How your independent school can get more applicants with inbound marketing

By February 19, 2015 Marketing Advice, News No Comments

I’m increasingly asked to recommend new strategies for maximising pupil recruitment in the independent school sector.  I get asked to plug loads of books and blogs, but this one from the US caught my eye recently. It looks at work undertaken by a co-educational private school, called Sewickley Academy, in Pittsburg (

Sewickley adopted inbound marketing in 2008 after the recession, when they started to see their inquiries decline month after month. They tried throwing more money at traditional marketing channels, including poster hoardings and direct mail, which didn’t increase any of their “interest indicators” – inquiries, applicants and on-site visits – and it was expensive too.


They realised that they needed to stop talking about Sewickley, and start talking in general about private schools in the Pittsburgh area through online channels.

  • Content Strategy. Sewickley focused their content strategy by developing personas for different families in the area. They found that there were different personas based on where the family lived in relation to the school, i.e. North, South, closer to Pittsburgh, and in the school’s neighbourhood.


  • Paid Ads Strategy. Sewickley took advantage of Google ads and Facebook ads. In the beginning, they targeted keywords and phrases that they were writing about so they could attract traffic while building up authority on the topics with organic blog content.


  • Social Media Strategy. They recognised that an effective social media strategy supported their content strategy and provided them with new channels to promote it. They’ve found that social media also serves as a retention tool, so they can easily engage with families and students.

Have a look at the paper (and see if you spot the plug for the book!)