In our office, we have a saying: “Let’s keep our finger on the pulse.”
As a childcare marketing agency, monitoring enrollment trends — not just in our clients’ businesses but in the industry as a whole — helps us ensure client success. By staying up-to-date on registration shifts, we can be proactive in campaign planning.
The alternative is falling behind the competition and having to wait 12 months for the next enrollment cycle. That’s not an option — not for us and not for our clients.
Why Monitoring Industry Trends Improves Enrollment
Predictive marketing may sound like a gamble, but in our experience, it’s a calculated risk — and one that pays off.
For example, in 2023, we watched enrollment trends with hawklike meticulousness. Because summer camp enrollment spiked early that year, we predicted that enrollments and leads for the back-to-school season would do the same. Our prediction paid off, and our clients enjoyed the benefits.
So, we don’t have a crystal ball in our office (although we’d love one). We simply keep our finger on the pulse and use predictive marketing to protect our clients’ investments.
2023 Trends: Why Did Enrollment Dip?
Over the last several months, leads and enrollment were down nationwide, which spurred some panic. Even Google searches for “daycare near me” plummeted.
While this was concerning initially, overall enrollment only dipped around 10% — not crippling, but noticeable, especially for childcare centers that didn’t see the trend coming.
So, why the enrollment dip?
Economically, money is tight for young families right now, which de-prioritizes expenses like daycare. Free pre-K and preschool programs offered at public schools provide appealing alternatives to parents looking to stretch their dollars.
Our Predictions for 2024
We predict a 35–40% enrollment improvement for spring break and summer camp programs in 2024. New families and newly eligible children will be the driving force.
For back-to-school, we anticipate a 20–25% enrollment increase as compared to 2023. It’s not nearly as dramatic as the spring break/summer camp improvement, so we’re preparing early by shifting our digital advertising strategy.
The main takeaway? Don’t get your hopes up for enrollments around the October to December holiday period. You’ll only end up disappointed.
How Can You Protect Your Bottom Line?
While enrollments may drop over the holidays, parent interest won’t. The holidays are the prime window-shopping season for parents weighing their childcare options. Run digital ads during this period to capture their interest early.
If you notice fewer leads coming in — if you find yourself canceling tours because of low interest, staring at a phone that never rings, etc. — consult an expert who follows enrollment trends and can help offset dramatic effects.
A marketing expert who specializes in child care will run campaigns that highlight your differentiators — the features that distinguish your center from its competition. Do you leverage green outdoor spaces? Do you take students on special field trips? Are your teachers all state-certified? If you don’t have differentiators, create some — fast.
Your marketing partner may also ask you to consider running more enticing promotions. Promotions motivate parents to enroll, especially when included in your ad copy. Even if they’re costly in the short term, promotions help your bottom line by filling your classrooms.
Keeping a close eye on industry trends and adapting your marketing strategies accordingly are crucial to protecting your investment. It’s not about having a crystal ball; it’s about being prepared, proactive, and responsive to families’ changing needs.
Of course, if you’re busy running your school (and you should be), you may not have time to obsess over every industry trend. If you’d like a marketing partner to take that responsibility off your plate, reach out. We’re excited to get to know you.
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