My journey with inbound marketing at my school begin in 2008 and unfortunately the enrollment climate hasn’t gotten much better in the last 5 years.
With marketing at schools continuing to be a challenge I’m surprised that my marketing predictions for school from 2011 are still germane today.
I honestly expected more schools to have transitioned to inbound marketing in the last 2 years.
After thinking about my predictions from 2011 and contemplating where school marketing has been, and where I see it going, I offer my 5 school marketing predictions for 2013.
1. Schools will continue to ignore Inbound Marketing
I mentioned this in 2011 and still feel strongly about the fact that schools will not embrace inbound marketing in 2013.
If traditional marketing is working for your school then by all means continue what you are doing but if you’ve seen your enrollment decline, inquiries fall, and attrition rise please give inbound marketing a try – start here by reading this book: Inbound Marketing: Get Found Using Google, Social Media, and Blogs.
2. School Leadership will be the reason for ignoring Inbound Marketing
I’ve thought about potential reasons why schools haven’t transitioned to inbound marketing and can’t put a finger on a definitive reason but I have an idea. I think that school administration/leadership has been holding back the people who would actually implement an inbound marketing strategy. Here is my reasoning – I’ve received tons of emails and messages from admissions, communications, and advancement professionals about utilizing inbound marketing at their school but in the end these schools haven’t been able to fully implement inbound marketing. From the enthusiasm in the emails and the sophistication of their questions I can tell the people charged with implementing the marketing strategy at their schools are ready but something is holding them back. I think that something is a lack of understanding and support from the school administration. I don’t think this scenario will change in 2013.
3. Schools will continue to not make data driven marketing decisions
Measuring your traditional marketing efforts is difficult at best and impossible at worst – school marketers historically seemed to make decisions in the past based upon ‘feel.’ If you are not measuring your marketing and making decisions based upon those measurements you are living in the dark ages of marketing. Inbound marketing allows you to more easily measure your marketing efforts and then make strategic decisions to help improve your enrollment efforts.
Unfortunately I’m afraid that schools will continue to make decisions without data and the schools that feel they have data from traditional marketing efforts really are making decisions without data.
4. Schools will continue to think social media by itself is a marketing strategy
After years of using social media at Sewickley Academy we’ve begun to think about social media as being a trailing indicator and not a leading indicator. What I mean is that a person typically doesn’t connect with you on social media until they have already established a relationship with your school offline. As a result your social media channels serve as more of a retention tool as opposed to a recruitment tool.
As we learned the hard way at Sewickley Academy, using social media by itself as a strategy will not move the dial with regard to enrollment. Social media should be used as part of an inbound marketing strategy in order to help with your enrollment efforts.
5. Schools will continue to ignore Google+
I’ve become a big fan of Google+ and think that schools that utilize Google+ first will have an advantage with regard to search engine optimization and community engagement. Sewickley Academy is on Google+ and I’m excited about the possibilities of Google’s social media network.
I’m very excited about 2013 and hope that I’m wrong with my predictions and that more schools will embrace inbound marketing this year.
What do you think? Let me know your reactions to my opinions and what you think 2013 holds for schools marketers by posting in the comments section below.