to answer questions prospective parents may have, but they are also really helpful for SEO. Map out all the questions future parents might have and add them to the appropriate website page.
13) Get featured in ‘best school’ lists
When searching for a private school, parents may often search terms such as ‘best schools in Surrey’ or ‘best private schools in Wales’. Google will often serve up lists created by publications. By featuring your school on these lists, you’re not only helping your SEO efforts, but you’ll also see an increase in traffic to your website from users finding your school this way.
14) Sponsor local events
Sponsoring local events can be a great way to get in front of parents who live locally. Keep an eye out for events such as fetes, charity events and Garden Open Days where you can get involved.
15) Advertise your private school on your local radio station
Radio advertising can be one of the most effective ways to get your brand out there to a locally targeted audience. Whilst it’s more expensive than some other marketing tactics, you can achieve greater reach to a highly targeted audience.
16) Advertise your school at local train stations
Outdoor advertising can be really effective if you’re placing your adverts in the right places. Consider local train stations, as these will regularly have your target audience passing through.
17) Use the right hashtags on Instagram
When posting on Instagram, always make sure to use the right hashtags. Think what sort of hashtags your target audience might follow, whether that’s hashtags like #privateschools or #independentschools or location-based hashtags such as #berkshire or #stalbans.
18) Do some local SEO work
Local SEO is likely to be one of the most effective marketing tactics for your school as you’re helping your website be found when someone is actively searching for a school. Use a keyword research tool to find what search volumes are. For instance, a prospective parent may type ‘private schools near me’ or ‘independent schools in Wiltshire, into Google, and if they see your school listed in the local map results, they are more likely to click on it.
19) Run informative webinars
Consider the type of content that parents might want to learn about before sending a child to school. These might be areas such as ‘how to prepare your child for boarding school’ and ‘how to help your child pass the 11+ exam’. Run targeted Facebook ads to help drive registrations to the webinar.
20) Spend time defining your specialist areas
Does your school have an exceptional drama department, or is the rowing team picking up trophies left, right and centre? Consider if you have a specialist area that you can create a marketing strategy around.
21) Create an editorial calendar for your blog and social media content
It’s so easy to fall into the trap of posting irregular social media content. We’ve all been there, scrabbling around for content just because we feel we should be posting something. Instead, create an editorial calendar to help you keep on track. Pencil in key dates both for your school, such as open days, Founders Day etc, but also schedule in content around key marketing days such as National Science Day or World Book Day.
22) Create a YouTube content strategy
YouTube is regularly underused as a channel. Often video content is put there as no one knows what to do with it, and it’s not optimised or even labelled clearly. Consider a YouTube strategy of creating high-quality video content that gives a view of life at your private school.
23) Make sure Google Analytics and Google Search Console are set up on your site
Always ensure from the get-go that you’ve got both Google Analytics and Google Search Console set up. Google Analytics is a fantastic tool to track simple data such as visitors to your site, but also how visitors move through your site and take certain actions (such as downloading a prospectus). Google Search Console will show the terms people search to come through to your site – really useful for your SEO strategy.
24) Use A/B testing on your email campaigns to measure their effectiveness
Get into the practice of always A/B testing your email campaigns. This can be amending subject lines, visuals, and the content you’re including in the email body. Keep A/B testing a variety of emails so you start to paint a picture of what types of content and subject lines resonate with your audience.
>> Read our blog: 9 ways video can boost school admissions
25) Create a segmented email list
Don’t just send your email campaigns to everyone on your list, make sure to always work with a segmented list. Consider segments such as alumni, current parents, prospective parents and current students.
26) Grow your email list with lead magnets such as a downloadable prospectus
Building email lists can be hard. No longer does a ‘sign up to our newsletter’ mechanism work. You have to give value to get people to part with their email details. Lead magnets such as your school prospectus are an easy way to get contact details, but consider what other content is enticing. Guides, checklists, and webinar replays are all ways to grow your email list.
27) Test out new subject lines for your email marketing campaigns
Email subject lines can make or break an email campaign. Consider what makes you open emails and why. Always ensure your email subject lines are clear whilst also demonstrating the value of what’s inside.
28) Add a heat mapping tool to your website
If your site isn’t converting well, or you feel it could be converting better, then adding a heat mapping tool is a great way to see where users are dropping off. Companies such as Hotjar and Crazy Egg are well-known tools and usually offer a free trial period.
29) Analyse Queries on your Google Search Console to help guide keywords to target
Google Search Console contains a hive of data around what keywords to target. On the ‘queries’ tab, you will see the keywords someone has typed into Google, and your site has shown in the search results. This will help you build a picture of keywords to target in your SEO campaign.
30) Clearly identify your target personas
Fully building out your target persona is a great way to really dig deep into who you are targeting. Beyond simple demographics such as age, gender, location etc, consider elements such as what they like to read, what their hobbies are, and social media channels of choice. This will help you determine how you target them.
31) Ensure your website is optimised for mobile
Ensuring your website is optimised for mobile is a key SEO ranking factor. But you also want to ensure prospective parents/students have a good experience when viewing your website on a mobile. A poor experience could lead them to bounce and not return.
32) Sign up for journalist enquiries
Journalists are always looking for content. Subscribe to sites such as Editorielle, Haro or Response Source to receive journalist enquiries. Research journalists at local magazines/newspapers or publications such as Tatler and follow them on Twitter, setting up notifications for when they tweet.
33) Consider school vehicle branding
Vehicle branding can be a great way to build brand awareness. If you have vehicles at your school, whether that’s minibuses or cars used by teams onsite, consider putting your school’s logo on the side.
34) Publish student video testimonials
When parents are researching a private school for their child, they’re looking for continual signals that the children at the school enjoy their time there. By publishing student video testimonials, you can give an insight into what students enjoy at the school. Video testimonials are even better than written testimonials as they are more trustworthy.
