If you haven’t heard the term “content marketing,” chances are you don’t work in marketing. No longer in its infancy, content marketing (a.k.a., “inbound marketing”) has taken the world of communications by storm and emerged as the preferred – and most effective – way to engage and convert customers.

Like it or not, the internet now dominates a good portion of our days, and for one simple reason: we want content.

Whether it’s searched for or stumbled upon, whether it informs or entertains, we log on every day searching for content. But not just any content – we crave content that’s meaningful to us. Audiences have learned to dodge and avoid pushed marketing messages like a ninja and instead prefer to do the digging themselves to find content that resonates with them.

As a higher education marketer, your job is to attract new students to the university, and the way to do this is to supply prospective students with meaningful content they actually find useful in their journey toward college. As a result, you establish trust in your university, create relationships and, if you’re doing it right, nurture those leads to become applicants and, eventually, students.

Unfortunately, while many have tried to incorporate content marketing into their plans, not everyone gets it right. It’s not just about publishing blog posts and hoping for the best. A strong content strategy integrates a number of moving parts and the know-how to get them all working together in harmony to bring you the ultimate result: new, right-fit students.

The universities below embraced content marketing and found the right mix that brought them A+ success.

They Broke Enrollment Records and Improved ROI: Maryville College

Tennessee’s Maryville College had been relying on traditional marketing tactics like billboards, direct mail and college fairs, but realized they needed a strong online campaign built on content marketing to connect with today’s students.

They gave their marketing an overhaul by adopting new strategies focused on engaging content. To start, they launched MyCollegePath, an online destination designed to help guide high school juniors and seniors in their journey toward college, answering questions about financial aid and what to look for in potential schools.

Additionally, they included in their blog a series of landing pages with calls to action that offered eBooks, checklists and other tools for college-bound students that allowed the school to capture leads and make lasting connections with prospects.

The result? Maryville enrolled more students than they have in the history of the school, saw a 126% jump in website traffic and enjoyed a 225% ROI on their campaign.

They attracted Better Quality Students While Cutting Costs: USC


As a beacon of higher learning with a prestigious reputation to uphold, the Price School of Public Policy at University of Southern California found their online advertising efforts were yielding poor quality leads, resulting in a great deal of wasted dollars.

Content marketing was new to them, but they understood that a new approach was needed. Using a combination of blogging, eBooks and landing pages with purposeful calls-to-action, the school was better able to draw in high-quality candidates and encourage them to opt into the admissions funnel.

Once in the system, candidates received personalized, useful content delivered via e-mail through a smart workflow app that allowed the school to tailor messages depending on the recipient’s stage in the decision journey. The workflow also provided the marketing team with indispensable analytics that informed future decisions.

After one year, USC was able to attract better quality students while increasing blog traffic by 75%, achieving an opt-in rate of 40 percent and reducing recruiting costs by 85%.

They Quadrupled Leads Through Smarter SEO: Thunderbird Online

The online division of the world-renowned Thunderbird School of Global Management, Thunderbird Online was challenged with antiquated systems that made it difficult to create new content and track performance.

By updating their tools, they were able to easily analyze and update SEO keywords while learning more about competitor keywords, leading to an increase in organic traffic of 252%.

Further boosting their SEO efforts, they set up a blog for the first time and published relevant content on a regular basis for sharing on social media. Each post was optimized for SEO to ensure top search results on Google.

Lastly, Thunderbird developed a series of custom landing pages focused on content offers that meet the needs of their audience. The pages tied into specific e-mail campaigns and other lead sources and the school now enjoys a 22% rate of conversion.

Overall, Thunderbird Online experienced a whopping 442% increase in leads and decreased their conversion cycle from 5.5 to 2.2 months!

They Increased Conversion Rate: Specs Howard


Specs Howard is a private media arts school that sought to fill enrollment gaps through a strategic content marketing plan. While marketing efforts previously focused on recruitment fairs, radio ads and paid search, they realized changing times called for a modernization of their methods.

They enlisted the help of an all-in-one inbound marketing automation software to streamline efforts, then revved up their content machine.

To reach out to prospective students, they concentrated on blogging and social media to distribute a series of video testimonials from alumni discussing their post-graduate career paths. “Specs Grad Spotlight” became a hot destination for potential candidates, and the school utilized smart calls-to-action on the pages to encourage visitors to take the next step in their decision journey.

Their efforts paid off. The school saw a 15.8X increase in organic leads by the end of the first year and enjoyed a 14.7% conversion rate. Learn how Flashpoint.Marketing’s higher education marketing technics can help you generate more leads and increase your lead-to-sale ratio.

Want More?

Read 5 Ways Universities Can Boost Student Enrollment With Content Marketing