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Do Enough Parents Know that Your School Exists?

In education marketing, private education by David Mills

Many schools have served in their community for years and are still a best kept secret. If you rely only on the word of mouth from existing families or alumni, or a Facebook page (that Facebook has capped at 2% reach) you will miss a large percentage of families who may be a good mission fit for your school. In order to serve the greatest number of families who live with driving distance, you need to make sure they are all aware of your school.

It takes 7 marketing “touches” to move someone from awareness to decision. If you want to grow by 100 students, the enrollment marketing math can tell you how many families you will need to reach in order to grow.

Enrollment Marketing Math

An important way of understanding the math for growth is through the calculation of your “Total Addressable Market,” which is sometimes called “available market.” That is all the families that are prospects for your school. Of course, not all of them are a good fit for your school – but many of them are. There are several ways to calculate this number, but you can come up with an estimate by calculating the number of families within driving distance. While there are many other elements that can be factored in, this number gives you a general target at which you can aim. Generally speaking about 10% of those families will enroll their children in private school. For Virginia Beach, one of the metropolitan areas in Virginia, there are about 60,000 families in the Total Addressable Market.

How many families are with driving distance?

Since you can’t really know which of the families in your community are likely to enroll, and which ones might be a good mission fit – it’s important to raise awareness across this entire market. For a private school in Virginia Beach, that means making sure all 60,000 families are aware of the school.

You can fine tune this number based upon demographics, location and economics, but you’ll see as we continue to build the math that your goal should be large.

Digital Reach – Storylab can provide another valuable number – how many families can we contact directly with StoryLab digital reach? You tell us the drive time for your enrollment and we’ll calculate how many families are in the data files.

What percentage of the TAM actually knows about your school?

You can get an idea of how many people in your Total Addressable Market (TAM) might already know about you. Review the Google Analytics on your website, and look at how many new visits (not returning visitors) you are receiving. This is probably about half of your traffic. Google doesn’t calculate new visitors in the way that you might think it should, and since we know that most Americans have more than one device to browse the internet (computer, phone, TV), we have to estimate that 25% to 30% of those who are reported as new visitors might actually be, and some portion of those visitors are actually grandparents or others who aren’t in your addressable market.

If you have 20,000 website visits per year, somewhere around 5,000 people may have become aware of the school. This is not a precise number, but it helps to balance the large TAM number above. If this was the case in Virginia Beach, it would leave another 55,000 families that still need to become aware of the school.

Enrollment Marketing Calculus

You probably already know what your internal yield numbers are. How many inquiries and applications result in actual enrollment. The marketing calculus takes this process outside into the marketing environment, where you are introducing lots of new families to your school.

Enrollment calculus answers a simple question. How many people need to become aware of your school and begin the awareness and trust building process in order for you to grow.?

Let’s work backwords.

If you want 100 new applications, you need to estimate the number of visits and tours you’ll need. For most of the schools Story Collaborative works with, tours and visits are the key moment in which parents become convinced they want to apply.

If 30% of those who tour or visit apply, then you’ll need 330 visitors or families in tours. That’s probably a lot more than you have right now. If you already have 100 visits or tours per year, you’ll need an additional 230. Where do those come from?

That’s where the Enrollment Booster comes in. The math that helps us establish the right marketing goals has to do with how many people are becoming aware of us, and how many are becoming interested. The process of moving from awareness – to – interest – to – application is what we call “The Parent Journey to Enrollment.” The process is based upon how relationship are formed.

The 230 additional people that you want to come for a visit or tour are going to demonstrate interest before they sign up for a tour. This makes marketing analytics important for this process. You need to be able to measure engagement. If the process is working well about 8% of those who are engaged will sign up for a tour. That means you’ll need 2875 people who are engaged digitally (website, social, email, etc).

220 new tours will require at least 2875 people who are showing interest.

Finally, we take our engaged number and calculate how many people we have to reach to make this possible. This is the number of people that you are going to reach at least 3-5 times. Divide your engaged group total by 5%. The total for our example is 57,500. Yes, you are reading it correctly. You’ll need to reach 57,500 people 3-5 times in a variety of digital platforms in order to create 100 applications.

For most schools these numbers create a bit of sticker shock. And it may seem like it’s impossible. It does answer one important question – If you aren’t reaching out to something approaching this number of people in your community annually, you aren’t reaching enough people to grow.

>Find out how the Enrollment Booster can help you reach all of the parents in your community.

A few numbers can be deducted out of your calculation, as you run your own figures. Remove people that you talk to in an outreach setting from the number of engaged visitors you need. You can also remove the number of organic visitors who become engaged (talk with us if you’d like to understand how to foster and track this) on your website from this number as well. We find that most school websites are only configured for the final mile – inquiry and application, so they don’t create engagement very well.

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