Increase School Admissions with Video

12th April 2018

written by George Hughes

The world of independent schools has changed and the academic landscape is now a highly competitive industry. Independent schools can no longer rely solely on the prestige of their institution, league tables or word of mouth to secure a constant flow of admissions. Today your prospective students and parents live in a digital age and you will need to embrace technology if you want to keep your admissions high and stay in the minds of the right people. After ensuring you have a well presented and smooth working website, video is the next marketing tool you should set your sights on. Here are 5 ways that video can be used to increase admissions to your school. 

 

1. Video on your websites homepage

A video on your homepage can be incredibly powerful for independent schools where your website acts as your shop window. In fact, a survey by Unbounce found that video on your landing page can increase conversion rates by 80%. This video holds all the information and knowledge that a prospective parent or pupil will need. It eliminates the time your prospect has to spend searching for information and engages them instantly with creative and meaningful content. In a matter of minutes, not only do they know everything they need to know about your school but they also form an emotional connection. They have begun to imagine what it will be like to be a pupil at your school or as a parent what it will be like to send their child there. This connection is hard to achieve through just text and pictures. It’s an instant way to stand out from other schools and demonstrate your unique selling point. When creating this video you should ensure it is concise, polished and easy to digest.

2. Facebook Video Marketing

If you haven’t already been using social media for your school then it’s a good time to start! After watching the brand film on your website, visitors will want to do further research online. This is where social media channels play an important role. The more interaction they can achieve with your school, the better they will feel about you and the easier it will be for them to build a relationship. Facebook has 1.18 billion daily active users (Facebook) and the average user spends 50 minutes per day on Facebook. Incorporating a Facebook page for your school will amplify the amount of people you can connect with and it is another platform where your brand film can be presented. Not only that but via your Facebook page you can begin to include “vignettes” of school life via both professional videos and “self-shot” videos. This could be films featuring different parts of the school like sporting life, 6th form, arts and drama, or calendar events like school trips and sports day. It’s a great way to add depth and character to your school. Facebook has options now to prioritise video viewing and your page cover photo can be replaced with a video. Consumers engage with branded videos the most on Facebook (49%), followed by YouTube (32%), then Instagram (24%) (Tubular Insights).

3.  Youtube channel

YouTube is the second most visited site after Google (Alexa). Regular video posts onto a Youtube channel can achieve huge traffic and engagement from your prospects. The average mobile-viewing session on YouTube lasts more than 40 minutes (Kissmetrics). Where Youtube excels over Facebook is that you can create your own “channel” for the school with lots and lots of videos. It can be an exciting way for pupils and teachers at the school to create their own videos to contribute to the channel.  You can be a lot more creative with the types of videos you make and really show off the school’s character. Youtube can act like an extension of your website video where parents and students will be willing to spend more time watching a video about specific aspects of your school like sport, maths, or teachers and facilities.

4. Social media advertising

Video advertisements can be hugely effective online as you can target very specific demographics whether that’s pupils, parents or teachers. Different social media platforms will work more effectively depending on the target audience. For example, Twitter and Facebook adverts will work best on parents whereas Instagram, Snapchat and Youtube ads will work best on prospective pupils. These adverts can be either brand new content or can be created using your own existing videos. The optimal length for these is between 5 and 15 seconds. Social media advertising as a whole can be an extremely effective way of getting your school in front of a new audience, but you can also use it to keep your school constantly in the mind of your current audience. Using a simple feature of Facebook called “pixel” you can “re-market” to people who have already visited your website. This means that when they visit your website they will be tracked by Facebook or Instagram and shown an unobtrusive advert to remind them that they were interested in your school. This form of advertising is highly effective. 

5. Video mail

The truth is not everyone is on social media, so how do you reach parents that are not on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Youtube? One fantastic solution is through email marketing. It is a tried and tested approach that works time and time again. Whether you send out a newsletter or a personal email you can include video within that email. That can be your school video, a message from the head or a video about some other aspect of school life. Another way to get parent’s attention is to send out a hard copy of your video via Royal Mail. Rather than being old fashioned (i.e. a VHS sent in a big package) this is actually a very sophisticated form of marketing called a “video book” — it’s a school prospectus that when opened, contains a small screen that plays your video automatically. If you have an open day coming up and you want to target parents with something special then this could be the perfect solution.

There are so many great ways for independent schools to increase their admissions using video and it represents one of the best ways to get high user engagement and a solid return on investment. There has never been a better time for schools to spread awareness, share their story and connect with new audiences. Video is one of the fastest ways for you to get your school out there in front of the right people and make your story heard by those that matter.

In recent years there has been an undoubtable shift in the way brands and advertisers are choosing to communicate with their audiences and customers. Not only is there a steady decline in traditional forms of advertising and a transition towards online video content but, the way brands are using video to advertise is also changing.

