82% of businesses use content marketing to reach new and existing customers and increase their sales. While there’s a time and a place for traditional marketing, being forward-thinking is essential to staying relevant in these continually changing times.
As a college, trade school, or vocational school, knowing the best avenues to reach prospective students is necessary.
We’ve created an introductory guide to content marketing. It’s full of content marketing tips and how to use content marketing in higher education, so make sure to keep reading.
What Is Content Marketing?
Content marketing is when you offer your readers valuable and informative material that gives them value and insight. Some examples of content marketing include:
- Videos and graphics
- Blog posts
- Social media posts
Content marketing isn’t necessarily sales-focused. It’s designed to give your viewers helpful information. The information provided helps them learn more about your services and products.
Types of Higher Education Content Marketing
The content you put on your website or social media pages needs to attract, entertain, and influence visitors. The type of content you make depends on the type of educational institution you run.
For example, you’ll want to include content that potential students would like to find as they think about attending your school. This content can consist of:
- Program information for fields of study and different majors
- Example class scedules
- Brochures with information about student life
- Faculty directories
Why Should I Use Content Marketing?
Content marketing is more effective at creating value for your organization and potential students than traditional marketing is. Content from landing pages and blogs will capture organic web traffic from search inquiries and social media posts. As a result, your educational institution gets established as a leader in your field.
Additionally, as you create and distribute regular content, you’ll keep potential and current students engaged. You can provide them with critical data and knowledge that they’ll use to inform their decision-making process.
Content Marketing Advice for Higher Education Organizations
It’s vital for your digital teams to think creatively and outside of the box to deliver information to students. Building a trustworthy and consistent brand voice is vital to staying competitive against other schools.
Below are our top tips for content marketing for colleges and other types of schools.
1. Define Your Goals and Audience
Before you start planning out your content calendar, you need to define your target audience and goals. What’s your “why” for your content marketing initiative? Ask yourself the following questions:
- What marketing and business goals will it serve?
- What’s the purpose of our content marketing efforts?
- How will our content support and help our audience?
- Who are we trying to inform or influence?
As you consider your target audience, think about their typical journey. If you consider prospective students, evaluate how your content marketing will reinforce how effective their journey is.
The more thought you put into this step, the more you’ll get set up for success. You can conduct user research to obtain a deeper understanding of your target audience.
2. Determine the Process of Your Content Creation
The next step is to create a unified process for your content creation. You’ll typically have multiple departments working together for content creation. Create a workflow where everyone knows their role in the content creation process and where approvals are needed.
By creating workflows across multiple departments, content creation will flow more effortlessly. Your teams can perform their jobs more effectively without encountering any hiccups in the process.
3. Communicate Effectively With Your Audience
Content marketing isn’t an avenue to share everything about your college or school. It needs to be purpose-driven and brand-informed. Use your in-house expertise to guide and source your content.
If you have experts that can write, let them write content. However, ensure you have an editing team that can review all content for consistency and style. They should also double-check that there’s value included in each piece.
Determine which approach is best for your organization and audience. What resources do you have in-house that can best support your initiative?
Whether it’s a video or blog series, think about how frequently you can post content. You want to deliver a consistent schedule that your in-house team can also sustain.
The tone and voice need to be the same throughout every piece. Those two items will also help you build a relationship and trust with your target audience. It needs to be appropriate to your purpose, audience context, and your brand.
4. Use Social Media to Show the Human Side
Most prospective students spend a lot of time on social media. It’s a great place to distribute and promote your content. However, keep in mind that you want to create an experience for your audience.
You don’t simply want to post and repost content without engaging with your users. Your social media channels should be enriching for your followers. It should include information about your students, faculty, and city.
Building a compelling and genuine brand narrative is vital. It’s also a place to humanize your brand.
5. Don’t Forget About SEO
Search engine optimization, or SEO, is a tactic that should be included in all web content. However, your content marketing tactics won’t be effective without implementing an SEO strategy. You want your content to get organically discovered by your target audience.
In your content, you should include keywords that your target audience will be searching for. These keywords should get included in your copy, headlines, and headings. This includes content that’s on your website and social media pages.
If you’re posting content on YouTube, you can optimize the content there as well. You can optimize your video descriptions and titles.
SEO can get confusing, especially if you don’t have any experience in the area. Partnering with a qualified SEO agency can help you properly optimize your content.