35) Hire a videographer to capture key events and help you build a content library
Video content is a fantastic way to show prospective students what life is like at your school. By hiring a videographer for key events such as school plays, Founders Day, sporting events etc, you will start to build a library of footage that you can use across your website and social media content.
36) Upload your promotional school video as your Facebook page header
A video on your Facebook page is a brilliant way to bring it to life and give users a great glimpse into behind the scenes of your school.
37) Create playlists on your YouTube channel to focus on different areas of your school
When uploading content to your YouTube, aim to give it some structure. Consider what parents/students may want to know when they’re researching your school. Perhaps they’re interested in your drama department and are looking for videos of your rendition of Romeo & Juliet, or maybe they’d like to see the extra-curricular activities available. Creating separate playlists allows them to find what they’re looking for easily.
38) Ensure you have ‘trust signals’ on your website
Trust signals are a really important part of a website and can help enormously to improve conversion. These can be examples of awards, accreditations, testimonials and video interviews with key members.
39) Interview your department heads on film
Video interviews with your department heads will help prospective parents to see who will be teaching their children and what priorities they have for their departments. We always recommend using a professional school video production company for these types of interviews, to ensure you get a well-produced result.
40) Brainstorm prospective parent’s questions and create blog content that answers their queries
When looking for a private school, parents will have a whole host of questions. They’ll be wondering when they might need to apply, how to ensure their child passes the 11+, what they might need to prepare if aiming for a scholarship, plus much more. Brainstorm each and every question and write blog content that answers these queries.
A film for Blundell’s School, shot by the Small Films team
41) Add your school to the Independent School Directory lists
There are a variety of Independent School Directory lists that you can feature your private school.
Take note that it’s likely that you will have to pay to be listed.
42) Create a video to show future parents what their child can expect at your school
Highlight departments, show footage of the grounds, and consider interviewing students, the headteacher and department heads for a rounded view of your school. This video can be used in Open Day campaigns, plus it’s a great sales tool on your website.
43) Analyse your website navigation for user experience
Often school websites will have a lot of information that they want to portray about life at their school. It can be easy to build a navigation where users aren’t clear on where to go or miss key elements that a prospective parent/student needs to know. Draw out your menu navigation and look at competitors to check you’re putting your best foot forward.
44) Use Screaming Frog to check that no page is more than three clicks away
Screaming Frog is a great tool to check what pages you have on your site. The tool also helps you check the click depth, showing that no page takes more than three clicks to get to.
45) Check any Facebook/Instagram/Google ads send a parent to a dedicated landing page that is in line with what they would expect.
If you’re running any ads to your school website, then always make sure that they’re landing on a page that the user would expect. For example, if you’re targeting searches around ‘sporty private schools’, you want to make sure the user is landing on a page that demonstrates how good your school is at sport, and isn’t talking about your drama department.
A video for Eton College’s Orwell Award, shot by the Small Films team
46) Maintain a blog and produce content that is valuable to parents
So often, brands have blogs where they’re writing content for the sake of it. Whenever you write a blog, make sure it adds value to your reader. Will it help a user take a particular action? Will the content be evergreen? Can existing content be repurposed?
47) Create a prospective parent journey map to understand how they may interact with your school
It can be really useful to map out how a prospective parent might find your school. Is it through a Google Search, did they see Outdoor advertisements, or were they served a Facebook ad? Map out the journey they might take so you can see where you can make improvements.
48) Identify what objections prospective parents/students may have to registering with your school
It’s a big decision choosing which private school to go to, and throughout this process, parents might have certain objections. Do they think you’re too big, so their child won’t be well enough looked after? Is the school lacking in extracurricular activities? Delve into what these objections might be and create content and messaging that helps to resolve these objections.
49) Aim to build an online community for your school/college through social media
When creating social media content aim to build a community. Whether it’s alumni or current students, you want students to engage with posts, to feel like they want to share and comment because they identify with what is being said.
50) Invest in good quality content
Investing in good quality content is a must. Whether that’s a beautifully designed prospectus, a school film or high-quality photographs – if they’re well produced, you can use them time and time again.
51) Ensure your admission process is clearly communicated
One of the key pieces of information a prospective parent will want to know when they’re considering your private school is what is the admission process. Ensure this is a clear navigation from your top menu and that all key dates and requirements are clearly communicated.
52) Run a social media campaign around a specific topic
Is your school starting to perform brilliantly in sport? Consider a social media campaign promoting this. Consider Facebook/Instagram ads targeting those who’ve visited the sports page on the website.
53) Ensure you have strong messaging around your extracurricular activities as well as academic
When choosing a school, parents will be highly interested in extracurricular activities as well as the academic aspect of your school. Consider how you bring this into your marketing, whether that’s on your YouTube channel, dedicated website pages, social media content or email marketing.
54) Create a video interviewing the headteacher and their vision for your private school
The Head Teacher can be a huge selling point for your school. As a parent, you want to ensure they have your child’s best interests at heart and that they have a strong vision for the future performance of the school. By capturing their ambitions on camera, you can feature the film on your website and other marketing materials.
55) Enter independent school awards
Winning awards is not only a great way to boost morale, but it’s also an excellent way to showcase to prospective parents that their child will receive an outstanding education at your school. Even if you’re just shortlisted, this is still a great bit of PR, plus excellent content to broadcast on your social media channels. If you go on to win the award, then make sure to proudly place the awards ceremony logo on your website.
About Small Films
Small Films is a school video production company based in London. We’ve shot school films for some of the top private schools, including Eton College, St Margaret’s Prep School and Gayhurst. If you’d like to speak to one of the team, then do drop us a line.