Students are what make a school a school. That's why enrolling students is arguably the most important initiative a charter school takes on every year. While class is in session just nine months of the year, staff are focused on enrollment all year round. Charter schools offer a more niched learning experience, so maximizing student enrollment is highly dependent on productive program marketing and a streamlined enrollment process for your admissions team.
Here are eight tips to ensure that your school has an effective and successful enrollment strategy.
1. Market Your School
Families can't enroll their children in your charter school if they don't know about it! It may seem obvious, but it's important to ensure your teams effectively market your institution to create awareness of your program offerings to nearby communities.
There are two main forms of marketing to consider: outbound and inbound.
2. Focus on Inbound Marketing
Inbound marketing means building marketing materials that people can find either through general searches or intentional searches, like a social media page or a website, or a blog. It's called inbound because people must enter your digital or physical space to encounter your marketing collateral.
There are many ways to increase student enrollment through inbound marketing. Creating awareness, providing program information, and sharing success stories are a few ways that schools can entice families that are looking for the right school for their students. Leveraging different assets like blog articles and social media posts through a variety of channels creates recognition and gives you the ability to share your school’s story in your own words.
3. Don't Forget Outbound Marketing
As Chief Operating Officer of Visions in Education Tom Tafoya points out, you have to make sure your marketing is versatile to ensure its reach.
Outbound marketing is when a company promotes itself by reaching out through various channels instead of relying on customers to find them. It includes advertising campaigns actively pushing a message. It's what you might think of as more traditional marketing; outbound marketing includes email campaigns, television, radio, and print ads.
Tafoya suggests using outbound marketing to promote your school if you think these ads will reach a part of your audience that inbound marketing won't. For example, families without social media accounts won’t see your posts or paid ads, but might notice your school’s promotional booth at a community event and join the group of families that are taking your charter school into consideration.
Scribbles customers have found success marketing their programs by asking to add program and contact information to city utility bills. Almost all families receive water or electricity bills and taking advantage of this vast advertisement opportunity can boost your marketing reach.
4. Promote Your School with SEO
The key to effective inbound marketing is SEO, which stands for Search Engine Optimization.
As mentioned in the previous section, inbound marketing works through both general and intentional searches. The way to ensure that people who are typing general questions about schools into a search engine find your specific website or social media accounts is by publishing an abundance of content related to things that people typically search for. High-quality content sends Google signals about your site and helps it rank in search results. This is what connects inbound marketing materials with potential new students.
5. Make Sure Your Inbound Marketing Is Mobile-Friendly
Nowadays, the majority of Google searches are done on mobile devices. This means if you manage a website for your school, it should be easy to read and navigate on a smartphone or tablet. Ensuring a good user experience for your audience is necessary to keep their attention on your digital platform, and an adaptable site is key to maximizing UX.
By building a mobile-friendly website, you consider the diversity of your audience. Some parents may not have easy access to a laptop or desktop computer and may depend on their phones for online tasks. One of the reasons charter schools were created was to address inequity in public education. It's important to remember that your charter school appeals to all different types of families.
6. Let Students and Families Market Your School
We mentioned testimonials above as a potential asset of inbound marketing. The reason testimonials work well is twofold.
First, we can share them in video form, and video is the medium customers prefer to engage with when learning about new products or services. Video comes with the bonus of being shareable across multiple social media platforms and on your website.
Second, school evaluations from students and their families mean so much more to interested parties than your school's professional presentation of itself. Opinions from children and adults about the school and why they love it have a stronger connection to interested families.
7. Be Reliable & Communicative
If a family stumbles upon your website, social media, newsletter, etc., and takes the step to reach out with questions or interest, you need to follow up with them. After the hard work you've put into marketing, you want to nurture potential enrollment leads and remember to respond to every inquiry in a timely manner.
The most practical solution is to have staff in place to address these queries and requests to ensure leads don’t fall through the cracks. Their job goes beyond answering questions–staff have the ability to build relationships by providing resources that describe the school's mission and showing genuine interest in what’s best for potential families of your school.
8. Enrollment Process Should Be Online
Once a family has decided to enroll their child in your charter school, they should feel as though the next steps are easy. With ScribEnroll, your process will be streamlined, secure and accessible from any device with access to the internet.
Greenville Technical Charter High School implemented ScribEnroll software to enroll their students in grades 9-12. Registrar Dot Fetters speaks to the effectiveness of ScribEnroll by sharing that, "Scribbles worked fast to get us up and started so our parents could complete online enrollment the first week of August...We have over 97% of families that have completed the online enrollment, and in my previous experience, normally this would be around 60% completed paper copies."
In addition to the increase in family engagement, Greenville Tech has also saved time and paper with Scribbles Software’s enrollment and lottery tools. It’s important that the solutions charter schools implement are helpful for both the staff and families completing student enrollment.
Enrollment means more than just enrolling new and returning students each year. Enrollment is also about attracting new families who might feel your school is a wonderful fit and who will add to your school community. Growing enrollment numbers means investing in marketing opportunities and finding ways to best share your school's story with families who are looking for the ideal place for their children to learn.
After you've used the tips above to attract new students, ScribEnroll ensures that the enrollment process itself is accessible, convenient, and efficient.
Learn how districts across the country are transitioning to online enrollment processes by downloading The PreK-12 Technology Guide to Enrollment, Choice, and Lottery Management through filling out the form below.
Download The PreK-12 Technology Guide to Enrollment, Choice, and Lottery Management