Tag Archives for " increase student enrollment "

Increase Student Enrollment and Retention- Retaining More Families

8 HACKS TO INCREASE STUDENT ENROLLMENT & RETENTION

Hack #8

Retain More Families

A key component to overall enrollment growth is retention.  The more students that you are able to retain year after year, the greater your potential to continue growing as opposed to staying even or declining. Someone once said, “It is easier to keep a seat that fill a seat!”  We couldn’t agree more. How do your parents’ feel about your school?

Our final hack, involves retaining families by establishing a feedback loop.  Such an effort allows leaders to gain insights into individual family concerns and how your school can address those concerns prior to families exploring alternative options.

Many neglect this critical area as in many cases, retention sometimes can feel that it requires little attention beyond sending a notice to families on key deadlines and basic expectations.  Early knowledge of families’ satisfaction and intentions can greatly enhance the ability of school leaders to quickly address concerns and continue providing a top quality education and environment.

Are there processes in place for your parents to provide constructive criticism without experiencing a backlash? Do your parents feel that their opinions matter?  Besides an anonymous suggestion box for ideas, a great way to understand the ongoing needs of your families is to develop and implement a survey program. Perhaps a survey that is linked with their annual enrollment and registration will provide feedback from parents as to what they feel very strongly about.  Although the anonymous suggestion box is good for those parents who may feel threatened and singled out by their comments, a survey associated with a student is more meaningful; because if there is a legitimate concern, leadership should be involved and the issue remedied directly with the parent in a timely manner.  When a parent knows that the school took the time to resolve their issue, they become advocates and cheerleaders for the school.


There are many different ways to design and execute a retention program.  A streamlined way would be to incorporate a survey into your re-enrollment process. The video below demonstrates a great retention program framework.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GJf5WIvDbYQ




Increase Student Enrollment- Reduce Barriers to Entry

8 HACKS TO INCREASE STUDENT ENROLLMENT & RETENTION

Hack #6

Reduce Barriers to Entry

With robust marketing activities in place, we are positioned to address the aspects of the enrollment operation that can deter prospective families and applicants.  Hack #6 involves reducing the barriers to entry.

With robust marketing activities in place, we are positioned to address the aspects of the enrollment operation that can deter prospective families and applicants.  Hack #6 involves reducing the barriers to entry.

With the explosion of charter schools, many private schools have experienced a decrease in applications and enrollment.  For some parents, the mission, philosophy, and reputation of your private school is sufficient reason for sending their children to your school, but for many other parents, reservations can include: the cost of a private school education, qualifications of teachers, lack of resources, outside impressions, unflattering online presence, cumbersome application processes and outdated facilities or programs. So the question is how do private schools compete with this new rising “public charter school” alternative?


As we outlined in identifying your strengths and weaknesses, it was noted that one of the most important things private schools need to do is highlight strengths to demonstrate to prospective families that your school is right for them.  Having a structure in place to directly discuss the needs of families is optimal but, what if families do not visit as a result of one of the reservations stated above? In this edition, we’ll provide some tangible ways to reduce some of the more common barriers to entry.  


Professional Online Presence

In Hack #2:Know your Audience Part 1 - External Promotion we discussed the importance of knowing your audience and determining if your audience is able to find you.  Expanding on this concept, once your audience is able to locate you, it is important that you present them with a mindful professional experience.  Social media pages should strictly consist of postings relevant school activities and should reflect the spirit of your school community well. Most importantly, your website should communicate a professional presence.  Beyond simple grammar and clarity, the online experience you guide visitors through should clearly and comfortably showcase items of interest including admissions procedures, tuition information, event calendars and staff/leadership listings.  As people reach pages of interest, it is important to provided digital touchpoints to submit information or reach out for assistance. Too often, school websites go many years without significant updates or redesign and without modern tools, visitors are forced to receive information in fragments and often have to take extra, manual steps to receive responses or answers to questions.  When evaluating your web site, imagine what an appealing journey would look like and work to apply those features to ensure an optimal visitor experience that promotes high value inquiries.


Perception of Exclusivity

A common perception of non-public schools is that they can often be elitist and unsympathetic to the needs of students/families that lack a high level of expendable income.  While private schools correctly desire to be viewed as high quality and exceptional, the idea of being overly exclusive can overshadow the exceptionalism. As we laid out in Hack #3: Know your Audience Part 2 - Internal Promotion, to combat this misconception, it is important to communicate clearly through your marketing efforts that yours is an open, welcoming environment where all families are encouraged to participate.


