According to Inside Higher Ed, undergraduate enrollment went down by 4.5% as compared to last spring? Additionally, enrollment in all types of institutions fell 2.9% this spring compared to the same season last year. If you run the marketing team of a college or trade school, then chances are you’ve felt the brunt of this downward shift in enrollment this year. For this reason, you might be looking to create a content marketing strategy. This would make it easier for your potential students to find out about your courses and choose to attend.
However, you might not be sure where to get started.
Managing social media marketing, creating regular blog posts, mastering SEO…it can get overwhelming to have so many different responsibilities to manage and know what you need to do.
That’s why we’ve written this article. In it, you’ll get all the tips you need to build a content marketing strategy for your trade school.
Finally, you can make your school stand out online and get more students enrolled than ever before. Read on to learn more.
1. Create Relevant Content
If you’re creating website content and blog posts that don’t appeal to the students you want to enroll at your school, they aren’t going to be able to get their attention. That’s why your content needs to be relevant. To pull this off, you have to start by creating a buyer persona.
When you create a buyer persona, you’re envisioning someone who represents your audience. You’ll want to think about:
- Their age
- Where they live
- Their education level
- What job they have
- Their interests
- What their problems are
This last point is incredibly important. If your audience has a problem and you can solve it, then they’re going to be going to your website to learn about the different ways they can tackle it. In the case of a trade school, you’re offering them an education.
This means that their problem might need more experience, needing certain certifications, or looking for educational options they can do at night while working during the day.
Identify these pain points and you can start creating content that provides your potential students with solutions. Then, you can show that the best solution of all is for them to take classes with you.
By keeping your buyer persona in mind, you’ll always have someone you envision yourself speaking to when you plan and create your content. This will keep them coming back for more.
2. Use Facts in Your Content
Do you want your content to be believable and sound professional? Then using facts in your content is an effective way of creating this effect. For example, you could include statistics in your content about how education makes people more likely to get jobs in their industry.
Another type of fact you can include is quotations from people who have experienced attending your trade school.
If they’re a successful person now, this will serve as evidence to your readers that attending your college will help them in the future. This can help with your enrollment.
3. Use SEO
If you want your content to appear in front of as many people as possible, then you need to use an SEO strategy. SEO, which stands for “Search Engine Optimization,” makes it possible for people to find your content when they’re doing an online search.
In terms of how SEO works, you need to identify what keywords people you want to attract to your website are putting in when they’re doing a search on Google or another search engine.
For example, someone might be looking for “HVAC courses in Pasadena, CA” or “HVAC certification Pasadena.”
Once you’ve identified what keywords people are looking for and putting into search engines, you can put these keywords and related ones into your content. You should have the main keyword term that appears several times.
Optimizing for SEO also requires you to include these keywords in your metadata and image descriptions. You also don’t want to end up keyword stuffing.
When you do this properly, your content will be more likely to rise through the ranks of search engine results.
This is important because, as you’ve probably guessed, most people won’t look at results past the first page or even the first few results:
A Note on Local SEO
Another way to optimize for SEO is by using local SEO. This is an advantage that brick-and-mortar businesses have over online ones because their users can find them when they’re doing a local search. There are two ways a local search can happen:
- On Google Maps
- When someone adds “near me” to a Google search
Even though this isn’t technically part of your content marketing strategy, it will help more users find you and visit your website, where they’ll then engage with your content. So if you want to attract students in your area, optimize your local SEO.
To do this, you’ll want to set up a Google My Business account and optimize it by adding your address, images, and getting reviews.
4. Make Social Media Part of Your Content Marketing Strategy
You should also make social media a part of your content marketing strategy. This way, your potential students can find your content on the social media platforms they visit most. Remember the buyer persona you made early on?
You can use that now. Add some details on what platforms this person spends the most time on and when they are most likely to visit that platform.
Then, any time you create a piece of content, you can share it on these social media platforms. You can even make content specifically for that platform. For example, you can create Facebook video ads.
