When you’re starting a child care service, among all the creative ideas you have for classes and kids is another concern: enrollment. Here are 5 child care marketing ideas, tips, and strategies that will help you connect with parents and keep enrollment high.
Choosing a childcare service is usually not an impulsive act. A mother may consider daycare when she finds out she’s pregnant, starting a decision-making process that will go on for years.
Your daycare marketing strategy needs to acknowledge and work with this process, providing information and building trust as evaluation leads to a decision.
At the same time, a sudden life change like a new job opportunity may create the need for daycare right away. You also want to advertise so parents who need something soon can find you.
There are certain tactics most businesses must execute today, particularly on digital channels. Your daycare service needs to do so with touch and emotional finesse because your service deals with something of incalculable value: our children.
In the end, reputation and word of mouth referrals will also be vital. Here is a review of the marketing channels you can use to build long-term success.
#1. Design An Assuring, Clean Child Care Website
Your website is ground zero for your marketing; much of your advertising, social sharing, and informational content will lead here. It introduces your daycare center, provides a virtual tour, and stimulates people to act.
It’s critical to drive traffic to your website because it allows you to capture contact info for email marketing as well as create retargeting lists.
Today’s designs are airy, intuitive to navigate, and mobile friendly. Here is an example mockup built on a UXI® template:
Build your daycare website over time, replacing stock photos with real images of you and your kids. Keep it updated with news, curriculum changes, and helpful tips.
Your website should make clear strides towards building trust with parents. If it’s outdated, content thin, or confusing, it will hurt you early in the marketing process.
Child care services tend to have amateurish website designs, but there is no reason for this. A professional design on a template is inexpensive (you can get a free template design from Marketing 360® when you market with us). Getting a professional design is an easy way to gain a competitive advantage.
Pro Tip: Use Infographics
The internet is increasingly visual. When you convey information with quick visual aids, you’ll reach more people.
Infographics work well for this. Instead of describing things in long blocks of text, put the information into a visual format:
Pro Tip: Use Authentic Images
Many childcare websites have a generic feel because they overuse stock photos that look too much like stock photos.
Today, people share life experiences on social media with images taken on their phones. We respond to authentic, real-life scenes more than the staged look of a “perfect” stock photo.
Consider, for example, the difference between these images:
You want the images on your website to carry information and evoke an emotional response. Real kids, with all their sweet, unpredictable, authentic energy will get more of response than flawless stock photos.
Visitors to your website want to get a feel for your daycare center – a realistic feel. Have a professional photographer take some images of real life there, and use them on your website. If you can’t do that right away, try to use commercial images that better communicate the emotion of real life. You’re better off presenting something that looks like a Snapchat story than obviously staged stock photos.
Pro Tip: Create a Video
Many daycare centers want to get parents in for a tour. But they don’t offer the convenience of a taster with a virtual tour. This inexpensive video can highlight security, show the atmosphere of classes, let you introduce staff, get a parent testimonial, and review curriculum.
Optimize your video for search on YouTube, which is the second most used search engine online.
Again, few daycare businesses create an effective video. Yet another chance to distinguish yourself from the competition.
#2. Create Informational Drip Campaigns
As we mentioned, choosing childcare is rarely a snap decision. On the contrary, parents take months, even years considering the best options for their child.
With this type of long sales cycle, you need marketing tactics that create periodic touches, providing continual value.
Fortunately, digital marketing makes the process much easier than it used to be. Social media networks and marketing automation can keep you in front of even the most methodical of decision makers.
One of the main things you want to do with any potential client is get an email address to opt them into your newsletter. This is one of the easiest ways to keep parents in the loop about what’s happening at your center, and to send out occasional promotional material.
Be sure to set up a conversion box on your website to capture emails. Also, whenever you meet a new parent who expresses interest, ask if they’d like to get some info via email.
Use email marketing software to manage your email lists and automate your email blasts. You can create different lists for people with varied interests/needs, including a list to send material to existing clients.
Getting an email is one of the easiest conversions and an effective way to keep in touch with prospects.
Social media is a vital channel for child care centers, and lets you share both information and visual content.
Set-up pages on Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and Pinterest, and post regular updates. All of these channels are perfect for highlighting the atmosphere of your center, talking about new activities/curriculum, and for sharing parenting and early education tips.
Be sure to encourage parents to share school news and the triumphs their kid’s experience at school. As they share events with their network, you gain brand awareness with more potential clientele.
Social media marketing provides a lot of ongoing content, created by you and by others. It’s a free, effective way to stay in front of parents as they consider their child care choices.
Pro Tip: Try Facebook Lead Ads
So what about targeting parents who are closer to making a decision or need immediate daycare?
