Cost Per Enrollment: Know This Number and Win at Marketing


Marketing has changed.


You no longer have to advertise as broadly as possible in hopes that your school enrollment increases as a by-product.


Now, you can track (down to the penny) how much each new enrollment costs you and where you should direct your budget to reap the best results.


That’s the magic number: your cost per enrollment (hereafter referred to as CPE).


Knowing this number will allow you to reliably increase your Montessori school’s enrollment through digital marketing.


So how do you calculate it? Carefully, and over time. Let me explain.


The Formula

I’ll start with the formula itself. It’s very simple:


Divide your total cost of marketing by your total number of enrollments.


Easy right?


Well, not quite. I left out an important piece. The trick here is you need to divide the total cost of your marketing by the number of enrollments generated directly by your marketing.


Total cost of marketing


# of direct enrollments from marketing


If someone calls to schedule a tour, how do you know where they came from? Which piece of your marketing prompted them to call you? When someone emails you, can you trace their entire journey with you as it relates to your marketing?


In other words, you need to be able to track your efforts.


You must know exactly how many enrollments each different form of marketing brought in for your school. If you can track that consistently over time, it will completely transform your marketing. For example:


If you calculate that each enrollment costs you $100 of marketing, and you have four openings you need to fill, how much do you need to budget for your marketing?


Exactly. $400.


And you know that because you’ve tracked your marketing efforts and allowed the data to inform your marketing instead of starting from scratch every enrollment season.


Reliable and consistent marketing: that’s the goal. In order to do this, though, we need to set up a few systems, which we’ll go over next.


Laying the groundwork

To accurately track your different marketing efforts and see which is most effective for your school, you need to have a few systems in place.


First, make a list of all your different forms of marketing for your school. Your list may look something like this:


  • Online
    • Facebook Ads
    • Google AdWords
    • Social Media
    • Email
  • Offline
    • Word of mouth (i.e., referral incentives)
    • Billboards
    • Direct mail
    • Yard signs


With anything online, we can track perfectly and completely. Offline is a different story and requires us to be very intentional our enrollment processes to make sure we capture the right information.


Second, you need to have a central place where you direct all the potential parents (or leads) brought in from your marketing. This is also referred to as a funnel.

The idea here is that no matter where your leads comes from, they are all directed to the same place (scheduling a tour, filling out a contact form, etc).


Third, you need a digital form. This is something everyone must complete before they can move on to the next step in the enrollment process for your school, whether that’s scheduling a tour or observation or something else.


This could be an internal or external form, but whichever it is, it is vitally important that nobody skips this step. This is where you can capture crucial information that will make or break your data-driven decision making.


To make tracking offline conversions possible (that is, conversion from billboard, yard signs, etc), create a required field on this form that asks “Where have you seen [insert your school name] advertised?” including multiple options from your previous list of marketing efforts. This allows your prospective family to tell you about their experience, which can help inform future decisions in your marketing efforts.


This is truly the only way to track offline conversions. If you aren’t giving people the opportunity to say “I saw a billboard on my way to work,” then they’re never going to tell you. We must ask these intentional questions in order to get the information we need.


However, even with all of this in place, it is not a perfect system. The goal here is to see exactly where your best conversions, and ultimately enrollments, are coming from. The good news is this is possible with digital marketing.


Tracking Online

UTM links, landing pages, and analytics, oh my!


I can tell you how successful a school will be with their online marketing by looking at how seriously they take analytics and data. If you want to know exactly where your marketing money is going, you need to be tracking.


UTM Links:

Anywhere you share a link directing traffic (online visitors) back to your website, you should be using UTM links. If you aren’t familiar with UTM links, read this blog first. In a nutshell, UTM links allow you to see the exact source and context of your website traffic, down the keywords you used in an ad or specifically which Facebook post brought the visitor to your website by adding snippets of customized code to the end of a URL.


If you are sharing a link related to marketing in any form, you should be using a link with UTM parameters. It is the best way to track your online traffic. It directly integrates with Google Analytics and is universally accepted in all kinds of software like CRMs, appointment schedulers, and much more.


Landing Pages:

For PPC advertising specifically (Facebook Ads, Google AdWords, etc), your ads should direct visitors to a landing page instead of to your homepage. This allows for you to not only create a very specific experience for potential parents but will also greatly help your tracking.


The sterile definition of a landing page is the web page a user sees right after they click on your ad. However, a true landing page is a web page intentionally designed for a specific demographic that directs visitors to take a very specific action.


As a rule of thumb, every ad you run should have its own landing page.


The reasons for this are simple:

  1. The goal of your advertising should be a specific action, like scheduling a tour. By driving traffic to your home page, you’re introducing all kinds of distractions that get in the way of your visitors taking the action you want them to take. A high converting landing page only offers one action for the visitor to take.
  2. Every body is different and must be spoken to differently. A young couple with a new baby has a very different set of worries and desires in their life than a single mother with an 8-year old. The online journey you create must be specific to the person to whom you are marketing.
  3. This makes tracking much easier. By creating a landing page for each ad, you can quickly look at key statistics and see which page (and by consequence, which ad) is working the best.


You don’t need any special software either to make landing pages. You can simply add an unlinked page to your website. But the key here is how the landing page is designed. To learn more about that, read this blog.


We covered a lot, but these best practices can massively improve your marketing efforts.


  • Bring all enrollment inquiries through a single, required form.
  • Add UTM parameters to every marketing link you share.
  • Use separate landing pages for every PPC ad.
  • Calculate your CPE for each form of marketing you employ.


By implementing these, you can start making data-driven decisions with your marketing, improve your overall effectiveness, and increase your enrollment. It takes work and it won’t be easy, but you don’t have to do it alone.


Our community of Montessorians are committed to helping you and each other succeed in marketing so that Montessori education can thrive. Join Nido Marketing now for free.



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