From Click to Classroom: Why International Schools Need a Google Ads Strategy

Picture of Kerra Seay

Before the digital marketing era, researching a school meant visiting campuses, picking up brochures and other marketing materials, and learning as much about the school as possible. Today, traditional methods of outreach and engagement are being complemented, if not overshadowed, by digital marketing efforts. More than ever, parents turn to online platforms to gather information, assess school options, and make informed decisions regarding their child's education. This shift in prospective families’ behavior means schools need to adapt their school marketing plan for enrollment to include digital marketing strategies, and Google Ads can be your gateway to transforming clicks into real students filling classrooms. 


Why Google is an Essential Part of a School Marketing Plan

Largely due to the digital revolution, prospective parents no longer rely solely on word–of–mouth recommendations or brochures. Parents take an active approach to making the most of their digital journey, utilizing search engines to explore and evaluate potential schools. The modern parent is empowered with the ability to access a wealth of information at their fingertips. From curriculum details and extracurricular offerings to reviews and testimonials, online research has become a cornerstone of decision-making. This shift in parent behaviour means schools need to catch up, or risk being overshadowed by their competitors in the digital space. 

Maintaining a strong online presence becomes an essential part of a school marketing plan. First impressions matter - your school's online presence is the first introduction for many parents. An engaging and informative website, active social media profiles, and compelling digital content collectively contribute to shaping the perception of your institution. When developing a marketing plan for school enrollment, international schools experience the added challenge that they are not just competing locally; they are vying for attention on a global scale. A strong online presence is not only a necessity for local parents but also a means to attract the attention of expatriate families who might be considering relocation.

In this challenging and competitive digital landscape, standing out requires strategic visibility. This is where Google Ads comes into play. Google Ads is a powerful tool that allows schools to position themselves prominently when parents search for relevant keywords, ensuring that your school is part of the digital world they explore.

Beyond organic search results, Google Ads provides a means to strategically position your school at the forefront of search engine results. This is pivotal, especially considering the limited attention span of online users. Google Ads can also be targeted to find qualified prospective families and showcase your brand across various Google products and services. 

In essence, Google Ads is not merely an advertising platform; it is a vital component of a comprehensive school marketing plan. It aligns with the digital behavior of today's parents, ensuring that your school doesn't just appear in online searches but stands out as a compelling choice in the competitive world of international education.


Benefits of Google Ads in Your School Marketing Plan

There are four main reasons why international schools need a Google Ads strategy as a part of their school marketing plan:

Increased Website Traffic

A well-optimized Google Ads campaign directs qualified traffic to your school's website. This is crucial for international schools, as the website is a primary source of information for prospective parents and students.


Strategic Positioning

Google Ads allows schools to position themselves strategically when parents and students are actively searching for educational options. By bidding on relevant keywords, your school can appear at the top of search results, increasing visibility among an audience seeking information about your school. 


Flexible Budgeting

No matter the size of your school or your marketing budget, Google Ads accommodates various budget sizes, making it accessible to small and large international schools. This flexibility allows international schools to tailor their advertising spending based on their specific goals and financial capacities.


Data-Driven Insights

Google Ads provides a wealth of data and analytics. Schools can gain insights into the performance of their campaigns, understanding what works and optimizing strategies accordingly.



Understanding Google Ads

Google Ads is an online advertising platform developed by Google. It operates on a pay-per-click (PPC) model, where advertisers bid on keywords to have their clickable ads appear in Google's search results. Google Ads operates as an auction, meaning advertisers bid on keywords relevant to their target audience. The ads are then displayed to users who search for those keywords.

By incorporating Google Ads into your school marketing plan, schools can reach prospective students and families from all over the world. Google is the most widely used search engine globally, processing over 3.5 billion searches per day. This massive user base provides an unprecedented opportunity for international schools to reach a diverse and expansive audience.

One of the strengths of Google Ads lies in its ability to target specific geographic locations. This is particularly advantageous for international schools that aim to attract students from various parts of the world.


Targeting the Right Audience 

International schools, in particular, need to tailor their strategies to resonate with a specific audience—those parents and students who align with the school's ethos, programs, and values. Casting a wide net might generate clicks, but targeted efforts convert clicks into meaningful engagements.

First, begin by refining your brand and brand promise. A targeted approach allows for a more refined and tailored message. Rather than delivering a generic appeal, schools can address the unique needs and aspirations of their ideal audience.

