After an exhausting day, you now have to present to your board … twenty pairs of eyes staring at you from across the room (or burning a hole in your soul through Zoom…) Sound familiar? The upper echelon of school leadership has important questions, and they’re coming to you for answers.
Whether you’re an enrollment leader or the head of your marketing and communications office, board meetings can be stress-inducing and intimidating. But with the right data and strategy in hand, presenting your latest enrollment and marketing initiatives can be a chance to impress — and an opportunity to have a candid conversation about the goals of your department and areas for improvement.
Sharing your school’s data and story with confidence can confirm that your enrollment and marketing strategies are on the path to success. But with so many data points, website analytics, and stats about your admissions funnel, what do you share with your board, and what does that say about your department’s performance?
Let’s review some of the key admissions and marketing metrics you’ll want to share with your school’s board of directors, trustees, or members of leadership to create important dialogues and prepare for continued success.
Important admission initiatives, updates, and numbers
Board members are busy people, so it’s important to make sure that you’re helping them understand the information that they need so they can concentrate on long-term enrollment. Give the big picture and context with enrollment data, demographics, economics, and geography.
- The breakdown of families at different stages of the admissions funnel and across grade levels and divisions
- Completed applications
- Current and projected enrollment
- Yield ratios and conversion rates
- Attrition rates and attrition watch lists
- Financial aid figures
- Applications received
- Aid given
- Legacy numbers
- Key stats on admission events
- Details on follow-up strategies
- Campus tours — in-person and virtual options. Are they effective? What’s being shown and what questions are being asked?
- Student interviews
- Neighborhood and town data
- Diversity breakdown (race, ethnicity, gender, etc…)
- Retention efforts
Provide your board with the latest updates on the admission season, both at your school and within the context of the larger independent school community. Let them know what you're doing to be proactive and what they can expect at the next update.
Important marketing & communication initiatives, updates, and numbers
If you’re able to confidently cite key statistics from your school’s website at the drop of a dime, it increases your board’s confidence.
- Community engagement: How are your current parents engaging with your weekly newsletters? What are their preferences for receiving important announcements and daily communications and what do the following numbers suggest?
- Open rates, click-through rates, and clicks within newsletters and emails
- Mobile app downloads
- Website metrics: How is your website performing — and, more importantly, are the right audiences engaging and converting on your site?
- Traffic to the site
- Unique visits
- New users
- Page views
- Bounce rate
- Time spent on site
- Data on key web pages: Using the data points above, how do they look on these important pages?
- Admission page
- Tuition and financial aid
- Inquiry page
- Giving pages
- Advertising: The board will want to know how much it costs to bring a student all the way through the funnel and the ROI of your digital marketing strategy. You should be able to answer questions about your ad strategy, what you’re doing differently, and what you’d like to do next.
- Digital and print ad spend totals
- Where you’re spending — PPC, display, or social media ads
- Performance of your email marketing and digital content
- Special ad campaigns and retargeting opportunities
- Targeted audiences and demographics
- Social Media: With social media, in particular, the older board members might know its importance, but can be a little lost in the latest trends and best practices (Like TikTok!) Have you introduced a new channel? Maybe you’ve started using a new hashtag that’s seeing tons of engagement? Try to explain your efforts in as plain terms as possible and why it’s important.
- Engagement for different channels (likes, comments, shares)
- Data about your posts — schedules, frequency, audiences, and content
- Samples of great content with high engagement
As board members view your presentation or browse your spreadsheets, what is the picture you’re painting? What story do these numbers tell? Are your efforts making a difference in your enrollment or development goals?
When speaking about your marketing and communication strategy, highlight the new content offers, special events, digital ad campaigns, and blogging — the efforts your team is making to increase interest in your school. To show that you’re weighing legacy data, how do these numbers compare to last month, last year, or the last three to five years?