5. Offer Free Content
When it comes to marketing businesses online, one of the best ways is to offer free content. This is for two reasons. First of all, if you have a Facebook or Instagram ad that allows readers access to a free piece of content on your site, they’ll want it.
So they’ll go to your website, where they can learn a bit more about your company.
An additional benefit of this strategy is that you can capture lead information through this content.
For example, let’s say you’ve created an eBook that lists the best companies to work for as a construction worker in your area. You can offer this to website visitors free—in exchange for their contact information.
When you do this, this content is called a lead magnet. Now that you have this information, you can stay in touch with these potential students, making them more likely to enroll at your trade school in the future.
6. Email List Exclusive Content
Speaking of lead magnets…another great way to stay in touch with your potential customers is by getting them to subscribe to your email newsletter. One of the best ways to convince them to do this is by including exclusive content in it.
For example, you could have an email list that’s exclusively for people in one industry.
In the email newsletters you create, you can have content about the industry, such as employment trends, new certifications, and who’s hiring in your area.
You could also include discounted course offerings (if you’re able to do that).
Because the people reading your emails are getting so much good information from you already, they’ll be more interested in signing up for this irresistible offer.
7. Segment Your Leads
Speaking of having different email newsletters for different people…this is where segmenting your leads comes in. Let’s use an example to show how this works. Let’s say you have four different tracks that people usually follow when they attend your school.
And let’s say that half of the people enrolled take day classes and are younger, while the other half are older and prefer to take evening classes.
You can segment your leads into 8 different groups. In each group, they’ll have different needs, amounts of experience, career goals, and interests.
Once you know this, you can create content for each type of customer. This way, you’re drawing everyone in with exactly the type of content that they want—and need—to read or watch.
8. Post the Right Content In the Right Places
If you’ve spent any time exploring different social media platforms, you’re probably well aware at this point that the nature of what gets posted on Instagram is pretty different from what’s on Twitter. The same goes for Facebook and LinkedIn.
You should keep this in mind when you’re creating social media posts.
Even though you still want your brand voice to shine through, the nature of your posts should be different on each platform.
For example, you might use LinkedIn to show industry statistics on a graph or post an article about changes in hiring practices in an industry.
Facebook or Instagram could be a great place to share pictures of your students enjoying themselves at a cafe near your school with books spread out in front of them.
9. Create a Content Calendar
One of the most important things you have to do when creating a content marketing strategy is to create a content calendar. This way, you can plan what content you’re creating and when you’ll be releasing it. You’ll want to start by thinking about the content itself.
Are there any times of the year when you want to boost enrollment? During these times, you’ll want to release more content?
Are there any times when it makes sense to release seasonal content? For example, you could write about New Year’s Resolutions and include information about going back to school.
You could also think about the content you might create featuring industry events, during which you might create interview content with big players in certain industries.
Once you’ve thought about content topics, you’ll have an idea of what the next year of releasing content might look like. Next, you need to get down on the monthly level, and decide how often you’ll be releasing:
- Blog posts
- Social media posts
- Any offline content related to your online content
As you can imagine, it gets a bit complicated when you’re managing many different types of content on different platforms. There are videos and photos to share on Instagram, blog posts to put on your website and share on social media, and ads to create.
This is why it helps to create a content calendar. The more you plan every single publication date, the less overwhelming this process will be.
10. Update Your Old Content
Finally, you want to make sure you update your old content. This way, it will be “evergreen” and continue to get you, website visitors, even after you’ve posted it. You should update your keywords so that it’s likely to get found.
(Depending on the trend, the keywords may have changed in the last few years.)
You’ll also want to update the introduction and conclusion, outdated images, and any information that has changed. Make sure you use new statistics and reports, too.
Need More Information?
Now that you’ve learned all the tips you need to know to build a content marketing strategy for trade schools, you might need more information. Maybe you want to understand SEO better so you can implement it on your website.
Or maybe you want help designing that perfect email newsletter.
Whatever information you need, we can help. At Local Finder, we’re experts when it comes to digital marketing for trade schools. We also offer digital marketing services. To learn more about how we can help you, contact us now.