How digital media can boost enrollment

By Lesley Rogers

Targeted digital ads can help school districts make sure busy families know about their programs and can help drive enrollment for key demographics, like incoming kindergarten families.

Digital media – paid online advertising – is just one tool many school districts use as part of their ongoing communications efforts to reach families. Digital media is targeted, effective and cost efficient and reaches people where they are – on computers or smartphones. 

Enrollment has declined for many districts over the past two years. For school districts looking to make sure families know about kindergarten enrollment, pre-K programs or enrollment in option programs, like dual language or virtual academies, digital ads provide that information right to the intended audience.

At Strategies 360, we work with school districts to develop the right outreach plan, messages and ad design, as well as buying ad space across multiple platforms. We monitor ads, prioritize the highest performing ads and make refinements throughout the marketing campaign to ensure we are reaching the right audiences, with the right messages, on the right digital channels. All of our campaigns are designed to reach specific goals, which are prioritized in partnership with school districts and unique to each district.

In spring 2021, our highest performing digital media enrollment channels included:

  • Search ads: the ads people see when searching for key terms like “schools near me” or “how to enroll in kindergarten.” These ads make sure anyone searching in your community finds your enrollment page at the top.
  • Display ads: Online ads that pop up on websites when someone in your community is online reading news, shopping or playing a game on their phone. These ads have photos and text and help build awareness for your district and click through to your enrollment page.
  • YouTube ads: Short 7-12 second videos that play on YouTube as an ad, before the intended video. We identify specific audiences to receive the video and viewers can click through to watch more or go to your enrollment page.
  • Social media ads: The district can post organic content and “boost” it on your end, putting a little money on the post to help reach an audience beyond your social media followers. The S360 team can also create Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and NextDoor ads to reach the larger community. We typically drive 50 views for every $1 spent on social media ads. 

Overall, last spring saw ads performing at 400% above our benchmark averages. This spring, the districts we are working with are also seeing digital ads help drive clicks to enrollment sites (as well as paid ads, including on LinkedIn, to help drive staff recruitment).

S360 has worked with hundreds of education clients and maintains an evolving list of digital media benchmarks to better understand engagement and conversion goals. This allows us to identify under and over performing ad campaigns quickly, as we compare each ad campaign against internal benchmarks from previous campaigns.  

Want to learn more about how even a modest digital media budget can help drive families to your enrollment sites? Visit us on Thursday and Friday at the WSPRA conference or email us at to learn more about our enrollment-focused digital marketing efforts.

Example Search ads on a mobile device:

Example display ad:

Example social media ads: