Every school marketer knows how important digital marketing is, not only for improving your school’s reputation and online presence but for attracting new prospects. However, print advertising should not be forgotten in the digital age; in a previous guide, we explained the benefits of print advertising for schools and how it can help build awareness and trust.

But knowing when to invest in print and digital marketing throughout the year can be puzzling. When will you see the biggest return on investment? When is your target audience most likely to engage? How can you combine the two types of marketing to create a cohesive strategy? In this guide, we explain when to focus on print advertising and when to focus on digital advertising.

Forward planning

First of all, mark out the school calendar and any upcoming special events as far in advance as you can. This will give you a clear idea of at least the next school year ahead.

Note down any open days, parents evenings, application deadlines and all the other important dates in the school year.

Next, look at your school’s data to see when your largest influx of leads are. Is it a last minute rush right before applications close? Is it months in advance when parents are first looking? Decide whether you want to capitalise on this busy period, or focus on less busy times to create a more measured flow of admission leads.

When to focus on digital advertising

Digital advertising, such as pay-per-click advertising (PPC) and paid social media campaigns, is most advantageous when you have a specific target. This could be promoting a virtual open day and getting as many sign ups as possible, driving more traffic to your school blog or targeting local parents to get more admissions.

Whatever your goal is, digital advertising can make it happen thanks to the ability to target an extremely specific audience online, considering age, location, interests and much more.

Digital advertising is fantastic for getting tangible results in a short amount of time. For example, if your Prep day school for boys has a virtual open day happening in three weeks and you want more sign ups, a highly targeted paid social media campaign will show your advert to the most relevant people – parents living in the local area who are looking for a boys’ Prep school.

During and after the campaign, Digithrive for Schools can track the results and either retarget people, or tweak the campaign to get even better results. Have a look at some of our past work with schools here.

So when should you focus on digital advertising campaigns? It completely depends on your school’s calendar. But you should definitely increase your online marketing activity around the same time parents and children are looking and applying for schools. For example, if your application deadline is in January, parents will be starting to look for schools during the summer. This is a great time to target them initially, and then you can retarget them to sign up to your autumn open day later on.

When to focus on print advertising

Print advertising is all about brand awareness and building trust with your audience. It can be extremely effective when used as part of a holistic campaign.

Rather than expecting tremendous tangible results, like our previous digital marketing clients have seen, print advertising will support your school’s overall marketing efforts.

While of course you can use your print advert to promote an open day, which many schools do, it’s not necessary. Unlike digital advertising where a strong call to action is required, take advantage of the more gentle approach that print advertising has.

You don’t need to advertise in every publication out there – select the ones that you know your target audience will be reading. For example, there’s no point advertising in a national newspaper that has a completely different demographic to your school’s. Just because they have a readership of one million, doesn’t mean you’ll see results. Work out your personas and you will find it a lot easier to locate your target audience.

For example, parents on the hunt for the best independent school for their child are likely to conduct thorough research and read education titles such as Absolutely Education. Advertising in publications like this will align your school with the top establishments in the country and make parents aware of the high quality education your school provides. The type of publication matters just as much – if not more – than timing.

While digital advertising should focus on specific targets, print advertising should be consistent but can be less regular – perhaps every month in key publications with the right target audience.

Need help with your marketing strategy? Get in touch.

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