Building a Strong Digital Marketing Foundation

Private Schools Marketing

Building a Strong Digital Marketing Foundation

Marketing has changed immensely over the last decade, especially as the power and influence of digital marketing have grown. 

In 2021, 97% of school marketers who responded to our 2021 State of Independent School Marketing Survey said they conducted digital marketing campaigns in the preceding year. However, of these, just 39% said their efforts were “very effective.” Many also reported lacking the personnel to manage digital campaigns on top of their traditional marketing duties, and many others said they lack the time and/or budget to build and track an effective digital marketing campaign.

Digital marketing campaigns require a different approach than traditional ones, requiring time and hands-on attention during their run, compared to the traditional “set it and forget it” advertising model. 

In this post, we answer some of your most frequently asked questions about how to build a strong foundation for your private or independent school marketing team to achieve digital marketing success (and how to get the budget to make the magic happen).

Q: Can I afford paid advertising and should I outsource?

A: Generally speaking, if your school’s annual tuition is greater than $10,000, you can afford to do paid digital advertising (and see a strong return on your investment). 

However, digital marketing requires many unique skill sets - and it’s a field that requires specialization and focus to keep up with the constant evolution - so hiring it all in-house may not be realistic for you. Many schools find that outsourcing to a partner gives them the best ROI, but in order to make that decision, you need the right data

If you choose to outsource, you can bring in a partner to manage your digital marketing end-to-end - or you can use a hybrid model where you access consultants to help you with your digital marketing strategy - and then manage the day-to-day content development and execution from your internal team. Either approach will help you to stay agile, relevant and authentic while maximizing your investment and maintaining focus on your high-level objectives.

Q: How many full-time marketing staff should be on my team?

If budget weren’t an obstacle (which we know is rarely the case), best practice for most schools would be to have two to three full-time staff in your Marketing department. Ideally, this would include one strategic marketer who maintains a big-picture view of your full marketing landscape, and one or two tacticians. 

When growing beyond this, you should hire strategically based on the types of tactics and specialized skill sets you require. If you don’t have enough work (and budget) to keep an additional full-time staff member busy, you should continue to outsource. Idle staff are costly, so your outsourcing model should come first, and hiring internally should be second.

Q: Who’s the best person for me to report to? 

A: Reporting directly to the Head of School provides you with a strong connection to your school’s head decision maker. Our research also shows that schools with supportive Heads were more likely to have larger marketing budgets. By bringing your Head the data they need to make sound decisions, demonstrate ROI, justify expenditures, and secure funding, you’re well on your way to transforming them into a champion for your team. 

Your team should also hold itself accountable for getting the right data to the board. Executing objectives-driven strategies and setting KPIs and goals for your tactics will enable you to provide your Head of School - and the board or other critical stakeholders - with the information they need to understand your challenges and opportunities that require funding and not only approve but champion the dollars being spent on marketing your school.


Learn more about how we help private and independent schools work more efficiently and execute more successful strategies.

We are pleased to offer the full report on the 2021 NAIS State of Independent School Marketing Survey. To request a free PDF of the full report, please fill in the form below.


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