If you’re in the field of higher education marketing, chances are you’ve noticed some curious changes related to your strategy in recent years.
Namely, it just isn’t working anymore.
In years past, you relied on traditional marketing tactics like banner ads, e-mail lists, billboards and even radio spots – but today’s audiences glaze right over these efforts and would rather spend their time watching a cat ride a Roomba on YouTube.
The fact is, college-bound students today just don’t trust traditional marketing. In fact, a recent survey found that 84 percent of millennials dislike paid advertising and put far more trust into sources that provide information that aren’t about the hard sell.
When it comes to higher ed marketing, the game has categorically changed, and only those with a keen understanding of the rules will win.
So what do prospective students want? Actually, applying a laser focus on this very question is the key to winning them over, and it just happens to be the essence of content marketing.
Content marketing, or “inbound marketing,” relies not on pushing out marketing messages about your institution and hoping students will respond, but on providing the relevant, timely content your audiences seek in order to endear them to your university.
And luckily, it doesn’t involve getting that Roomba-cruising kitty to hold your school’s banner in her mouth. Yeah, good luck with that!
Here are five ways boost student enrollment using content marketing:
1. Better Blogging With Content Students Can Use
Many universities have a blog, but most of them aren’t utilizing them to drive enrollment. Simply creating a blog and throwing up a few posts isn’t enough to guide prospective students into the admissions funnel.
You need a better blogging strategy replete with content that prospects actually want to read – then inspires them to take action. Rather than focusing solely on trumpeting your accolades, supply readers with advice, tips and emotionally-appealing articles they’ll want to bookmark and share.
Position yourself as a mentor in their journey toward choosing a university and gain their trust as a thought leader and provider of information that’s useful to them.
2. Keep Them Interested With Calls to Action
Once you’ve drawn them in with compelling blog content, you can’t just let them go without something to remember you by.
Each blog post should contain at least one call to action by offering additional content in the form of a download – perhaps an eBook, a checklist or a guide on topics related to the college hopeful’s journey.
Allow readers access to this helpful content after they fill out a simple form that will transfer their contact information to your CRM, and voila! You’ve got a new lead – one you know is interested in applying to college.
3. Find New Ways to SEO with Student Enrollment in Mind
Chances are, you’ve already optimized key pages of your website for search engines (and if you haven’t, get on it!). The majority of prospective students use Google as the number one way to do college research. Is your university coming up on page one of their search results?
But even beyond optimizing for your home page and program pages, you need to craft a solid SEO strategy around your blog. While your website pages may remain mostly static, each new blog post is an opportunity to drive SEO with new keywords you haven’t yet tried. Test out long tail keywords to help you get found by candidates seeking information about the college experience.
4. Deliver the Right E-mails at the Right Time
You may be thinking, “Wait a second… we already send e-mails!” Perhaps… but why aren’t they working? Are you sending appropriate content that your prospects can use at the right time in their decision cycle?
Remember, just because you’ve captured their information doesn’t mean you stop with the number one rule of content marketing: giving your audience what they want. A candidate who’s just in the information gathering stage will want different content than one who has already attended an open house at your school.
Delivering the right content at the right time is crucial to converting leads into applicants. For example, a study conducted by LinkedIn found that prospects who were early in the decision stage sought information about rankings and industry news whereas those in the latter stages were more interested in faculty and alumni profiles.
Your e-mails must be customized, targeted and specifically designed with the appropriate content that will convert candidates into applicants.
5. Social Media With a Strategy
Social media is a must in every content marketer’s strategy, because you’re meeting potential students where they’re already hanging out. It’s also an opportunity to show the human side of your university – a side that appeals to prospects far more than an institutional ad or press release.
But effective social media strategy isn’t haphazard – it’s planned and measured. You can’t just throw up a post a day and hope for the best. A savvy social strategist knows the right mix of tone, timing and targeted content to use across the various networks – but also how to measure success and analyze results.
Ready to boost student enrollment?
Learn how Flashpoint.Marketing can help you deploy effective content marketing campaigns. Contact us for a free assessment!