2016 was a big year for marketing. There was a shift towards inbound and content strategies, the importance of video exploded, and dozens of changes to Facebook and Instagram made it a pivotal tool for enrollment marketing.
With that in mind, here are my top five predictions as to where school marketing is headed in the next year:
#1. A bigger focus on inbound marketing and content strategy
When a visitor lands on your website, where do you want them to go? What do you want them to do? What is the end goal of their website visit? In 2017, schools will need to spend more time creating a variety of content, emails and landing pages for all different audiences to boost enrollment and retention. In addition, the focus on creating an experience for each website visitor that is equally as rewarding for the user as it is for you school will be imperative for schools' success.
Much of this has to do with inbound marketing and content marketing. Inbound and content marketing are buzzwords for schools — but what can you actually do to begin implementing these strategies? Our team has written a series of blog posts that covers everything from creating personas, to implementing an effective inbound strategy:
- Inbound Marketing for Schools
- Preparing Your Website for Inbound Marketing
- Content Marketing 101 for Schools
- How to Form Personas
- How to Increase Website Conversions Using Thank You Pages
- The Anatomy of the Perfect Admissions Inquiry Landing Page
- 3 Qualities of Great School Landing Pages
Free Report: The State of Social Media Marketing Among Schools
#2. Higher budget allocations to social media and search
More often than ever before, prospective families aren't seeing your website first. They're seeing your Facebook or Instagram, and then head to Google to learn more. In 2017, it will be essential for schools to invest more money in social media and search strategies to compete in the market.
Schools who don't invest in social media marketing and search engine marketing in 2017 will be left behind. With more than 90% of all online experiences beginning in search, and organic Facebook reach at an all-time-low (only 2% in some cases!), schools who don't invest in social media and search engine marketing in 2017 will have trouble being found by new families.
Not sure where to get started? Our Social Media Audit helps you learn where you need to focus your budget, time and efforts on social media.
#3. Mobile-first websites
While every website we design is responsive, our team is beginning to design all sites mobile-first — meaning that they consider the mobile device design before desktop — to ensure optimal speed and user experience. However, along with our designs, schools need to focus on a mobile-first content strategy — which means shorter text, smarter information architecture, more images, and bigger calls-to-action.
#4. More authentic content
As competition gets tighter and resources shrink, schools will have to look to new sources of content, bringing in an authentic perspective from students, faculty and staff.
We're predicting that more authentic, conversational content is going to start replacing the typical marketing content you see on websites because it is more effective and saves you time. It's why we've created Finalsite Feeds, our social media mash-up tool, and Posts, our solution for Blogs and Teacher Pages.
Social proof (aka, testimonials) is going to become imperative to your success; and social media feeds are going to be the tool that saves you time and money — just ask Ellington Public Schools, who uses Finalsite's social media mash-up tool, Feeds, to produce more than 1,000 authentic pieces of content each week.
- 8 Videos That Showcase The Power of Authenticity in School Marketing
- 10 Most Over-Used Words on School Websites
- 8 Tips for Writing High-Converting Website Content
#5. Video won't be just be a piece of your strategy, it will be the core your strategy
We're seeing a shift towards video on every medium. It is replacing school photos on websites. It is favored by social media algorithms. It increases email click-through rates. It is the highest-consumed piece of content on the Internet — and tools like Facebook Live and Instagram Live are making a video strategy more feasible for schools with small teams and budgets to become a player in the game.
As schools plan their 2017 content and strategy, they will have to look at each piece of content they want to produce and ask — should this be a video instead?
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
As founder, CEO, and current Board Member of Finalsite, Jon Moser is passionate about web trends and strategies that impact education. For more than twelve years, Jon and Finalsite have been committed to providing cutting-edge web technology for clients. He is a frequent advisor, keynoter, blogger and presenter on all things web related. When he isn't at Finalsite HQ, Jon can be found on his farm raising chickens and selling free range eggs or spending time with his wife and five children.