Metric + NAIS Independent School Survey Summary

Private Schools Marketing

Summary: 2021 NAIS State Of Independent School Marketing Survey

The state of marketing in the independent school landscape has changed immensely over the last decade, especially as the power and influence of digital marketing have grown. In July of 2021, Metric Marketing partnered with the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS) in a national survey of marketing staff at member schools to learn more about the state, structure, practices, and needs of their marketing teams. 

The results of this research give us a peek behind the curtain at the challenges and opportunities independent school marketers face, and provide insights on some best practices that our clients and readers can use to improve their school marketing going forward.

In this series, we’ll dig deeper into the results and what they tell us. 


As the largest association of independent schools, NAIS provides services to more than 1,900 schools and associations of schools in the United States and abroad. Among its other services, NAIS conducts research among schools nationally and provides targeted, synthesized reports that independent schools can use to evaluate their own practices. 

In developing the report for this groundbreaking survey of independent schools, the Metric team had the pleasure of working with the following members of the NAIS team: Joe Corbett (Research Analyst), Amada Torres (Vice President, Studies, Insights, and Research) and Margaret Anne Rowe (Research Analyst). We are grateful for their close collaboration and professionalism, and are excited to share what we’ve learned.


NAIS surveyed marketing staff at member schools to learn more about the state, structure,

practices, and needs of marketing teams at independent schools. The survey was open from July 27-August 17, 2021.

Two hundred eighty-nine people responded to the survey, representing a 37% completion rate. Among these respondents, Two-fifths of respondents worked at schools concentrated in the American West (21%) and MidAtlantic (19%) regions. An additional 16% were based in New England, while just 7% were located in the East region.


We have long believed that the path to more efficient, effective digital marketing lies in getting access to the metrics that matter. We’ve built a reputation for success by providing our clients—independent schools in North America—with the data they need to make informed decisions and achieve their digital marketing objectives. 

By partnering with NAIS in a survey of member schools, we were able to both better understand the needs and challenges of the market as a whole, and apply our unique marketing expertise to turn those data points into best practices that private and independent schools can learn from.


The results of our collaboration with NAIS has yielded a wealth of knowledge that private and independent schools can learn from, including insights on:

  • School marketing team size, structure and functions.

  • Top-of-mind school marketing strategies and priorities.

  • How schools are (and are not) measuring their campaign goals and outcomes.

  • Common challenges schools face with regards to digital marketing.

  • The ways schools use digital platforms, programs and their websites for marketing campaigns.

  • How schools approach SEO, search engine marketing, virtual tours and other digital marketing assets.

  • School media and marketing budgets.

  • The importance of branding and competitive positioning for independent schools.

We also discuss how perceptions and expectations of independent schools have changed over the course of a global pandemic, and examine the emerging roles of school marketing teams and heads of school in providing qualitative ROI to their boards.


NAIS + Metric State of Independent School Marketing Survey


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