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Written by What's the Word, Inc.
on February 08, 2018

It’s the year 2018. You’ve been trying to boost your enrollment, improve retention, or increase your donor pool for ages. You’ve invested untold sums into marketing – you rent billboards, run expensive call campaigns, and post diligently to your Facebook page. Nothing seems to work.

What are you doing wrong?

Chances are you just need a little more information to get your next marketing campaign off the ground. Understanding digital marketing – what it means and how to use it effectively – is an imperative first step.

How Digital Marketing Is Defined

If it seems like the definition is always changing, that’s because it is. The definition of digital marketing is constantly being expanded to include not only new platforms, but also new techniques and strategies.

Foundationally, digital marketing is the use of digital channels to reach consumers using various communications platforms both on and off the internet. The term digital marketing includes mediums that do not rely on the internet such as digital billboards, television, and radio. However, today the term is used primarily to describe online mediums such as websites, blogs, and social media. We'll consider both in this article.

Digital Marketing Strategy Basics 

The digital marketing scene can also be divided into two primary strategies: outbound marketing and inbound marketing.

Outbound, or traditional, marketing is your typical “look at me” broadcast marketing style characterized by tactics like commercials, billboards, telemarketing, and print ads. This method seeks to grab consumers’ attention.

Because they are typically pitched to a mass audience, often inconveniently, your television, radio, and internet commercials are viewed as disruptive and annoying. So much so that many consumers are willing to pay for anything from ad-blockers to ad-free subscriptions on their favorite websites just to avoid them. For these reasons, outbound marketing is getting more expensive, and more ineffective.

The newer strategy is called inbound marketing. Inbound is a strategy focused on bringing a highly targeted audience to you by offering valuable content in exchange for attention. Rather than building brand recognition through interruption, the inbound marketer seeks to build rapport through consumer-driven interaction. Which is achieved by becoming a trusted solution to your target market’s needs.

Whether it’s entertainment, information, or anything in between, the success of your inbound marketing plan stems from giving your audience what they want, not what you want.

Both inbound and outbound marketing techniques have a place in the successful digital marketing strategy. The trick is making sure you’re investing in each up to their highest return potential. For instance, you may find that sinking more of your marketing budget into outbound marketing efforts, neglecting your inbound strategy, is expensive and inefficient when compared to developing a strong long-term inbound strategy and supplementing with outbound efforts to build momentum quickly.

Your Digital Marketing Toolbox

If you’ve ever seen or heard a cocky headline claiming “X digital marketing tool is dead,” just ignore it. Each of the tools in your digital marketing toolbox has a place in your overall marketing strategy.

                       [We're getting your toolbox ready for you. Check back soon!]

Think of it this way: though 90% of the maintenance you’ll need to do around the house requires a screw driver, not having a wrench when you need one is devastating.

Keep all your digital marketing tools sharp.

Choosing a Strategy for Your School

An effective digital marketing strategy takes into account a number of factors, including your audience, your goals, your budget, and the resources you have to invest in marketing. 

When building your strategy, try not to fall into old ways of thinking. As an educational institution, you’re on the cutting edge of developments in communication whether you like it or not.

Make sure you’re aware of how your audience interacts with both older and newer digital marketing platforms. This awareness will give you a good idea of how much ROI to expect from each marketing medium you use, and how to compound that ROI by strategically expanding your reach to related platforms.


It’s the beginning of the year and Educator Emily wants to attract more students to her school by fall. She’s invested in many different marketing gimmicks, but so far nothing has gotten her the kind of growth she needs just to sustain her marketing efforts.  

Educator Emily has heard that blogging is a great way to attract students, but she’s afraid it will take too long to build a blog that will attract prospective students to her website organically. She feels blogging is a waste of time. She’s also worried that continuing to invest in paid ads is a waste of money.

After a little research, Educator Emily decides to hedge her bet and try a little of both. Emily knows that ads that feature real pictures of her school have a higher click-through rate than others she’s tried. She runs a paid ad campaign that leads viewers directly to her blog. The information on her blog educates prospects, nurturing them toward the decision to learn more about her institution by attending an in-person event.

The results are phenomenal. Within a month, Educator Emily is seeing more traffic on her school’s website, and booking more facility tours than ever.

This is just a simple example of how to use multiple digital marketing tools to get your target prospects through the door. For more detailed guidance, visit our free [2018 Digital Marketing Reference Book for Education.]

Good luck!

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