Is online marketing the way to go?

Should you be marketing your school online? In one word: yes.

The very fact that you went online to find out how to market your school shows the extent to which people ‘live’ online and rely on digital sources for information. And, for marketers, digital channels – banner ads, email and WhatsApp messaging, ads on Facebook, YouTube, Instagram and LinkedIn – offer a unique opportunity to target your campaign for maximum effectivity. The more data you have about who you want to talk to, and what the message for each specific audience should be, the more successful your campaign promises to be.

But, that’s not to say that you should ignore ‘traditional’ marketing platforms – like print, radio and TV ads, billboards, flyers and posters. 

Of course, budget plays a big role when deciding where to focus your marketing efforts. So too does understanding the benefits and limitations of each channel and platform in relation to your intended audience.


When done professionally, digital marketing could incur costs for copywriting, design and a google AdWords strategy. But if the strategy is sound, you’ll be talking directly to your target audience (and whoever they share your content with). It is possible to get free online exposure – for example with a Facebook post that goes viral – but this exposure will be the exception rather than the norm.

Traditional marketing channels have high outwork costs, like printing and production, and you also have to ‘buy’ the airtime or space in the publication. One way of gaining a cost-effective magazine, newspaper, radio or TV presence is via public relations. A good PR campaign will get exposure for your school for free, but the flip side is that you’ll probably have to contract with a PR or media relations firm to achieve this publicity. You will also need newsworthy stories to pitch to the media. 

However, ‘editorial endorsement’ carries a lot more credibility with consumers than straight-up advertising does. In fact, the industry values PR coverage at three times what it would cost to buy advertising in any given publication – whether in print, radio or online.

Time is money

Whether you handle your marketing internally or outsource the nitty-gritty, you need to make sure that you’re getting results. Don’t think that keeping everything in-house is being penny-wise – if you’re not achieving your goals, this approach is actually pound-foolish.

Digital marketing is time-intensive. It’s also a professional skill. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that this is something that can be done as an ager-thought; or that anyone with internet access can do it. 

In the same vein, traditional advertising also requires professional input and skills. If you decide to incorporate traditional elements into your school’s marketing campaign, you should have this responsibility over to an agency that ‘gets you’ and will develop content that serves your strategy and is simple, cohesive, and impactful.

Who you’re talking to

All the research you’ve done should tell you about your audiences, which include new parents, teachers, the community, local businesses, and your alumni. You should know how old they are, what their interests are, what publications they read and what radio stations they listen to, where they go online, who they consider influential… And this information should help you figure out how best to reach them.

Make every cent count… Twice

The immediate benefit of flighting elements of your marketing campaign online is that it’s easy to measure effectiveness. You can very easily access metrics like cost-per-click, the cost of getting one new student signed up, and how many people viewed a specific ad and for how long. If someone click on an ad or link to view more info or send you an email, it’s also simple to track where the click came from.

Traditional media can supply distribution and readership statistics, but these are difficult to quantify but one way of measuring take-up in traditional media is with unique SMS numbers linked to campaigns: “SMS ‘myschool’ to 12345 for more info”.

It’s important to consider that not all elements of a marketing campaign can – or should – contain a call to action. A comprehensive, cohesive campaign will work to position your school brand top-of-mind so that, down the line, when parents need to make a decision about a child’s future, your school seems like the obvious choice.

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Overall communication between the consumer and an organisation.

The consumer being exposed to the brand and product directly.

Easy measurement allowing businesses to know the reach that their marketing is making.

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