Back-to-school Planning: Get Started with These Five Tips
Seems impossible, but yes, education marketers, it’s time to start your strategic planning to capitalize on the back-to-school season. Educators are planning for the new school year and with all the changes in education in the last 14 months, there are some key points to consider as you build your back-to-school marketing strategy.
Here are 5 tips to ensure you are making the most of this unique back-to-school season.
- Back up your timing. Conventional wisdom around back-to-school timing has traditionally started in early- to mid-August. However, educator behavior over the last few years has shown that educators are engaging in new school year planning earlier than ever. They are especially active on social media in late June and July, and promotional campaigns that begin during the early weeks of summer break land on more fertile ground by getting ahead of the noisy space that the market becomes in August and September. Plant those seeds of awareness ahead of the curve for greater success, particularly on social channels.
- And speaking of social. If you don’t have a social media marketing strategy in place as part of your overarching plan, back to school is an ideal time to start. Starting in June or shortly after the end of the school year, educators are on social media looking for more lighthearted content that recognizes the efforts they’ve put in throughout the previous school year. During the summer months, social media platforms are an effective way to engage with teachers and administrators, but make sure you’re joining the conversation, not selling to them. Think about posts that articulate how your organization supports and understands the challenges educators have faced and applauds their accomplishments. On Instagram, a highly visual channel, create posts with entertaining graphical content like memes. Use Facebook for sharing fun blogs or articles, such as ways to relax during summer vacation.
Create a good mix that combines posting of your content with content from other trusted education sources. Search and use common hashtags, especially on Instagram and Twitter. In early- to mid-July, marry your social strategy with other channels and shift your content focus to helping educators plan for the coming school year. Pinterest, which supports your long-term SEO strategy, is an ideal place to share free resources like lesson plans, graphic organizers and anchor charts, while Twitter provides opportunities to promote more quick-hit content that is timely and topical. Curious about which channels are best to reach teachers versus administrators? Let’s talk. We can help you build a road map that will support your marketing goals.
- Provide valuable content to build brand awareness, elevate thought leadership and grow engagement. As they plan for a new school year, educators are looking for information and resources to support their efforts. Instead of leading with product or program information — which is akin to proposing marriage on a first date — warm up your audience by offering them useful content in your area of expertise that can help them plan for the upcoming school year. Customizing content to address your key audience’s biggest problems and how to solve them will help establish your organization as a thought leader and partner. For teachers, blog posts with student engagement tips and free lesson plans are strong opportunities to create awareness for your organization, while more weighty pieces like teacher guides, reports and infographics are good tools for generating leads by asking educators to fill out a form to download this content. Get administrators to pay attention by hitting on themes tied to keeping students safe and on pace to meet learning objectives.
Once you’ve introduced your offerings and established yourself as a resource through multiple product-agnostic content connections with your audience, you can move to more action-oriented promotions (for example, “sign up today” or “try a free trial”).
- Get your users involved. Educators trust the word of other educators. Build your brand’s credibility by soliciting customer testimonials to weave into your back-to-school marketing. These can take the form of direct quotes, customer-written blogs or videos. It’s even more beneficial if you can identify customers who have a strong social following of their own. You can also create opportunities to get educators talking by encouraging user-generated content. Pose conversation-generating questions on your social channels, such as asking teachers what their best first-day-of-school plans are, how they learn their students’ names quickly or what advice seasoned teachers have for first-year teachers. The more you can get your customers talking, the more credibility you can build for your brand.
- Clean up your database. This school year has seen unprecedented churn as educators change roles and unfortunately leave the profession because they are experiencing burnout during this challenging time. Teacher burnout leads to attrition, and this makes data quality and hygiene more important than ever. If your lists aren’t up to date, you might be wasting opportunities to reach the right educators with defunct email addresses, thereby creating deliverability issues and high bounce rates. If you work with a data provider for prospect lists, regularly refresh your lists (we recommend monthly) to ensure you have the most up-to-date information. Without this solid data foundation, your back-to-school marketing efforts could be ineffective, resulting in wasted spend and poor campaign results.
If you need some help getting started with your back-to-school plan, MMS is here to help. We can support your efforts to get the most out of the summer months to make sure your marketing campaigns are effective, build awareness, engage customers, reach new audiences, and increase adoption and revenue. We’d love to talk with you and learn more about your back-to-school plans and how we can assist you in building and executing a successful strategy. Contact us today to explore how we can help with all of your back-to-school planning.