Whilst video adverts that play on the immediate desires of a general target audience still have a big role to play in general advertising, advertisers and brands are starting to see the opportunities to connect with their audiences with more meaningful content; content that is relevant to their lifestyles and emotions. What we are seeing now is video being created by brands that is driven more by narrative and storytelling as opposed to the “hard sell” video adverts that has been the norm for so many years.

Take this 2018 advert by Disneyland Paris – The Little Duck as our first example.


The video was posted on Youtube on December 25th and now has 2.9 million views and is the most viewed video on Disney’s channel. It is a video led entirely through narrative that plays with the audience’s emotions. The story is relatable to both an older generation who remember Donald Duck and a younger generation that engages with high quality animation and cute animals. What works well with this video is that it sells the desire to visit Disneyland Paris through the story of the little duck, without needing to mention ticket prices, accommodation or travel. The narrative of the video helps to build an instant and positive connection to Disneyland. 

A lot of brands now produce video content solely for online use because it not only costs less than TV advertising but can also reach an equal number of people. More money can then be put into the production of the video, making them appear more like short films or TV series instead of adverts. They are longer in length, have characters or a protagonist and there is a strong storyline that has a message relatable to the target audience.  

Here is another example by Mercedes Benz – Bertha Benz: The Journey That Changed Everything.

It is a video about the journey of Mrs Benz and her first fuelled car adventure. There is a strong narrative and a main protagonist, the production quality is high with a lot of detail put into the set design and costumes, and there is a relevant and modern message about female empowerment with the tagline at the end of the video “She Believed in Herself”. It is 4 minutes long and therefore would be too long to run as a TV advert but works incredibly well as an online branded video because it’s interesting, eye catching, different from what Mercedes have done in the past and has a meaningful message. 

Creating an online video for your brand that uses storytelling can help you to reach wider audiences that you might not already engage with. The reason the Mercedes Benz video works so well is because the message it is selling is worth sharing, so audiences are more likely to share the video amongst friends and family. The story is powerful and it builds strong emotions which help aids the positive impression of the Mercedes brand.

Here is another example by Delta Airlines.

A very eye catching and heartwarming video that works well at building an emotional connection to Delta Airlines. They’ve told the story of travelling through the eyes of a child which makes it seems a lot more exciting and desirable. What works well with this advert is the brief mentioning of the brand at the end of the video. If the audience is engaged and likes the video, they will need to wait till the end to find out who the brand is behind it. Because the story has been so engaging for the audience, when they see the branding they will respond positively to it.

These are just a few examples of story-led videos from brands that have come out recently online. Videos that rely on storytelling are highly effective at engaging your audience on a much deeper and more meaningful level and they don’t always need a big budget. It is more important to have the right strategy, ideas and script. And most importantly you need to know what story you want to tell.

Over the last few years, the rise of new technologies has dramatically transformed the way audiences consume and perceive video advertising – and change continues at a staggering pace. Millennials and Generation Z aren’t interested in watching live television. Instead they turn to Netflix to binge-watch their favourite drama series or surf Youtube and other platforms for content relating to their particular interests or passions. As traditional broadcast audiences grow older and conventional TV viewing figures decline, focus for advertisers has shifted to the online space. In 2017 brands and advertisers spent twice as much on online advertising as they did on TV (Magisto), and this is set to grow.

Adapting to rapidly changing online technologies has had a massive impact on the nature of the advertising format itself. Without the luxury of a captive static TV audience, and with an increasing consumer distrust of disruptive and overt advertising, advertisers are having to get both creative and technical in the way they approach marketing to their ever fragmenting and mobile audiences. Today’s tech savvy consumer demands a choice of uninterrupted entertaining online experiences – and they are ready to skip, switch channels or switch devices if they don’t like what they see. Audiences have always had the opportunity to ‘go and put the kettle on’ during traditional broadcast ad breaks if the content was unengaging of course – but the potential of an ‘ad rejection’ moment is now multiplied 100 fold online.

 

The ongoing challenge for brands and advertisers then, is ‘how do we stop consumers reaching for that virtual kettle?’

 

These are the questions brands need to consider:

 

 

WHAT types of content will engage consumers?

The internet has changed the way people can and choose to view content. It’s no longer simply a case of marketing to a static audience who are sitting down for a few dedicated hours of TV watching. There are now many more ways for people to consume content via multiple devices (TV, desktops, laptops, tablets, smartphones and wearable tech – often simultaneously), and many more opportunities for consuming content away from the traditional home leisure space and time. Marketers now have the opportunity to reach people as they move around during the day, travel from place to place, at work, at school – and as they’re spending their leisure time. This poses a challenge for the types of content brands should be producing:

 

  • On-The-Go – Snackable, scrollable content

There’s no point putting out 30 second videos for people to view when they’re on-the-go, waiting in a queue, checking messages or walking down the road. This audience is using mobile phones and needs bitesize, 6 second chunks of mobile optimised content that will briefly grab their attention as they scroll through their feeds, moving from task to task. The average adult scrolls through 70+ feet of social media feed every single day, so content has have an instant hook for the viewer to notice. A recent report revealed a 26% increase in brand awareness through brands using scroller ad formats. (IAB)

 

This ad by jobs website Reed has it all incuding kittens, humour and a 6 second in-your-face spot at the beginning.