6. Utilize User-Generated Content
Students don’t just want to be passive consumers. They want to actively create things as well. Take advantage of user-generated content in your content marketing strategy.
People tend to trust what other students have to say about a particular brand more than what the brand says. It’s believed that consumer-created content is more authentic.
Sharing content that’s created by other students or faculty members will build social proof and trust with your target audience. It’ll also increase engagement. It’s also a wonderful way to promote community spirit.
7. Ensure That Your Content Is Optimized for Mobile Devices
All of your content, including your website, should be mobile-friendly. Below are some top items prospective students want to see on a school’s mobile website:
- Online application form
- Program and major listings
- Scholarship/cost calculators
- Calendar of deadlines and important dates
- Details about academic programs
Even though this is more about the admissions process, it’s important to take a mobile-first approach when handling all aspects of your digital presence.
8. Develop Your Website
Social media is important but you shouldn’t neglect your website in the process. Since prospective students can have short attention spans, you want to make each of your web pages have an impact.
Your website is one of your recruitment tools. It helps prospective and current students find information about your institution. You need to deliver a solid user experience.
9. Post Consistent and Thought-Provoking Blogs
Blogs can sometimes get overlooked when developing a content marketing strategy. However, they can drive organic traffic to your website and boost your online presence.
You can use blogs for the following types of situations:
- Alumni stories
- News, research, and announcements
- Answering questions
- Student blogs/interviews
10. Rework and Repurpose Content
Don’t hesitate to make content marketing easier for yourself. While there are certain instances where an exciting and complex strategy is necessary, not every initiative calls for it.
Templates are a great way to keep content consistent across your various channels and formats. You can also reuse content, but don’t duplicate it. Duplicate content can affect your SEO.
You can rework parts of your content or reuse phrases that help reinforce your brand’s identity. You can also fresh an old piece of content. This shows search engines that you’re frequently updating your website.
Examples of Higher Education Content Marketing
One of the best ways to develop your content marketing strategies is to see some in action. Below are some examples you can learn from when planning out your content.
Videos About the Majors You Offer
Figuring out a major is a huge decision when someone applies to a college. Most universities or colleges have major guides on their website that include all necessary information. In this digital age, that might not always be the best way to communicate that information.
One avenue to take would be creating short-form videos that explore each of your college’s majors or programs. You can show how current students feel being in the program and exciting information. You can also interview alumni to showcase how they used their degrees in the real world.
Just because the videos are short doesn’t mean they can’t pack in helpful information. Prospective students can get valuable and engaging content in just a few minutes.
Showcase Community Involvement
To access broader communities, it’s vital to connect with alumni, fans, and supporters. You want those communities to be interested and engaged with the work that your institution is producing from their involvement.
You can create a microsite that explores the experiences, innovations, and traditions your school is powering both off and on campus. These can be blog posts that feature interviews with community members. You can showcase the meaning behind the work your school is doing in the community.
Tell Micro-Stories on Social Media
Featuring the personalities and faces of your student body on your social media profiles will help your target audience connect with your brand. One thing you could do is showcase portraits of your alumni in the real world. This will help both prospective and current students relate to the individuals you’re showcasing.
Instagram is not only a photo and video site, but also a micro-blogging site. Leverage both aspects of the platform to engage with your audience.
What Does a Content Marketing Agency Do?
An effective content marketing agency employs a variety of tactics to create a cohesive marketing campaign. At an agency, you’ll get the skills and expertise from multiple people.
A content marketer will do a deep dive into your target audience. They’ll get to know what their pain points are and how to best reach them.
Another thing a content marketer will focus on is developing your brand voice. If your institution doesn’t have a cohesive tone yet, they’ll work to develop one that’s authentic to your brand. This could involve creating a style guide to keep your tone the same across various channels.
SEO is one of the most important areas a content marketing agency can help your organization with. As we discussed before, SEO can get challenging for those inexperienced in the area. A content marketer will know how to conduct keyword research and seamlessly implement it into your content.
A content marketing agency can also help with the production of your content. This includes video production and blog creation. While your in-house team might be equipped to handle content creation, offloading some of the tasks will free up their time.
Follow Our Content Marketing Tips to Increase Your Success
While our content marketing tips are a great jumping-off point, partnering with a qualified digital marketing agency will ensure your organization is set up for success. The content marketing experts at Local Finder have the skills and expertise to help you become an authority in the higher education field while generating new students.
Contact Local Finder today to schedule an introductory consultation and learn about our content marketing services.