A benefit of targeting your Google Ads strategy is efficient resource allocation - Marketing resources are finite, and allocating them effectively is crucial. By identifying and targeting the right audience, international schools can maximize the impact of their campaigns and avoid wasting resources on less relevant demographics.

Google Ads allows precise audience targeting in three main categories:

Keyword Relevance 

Google Ads operates on keywords, allowing advertisers to bid on specific terms related to their offerings. This ensures that the ads are displayed to users actively searching for information relevant to the school's programs.



For international schools, the ability to target specific geographic locations is invaluable. Google Ads enables schools to reach prospective students and parents in specific countries or regions, aligning with their global recruitment strategies.


Demographic Filters

Google Ads provides sophisticated demographic targeting options. Schools can narrow down their audience based on factors such as age, gender, income, and even parental status, ensuring that their message reaches those most likely to be interested.

Incorporating targeted strategies into the school marketing plan, especially through Google Ads, is a pivotal step from generating clicks to filling classrooms. By understanding and reaching the right audience, international schools can transform their online presence into meaningful connections that endure from the click to the classroom.


Building Brand Awareness

Brand awareness goes beyond recognition; it encapsulates the reputation, values, and identity of a school. For international schools seeking to attract students globally, building a robust brand becomes a cornerstone of their success.

Whether choosing a school locally or internationally, parents seek institutions they can trust. A well-established brand exudes credibility, creating a sense of security for parents entrusting their children's education to the school. A Google Ads strategy can also give your school a competitive edge - in a global context, where choices are abundant, international schools need a distinct edge. A strong brand sets them apart, positioning the school as a leader and influencer in the international education space.

Incorporating Google Ads into the school marketing plan isn't just about acquiring clicks; it's a powerful strategy for nurturing brand awareness. From enhancing trust and credibility to gaining a competitive edge, the platform acts as a catalyst for international schools to transform clicks into a global classroom presence.


Driving Admissions and Inquiries 

By connecting Google Ads strategy to your enrollment funnel, international schools can use the powerful tool to drive admissions and inquiries and meet your enrollment goals. The enrollment funnel outlines the stages a prospective family goes through, from awareness to application. Google Ads, when strategically employed, becomes a powerful guide throughout this journey.

Here’s how Google Ads can guide families on their journey through different stages of their independent research:


At the top of the funnel, Google Ads serves as a beacon, introducing prospective students and parents to the school. Whether through display ads showcasing campus life or search ads triggered by educational keywords, the aim is to create awareness and initiate exploration.



As families move deeper into the enrollment funnel, their interest becomes more refined. Google Ads allows for targeted campaigns, presenting specific programs, unique selling points, and the overall value proposition of the school. Engaging ad copy and visuals play a pivotal role in this consideration phase.


Decision and Call-to-Action 

When families reach the decision-making stage, Google Ads can strategically prompt specific actions. This could include compelling calls-to-action (CTAs) directing users to application forms, virtual tours, or informational webinars. The goal is to seamlessly transition from a click on the ad to active engagement with the school.


Begin your Marketing Journey with Google Ads Strategy

Google Ads can be a game-changer for international school marketing. A well-crafted and meticulously executed Google Ads strategy has the power to transcend geographical boundaries, reaching parents and students actively seeking an international education.

A comprehensive school marketing plan isn't complete without a digital strategy that leverages the capabilities of Google Ads. It's not just about clicks; it's about converting those clicks into meaningful connections and, eventually, students in the classroom.



Kerra Seay

Kerra is an incredibly talented writer who fearlessly pursues her passions wherever they may lead. With a degree from Carleton University's School of Journalism, she has honed her skills in investigative reporting, creative writing, and strategic communication. Kerra joined IMPACT as a freelance writer and quickly rose through the ranks, serving as a Lead Content Writer and later as the Manager of Content Strategy. Now, in her current role as a School IMPACT Consultant, she brings her expertise to help schools achieve their goals, reveling in developing creative solutions. As a military spouse, Kerra understands the challenges faced by the expat community and the courage required to embrace change and adapt to new environments. When she's not writing, you'll find Kerra exploring her neighborhood with her dog, Finnegan, hanging out with her cats Max and Oscar, or indulging in her love for horror movies with her husband.