A New Era for Schools: Growing and Competing Online

IMPACT13 Sponsor: FlipSwitch

Online and blended learning programs are fast becoming a powerful resource for schools looking to address some of the challenges facing the world of education today. In school districts across the country, digital classrooms are growing in popularity among teens, parents and teachers. As primary and secondary schools embrace online programs the same way colleges did years ago, traditional schools must also rethink how they market and differentiate themselves in this new competitive marketplace.

Online Learning Empowers Public Schools to Compete

As public schools are faced with increased competition from charter schools, home schooling, and online schools they must learn how to compete for and keep students. To remain competitive in this new era of choice, many schools are embracing digital classrooms by offering options that allow for a more interactive and personalized learning experience through computers, notebooks and other digital devices. For some schools bringing technology into the traditional setting is enough, where other schools see the need to offer an online component that can be accessed 24/7 from the student’s home. This type of online learning environment proves beneficial for kids with demanding extracurricular activities, physical disabilities or those who are looking for a more individual pace in the comfort and safety of their own home.

Schools and Marketing: Unchartered Territory

For schools implementing an online learning program they also need to consider the power of choice and the need to better market their school to the general public, especially in areas where open enrollment is a factor. For many this means entering into uncharted territory as they may not have marketed their school at all in the past. Knowing where to market and to whom becomes a challenge, especially if the school does not have a marketing team or strategy in place.

An example of a school that has mastered the art of marketing is Primavera Online High School in Arizona. Now in their 13th year, they have grown to be the largest high school in the state with over 6,000 students. In the beginning they used traditional marketing such as TV, radio, and print but as the internet evolved so has their strategy. They now use a combination of traditional and nontraditional marketing efforts to reach potential students. As a school they also continue to evolve and recently opened a new state of the art Blended Learning Center that focuses on the S.T.E.M. model (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math). The Blended Learning Center is part of their Middle School which is also growing at an accelerated rate. Both the online school and blended learning center use a cloud-based solution provided by FlipSwitch which enables them to easily interact with students and parents online 24/7.

All Schools Require Online Marketing

Online marketing to students and parents is a must for any program. Having more than just a web presence is necessary and traditional schools need to incorporate strategies such as email marketing, search engine optimization (SEO), website re-development, mobile apps, social media, blogs, and public relations into their marketing plans.

It’s also important to understand where to invest when it comes to marketing budgets. To do this effectively, schools must have visibility into what’s often referred to as a “buyer’s journey.” Only this time, the buyer or customer is the student and his or her parents. Mapping the right digital marketing investments and messaging requires alignment with the potential student’s (and parent’s) process of discovering a need, becoming aware of a solution, learning about that solution and taking action. This strategic methodology is the key to what sets apart a successful learning program’s online marketing effort from an average or even failed plan.

Every year, online and blended learning programs are playing an increasingly important role in education. Schools that embrace such programs and understand how to properly market them through the right channels will have the greatest success.
By Damian Creamer, Founder & CEO, FlipSwitch

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