How can Schools use Digital Advertising

4th November 2018

written by George Hughes

In an article by The Guardian, Ralf Lucas the founder of Good Schools Guide said that he was noticing a clear shift when meeting parents in their opinion towards State schools, saying that “Independent schools really need to show us more, not just tell us, as we’re really taking State schools seriously”. Parents today are spoilt for choice. Not only do independent schools need to prove their value over State schools but they also need to work harder to stand out from their competitor schools. This is why a well executed digital strategy should be a top priority for any marketing team in the independent school sector, and digital advertising can play a massive role in that.

So, what is digital advertising? Digital advertising is when you run adverts online across social media, Google, Youtube, and various other websites. Last year digital advertising spend outstripped television for the first time in history (SEOworks). It’s highly effective and the good news is it’s affordable for everybody, regardless of the size of your school marketing budget.

What are the best ways to use digital advertising for your school?

1. To drive more people to your school website

A video on your school website is an extremely effective way of engaging prospective parents. But how do you get them to visit your website in the first place, especially if they’ve never heard of your school? By running adverts online across Facebook and Instagram you can reach people beyond your immediate sphere of influence. For example, if you are a boarding school based in Surrey but you want to attract more international students from South Korea, you could run a Facebook advert that only targets affluent, well educated, English speaking adults in the Seoul area. Or, if you are a school in Buckinghamshire running a bursary scheme for inner city children, you could run an Instagram advert explaining the advantages of the scheme targeting London postcode children under the age of 16 who attend a specific selection of State schools. Even if you just want to attract more pupils from the next county, social media advertising is a great way to do this.

2. To highlight the best aspects of your school

Parent’s can often get into “analysis paralysis” when comparing different schools. This is because many will have a good website, a compelling video and lots of information that positions them in a favourable light. To stand out from the competition, you need to think outside the box and that’s where digital advertising can help. You can provide parents with many more layers of information about your school to help them in the decision making process and also keep yourself in the front of their mind. By creating a series of films highlighting different aspects of your school, whether that’s art, sport or academia, you can run them as promotional videos online across social media channels, Google and Youtube.

3. Keeping you at the front of prospect minds

One of the best things you can do for your school with digital advertising is to set up “re-marketing”. You might not have heard of re-marketing before but you will no doubt be familiar with it. We’ve all been there; you look at a bit of furniture or some clothing online and then an advert for that same item starts following you around the internet. You might find this slightly annoying, but the truth is it really works! All you need to do is ask your website designer to install Google and Facebook Pixel. Once that’s done you can set up your own re-marketing campaign via Google ads or Facebook ads. The reason this is so good is because it will keep your school in front of prospect parents as they deliberate over which school to visit, or which school to choose for their child.

Digital advertising can offer you some great solutions. Instagram and Facebook are both platforms that allow you to be very strategic in your approach to reach target audiences. By allowing you the selection of certain factors like location, age, gender, demographics, interests, behaviours, connections or language, you have the potential of reaching parents and students worldwide. As well as specific people around the UK. Your main focus when advertising on these platforms is to have a very distinguished idea of who your target audiences are and how you are best going to reach them with compelling content. 

You can be even more specific in your approach by targeting your prospect parents and students on the channels that you know they are most active. For example, if you want to be targeting parents with digital adverts the best options will be Facebook, Google and Youtube. As an older generation and not so immersed in the world of social media, you’ll mainly want to target them during everyday internet activity, for example, at work or online shopping through Google, watching recipe videos on Youtube, or, staying in contact with friends on Facebook.

If you want to be targeting students with your digital adverts the best platforms for you will be Instagram and Snapchat. The younger generation is much more tech savvy – providing them with direct access to your school’s information through a well displayed advert on Instagram will add a lot of credibility (maybe they’ll even share the ad). If you want to be reaching Feeder schools with your adverts then the best place to reach them is through Twitter as it’s more of a platform for brands, businesses and organisations. Perfect for spreading a more sophisticated message about your school to other people in the same field.

Digital advertising can seem like a daunting task but once you get started it soon becomes second nature. Just be specific in your approaches and make sure to have a very clear idea of who you want to be targeting. Use the right platforms in relation to your target audience, be knowledgeable about them so that you can be precise in your targeting and, be specific in the content you produce so that it resonates and connects with the target audience.

As recently as 5 years ago, the vast majority of us would have tuned into our favourite show via our TV sets… at home… probably on the sofa. Today, the picture is very different. Almost half of adults aged 22 to 45 are not watching content on traditional TV platforms (AdAge) and 64.8 million people born between 1981 and 1996 will watch streaming videos or downloaded videos on a device at least once a month (Forbes). TV as we know is dead. Long live online streaming! Of course, TV isn’t actually dead. But the way we consume it has changed forever. Many people will still flick the TV on to catch their favourite series as it is released whether that’s X Factor or Silent Witness, but for most of us, on-demand has replaced live viewing as our preferred method of consuming any type of television content. And for Millennials and Generation Z who have come of age in a digital world,  BBC and ITV are increasingly shunned in favour of subscription based services like Netflix or Amazon or user generated content sites like Youtube. 

 

The writing has been on the wall for analogue TV for at least 2 decades and when the analogue signal was switched off in 2017 forcing every individual to access television via a digital box, it wasn’t a great surprise to the industry. The emergence of super-fast broadband that removed the need to have a sky dish or cable TV to access more than 5 channels of television was one of the biggest driving factors behind the shift in the television landscape. That… and the arrival of 3G and cheap mobile data which has allowed video streaming in the palm of your hand.

