The school bell is chiming, and the hallways are buzzing...it's the start of the year, and before we dive headfirst into the academic schedule, there's another subject area we need to think about: our tech skills.
Some skills are learned and never forgotten; others need to be refined and perfected year after year. Technical skills, on average, lose relevance in just two and a half years — twice as fast as other types of skills. Like the latest TikTok dance craze that zips in and out of your students' algorithms, staying up-to-date is a never-ending hustle.
Every new tool, every software update, and every trending tech skill is a chance to lead your school to more effective communication, greater outreach, and heightened engagement.
As for your role at your school, you might not need to know the latest TikTok choreography, but you do need to keep updating, refining, and expanding your professional skills each year. After all, the most successful are those who embrace the certainty of change.
So, what are the top tech and school marketing skills you should have in your tool kit this school year? Let's see what this year's curriculum has in store...
1. Understanding the Impact of Artificial Intelligence (AI)
Artificial Intelligence, or AI, has been a game-changer in school marketing and communications. AI can analyze, make decisions, predict, and perform tasks that normally require human intelligence, freeing up much of the time and brainpower needed for certain aspects of your job.
In fact, the World Economic Forum estimated that AI will replace 85 million jobs by 2025. The same report, however, thinks 97 million new jobs would be created in the same timeframe because of AI. Certainly, there’s a lot of potential for school marketing and communication professionals because AI can enhance your work and make processes more efficient, like:
- Automating Repetitive Tasks: AI can automate repetitive, time-consuming tasks that are a part of the daily to-do list. This includes brainstorming content for social media, newsletters, or blog topics.
- Personalizing Communication: AI can analyze data to understand patterns and trends in the behaviors and preferences of different audience segments. For example, AI can help determine the type of content that will resonate most with each group, like prospective students, current students, and parents, and when the best time to communicate with them is.
- Data-Driven Insights: AI can process and analyze large volumes of data effectively and efficiently, uncovering insights that can inform our marketing and communication strategies. These insights include which marketing channels are most effective, what type of content generates the most engagement, and how different audience groups interact with different types of content.
So, while the nitty-gritty details are changing by the day, having a broad understanding of AI's potential and its impact —and knowing how to use AI tools — are crucial for you and your school to stay ahead this year.
Keep Reading: How AI is Shaping the Future of School Marketing
2. Accessibility Tools to Reach More People
It's estimated that one in every five people has a physical, visual, auditory, cognitive, or neurological disability, making accessing online information difficult. Don’t let another school year pass by — make this the year to embrace accessibility and welcome a larger audience.
Inaccessible content could not only lead to missed opportunities but may also negatively impact your school’s reputation. Besides, a commitment to accessibility sends a strong message about your school’s values.
One report found 3,255 website accessibility lawsuits were filed in 2022, alleging violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) — a 12% increase from the previous year. This isn't just about meeting legal requirements; it's about consciously deciding not to go another year without making your content accessible to all.
Digital content needs to be created with the understanding that your audience could include individuals with a range of disabilities, including visual impairments, hearing loss, mobility challenges, or cognitive limitations. This is where accessibility tools and guidelines come into play.
The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) provide a detailed framework for making digital content more accessible. Various online tools check for issues, like AudioEye and the built-in accessibility tools in Finalsite’s content management system, Composer. They cover a wide range of recommendations for making web content more accessible.
3. Marketing Automation to Save Time
Email marketing automation software is a critical tool that allows you to automate repetitive marketing and communication tasks, making your work more efficient, accurate, and personalized. Without automation, it can be incredibly time-consuming to communicate with prospects, and if you’re not taking advantage of this system, this needs to be the year that changes.
Marketing automation is becoming increasingly popular each year and is one of the most important trends in digital marketing for schools. According to some reports:
- Seventy-four percent of marketers said the biggest benefit of automated marketing was the ability to save time
- By using marketing automation software, four in five users increased their leads
- As many as 77% saw an increase in conversions
With marketing automation software, like those found in Finalsite's Workflows and within Finalsite Enrollment, you can set up automated messages to send welcome emails to new subscribers, reminders to those who have not yet responded to an enrollment invitation, or personalized messages to parents based on their child's activities. These workflows can be triggered based on specific actions or data, such as a new subscription, a clicked link, or a change in a student's record.
By automating routine tasks, you can focus more on strategy, content creation, and other high-level tasks. And by leveraging the data insights these tools provide, you can keep improving your process and increase your impact again and again.
4. Customer Relationship Management To Build Relationships
Customer relationship management (CRM) software can become a valuable tool for schools, and if you’re still juggling paper applications, multiple Google Sheets or Excel files to keep your enrollment numbers in line, it’s time to rethink your strategy.
In essence, a CRM system is a platform that organizes and manages all the interactions and relationships your school has with potential and current students. It's a centralized hub where all the student enrollment data is stored, tracked, and analyzed. It captures various details about students, including personal preferences, interests, interactions with your admissions office, and more.
Applying this from an enrollment management perspective, a CRM like Finalsite Enrollment enables tracking and nurturing prospective students from their first point of contact with your school until they enroll. This journey often includes various touch points such as information inquiries, campus visits, application submission, acceptance, enrollment, and the status of their re-enrollment.
For your role, the CRM system can be leveraged in several ways:
- Personalized Communication: CRM allows for personalization at scale, meaning you can tailor your messages to resonate with specific subsets of students, such as sending personalized emails to prospective students highlighting programs or events they’ve expressed interest in.
- Improved Engagement: CRM can automate follow-up and reminders, ensuring no prospective student falls through the cracks. It can also track engagement, helping you understand who is most interested and enabling you to focus your efforts accordingly.
- Data-Driven Strategies: With its robust data and analytics capabilities, a CRM provides insights that help shape effective marketing and communication strategies and identify trends and patterns.
- Efficiency and Collaboration: When admissions and marketing can align their strategies, it ensures everyone has the same up-to-date information, reducing duplication of effort and ensuring a seamless experience for the student.
- Measurement and Accountability: Every interaction is tracked and measured with a CRM. This allows for a better understanding of what's working and what's not.
5. Data Analysis to Work Smarter
With the transition to Google Analytics 4 (GA4), there’s never been a better time to hit reset and finally learn the ins and outs of data analytics. With a level playing field, everyone is in the same boat, having to rethink how they identify trends, patterns, and relationships that go deeper than the surface.
Tracking data is one of the most critical skills for schools because it allows you to draw insights from raw data, which guides decision-making, enhances strategies, and measures success.
Tools like GA4 can track and report website traffic, providing insights into how users find and interact with the website. For example, it might show which blog posts are most popular, how long users stay on each page, and what kind of content leads to the most conversions (like filling out a contact form or clicking a 'learn more” button).
When used with Composer’s built-in search data dashboards, these insights can inform your school about which marketing campaigns are driving traffic, what content is most engaging, and where there might be issues causing users to leave the site.
Data analysis is often the last piece of the marketing puzzle because it allows for measuring your marketing’s effectiveness. By setting key performance indicators (KPIs) and regularly reviewing data, your school can see how well you’re meeting objectives and where there might be room for improvement.
As the school year kicks off, ensure your office has the latest skills in place. From the transformative potential of AI to the importance of inclusivity with accessibility tools, embracing and honing these critical tech skills, you can ensure your office and school stay at the forefront of innovation.
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.