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You did it! Whether you spoke to a member of our sales team or connected with us on your own, you’ve finally taken the plunge and decided to partner with Niche. But, just like any partnership, becoming a member of the Niche family requires forethought and planning—those marketing dollars are precious! At the outset of the partnership, it’s crucial to have a clear set of (realistic) goals in mind and to understand how you’ll evaluate the success of the partnership both on an ongoing basis and when it comes time to renew.
Here’s a breakdown of how to do just that with our most common PK-12 digital marketing services. And if you haven’t partnered with us yet and are here out of curiosity, this will help with that too.
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The Premium Profile
I often tell people that if your school or district’s website is your front door, your Niche Profile is the porch. When families search for schools online, thanks to some powerful search engine optimization (SEO), they’ll often encounter listings for schools on sites like Niche before they make it to a school or district’s website. Every PK-12 school and public school district in the U.S. has a basic profile on Niche, but the Premium Profile allows you to put your best foot forward with more opportunities for customization, branding, multimedia content, and tracking than a basic profile. It also serves as the hub for other Niche digital marketing offerings, most of which link back to this prime piece of online real estate.
Goal-Setting for the Premium Profile
The Premium Profile is the first step in unlocking the Niche Audience. Schools and districts that choose the Premium profile are often looking to:
- Expand brand awareness among families who are actively searching for schools
- Demonstrate what makes their communities unique to prospective parents (and students)
- Drive inquiries and applications through increased website traffic
- Recruit new teachers and administrators — Yes! You can use it for this too.
As you go through the onboarding process with your Partnerships Manager, it’s important to review these goals (or others you might have) from the very start so you can use them as the foundation for future discussions about performance going forward. Make sure you have at least a few goals that are measurable (e.g., increasing inquiries and/or applications) so you have some hard numbers to refer to both when you review performance with your Partnerships Manager on a quarterly basis and when your contract comes up for renewal. The best way to answer the question, “Did we achieve our goals or didn’t we?” is with data. Finally, the Premium Profile is no different from your website—it needs to be optimized and maintained for you to see the best results. Don’t just set it and forget after the start of the school year!
Measuring the ROI
For every Niche digital marketing product, ROI can be measured in two ways: on-platform and off-platform. This means that there are data and insights that you’ll receive from your Monthly Insights Report and there is data that you can track internally to determine how your Niche partnership is supporting the goals you’ve established with your Partnerships Manager. That’s right, your own website analytics, customer relationship management (CRM), and student/teacher application data can help tell a complete story about your performance with Niche.
As a start, Niche can create a Partner Analytics Dashboard using your school or district’s Google Analytics instance to see how paid and unpaid traffic sources are performing. Still, that data is anonymized so you’ll need internal tools like a CRM system to connect those impressions, views, etc. with specific families in your enrollment funnel. We’ll cover that in more detail below. This is also the part where I stress the importance of reviewing your Monthly Insights Report when it hits your inbox every month. That will help you stay on top of how things are going, identify opportunities to make strategic changes, and avoid surprises.
Now, here are a few things to look at:
Profile Views Over Time
To start, it’s helpful to look at changes to this data point both before and after you partner with Niche to determine how the partnership is impacting traffic to your profile. To make that nice and easy, you’ll find a “before and after” graph at the bottom of your Monthly Insights Report. From there, it’s helpful to watch for monthly and year-over-year changes to monitor trends based on seasonality, marketing investment, and market changes. You can also check your referral data in Google Analytics or your website analytics platform of choice to find out how much traffic Niche is referring to your school or district’s website, and how those users are interacting with your website content once they get there.
Call to Action (CTA) Performance
Premium Profiles allow schools and districts to use custom CTAs in addition to CTAs at the top of the screen to enroll, apply, and watch a virtual tour. Schools should monitor clicks on their CTAs over time (e.g., before partnering with Niche versus after) and use UTM codes to measure conversions on your school or district’s website. A “Niche-ified” example using our default source/mediums would look like this: (niche.com / referral, niche.com / cpc, and niche.com / email). Those UTM codes will help you bridge the gap between how users are behaving on the Niche platform and their interactions on your website, including viewing pages for employment, signing up for admission events, or reading about a signature academic program.
Peer School Performance
Niche partners have the ability to select up to 10 peer schools for comparison in each Monthly Insights Report. Monitoring peer schools’ views and clicks can help you gauge where you stand among competing schools and which schools are generating the most traffic on Niche in your market.
Inquiries and Applications/Enrollments
Many schools come to Niche to drive inquiries, applications, and enrollments and we can definitely help with that. But there are a couple of things to keep in mind. The first is that you have to be intentional about tracking these data points. The second is that these are items that can only be measured if you take the right steps and have the right tools in place.
One approach (albeit a bit less scientific) is to ask new parents when you survey them about how they first heard about your school or district. This is the bare-bones method for institutions that don’t have CRM and/or application systems in place and can give you a read on how families are entering your enrollment funnel. Your website referral data can help with this too and that’s readily available in Google Analytics. If you do have a CRM and/or application system in place, this is where the fun begins.
When I was working in-house, I was able to cross-reference parents who registered for admission events, submitted inquiry forms, etc. with Niche interactions by looking at referral data for those landing pages. For example, I could check for referrals from external websites to our inquiry form, narrow them down to Niche, and see which parents came to the inquiry form from Niche and converted. If you allow Niche to create a Google Analytics dashboard for you, there is a chart on the first page that will show you your most visited pages from Niche and the second page will show you traffic to the pages you’ve linked to for applying, enrolling, or visiting your campus. You can also monitor what percentage of your inquiries and applications over time come from Niche compared to other marketing efforts as you plan for your budget every year.
