Interview: How One Christian School Doubled Enrollment Using Online Marketing

We recently received this very kind video from Jennifer Snow, principal of Family of Christ Christian School in Tampa.  In it she talks about the school’s new website and the search marketing services they are receiving from OurChurch.Com.

Knowing the difficult time a lot of private schools are having during our current economic situation, I took the opportunity to also speak with Principal Snow about what it’s been like for her being principal of a private, Christian school during a down economy. And she explained how they utilized their website and search marketing to double enrollment in only three years.

Kurt: What has it been like for you as a principal of a Christian / Private school in a big recession?

Jen: The priority for us is always the children and making sure the teachers have the academic tools they need.  If anything we’ve been blessed during this hard time.  So, I look forward to the future as the economy improves.

I think God has a plan for us and without his plan we wouldn’t be here.  I really think it’s by God’s hand that we’re being led to go further and that we’re growing.  We’ve grown from 79 students in the last few years to 150.  We just keep growing.  I keep having to add lockers and I’m running out of room.  It’s a great problem to have!

In fact I could have doubled Kindergarten and probably first grade this year if we’d had more building space.

Kurt: What are some of the struggles and challenges that you’ve had to overcome over the past couple of years in bringing in new students?

Jen: It can be a hard sell.  This is an elementary and middle school in place where the state offers free education.  If the people are struggling financially, then it’s that much harder of a sell.  You might sign up one out of every ten people you tour.  So, I’m so grateful for the number of people we have gotten to visit and sign up.

Kurt: What are some of the ways you’ve used the Internet, your website, and search engines to overcome the issues that you’ve faced?

Jen: We added search marketing with OurChurch.com which makes it easy for families to find us.  People can go to Google and we come up immediately as one of the Christian schools in the Tampa area which has been a huge benefit.  We are also able to put a lot of information about the school on our website as well as pictures of students and videos of events allowing visitors to learn more about us as well making Family of Christ much more inviting.

We’ve also used the website to help with communication with parents.  Especially with Middle school it can be a bit of a challenge.  Kids conveniently “forget” or “loose” homework or “forget” to get a test paper signed a lot.  So, we are starting to have our teachers post the homework for the day on the website every afternoon.  In addition, we are starting to offer an online service where when a teacher grades a test or paper, it can be posted to website so the parents can see the grades in an area that is password protected for each parent.  It helps keep the parents informed and helps the parents support the work the teacher is doing.

We have links to the weekly newsletters for each grade posted every Monday and we gone to trying to post the monthly school newsletter only online as well rather than running copies.  A few years ago we changed our newsletter to top-notch color graphic design which received a lot of compliments and attention, but between ink and copier malfunctions, running copies of for each newsletter was a costly endeavor.  So, posting the newsletters only online saves us a lot of money (and headaches).  We also have our student handbook only online as well.  That saved a lot of money and is a little greener.  We also offer all our forms and permission slips online so parents can just print them out and send them in.

In addition, we are now able to take payments electronically both for field trips and tuition.  This has made things easier for us as well as for parents.

I want to thank Jennifer Snow again for taking the time to talk with me for this interview.  Family of Christ Christian School is an elementary and middle school in Tampa, FL offering a quality academic education while sharing the love of Christ with their students and the community.  You can learn more about Family of Christ Christian School at foc-knights.com.

Has your school been struggling to keep enrollment up lately or even lost students.  Perhaps it’s time to put the power of the Internet to work for you through SEO.

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Kurt Steinbrueck is the Director of Marketing Services with OurChurch.Com. He also serves on the leadership of Family of Christ Lutheran Church in Tampa, FL. You can find him on Google+ as .

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