 

 

  • Lean forward content

People with a bit more time on their hands, will spend a little longer choosing to view and more importantly, engage with, content in a bit more depth. They might be travelling to work on the bus, waiting in a doctor’s office or be on a break. They are still using mobile devices, though can also be at their desks viewing on desktop computers and laptops. This content should encourage ‘lean-forward’ user interaction in the content experience in the form of prompting users to like, comment on, share, or embed videos. It should resonate with the desired audience in a way that encourages them to engage with it.

 

These Volvo Trucks short brand videos are highly entertaining action adventure stunts designed to pull the viewer in and elicit engagement.

 

 

  • Lean back content

The traditional type of leisure-time content consumption. Audiences who are static and relaxing will consume long-form, long-term content formats. For marketing content to compete with other content in this space it needs to be highly creative and emotionally engaging, employ great storytelling and in fact integrate with the surrounding content so as not to disrupt the consumer experience. Interesting branded content  like documentaries  or brand-made programmes can work well in this space. Although they may be static – the majority of people will still be browsing on mobile devices so content needs to be mobile optimised. This is the optimal time for simultaneous platform usage. 87% of consumers now watch TV together with a second screen (Deloitte Digital Consumer Survey.)

 

Stella Artois partnered with National Geographic to commission an award wining film director to make a documentary highlighting the impact of the global water crisis on communities around the world – a compelling piece of quality long-form ‘lean back’ branded content.

 

 

HOW will brands engage consumers with content?

The increasing rejection of overt advertising means brands are having to be more creative and consumer-focused in their marketing content strategies. Along with producing different types of video content for different devices and types of consumers as we have seen, brands now need to think about HOW best to reach these fragmented audiences.

 

  • Personalisation

With the increase in digital marketing noise and content choices available to them, consumers are becoming less responsive to content they perceive as less relevant to them. Brands will have to produce tailored content accurately targeted to specific audience member interests and browsing habits. They will also need to harness technology to make use of location-based marketing so that they can target consumers according to where they are at any given moment.

 

Tesco Clubcard produced a personalised awareness and retention campaign.

 

 

  • ‘Audience First’

Rather than placing expensive paid advertising with the big, general reach global publishers and broadcasters, brands will have to find different ways of marketing to their targeted audience segments. As consumers watch more self-selected video content and less broadcast TV, brands are creating their own video content channels and collaborating on ‘audience first’ content shared via video influencers. Macro influencers with more than 100,000 subscribers or followers on their social channels have been in the ascendancy up to now but with growing audience segmentation and targeting, brands are increasingly partnering with micro-influencers on content production.

 

Have a look at these examples of top brands successfully collaborating with micro-influencers, particularly in the Instagram video space.

 

 

  • Quality

Social media algorithms are becoming more sophisticated, and as has already happened on Facebook, overt hard-sell advertising will be penalised and brands will have to work much harder to get their messages in front of their audiences. Brands will need to create more thoughtful, entertaining, and value-adding videos that consumers will actively choose to watch and share in order to beat the algorithms. Quality over quantity will be key in the video content of the future.

 

Coors Light revamped its frivolous image with a series of high-quality, value-adding short docufilms, presenting their products in real-life situations and places, while telling compelling real-life stories.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tbj10JszdZs

 

 

  • Cross-channel content

With audiences using multiple devices and consuming content via multiple channels, sometimes simultaneously, brands will have to adopt a user-centric integrated approach to content in order to get a better ROI.

 

Heineken’s Departure Roulette is a great example of a cross-channel integrated, interactive video campaign.

 

 

 

So the future of video marketing content is full of opportunity and the potential for brands to accurately reach their target audiences will be better than ever before. The biggest challenge for brands will be getting noticed online and cutting through the increasing digital marketing noise. Only the brands that think creatively, embrace technology and adopt a user-centred approach to their content will get results. Surely this can only be a good thing for the digital advertising industry – and consumers in general?

 

 

If your business would like help creating quality video content for multiple platforms, contact us at info@smallfilms.com.

 

 

Small Films are video content specialists. By combining strategic minds with creative flair we create powerful stories with video that deeply resonate with audiences, supporting our clients to achieve their ambitions in growing their organisation, brand or campaign.

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