For an additional fee, Niche can track Qualified Inquiries (QIs) for you; prospective parents who actively express an interest in your school or district on the Niche platform. Your Partnerships Manager can send you a list of these parents/guardians on a weekly basis (provided an inquiry was generated during the previous week). QIs can be very useful in helping schools and districts to see the value of their Niche Partnership by putting names behind some of the numbers that you see in your Monthly Insights Report. For many schools, the ability to connect even one enrolled student to Niche can validate the partnership.
Website Traffic Quality
Don’t sleep on this one! Traffic from Niche tends to come from high-intent families who are actively searching for and comparing schools for their children. As you review your website referral data, watch for indicators of engagement like sessions, sessions per user, pages per session, and session duration to get an idea not just of how many visitors are coming to your website from Niche, but how many website pages they’re viewing and how much time they’re spending when they get there.
For many of these items, you’ll want to make sure you set specific targets. “Increase inquiries from Niche by X%” is a much stronger goal than “Increase inquiries” and that’s a lens you’ll want to use to set goals for any marketing tactic you’re using.
If you’re still on the fence about the Premium Profile, every school and district has the ability to claim their basic profile for free. This allows you to become familiar with the administrative dashboard and receive a basic Monthly Insights Report, which will provide useful data about how families are currently engaging with your profile before you take the next step.
As parents and caregivers continue through the school research and comparison process, Sponsored Listings can help you stay top of mind. Search Listings promote your school or district to families who are searching for schools on the platform, Profile Listings promote your school or district to families who are viewing a peer school’s (basic) profile, and Places to Live listings promote your school or district to families who are seeking to relocate to your area.
Goal-Setting for Sponsored Listings
The Niche digital marketing ecosystem begins to expand with Sponsored Listings. Appropriate goals for Sponsored Listings would be to build brand awareness, drive traffic to your Niche Profile, or drive traffic to key pages on your school or district’s website.
Measuring the ROI
Your Monthly Insights Report will show you high-level details for your Sponsored Listings like impressions (the number of times the ad was seen) and clicks through to your Niche Profile. Both of these data points should be monitored over time for seasonal trends and it’s worth experimenting with calls to action. Do clicks and impressions increase or decrease based on the time of year or other factors? Do you want to send families to your Niche Profile, an inquiry form on your website, or both?
Internally you can keep your eye on website referrals from Niche and Profile performance as described in the previous section.
More broadly, remarketing is a digital advertising strategy that allows you to connect with people who have previously interacted with your website or app. You can strategically position your ads in front of these specific audiences as they visit other websites across the internet, increasing brand awareness and reminding the people within the remarketing audience to complete an action on your website.
With Niche Display and Social Remarketing, schools and districts can display brand awareness ads that run on Niche.com, the Google Display Network, Facebook, and Instagram. Traffic from ads on Google and social media channels is sent to your Profile, while traffic from ads that run on Niche.com is sent to your school or district’s website. Search ads are available to surface ads on Google to parents who are searching for schools or districts like yours using broad terms like “best school districts in Raleigh” or “private schools near me.” And Targeted Promotions are an option for promoting specific events to prospective families like open houses and virtual events. If you want to drive traffic to pages for hiring fairs or other recruiting-related events, you can do that too! Finally, schools and districts can further enhance their Remarketing package with custom goals, from recruiting students in specific grades to targeting specific locations. Campaign performance is reported monthly on your Monthly Insights Report.
The best part of all of this is that our Digital Marketing Services team can manage it for you, from content development and budget management to creative. All you have to do is share your goals.
Goal-Setting for Niche Remarketing
Remarketing is yet another way to reach families (or prospective employees) who may not already have you on their radar through the channels they use the most. Similar to sponsored listings, appropriate goals for this strategy would be to increase traffic to your Niche Profile and key pages on your school or district’s website, as well as to increase conversions using this tactic. Members of our Digital Marketing Services team can also provide insights into common remarketing KPIs like click-through rates (CTR) and impressions so you can monitor the success of your campaigns. One hundred percent of Niche impressions are served to relevant families, so if your goal is to reach the right families at the right time (which it should be), we can definitely help with that.
At the beginning of a Remarketing engagement, be sure to talk to your Partnerships Manager and a member of our Digital Marketing Services team (if applicable) about setting appropriate goals based on your Remarketing package, and the current costs associated with advertising on Meta social platforms and Google—none of us are immune to rising digital advertising costs so it’s important to set goals with those in mind!
Measuring the ROI
Available with the top-tier Remarketing package, the Niche Conversion Pixel will allow you to easily and seamlessly measure specific conversions on your website from both registered and “stealth” Niche users. But if you have a more limited budget, don’t sweat it. Your Monthly Insights Report will still share impression, click, and CTR data for your Remarketing campaigns, and data from your own website analytics, CRM system, human resources tool, and event management system can help you determine how much traffic Niche Remarketing is sending from prospective families and employees.
Niche is about much more than rankings and reviews and a partnership can go a long way in helping PK-12 schools and districts to build brand awareness, manage their reputations, and recruit new students and employees. Hopefully, this guide provides an overview of some of the marketing services that are available to you and how you can go beyond clicks and impressions to gather even more insights into how you can benefit from partnering with Niche.