Digital Enrollment Campaign—North Shore Country Day School

Digital Enrollment Campaign—North Shore Country Day School

The Challenge

According to Private School Review research statistics, there are 1,656 private schools in Illinois, most in the Chicagoland area, all looking to deliver the highest quality education to the 260,000 students currently enrolled.  Each year, these schools face the dual challenge of retaining current students while attracting new ones, in a highly competitive environment. In addition, the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) data shows that JK-12 private school enrollment is down 3% year-over-year.

North Shore Country Day (NSCD), a suburban JK-12 school with 540 students, is no stranger to these market trends. They are committed to developing critical thinkers, collaborative problem solvers and caring citizens of the world. Despite being regarded as one of Chicagoland’s top five best academic schools, NSCD must continuously prove its value in a fiercely competitive education landscape.

The Solution

To expand enrollment for the 2024 academic year, NSCD enlisted Pepper Group to amplify digital traffic and raise awareness about the school. The goal was to promote their annual Open House event and Come See Us in Action in-person event, ultimately driving increased enrollment.

Pepper Group’s strategy for boosting NSCD’s digital presence involved a comprehensive strategic audit of the school’s website, messaging and positioning from a search engine optimization (SEO) standpoint. Pepper Group also implemented short-term tactics such as digital advertising on Google Search and Meta platforms, including Facebook and Instagram, for event promotion.

For SEO, Pepper Group took their strategic three-pronged approach, focusing on Site Health, Content and Authority. The goal was to elevate NSCD’s organic search rankings with content and a user experience (UX) that connects their greatest strengths to their most engaged audience. After conducting a trend analysis, we identified key content pillars and high-volume, action-based intent search phrases, building a bridge between their prospecting audience and the school's website. This led to suggested content revisions and backlink opportunities, ultimately introducing additional site inroads for traffic and engaging content that persuades visitors to become contacts. At the same time, auditing and addressing website concerns enhanced the NSCD site performance, crawlability and overall site health so search engines would favor their site.

For paid advertising, the Pepper Group creative team dedicated resources to learning and refining their messaging, branding, and voice. This allowed NSCD to succinctly connect with their audience and promote their Open House and Come See Us in Action events. The ads, seen above, featured a consistent branded message, look and feel, and after launching on Facebook and Instagram, it became clear that their audience appreciated them too.

The Result

North Shore Country Day, lifted by SEO efforts, saw a 61% increase in web traffic, a 13% average search engine position placement jump and a 9% increase in search visibility. The ads, elevated by very engaging video content, delivered 2.9 million impressions, and a click-through rate (CTR) 45% above benchmark, sending nearly 30k parents to the NSCD site to learn more about their Open House events.

For their bottom line, these efforts translated into significant enrollment gains for the 2024-25 school year. Going back to NSCD’s original goal of increasing the number of enrolled candidates, their Open House registrants increased 40.2% over last year; as a result, they have 23.6% more students newly enrolled.

“After partnering with Pepper Group, we are pleased to see our digital advertising efforts translate to an increase in enrollment year over year.”

—Gia Anayas, NSCD Director of Marketing and Strategic Communications

Welcome to Pepper Group’s business propulsion laboratories.