Getting ahead of the curve: digital marketing for schools in Dubai
School marketing in Dubai has changed quite significantly in the past two years.
In today’s competitive climate, a senior leadership team in Dubai needs to know the impact of SEO & SEM, paid per click vs paid per impressions, social listening and the purpose of a strong content strategy.
In years past, schools in Dubai would market themselves in very traditional forms – a billboard outside of a local housing community with a very simple statement like “Admissions now open” or door drop leaflets or door hangers delivered with a local newspaper, or even a sandwich board located in a popular residential area.
With so many new schools in Dubai, and existing competition feeling the pressure, the traditional forms of advertising no longer generate the return on investment needed to successfully market a school and bring parents through the funnel.
Digital advertising now reigns supreme. A simple Google search for ‘Schools in Dubai’ tells quite a story. Google must be delighted with the growth of the sector in the UAE as schools compete for the top three SEM (search engine marketing) places. For any school leader entering the Dubai market, they will need to be well versed in digital marketing or at least know what questions to ask. A comprehensive understanding how website traffic works and how to analyse it is a must for future start up senior leaders as the landscape demands school leaders who acknowledge the importance of the current trends of school marketing.
Interestingly, parasitic marketing is widely the norm with digital advertising for schools in Dubai. This form of advertising would not be acceptable in traditional channels. Could you imagine a school placing a billboard directly outside of another school advertising itself? Google any of the premium schools in Dubai and you will see that their competitors appear in the SEM adverts. With this as an accepted norm, the schools with the deepest pockets will win, not the ones with the most intelligent SEM strategy.
Facebook advertising is also a very crowded market. The ability to target user- behaviours and demographics means that intelligent messages can reach audiences directly but with recent changes in the Facebook algorithms, content development and messaging is now a priority on this platform, rather than paid advertising. The on-going battle between Facebook and Google will ultimately dictate the direction in which schools will go.
It’s now important for schools to leverage digital marketing with intelligent online content and messaging. Twitter use for schools and businesses to other professionals has been the norm for some-time now, but content around key school values and messages is quickly becoming the new norm for schools in Dubai across all other digital platforms. The following questions should be on the agenda at the start of the academic year for senior leadership teams in the UAE?
• What is our SEO & SEM strategy?
• What is our target for website traffic this year in the key enrollment times?
• What is our target bounce rate for website users?
• What is our target for costs per click in Google advertising?
• Where do returning users commonly exit our school website?
• What is our content strategy across all digital platforms?
• What strategy will we use for specific mediums?
Digital advertising is its infancy within the education sector compared to other industries but with more new schools entering the market, the necessity to get ahead of the curve is apparent and new schools would be positioned competitively by prioritizing digital marketing in their start up plans.