Before reading further, ask yourself just one question -
“What strategy does our school use to attract parents of potential students?”
With increasing competition in the education space, being the most active advertiser isn’t just enough.
You need to relook at your marketing strategy to increase enrolments and get admissions in a more comprehensive manner.
Traditional media, the ones that most schools in UAE use, is dangerously immeasurable, expensive and at times, provides minimal ROI.
Here's a reality check on traditional marketing (interruption) vs Inbound Marketing:
But, the book doesn’t end here.
What if there was a marketing strategy that provided long-term results, ranked high on Google’s organic search results (ad-free searches) and positioned your school as one of the most trusted educational institutions in the UAE?
It does exist, and I'm going to tell you everything about it in this article.
Inbound Marketing for Schools in Dubai - The modern-day marketing strategy for educational institutions in the UAE.
Inbound Marketing is simply defined as, “attracting potential customers using content on your website.”
This content is mainly in the form of blogs, Google-friendly website copy and free content offers (such as ebooks, pdfs, checklists, etc)
Inbound Marketing is a powerful marketing idea to help increase enrolments each year by letting your school get found on Google when parents of potential students are searching for phrases like “best CBSE schools in Dubai” or “CBSE Schools in UAE”.
Brendan Schneider, the Director of Admissions at Sewickley Academy reinforces the idea for inbound marketing for schools in a very logical manner.
He states that, when prospective families begin searching for the best schools on Google, and if your school doesn’t show up in the results, it’s as good as not operating a school at all!
Being the head of UAE-based school, you’re aware of the research that parents undertake to find the best second home for their child. As effective as word-of-mouth may be, the next thing parents flock to is Google.
Let’s take the case of an Indian family (CBSE is the arguably the most preferred curriculum in this case).
They’re looking to enrol their child in an Indian CBSE curriculum school in Dubai.
What do you think they’re going to search on Google?
Chances are that they’re searching for terms like “CBSE schools in Dubai” or “Indian schools Dubai”.
Here’s a screenshot from Google’s own Keyword Research tool.
Look at the number of monthly searches for both these terms:
A whopping 1,900 searches a month for the term “CBSE Schools in Dubai”.
So, if your CBSE school isn’t showing up for this term, then you’re missing out on a lot of opportunities on how to increase admissions for your school in Dubai.
But that’s alright. The sooner you realize this, the better.
Now is the time to relook at your marketing plan for school enrolment.
So let’s begin with understanding the process.
The Inbound Methodology
Hubspot, a leading advisor and provider of complete inbound marketing software has created this chart to understand the inbound marketing process.
This is also known as the buyer’s journey or the journey your potential customers go through until they make a purchase.
In this case, your potential customers are parents of schoolchildren and the end result you expect is a successful admission of their ward.
Have a look at this:
This illustration demonstrates the process which a parent goes through in order to find the right school for their child in Dubai.
In order to put this into practice, you need to create something called buyer personas.
Although you already know who your target audience is (parents), the more specific you get with it, the better.
For example, instead of simply declaring your target audience as “parents”, document them based on their demographics, interests, pain points and other triggers.
Here’s an example of a buyer persona. Look at the finer details that have been identified in order to refine the marketing message.
By creating buyer personas, you will be able to create content that best resonates with your target audience, parents in this case.
Remember, your school’s inbound marketing efforts will be futile if you don’t have well-defined personas.
Your content will be about them, around them and for them so make sure you put them into place in order to make your school’s marketing strategy easier & more targeted.
This content will then be used on your website, social media, blog articles, marketing materials and everywhere you plan to communicate with parents of potential students.
The objective here is to get found online by solving their problems and answering frequently-asked-questions prevalent among your target personas.
For example, if you're a private school in Jumeirah, you should be building up your content around the keyword phrases like “private schools in Jumeirah”, or “CBSE Schools in Jumeirah”.
By adding these keywords to your inbound marketing strategy, you are increasing the chances of getting found when residents of Jumeirah and nearby areas are looking for you.
According to a research by Wordstream, 72% of consumers who did a local search visited a store within five miles.
To make your buyer personas super-effective, focus on families living in different areas across Dubai or UAE.
The next step is to create something called a…
Easily created in Microsoft Excel, your content strategy is the most vital document for your inbound marketing efforts.
It will contain elements such as:
- Your chosen buyer personas;
- Buyer’s journey process;
- The right content for each stage;
- Keywords to focus on while creating each content piece;
- Content offers for each blog article (ebook, case study, etc.) &
- Options for blog titles;
If you don’t create a content strategy, your marketing plan for school admissions is going nowhere.
Not only will your marketing team feel lost, they will also waste a lot of time pondering over random ideas to write content on.
Here’s the perfect example of a content strategy document for your reference. You can use this structure to create your school's inbound marketing strategy.
Don’t worry about getting it 100% right in the beginning.
It’s a learning process, and you’ll notice trends in the behavior of your website visitors which will help you optimise your strategy from time to time.
Just keep an eye out for the website traffic figures, conversions (in your case, admission enquiries) and organic reach.
You can use Google Analytics or Hubspot’s simplified marketing dashboard to view all marketing activity in one place.
And since it’s a marketing & automation tool exclusively built for inbound marketing, you’ll be delighted at how easily you can create campaigns, monitor & optimise them within a single software.
Once your content strategy is ready, the next step is ..
Promoting & Advertising your Fresh Content
You’ve understood the inbound methodology, created buyer personas & have started creating content as per your strategy document.
What happens next?
Your website won’t magically appear on Google overnight and neither will your admission desk be flooded with enquiries.
That’s why you need to promote the content you’ve created.
You should do this 2 ways:
- Organic Promotion; &
- Paid Promotion
To get found organically, without any significant investment, optimise each page for search engines. You can learn all about it in my article about elements to help your website rank higher.
That will cover all modifications you need to make on your blog articles and website content for getting found online.
Basically, you need to do the following activities to promote your content organically:
- Search Engine Optimization - Read my guide here;
- Email Marketing - Here are 9 reasons why email marketing is the best promotional tool;
- Approach other blogs and writers in the same niche to promote your content on their social media & relevant articles; &
- Guest post on others’ blogs;
On the other hand,
Paid promotion will be an essential part of your private school marketing strategy in this region.
It will involve a significant monetary investment in the form of advertising budget, but to start off, you don’t need to splurge.
Focus on paid advertising activities such as:
- Sponsored posts on Facebook (focus on parents in your target audience). Although you can promote your blog articles to increase readership, make sure to advertise your free content offers such as ebooks, checklists etc. to attract more interest;
- Google Adwords - Here are 3 types of lead generation campaigns you can run on Google;
A research by Pew Research Center states that:
63% of Facebook and Twitter users say each platform serves as a source for news about events and issues outside the realm of friends and family.
This implies that you need to stop depending solely on word of mouth and build a social presence for your school.
Don’t get overwhelmed by too many moving parts in your school’s marketing strategy. Instead, follow a lean business model and eliminate marketing ideas that fail to provide sufficient.
Test what works and replicate that approach.
One final advice:
Make sure to be active with your buyer personas and social media community online. Answer their questions, publish informative blog articles consistently and optimize your website to make it easily navigable.