Using Content to Improve Your Online Marketing Efforts
In the higher education industry, marketing is all about finding a way to attract and engage students – past, present and future. One of the most powerful tools you have at your disposal is the content you provide. Beyond the same old stale material that can be found on every college’s website, however, you have the power to create dynamic, compelling content that will capture the attention of prospective students, engage current scholars and keep alumni actively involved. Read on to learn more.
First, let’s define the term “content marketing” with specific respect to the higher ed industry. This is a broad concept that is nothing new. In fact, businesses of every shape, size and niche have been leveraging content to achieve growth and success for centuries. For education providers, content marketing has always been a means for spreading awareness of what a particular school or program has to offer. In years past, this was typically done offline through various items such as brochures and catalogs.
In today’s digital age, there are many more avenues for developing and sharing quality content. Likewise, the way information is obtained has evolved. Today’s students are looking for material that is not just of value to them, but that can be consumed in a number of ways, from blog posts to videos to social media and more. This presents a significant opportunity to education providers that never existed before.
Know Your Audience
The first step in implementing a successful content marketing plan for your school is understanding who your audience is, what they want and how they want it. Generally speaking, the people you’re trying to reach will fall within three categories:
- Prospects – Those who are considering your school for their higher education needs
- Current Evangelists – Those students who are presently enrolled in your school and can refer others
- Ongoing Supporters – Alumni who seek to support your school through financial means and/or by referring new students
Next, you’ll need to identify and address the needs of each group and build that into your content marketing strategy. What are your prospective students looking for when they visit your website? What types of material will keep existing scholars interested and coming back for more? What information can help foster a stronger connection with your past students, keeping them involved and encouraging their support? Start here, and make a list of content ideas under each category. From there, you can begin to build out an editorial calendar for developing your content.
Keep Things Fresh
Once you know what you’re going to share, the next step is determining how. As mentioned previously, the internet provides a wide variety of avenues for disseminating information. Vary your approach and test the results as you go to figure out what’s working and to identify areas that need improvement. Some ideas to get you started include:
- Social Media – A recent study revealed that 68% of high school students use social media platforms to research their future college choices, so don’t underestimate this valuable tool.
- Mobile – Your audience is on the go, and your content should be as well. Make sure your website is mobile-friendly so you can effectively share information anytime, anywhere. You may also want to consider developing your own mobile apps to make campus life for current students easier.
- Website/Blog – Your website is the first experience many people will have with your school, so make sure you’re keeping content fresh, relevant and engaging. Use your blog to share additional helpful information and create a more personal connection with visitors.
- Microsites – Be sure that the content management system (CMS) you choose for your school provides advanced features, such as microsites for each faculty member. This helps to provide a more comprehensive and in-depth user experience for students of every category.
With nearly 7,000 post secondary institutions in the US alone, there’s no question that establishing competitive advantage is the key to the ongoing success of your school. A quality content marketing plan with the right content management tools to implement it can truly set you apart and help you to attract more students, improve retention rate and stay connected with valuable alumni.