 

It’s surprising to find that Netflix has actually been around since 1997. It started life as a DVD rental business but began streaming online video in 2007, just 2 years after Youtube was founded. Today Netflix has 139 million paid subscribers worldwide and on Youtube, one billion hours of content are watched every single day. YouTube is ranked as the second-most popular site in the world after Google (Alexa Internet). And, whilst Netflix and Youtube may have paved the way for online video, there are now dozens of different streaming platforms from Disney+ to Apple TV, Now TV to Facebook Watch, TikTok, Instagram TV and Amazon Prime.

 

There’s huge money behind these platforms. Facebook will spend a “measly” $1 billion on video content this year compared to Amazon’s $4 billion spend last year and Netflix’s projected $8 billion spend for 2019 (Media Post). Also this year, Amazon and Netflix have said they will be investing in UK TV production, and will help to promote these shows on both platforms (Video News). However, the question is, will this bring traction to TV broadcasters or, will audiences be tuning into their SVOD (Streaming Video On Demand) services to watch the shows? An Ofcom report released in the summer found that huge investment in original content by digital players has seen subscriptions to SVOD services in the UK overtake subscription to pay-TV services. Ofcom also found that last year that after a period of sustained growth, pay-TV subscription revenues fell in the UK for the first time, falling by 2.7 percent to £6.4 billion. Unsurprisingly as UK consumers turn their back on conventional television viewing in favour of subscription based streaming platforms, they also turn their back on advertising. TV advertising income fell significantly last year, declining seven percent year-on-year in real terms to £3.9 billion (Video News).

 

So what does this mean for brands who have, in the past relied on TV advertising to reach their customers? You guessed it, they’ve started to pump more and more of their budget into online advertising. Last year, digital advertising increased by 9.5% in the UK (emarketer) with video being the fastest growing medium. The exciting thing is that marketers looking to get an edge over their competitors are putting budget behind incredible branded content that is shining a spotlight on their products and services. Volvo, Heineken and Dove are not only running heavy hitting multi-channel campaigns with a hero piece of video content at it’s heart, but many like Patagonia, Red Bull and Nike are becoming publishers in their own right with Youtube channels that include regular, engaging video content that is enjoyed by millions of people.

 

As we, the consumer, become accustomed to subscription TV viewing, the days of sitting through 5 minutes of TV adverts seem like a distant memory. No surprise then, that we actively avoid spending time online in places where we are being hit with constant adverts. With Youtube releasing its own subscription service, it begs the question how long we will have to wait before Facebook, Instagram and other platforms follow suit? Moving forward, brands will have to work harder and harder to get their message seen by their audience and commissioning branded content will be one of the best ways to do that.

3 Easy Steps to Get Sales with Video

Video is dominating the digital marketing space at the moment and the statistics speak for themselves. According to Google nearly 50% of internet users look for videos related to a product or service before visiting a store and video ads have an average click-through rate of 1.84% – the highest of all digital ad formats. (Business Insider). But what’s the best way to drive sales for your business with video?

When it come to sales, Google describes the consumer marketing journey in its own framework “See, Think, Do”. In short, these are the 3 phases a customer goes through before buying your product. First, it is awareness of your product or service. Next, they signal an intention to buy and finally, they buy.

Whether you are a B2C brand selling a consumer product or a B2B business selling a service, you need to create a funnel of interest and leads at the start of your consumer’s journey and then guide them through these 3 steps before asking for a sale. The best way to do this is with either an online advertising campaign, an email marketing campaign or a mix of both.

1. Inform

Run some general awareness video adverts on either Google, Youtube or Social Media. This is for the people that don’t know you and haven’t even heard of you. Get them familiar with your business through targeted video adverts. Identify your audience first, decide where the best place is to reach them, then create adverts that softly introduce you to them. Don’t try to strong-arm them with a sale at this point. Brands that use video marketing grow their year-over-year revenue 49% faster than brands that don’t. (Wirebuzz)

2. Educate

Often, your ideal customer doesn’t know they have a problem that you can solve so begin to educate them. Let them know about the value of your product and why it is a good fit for them. In their buyer journey, when they are in Google’s “Think” phase, they will be seeking out information before making a decision so this is a great time to educate them. In fact, searches related to “how to” on YouTube have grown 70% year on year. (Google) Either send videos to your prospects via email (if you’ve captured their information) or re-market to them via Google or Facebook pixel. As I’ve talked about in a previous blog, think about creating videos that focus on the problem rather than the product. For example, if long distance runner is having a problem with blisters and your product solves that, then create content that unpacks “why” blisters happen in the first place, then how your product helps.

3. Offer

Buyers love a deal so run a promotion and deliver the promotion in a video. Run these videos as either 15 second adverts to the same audience you have raised awareness with, re-market to your existing audience or email them directly. Remember to have a finite time-frame on your offer and a definitive cut off point. The video should have a very strong call-to-action so prospects know how to redeem the offer. And remember to keep your videos nice and short. Nearly two-thirds of consumers prefer video under 60 seconds. (Insivia)

A recent survey by (Buffer) found that 73% of marketers said they’d create more video content if there were no obstacles like time, resources, and budget. But always consider that if you create a well-structured video marketing campaign just once, it’s much easier to then replicate it. It will be worth the time, resources and budget you may waste on less effective strategies.

If you want to talk to us about how to drive sales for your business using video then drop us a line at info@smallfilms.com

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