Engaging early and effectively with prospective families is crucial for schools to sustain strong enrolments and create positive brand experiences. Every school has an array of connection points with current and prospective families, all of which need to be understood as opportunities to engage.
Every time a parent, carer, family member or prospective student looks at your school website, social media, an ad, or anything with your brand on it, they are ready to engage with your school and what it may mean for them to become part of your school community. Hence, engagement with your audience needs to be a key goal of any school marketing strategy. This is especially the case in the realm of digital engagement where there are unique and innovative ways to begin a conversation with your audience.
Building strong engagement where it really counts
Every prospective family goes on a journey with your brand, and as part of this, they engage across many ‘touch points’, each being an opportunity to shape their perception of your school brand, from first impressions through to final decision making.
Your school website is one of the first places your audience will engage with your brand. It is highly unlikely for a first time user to book a tour, get in touch or enrol – this would typically take a number of visits. They may view or download a prospectus, but in most cases they are still an anonymous visitor, and you can’t effectively engage families if you don’t know who they are, or who their children are. So you need to think about creative and innovative ways to better engage with prospective families, in a way that is not intrusive, but rather helpful.
An example of this, and perhaps one of the most under-realised opportunities for positive and effective engagement, is the way a school delivers school fees.
Some schools fall into the trap of thinking there’s no need to engage on fees because only people who can afford to pay will actually enquire about enrolment. Other schools don’t like the idea that a family would choose their school based on the cost. However, the pure fact of the matter is that fees are always going to be part of the decision, and this is evident in website metrics where for most schools, the fees page is one of the most visited pages. So it would be wise for schools to actively engage on fees, and to start a conversation with prospective families.
While the conversation about fees is often cast as a private, sometimes awkward process between the school and the family, the whole process can be flipped into a positive experience that manifests a commitment to transparency and clarity, and which ultimately builds trust.
Actively engage families earlier through excellent fee experiences
Data^ shows that parents are thinking about the cost of education years ahead of enrolment, so it’s rarely an afterthought – it’s safe to say that school fees are top of mind for parents when they first engage with a school. Hence, early in the journey they will be seeking information on fees, and this is where it is important to deliver an excellent experience and make the most of this early opportunity for engagement.
Sure your fees might be displayed on your website, but it’s a completely different thing to engage with parents regarding your fees. The traditional PDF fee schedule, or static tables on a website are useful, but investing in a digital solution such as an interactive fee calculator offers a more transparent, interactive experience. Importantly, it’s also an opportunity to start a conversation with prospective parents early in their journey to joining your school community.
An interactive calculator, like the Feesable Fee Calculator, allows parents to work out exactly what it will cost for their children to attend your school with just a few clicks, and offers the opportunity to request more information or to be followed up. In this case, you now know a little more about the family and can start a conversation – a conversation not to ‘win them over’, but to help equip them by answering questions and providing all the information they need to make an informed decision. If you need support with best practices to nurture prospective families or tools to help you work out an enrolment journey for your school, chat to our partners at Elevate.
By offering an interactive experience, the whole conversation about fees is positively re-shaped.
Use every opportunity to engage
There’s no doubt that fees play an important part in the decision-making process for families in choosing a school – it would be naive to think otherwise, especially with evidence showing that high school fees are making 70% of parents re-consider sending their children to a private school^. Hence there is an untapped well of opportunity for your school to engage more effectively with parents on fees.
If you offer a transparent and meaningful fee experience, it will leave very little ambiguity, create less questions and help families focus on the other important aspects of your offering. Engaging early, and effectively on school fees will build the integrity of your school brand and establish trust early on, which will ultimately set your school apart and help families choose your school.
What’s your experience?
How do you go about effectively engaging with prospective parents at your school? Have you considered the enrolment journey? What are the main touch points for your school? Do you think there is genuine opportunity to engage earlier and are school fees a good way to do this?
We would love to hear your experience – send an email with your thoughts to firstname.lastname@example.org.
^ Real Education Report 2022 – Real Insurance, March 2022