Do these figures represent a growing interest in your school, or will you need to take additional steps to bring in more page views, additional inquiries, or higher conversion rates? Including screen recordings and heatmaps in your presentation can help visualize users’ engagement across your site.
Be sure to discuss what you’ve accomplished on your website — a special page to support an admission event, a custom landing page for accepted students, a new workflow for families that have inquired — talk about what you’re doing differently and what projects you’d like to tackle next, and why.
How do you collect these numbers?
It’s crucial that each team member works with the same data and is referencing the same metrics under one roof. Otherwise, it’ll be like comparing apples to oranges … Look to these systems for collecting numbers:
- Website engagement and important metrics through Google Analytics
- Communication and additional site analytics through your content management system
- Key admissions data through your enrollment management system
- Additional engagement metrics and conversion rate optimization (CRO) stats through programs like Crazy Egg, Hot Jar, and Google Optimize
“When you get into a board meeting or you're working with leaders, data drives the next move,” said Kristin Moore, director of marketing and enrollment for the Archdiocese of Seattle. "'Do we need to do some outreach in this area? Where are we trying to make an impact? Do we have a dip in the fourth and fifth grades?’ With SchoolAdmin you can begin to see patterns of behavior and data gives you a reason to have a conversation. When it's in black and white on a screen it's pretty hard to deny, but knowing the data means action and movement, and it keeps people accountable.”
Tips for preparing your presentation to the board
Preparation involves more than just knowing your numbers — board meetings require active listening and including colleagues who have a role in the focus of the meeting.
Work with your colleagues
Collaborate with your senior team, especially your head of school or enrollment director, to know what kind of information the board will be expecting. You don’t need to pretend to be an expert in every area, but don’t leave any room for surprises — review the agenda beforehand and know who is presenting and what they’ll be discussing so there’s no overlap or missed opportunities.
Agree on numbers
Schedule time with your head or CFO to double-check numbers to ensure confidence and clarity. You might know what the numbers mean, but review everything with your team for a cohesive presentation and to make sure it’s easily understood. Sit down with whoever’s sharing information at the meeting, like the admissions director or CFO, to make sure you’re both comfortable with the data and what’s being presented.
Tips for presenting to your board
Looking for some quick tips to help your presentation? Keep these tips in mind for your next board meeting.
The inverted pyramid
Presenting to the board is really about storytelling. Unveiling your key points as an inductive story can be helpful. Think of the inverted pyramid in journalism — start with the conclusion or biggest takeaway, then give the three to five supporting ideas or details you want the board to remember, gradually adding more and more detail.
Know your board
Every board is different, so try to gain an understanding of how your board functions. Is there a formal presentation? Will they interrupt your talk? Are there clashing personalities and who is likely to ask clarifying questions? If members ask for different data points, try to understand what’s really behind their questions and what they’re interested in learning.
Remember that your board members likely represent a variety of backgrounds, specialties, and professions — not every member may be a current parent, some may not attend every meeting, and some may not be aware of the day-to-day operations. But each member of the board cares about the future of your school and wants you and the students to succeed.
Stay on schedule
Keep your presentation within your allotted time. Aim for speaking about 50 percent of the time, and leave the remaining time for questions, feedback, or presenting follow-up information.
Answer questions as accurately and as thoroughly as you can. If you don’t know the answer, don’t lie. Instead, calmly and respectfully acknowledge the question’s relevance, make a note, and tell the board you’ll follow up with the answer as soon as possible.
Sharing updates about your school’s admission and marketing strategies with confidence can be a great chance to shine in front of school leadership, but be open to constructive feedback. Paired with a board’s extensive knowledge, the data and story you share is an important opportunity to work collaboratively and bring continued success to your school.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Connor has spent the last decade within the field of marketing and communications, working with independent schools and colleges throughout New England. As Finalsite’s Senior Content Marketing Manager, Connor plans and executes marketing strategies and digital content across the web. A former photojournalist, he has a passion for digital media, storytelling, coffee, and creating content that connects.