Private School Retention Strategies

student retention strategies - guide to increasing student retention - nick laiuppa marketing

Student retention is always a hot topic with us school marketers but, it tends to heat up as soon as retention rates drop.

student retention strategies - guide to increasing student retention - nick laiuppa marketing

 Ideally, you’ve got a student retention program running year round, but let’s be honest it’s hard to convince administration to spend money and resources on marketing to families that are already enrolled with you.

So, as soon as someone notices a drop in student enrollment or re-enrollment it’s all hands on deck to keep as many students as possible. Unfortunately, at this point, it’s probably too late to get any real benefits because you’re behind the 8 ball.

There are loads of factors that affect student retention rates, but currently, the one major factor on everyone’s mind is inflation and the economy.

How will the current season of our economy affect the enrollment rates of our students? Will parents pull their kids out of our school to save the tuition money? These are all valid questions that you should be asking as a school marketer. Questions that you can find the answer to in student retention programs.

This guide was inspired by the mounting fear of people in our industry asking these types of questions. So I dedicated four episodes of The Private School Marketing Minute podcast to dive deeper into each of the topics that we’re going to cover here. This guide is dedicated to teaching you how to increase student retention rates using three unique strategies.

Student Retention Plan Examples

What Are the Benefits of Student Retention?

In order to fully understand the importance of student retention programs, we first need to understand the opposite (what it takes to acquire new students).

It’s funny, new registrations feel like the cream of the crop. It’s always so rewarding to see the work that we do in the marketing field translate into new student enrollments. But this should not be the only KPI we base our success on.

In reality, it’s far more costly to acquire a new student than it is to keep a current one enrolled. So, in essence, we’re leaving a ton of money on the table and spending more money than we need to by NOT utilizing student retention programs.

The first post and podcast episode in this “improve student retention” series is dedicated to setting the foundation for focusing on the retention of students as a viable (and potentially the best) use of your resources.

Explore the benefits of student retention as the first step in your journey.

How to Improve Retention in Students

student retention strategies - guide to increasing student retention - nick laiuppa marketing

Now that the benefits of student retention are clear let’s get to the first strategy in our toolbox. Email marketing. What was the first thing that came to mind when you read that?

If you’re like most private school marketers you probably thought “uh, email?! What’s so great about email?” To which I’d warn you not to let the endless amounts of junk mail that you receive every day cloud your perception.

Junk mail sucks. It doesn’t work. No one likes it. I agree. But, that doesn’t make email itself suck. Email as a platform certainly doesn’t suck. In fact, assuming you have an email account most of us use it every single day.

So, how could a platform that has the attention of nearly all of its users every single day suck? Well, it doesn’t. There is actually a HUGE opportunity for schools to shine with their email marketing because there is so much junk mail arriving in our inboxes. If you take the time to develop valuable information that your subscribers want to read then you’ve got the key to that world of opportunity.

One of the benefits of email marketing for schools is direct access to your audience. There are very few digital platforms that give you this type of direct access. You certainly won’t find it on any social media platform. Good luck trying to reach your Facebook fans or your Instagram followers. If you’ve ever posted something just to see that only 2% of your audience actually saw it you can relate.

Email gives you the ability to get your information into the hands of your audience on a platform that they are on nearly every day. The challenge is figuring out what type of information to get them to increase your student retention rates and to remain consistent with that delivery schedule.

The second post in our four-part series will teach you how to use email marketing to increase your re-enrollment rates.

More Student Retention Strategies

Direct Mail Marketing

Direct mail marketing is a dead artform. Similar to email marketing, most companies are just throwing messages at the wall to see what sticks. Spray and pray baby. Because of this lack of personalization, the platform is just begging to be used the right way. We teach you how to do direct mail marketing for schools the right way in post three of our series.

student retention plan examples - guide to increasing student retention - nick laiuppa marketing

Here’s what you’ve got to do. Consider yourself a publication. Your publication produces a quarterly magazine that helps parents be better parents. This publication is 80% helpful and useful information around this topic and 20% information about your school. Delivering this packet of info to your families will deepen the relationship they have with your school because you’re essentially demonstrating to them that you are the leader in family and student development.

Every magazine that is delivered makes it a little harder for them to consider removing their child from your school. Every issue builds on top of the previous one eventually snowballing into a ton of proof that your school is the best place for their child. Proof on top of proof.

The ultimate benchmark is this, the education your child receives is just a benefit of the cost of tuition. The real prize is in the helpful and valuable information that you provide your families. Far fetched? Maybe. But with that as your standard, the content you produce will be truly grade A.

Using Advertising for Student Retention

student retention plan examples - guide to increasing student retention - nick laiuppa marketing

Why spend money to advertise to people who are already enrolled with you? It sounds a little backward a potentially a huge waste of money if you’re not familiar with the points we’ve already covered.

This is why it’s important for us as school marketers to efficiently communicate the importance of continuing to run these types of student retention programs year-round to our heads of school. If we don’t chances are they’ll want to kill these programs when the times are good and start them up when it’s already too late.

By using remarketing to get your content in front of your current enrolled students and parents you’ll appear to be “everywhere”. Being everywhere is a good thing when it comes to retention. This is another way to position your school as the leading school in the area. 

The catch here is the content. You need to have a pool of 15 – 20 pieces of helpful, valuable, or entertaining content constantly being rotated through and updated in order to achieve this effect. But, don’t let this deter you. Chances are you’ve already got that content created across your social media channels and other platforms, you just need to gather it up.

In the last post in our series, we cover how to use remarketing advertising for schools in a way that will position your school as the best choice in the minds of your families.

Let's Recap

If done correctly just implementing one of these strategies will increase your student retention rates. It’s highly likely that the other schools in your area aren’t doing any of these on a regular basis so the opportunities here are huge. These strategies don’t only apply to private k-12 schools. You can use these same strategies to increase student retention in higher education or the retention of online students in your digital courses. Need help putting the plan together or putting it into action? We can help build and implement everything we’ve covered with our student retention services.

I hope that this series has been helpful to you. Send me a message on LinkedIn so we can continue the conversation.

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