Understanding A School's Target Audience Online
Updated: Mar 15
A school must clearly define its target audience before beginning any online marketing endeavour.
They must know clearly who they are trying to attract so that they can determine where these people are congregating online. It is crucial to gain a thorough understanding of the school’s target audience before beginning any digital marketing endeavours. A message sent to the wrong audience is the online equivalent of talking to a brick wall.
With the average person spending hours each day browsing social media, we know that parents are frequently accessing platforms like Facebook, Instagram and YouTube. When parents are waiting to pick their children up from school, how likely do you think it is that they are scrolling through social media and watching online videos on their phones?
Think about your last significant purchase, did you use the internet or social media to read reviews or find out more information about that product or service? I know I certainly did.
In most cases, marketing efforts will be directed towards the parents of prospective or current students from the school. Try to determine the media consumption habits of parents, and if this information is uncertain, then it could be wise to put a survey in the school newsletter or e-mail an online questionnaire.
Merely acknowledging that parents are online is not enough; we must seek to discover more information about their online habits and identify their needs and desires.
How often are they checking their phones? What time are they most active online? How long do they stay online for? Which social media platforms are they users of? Which platform do they use the most? What are their interests? Questions like these can be a great starting point for any survey.
The targeting potential for online advertising platforms like Facebook and Google is incredible, so it is crucial to gather as much knowledge about our audiences as possible. The more knowledge that we have of our audiences, the more targeted and effective the advertisements will be. This knowledge also helps schools to create content on social media that their audience will be interested in and engage with.
Having a clearly defined target audience helps marketers determine what social media platform is best to direct time and effort towards.
Broadly speaking, Facebook covers all demographics and is a logical starting choice for targeting a wide range of people from parents to future, current and former students.
LinkedIn can be great in connecting with important community stakeholders, members of parliament, council representatives, and business owners.
Instagram, Snapchat, and TikTok – platforms with young audience bases – are best for campaigns directed towards current and former students.
It is important to engage the parents of current students. Many schools neglect marketing to current parents due to it seemingly lacking the obvious, quantifiable benefits like gaining new enrolments. But marketing to current parents has its own significant advantages.
These people are essentially brand ambassadors, and their word-of-mouth recommendations and anecdotes about the school are extremely valuable. Word-of-mouth in the digital world translates to shares, positive social feedback, and digital recommendations – such as a parent recommending another parent to like a school’s page.
Listening to the conversations that parents are having online can give principals a better understanding of the perception of their school. They can find out about what parents like and dislike about the school and may discover aspects that make the school unique.
These insights can then be used to make improvements at the school, and to tailor advertisements and marketing campaigns to be more relevant and effective.