You can do this on Facebook Lead Ads. Facebook has truly remarkable levels of targeting that allow you to drill down to demographics, interests, and life events with great detail.
For example, you could create an ad that only serves up to:
- Women ages 20-35
- College Grad
- Lives in a multi-family home
- Parents with toddlers
- Politically liberal
- Buys kids products
You specifically target this group, running an ad that will show in their news feed where they can give you an email, call, or schedule a visit – without even having to leave Facebook.
You can also use Audience Insights to target interests that connect to daycare needs.
The one thing you need to make sure of is that your audience isn’t so small (depending on the geographic area you target) that you can’t get enough activity on the ad (low engagement metrics will make the ad more expensive). But overall, this is an affordable way to try some lead-generation.
Pro Tip: Host a Facebook Event
Want to turn some of this social media traffic into visitors at your next open house? Create a Facebook event to share with your network. This quickly gets the word out across Facebook connections, and will definitely increase your attendance.
#3. Reputation and Reviews
In the world of child care and preschools, there is no greater marketing moment than when one of your parents recommends you to one of their friends. Nothing you do can match that level of trust.
Likewise, there is nothing worse than an unhappy parent telling people to stay away from you.
Today, this “word of mouth” also happens online in the form of reviews. Reviews seem to pop-up everywhere, from well-known sites like Yelp to real estate websites. Potential clients can go on niche sites like greatschools.org, or they can look for reviews on Facebook.
When someone does a search on Google and checks business listings, one of the most prominent features are reviews:
Be assured that prospective parents will check online reviews for your school. If your profile is too negative, it can devastate your marketing.
It’s essential that you make efforts to manage your online reputation and create a positive review profile.
The two most important steps are:
- Remember that every parent you work with has the ability to review you online. Great service and an exceptional environment for kids is your main tool for gaining positive reviews. On the other hand, every time you cut corners, it can cost you – long term.
- Ask for reviews from happy parents. There is an unfortunate tendency for unhappy people to be more active with online reviewing. Make sure the happy majority is well represented by asking parents to leave you reviews. Ask in person (they can often do this on their phone), or send out emails with a link to the site you’d like the review on. Happy parents will usually help but need a little push.
Keep an eye on this content. If there is a legitimate complaint, respond to it. Often you can rectify things once the parent sees you respect their opinion.
And don’t forget to encourage offline word of mouth. Local referrals are a necessity for child care and preschools. If your parents aren’t recommending you, you’re missing a valuable way to increase enrollment.
#4. Work On Your Search Results
There once was a marketing service printed on yellow paper and left at people’s doorsteps. RIP.
Today when people want to look up a service, they do it on Google. It’s a major advantage to have your business appear at the top of search results.
You do this in three ways.
The first is to use pay-per-click (PPC) advertising. You use the auction system (Google Adwords) to bid on keywords and gain placement at the top of the page. The top four results on any search page are all PPC.
The second is the aforementioned Google My Business listing. This is a free listing that ties into local search and Google Maps. It’s important to optimize your description and service listing with the keywords parents search on for daycare services. Also, more positive reviews will help your ranking.
Third is the organic listing of your website. This is driven by your search engine optimization (SEO) work. Optimize your site for target keywords, get some backlinks into your site, and blog on a regular basis to get high rankings.
Note that you can use your blog to optimize content for a variety of searches, including common questions people have about child care. This is a great way to introduce your brand to parents doing research and get them into your marketing funnel.
Pro Tip: Use Retargeting
A tactic within PPC campaigns is retargeting. This places a piece of code (called a cookie or pixel) on a visitor’s browser and allows you to display specific ads to them after they leave your website.
Retargeting is effective as a brand touch-point in the longer sales cycle of child care. You can run ads on websites as they surf online, and in Facebook news feeds.
#5. Use Marketing Software and CRM Tools
If you are running a daycare center or preschool of any size, you’ll benefit from getting your marketing, advertising, and lead-generation organized with marketing and customer relationship management (CRM) software.
It’s a significant challenge to manage all these marketing channels and contacts over long sales cycles. Most childcare and preschools running marketing to gain enrollment fail because they can’t maintain their strategic grip. Marketing and advertising become a haphazard matter of luck.
Marketing software like Marketing 360® makes management of your marketing far easier. It includes email marketing and CRM software. You can manage all your campaigns from one platform, track activities over time, and see the results of your efforts. Use data to improve campaigns and strengthen your competitive advantage.
Child care and preschools are not a particularly strong business vertical when it comes to marketing. The people who run these businesses do it because they love and care about kids. But that love doesn’t translate into new enrollment and poorly executed, DIY marketing hinders many businesses.
That leaves you with an opportunity. Work with child care marketing experts like Marketing 360® and you’ll establish yourself as the type of caring professionals parents will trust their children to.