Private Schools Marketing

Located in Okotoks, Alberta, Strathcona-Tweedsmuir School (STS) is an independent school that focuses on excellence in scholarship, leadership and character. With a 220-acre natural campus and state-of-the-art facilities, STS develops confident, well-rounded K to 12 students that embrace challenges with curiosity and intent. In 2018, STS approached us to help their admissions and marketing team establish a strong digital marketing foundation and develop strategies to increase open house and information session attendance and, ultimately, enrollment.

We started by meeting with STS’s admissions and marketing teams to learn about their goals, approach, pain points and performance to-date. A digital audit helped us understand the strengths and limitations of their administrative and enrollment platforms, which included a mix of proprietary and third-party software such as SchoolAdmin. With a firm grasp of the tools STS was working with, we were able to devise marketing strategies that integrated fully with their digital platforms, complementing their strengths and offsetting their weaknesses. We also developed a measurement framework and Google Analytics dashboard so their team could track project objectives, KPIs and performance metrics. By giving STS the tools to assess how their efforts were performing, we equipped them with the ability to directly correlate their marketing efforts with enrollment outcomes for the first time.

Measurement and analytics platforms firmly in place, we next collaborated with the STS team to create a digital marketing strategy aimed at open house and information session attendance and student registration. This strategy included a customer journey—which indicates thought and behavioural trends at key points in the decision making process—and a targeting framework, which outlined how we would use digital platforms to reach qualified audiences with important messaging throughout the journey. These tools would not only help inform our campaign development; they can be used to guide STS’s marketing efforts for years to come.

Our digital marketing strategy ultimately included a combination of online search and display ads run on Google Display Network and social media, all of which were new to the STS marketing mix. All ads directed to a custom landing page that Metric developed for the STS site, and were strategically created and placed to target specific, qualified audiences at key points in the customer journey. When specific actions were taken—for example, when a parent visited the landing page but did not register for an open house—retargeting ads would encourage them to revisit and join.

Augmenting the digital ad campaign was an automated email drip campaign, also new to STS’s marketing mix. When users signed up for newsletters or events, they would automatically trigger a series of emails containing useful and engaging information about the STS experience and reasons to choose. The goal here was to stay in front of users and move them along the funnel to take further action, such as attending an information session or registering their child to attend the school. For the duration of the campaign planning, development and execution, Metric remained in close contact with STS, acting as a seamless extension of their team. Face-to-face meetings were facilitated via video conferencing and regular visits to the campus, and our data security systems helped ensure all information remained safe and confidential.

Altogether, the advertising campaign ran for three weeks prior to the open house, supported by email marketing and followed by a push for information session registrations, which take place over coffee at the school every month. During this time, paid advertising was responsible for 28% of website traffic and STS received nearly 200 phone calls and over 125 valuable email conversions. Landing page conversions exceeded our goal five times over, with 55 completions, 25% of which may be directly attributed to paid advertising. Tracking and analyzing this campaign also gave STS valuable insights they couldn’t previously access, including how visitors were using the website and the types of information they were engaging with most. These insights will enable STS to optimize their content moving forward, and the outcomes give them a valuable benchmark against which to measure future efforts. 

As a result of our successful efforts and working relationship, STS has further engaged Metric for their summer camp marketing campaign. This new initiative, which will include search, display and social advertising, will help STS make good use of its resources during the off-season, engage qualified leads and position the school advantageously in the competitive Alberta market.

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