Responsiveness

Building on the concept of professionalism and welcoming, as families inquire about your school either through digital means or via in-person events, it is essential to respond and follow up on their questions and needs in a timely manner.  As parents evaluate the best schools for their children, they require a great deal of trust in the leadership and operation of the school. If school leaders are not timely in their responses, it is very easy for that poor impression to lead to disinterest in your school.


Streamlined, Secure Application Process.

The application process can be daunting for new families. .  How is your application process from the parents’ perspective? Is your school asking parents to “jump through hoops” or complete manual paper work?  This is an immediate red flag to parents. Hack #2, Understanding Your Audience characterized your “customer”. Old processes and forms for new generations of parents are regarded as archaic and unacceptable.  Consider turnkey systems like K-12 online, infosnap and registration gateway to name a few, that not only do your applications and re-registrations online, but will also be able to handle all your forms, recommendations, tuition and other payments during the process.  While there are costs to consider, streamlined processes, including the recommendation process, not only presents a professional online presence and conveys to the parent that your technology is state-of-the-art, but that you value your parents’ time and want to ensure that interaction with your school is managed as efficiently as possible.  Studies have shown that parents prefer the convenience of online payment for fees, items and tuition and also prefer automated tuition processes. For a live example of how this can be achieved at your school, see K-12 Online’s sandbox site and test drive their “new student” application process.




Living your Mission Statement

Another common pain point that parents raise is the complexity of the tuition payment process.  We often hear frustrations that it is difficult to know what parents are paying for, tuition charges are not transparent, or that the management company is insensitive to parents’ current circumstances when it comes to late payments.  Contracting your tuition management out to a third party has its pros and cons. The benefit is it relieves the school of the collection process, being the “bad guy” and it is “free” to the school. By removing direct contact with the school office, some of the human element about your schools relationships with families can be negatively impacted.  By prioritizing a more personal and compassionate approach, both families and schools benefit. Issues can be worked out quickly and efficiently, fulfilling the school’s mission of providing a caring environment.


By critically examining and employing remedies to potential barriers to entry, school leaders can greatly mitigate the risk resulting from poor process and presentation and ensure marketing and enrollment operations are producing the optimal return on effort.






    Increase Student Enrollment and Retention – Advertising

    8 HACKS TO INCREASE STUDENT ENROLLMENT & RETENTION

    Hack #5

    Get Noticed Part 2 - Advertising


    Our 5th Hack explores the landscape of paid advertising.  While this is a continuation from our prior post on getting noticed, it is a complex but effective tactic worthy of a full overview.


    Implementing a paid advertising strategy can be a great way to generate awareness and grow interest in your school.  It can also be a quick way to burn through money with little results.

    Before implementing an advertising strategy, you will want to ensure that you have utilized all the available free resources at your disposal.  We’ve previously touched on these types of resources in past postings on people finding your school and social media tactics.  It’s important to consider that if you have been unable to realize results in your free efforts, you are less likely to see return for the money you invest in paid efforts.

    There are two primary methods for utilizing paid ads online; Paid Search and Social Advertising:

    Paid Search – As previously mentioned in our posting on people finding your school, the primary method for anyone looking to learn about your school or even better, any schools in your area is to utilize a search engine, Google being the most widely used.  There are a number of things you can do to your primary website so that it appears as relevant as possible in respective search results however, there are limits to how easily people will come across your school.  Not everyone searches for things in the same way or uses the same words therefore, a person might search “schools in New York City” where another might search “private schools in New York City” and another may search “catholic schools in New York City”.  

    Depending on how people enter their search criteria, your school could appear or “rank” a number of different ways.  There are things you can do to your site to combat this challenge but most require an experienced web developer to ensure the site is indexed as well as possible for search engines.  A practical way to combat this is by utilizing paid search which effectively allows you to build and show ads based on select keywords that people use to search for schools like yours .  The Google AdWords platform allows you to set up campaigns based on a series of key words you determine. In addition, you can set up different descriptions or ads so that your school can appear with the most optimal message respective of what someone is searching for.  If someone searched for “catholic schools in my area” you could ensure a result appears that includes a description of your school and it’s catholic qualities. If someone searches for “ Pre-K in my area” you could create a different listing that focuses more on the Pre-K qualities.

    As you can see, with your primary website, it’s difficult to be all things to all people at the right moment.  Paid search using Google Adwords allows you to strategically position the benefits of your school in plain view of your target audience at the most critical times.

    If you have not used Google Adwords, please note that there is a difference between Google Adwords and Adwords Express.  Adwords gives you more control, but requires more manual input. Adwords Express uses Google’s search engine expertise to automate and decide where your listing will appear.  This may not be as optimal if you are on a tight budget as it may result in unnecessary clicks on your Adword listing that will eat into your marketing budget.

