Online Marketing

Marketing Education | How can you leverage online marketing to grow your institution’s brand value?

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A short guide to unleash the power of online marketing to grow your preschool, school or college to get more admissions in an affordable budget

Whether you run a school, preschool or college in India, you would have realized the importance of building a strong brand that parents and students aspire to be a part of. Maybe more so in recent times. This short guide is meant for leaders of schools, preschools & colleges to have a deeper understanding of how a well thought out online marketing plan can help you with growing your educational institution.

You might ask, why online marketing?

Well, to put it as simply as we can, Online Marketing allows you to 

  • Reach more customers,
  • Target your customers more accurately & more efficiently,
  • Measure your success in real time, and
  • Save time and costs.

One way to look at growing a brand online is to grow its underlying digital assets. To build a strong brand, you have an option to choose and invest in a set of digital marketing assets that need to be nurtured and grown over a period of time. These assets give tremendous returns if they are planned and managed well.

Your Institute’s Website

A good website is the cornerstone of your online marketing plan. One simple way to look at your website is a place where people come to see, interact and engage with your institution. A good website would bring forth all the key aspects of your institution that you want your visitors to know about. 

Just like your real world address, your website should also be designed keeping the following points in mind:

Designed keeping the user in mind

A good responsive website should deliver a compelling experience that engages your visitors in a way they take actions as per your objectives. 

If your aim is to  increase admissions the website should be designed in a manner to allow parents / students to easily consume the relevant information and apply for a seat. 

If your aim is to engage with your stakeholders such as parents, students and the community in general, then the website should be designed to spur conversations and engagement.

You can choose to use any of the cloud-based services that allow you to build using standard yet customizable website design templates or build fully ground-up bespoke websites. It’s like an apartment that you can choose as per your budget versus building a house of your own.  Building a bespoke website might cost more but like building a house, you can pretty much do anything you desire. On the other hand, a standard template restricts any major structural changes but still gives you limited functionality that serves a short term purpose.

Content is Key

Website content can be multiple forms – text, images & videos. 

The text content should usually be written by someone who understands the brand & consumers. Who better than yourself? You should talk about what the institution stands for and in a manner that can be easily understood by your audience. You may require some professional help in articulating your brand’s story but it is your story to tell and you should ensure that the essence is kept intact.

Images are a strong tool to build the story. You know how the saying goes “A picture is worth a 1000 words”. It is always advisable to show real life good quality images. A quick 1 day photoshoot to capture all the key elements of your institute is worth the investment. If you’re not in a position to do that, you can rely on stock images (images available for purchase online). Though there are multiple free stock image sources available online It’s always a challenge to find suitable high quality images online that match the setting of your institute. In that case some paid stock image websites do have a suitable collection of photoshoots done in Indian schools and colleges. If a picture is worth 1000 words, a good quality 1 minute Video is worth 1.8 Million words. That’s 10 times more than the number of words in the English language. Hyperboles aside, as per a recent report by HubSpot, stated that over two-thirds (68%) said a short video would be best, way ahead of text-based articles (15%), infographics (4%) presentations and pitches (4%) eBooks and manuals (3%). Safe to say, videos are one of the best ways to communicate to your audience.

We see a lot of schools who create a website yet leave it unattended. Incorrect or old information on a website is a big turn off for the visitors. 

The Tech Stuff

Your website developer should know how to create a fully optimized website. By Fully Optimized, what we mean is that there are certain aspects of the website design and hidden content that allows your website to feature higher on Google search results done by your audience. More on this in the next step. 

A website’s speed is a key hygiene factor. Even with increasing internet connection speeds across India, it’s off putting to go to a website that takes ages to load. 

Search is King

Online search is one of the biggest sources of web traffic. Using Google to search for preschools, schools or colleges is one of the key steps for most parents and it is an absolute must to figure in the results. This trend, though quite prevalent in the urban areas, is rapidly increasing in rural India as well. 

To be present on a Google search page 1 isn’t easy. 

You can either take the time and effort to build your reputation through organic measures called SEO (Search Engine Optimization) or take a quicker route of putting ads on the result page using SEM (Search Engine Marketing). While SEO is about ensuring your website has certain key elements that a search engine like Google assigns a certain value to so that it can show the most relevant search results to a user. SEM, on the other hand, is using Google’s native advertising tools to push ads on a user’s screen based on their search keywords.

Either way, if your institute doesn’t feature in the top results for your targeted audience’s search, you are losing a lot of possible admission enquiries that would be swept up by other competing institutes.

A few examples of the most common search queries parents use are ‘best schools in <city/town> name’, ‘CBSE schools near me’, ‘Preschools with Daycare’, Top ‘Architecture Colleges in India’ and so on.

Optimizing your SEO & SEM typically requires someone who has a keen understanding of the Google SEO & SEM tools and has a proven track record of running successful marketing campaigns.

Social Media Accounts

Out of India’s almost 1.36 Billion population, almost 627 Million (50%) users are internet users. And of these almost 50%, i.e. around 300 Million are active social media users. That is 1 out of 4 persons is using social media platforms actively. Your social media portfolio should be a mix of various platforms that help you engage with your targeted audience in the most effective manner. Before figuring out what to say to them through social media, knowing where they usually hang out is critical. 

In our experience, the best platforms to use for marketing your institute are:

Facebook commands a majority share of Indian social media users. Its penetration is still high in urban markets but due to the sheer size of the rural internet users, it is still the No. 1 social media platform in India. Facebook allows a pretty neat set of tools to allow you to target your audience based on geography, age, language, interests and so on. We see the ROI (Return on Investment) on facebook as being one of the highest.

Whatsapp, technically a social messaging platform, is an excellent tool to initiate conversations and engage your users more actively free of cost. It allows you to share content in multiple formats with users individually and also a way to connect with your existing and targeted user base. Schools & colleges can create Whatsapp Business accounts that provide certain tools to help manage the conversations more professionally.

Instagram & YouTube would be the next 2 choices, especially for preschools and schools to engage with parents of children aged between 2 – 10 years. Instagram should be a straight-forward choice if your users are based in urban areas. Both these platforms allow you to leverage the image and video content you generate in your institution.

LinkedIn is still a dwarf in terms of overall user base in India but it provides a brilliant use case to connect with professionals whether they are parents, teachers, alumni or other organizations. An absolute must if you’re a higher educational institute. 

We hope this helps! Is there anything other education marketing topic you would like for us to write, drop in your suggestions at support@orangeslates.com 

If you need more help in marketing your preschool, school or college, please contact our Education Marketing Experts at support@orangeslates.com 

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