The world of online marketing can be intimidating when you’re used to more traditional, direct forms of marketing. Luckily, online marketing isn’t too difficult to figure out. It uses many of the same principles as traditional marketing, but with a more measurable, higher ROI.
Looking for easy ways to promote your summer program online without investing a lot of money? Here are 7 low-cost online marketing ideas for summer programs:
1. Online Reviews
Don’t underestimate the power of a positive review. A positive opinion is still one of the most trusted referral sources for consumers, but now those opinions are online. According to a study in 2013, 79% of consumers trust online reviews just as much as personal recommendations—and that number is growing. For millennials, the percentage jumps to 89%. So make sure to ask your happy campers to review your summer camp or summer program at the end of your season. It’ll help you find new prospects for your summer program next year.
2. Online Directory Marketing
Have you ever googled your camp or program? Go ahead. Chances are, you have a larger presence than you think! There are many summer camp directories out there, including Yelp and TeenLife.com. These directories have pulled your camp’s information to provide a complete database for your users. Most of the time, it’s easy to claim your business by contacting the website support team. It's in your best interest to make sure these listings are accurate because they may come up higher in searches than content you control.
3. Local Marketing
Since your summer camp is a brick-and-mortar location, you have the opportunity to physically market in your area. You can print posters, brochures, and postcards to distribute at local coffee shops and schools—but this is time consuming, and hard to measure. Take advantage of local listings on the major search engines; Google, Bing, and Yahoo all allow you to claim your local listing (or add it), and offer a lot of visibility for free.
4. Social Media
Make sure you have a social media presence on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. Make sure that you update these sites regularly, with content that’s relevant to your program. There are several other social media sites that you can use, including Pinterest and LinkedIn, and more, but make sure that you have a presence only on social media that your prospects actually use.
Do you have stories to share? A blog is an easy way to tell potential participants all about your programs and camps, and increase your presence online. During the summer, it’s also a great way to let worried parents know that everything is going smoothly, without reassuring them individually. Once or twice a week is probably all you’ll need to post. Make sure your site is optimized for search—take a look at our article, 3-Step SEO for Summer Programs, to learn more.
6. Email Marketing
Direct mail is sometimes effective, but can be costly and hard to measure. If you’ve collected email addresses, email marketing is a great way to reach students and parents without spending a lot of money. Most email marketing solutions are tiered based on how many contacts you have, and many don’t require an advanced knowledge of HTML. They’ll allow you to measure opens, clicks, unsubscribes, and bounces, so you can see the efficacy of your marketing.
7. Video Marketing
Don’t just tell—show the experience of your summer camp is through video. It’s easy and free to set up a YouTube account and start uploading videos. If you’re struggling to find video content, you could put together a slideshow of photos from the last summer. Or encourage your campers to share their videos as an entry in a contest.
It's easier than you think to enter the world of online marketing. I think you'll find that it saves you time and money on your marketing campaigns. Good luck, and let us know what works and what doesn't for your program in the comments.