    Social Advertising – Paid efforts essentially allow you target people in specific geographies, demographics or interest and serve up a specialized post or ad with a message that is relevant to that audience.  Like paid search, it gives you great ability to reach a specific group of people. Unlike paid search, you have no idea what words they are searching for or what needs are front of mind. You are simply trying to identify an audience that is similar to your current customers and deliver a compelling message which they will hopefully find relevance in and click through to your offering.

    There are many tutorial videos and step by step guides offered that can specifically walk you through how to build and launch your ads.  The Facebook business guide is an extremely helpful resource and as you create ads on the platform, it has a lot of great hints along the way to clarify best practices.

    As a practical overview, there are some general areas of focus you’ll want to be mindful of as you identify targets and build ads.

    • Clear call to Action – What do you want people to do? – When they see your ad, what is the action that you want them to take?  Are you asking them to do to much? Does your image and messaging make it easy for them to understand what the next step is or what you want them to do?
      • High quality image or video – You’ll want to ensure that whatever images or videos you use in your ads that they are of a good quality to show your organization in the best light possible.  An image with poor quality (blurry, pixilated) will demonstrate a lack of attention in your effort and could not only reflect poorly on your organization but could cause people to ignore or dismiss your ad entirely.
      • Targets – This is where you will refine who will see your message.  As you will see when you are working in the tool, virtually the entire world is at your disposal and while it might initially seem practical to target everyone in your city, town or county, it’s important to keep in mind that by setting your target too broad, you may invite clicks (which you are paying for) that may not be the right types of prospects, causing you to waste money.  One tactic would be to identify specific groups in your area in which the group members closely match the profiles of existing families and students in your school. This makes it more likely that they will click to your offering and more likely they will proceed towards submitting an application.
      • Budget – Once your are in the setup area, you will eventually reach the area that allows you to set your budget and limits.  There are 2 ways of running ads, on a Cost per Click basis (CPC) or a Cost per Impression basis (CPM based on 1000 impressions).  To clarify further, CPC charges you whenever someone clicks, CPM charges you based on how many people see your ad. The setup tool will provide you with recommended bid estimates.  If you bid on the higher end, your ads will be displayed first, if you bid lower, your ads will appear if/when your competitors budgets are depleted or if they turn their ads off. It can become quite a complex arrangement depending on how competitive your targets are.  When executed well, one can gain a lot of previously unrealized attention.
      • Timing – In keeping with the budget theme, from a set up standpoint, you can set the times you wish for your ads to run in an effort to be the most effective.  You’ll want to be mindful if you are promoting specific events that you don’t allow ads to run beyond the event date as it would be very wasteful. Additionally, you can set a daily budget that prevents you from overspending and allows you evenly allocate your funds over time

      There are certainly many paths you can go down in the world of social media however if you can clarify and simplify your goals, you have great potential to reach a wide audience and demonstrate the value of your organization.

      Both of these tactics are extremely accessible and relatively easy to execute.  Like most things, the devil is in the details of providing clear, relevant messaging and ensuring you target the appropriate audience to achieve the highest conversion possible.  Another great feature is that these platforms provide excellent analytics so that you can quickly determine which efforts are having the desired impact. From these analytics you can take quick action to eliminate or adjust the ads that aren’t working as well as increase your budget on ads that are generating relevant interest in your school. If you have specific challenges that you would like advice on, we may be able to assist. Complete this form with your issue.

      Feel free to ask any general questions in the Comment Section at the bottom of the page.


      Learn How to Increase Student Enrollment and Retention

      8 Hacks to Increase Student Enrollment and Retention

      K12Online increase enrollment

      From our recent email, we realize that private schools' number one concern is keeping student enrollment numbers up and withdrawals down. How is your school doing? K­-12 Online, together with Grow School Enrollment, has co-authored a series of “8 Easy Hacks to Increase Student Enrollment and Retention.” This FREE e-series will answer the marketing principles of WHO, WHAT, WHY and HOW as it relates to your school.

      What You'll Learn

      Over the course of 8 weeks, we will be covering the following:

      • Getting Started – Understanding the Value of Your School
      • Know Your Audience Part 1 – External Promotion
      • Know Your Audience Part 2 – Internal Promotion
      • Get Noticed Part 1 – Communications
      • Get Noticed Part 2 – Advertising
      • Reduce Barriers to Entry
      • Build Trusting Relationships
      • Retain More Families

      What You'll Get

      • Advice from experts in this field.
      • Explanation on how to effectively market your school and the reasons behind those marketing strategies.

      • Examples of easy ways to create brand identity
      • Tips for using all forms of media, including FREE and readily available options to reach your audience.
      • Ideas on how to adapt to each unique audience to appeal to their interests and desires.

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