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Over 90% of companies say content marketing generates more leads than traditional marketing strategies. In fact, outbound leads cost 39% more than inbound leads to generate. With inbound and content marketing, you could have an easier time reaching students.

What is content marketing, exactly? What about inbound marketing? How do these two forms of marketing work together?

Keep reading for answers to these questions and more! After reading this guide, you can develop your own inbound content marketing strategy.

You can discover new ways to reach prospective students online. Then, you can expand your reach and set your college up to grow.

You don’t have to waste time and money marketing anymore. Instead, read on to learn more about inbound and content marketing today. 

What is Inbound Marketing?

First, let’s look at each form of marketing separately. What is inbound marketing, exactly?

Many people use the terms “content” and “inbound” marketing interchangeably (including many marketers). Both share the same goal of attracting, engaging, and converting leads into paying customers. They’re both able to help businesses increase sales and profits.

However, the two are very different concepts. Telling them apart will help you implement each to help your college grow. 

Inbound marketing focuses on attracting customers using content. It ensures all interactions between brands and customers are helpful and relevant. Using inbound marketing will help you avoid interrupting the user’s experience. 

Traditional marketing methods, on the other hand, are disruptive. For example, companies might send a blast of cold emails or begin cold calling. They use these methods to pitch products and services in an attempt to pull consumers toward their brands.

Customers get annoyed when businesses interrupt their lives with business promotions, though.

With inbound marketing, you can give potential students the chance to find you. This process increases the likelihood that students will accept an offer or respond. You can pitch your call to action and allow them to make the choice on their own. 

Types of Inbound Marketing

You can use inbound marketing to attract prospects to your institution. Then, you can nurture them until they’re ready to reach out. 

Many of the tactics you’re likely already using are forms of inbound marketing. For example, you’re likely blogging on your college’s website. If you have a search engine optimization (SEO) strategy, you’re using inbound marketing. 

Even sending emails to online subscribers is a form of inbound marketing. 

Inbound strategies aren’t exclusively digital, though. Attending conferences or events is considered inbound marketing, too. 

Perhaps you’ve participated in a public speaking engagement with other institutions. Becoming a thought leader in the industry is a form of inbound as well. 

You can use a mix of inbound marketing strategies, including:

  • Content
  • Web design
  • Blogging
  • Permission-based email marketing
  • Social media marketing 
  • Search engine marketing (SEO and PPC)
  • Promotions

Potential students can find your college while they’re looking for colleges. They already have an initial interest. You can leverage that initial interest to draw them in.

About 78% of internet users conduct research online. Students are already eager to learn about your college. With inbound marketing, you can show students you have the answers they’re looking for. 

The Stages

The inbound process features four stages: attract, convert, close, and delight. 

This process allows potential students to start as strangers before interacting with your brand. As they learn more, they’ll move from visitors to leads to customers. In time, students will become promoters and begin supporting your brand. 

The attract stage allows you to draw “ideal customers” (in your case, students or their parents) to your website. Ideal customers are people most likely to become leads or future students. 

You can attract potential students to your website through blogging and SEO. You can also use social media marketing to attract them to your content.

The second stage, convert, allows you to turn website visitors into leads. You can gather their contact information through a form on your website. 

You might consider using a lead magnet to convert visitors into leads. For example, you can offer an eBook or whitepaper. Then, visitors can offer their email address in exchange for your exclusive content.

The next stage is close. In this stage, you transform leads into customers.

For example, you might use customer relationship management, email marketing, or other marketing tools. This process allows you to close the right leads at the right moment. 

The final stage is delight. At this stage, you continue engaging visitors, leads, and existing students. You can keep them happy and loyal through surveys and other marketing methods.  

What is Content Marketing?

The top three challenges marketers face today include:

  • Engaging customers in real-time
  • Innovating
  • Creating a cohesive journey across all platforms

High-quality, engaging, unique content could help offer a solution. In fact, companies that blog produce 67% more leads a month than those that don’t. Content strategies cost up to 41% less than paid search advertising, too. 

What is content marketing, exactly?

The Content Marketing Institute defines content marketing as the technique of distributing content to attract and retain your audience. The process involves creating your own, branded content to stand out from competing colleges. It’s also important to make sure your content is relevant, consistent, and variable.

You can use high-quality content to attract potential students to your college. Using this approach will help you drive profitable customer actions. In the case of colleges, it can help you drive admissions. 

In order to share highly-relevant, useful content online, you need to understand your audience. What are prospective students and their parents looking for during an online search? Think about the questions they’re asking.

Creating and distributing content they want will help them find your content.

You can distribute your content both on and offline across various channels.

Types of Content Marketing

Remember, it’s important to diversify your content marketing strategy. Some students prefer watching videos over reading blogs. Some parents prefer helpful eBooks over social media posts.

A few content formats you can use include:

  • Blog posts
  • Articles
  • How-to guides
  • Videos
  • Infographics
  • Polls
  • Quizzes
  • Lists

Diversifying your strategy will ensure you create content with each audience group in mind. 

Each post should provide your target audience with value. It should also encourage them to start a relationship with your college. For example, they might subscribe to your email newsletter for more information.

You can end each piece of content with a call to action encouraging them to reach out or subscribe. 

Developing high-quality content can help you:

  • Build brand awareness and recognition
  • Establish yourself as a thought leader in the industry
  • Prove your credibility
  • Generate website traffic
  • Generate leads and admissions 
  • Improve your search engine rankings

You can unite your content strategy with your search engine optimization strategy. SEO will help boost your rankings on search engines. You can appear in front of prospective students based on the keywords they use in a search.

Higher rankings will also help you rank ahead of other institutions. Then, you can generate more website traffic to attract and delight potential students. 

You can also use content marketing to cover a range of topics. Covering different topics will ensure your content appeals to different audience groups. 

Remember, people don’t like aggressive marketing tactics or cold pitches. Content, on the other hand, can help you gradually build and nurture relationships. Brand trust and awareness will grow as you reach your audience.

The Stages

The content marketing process involves three core stages: attract, convince, and covert.

In the attract stage, you’ll focus on captivating your target audience. You’ll attract them to your website using high-quality content.

To get started, take the time to establish your goals. Research your target audience. Understand their interests and needs.

Next, consider your distribution channels. For example, you can share your content on social media or forums.

Then, you can analyze metrics and optimize your strategies to ensure you’re reaching the right audience. 

Remember, you’ll want to share content that gives the readers value.

The next stage, convince, allows you to keep your audience. You can persuade students to become an active member of your community. In this stage, you can ask students to subscribe to your newsletter.

Then, you can keep them engaged on a regular basis by sharing new content. Sharing content will help you continue building a relationship. 

The final stage, convert, allows you to drive prospects toward the desired action. You’ll turn readers into qualified leads.

For example, you can have them fill out a form or inquire about admissions. 

Their Differences

There are a few differences between these two marketing strategies. Understanding how they differ can help inform your own plans.

Specific vs Broad Audiences

For starters, inbound marketing focuses on a specific buyer persona. Content marketing, on the other hand, focuses on a broad audience.

Focusing on a broad audience can widen your reach. However, it could make it difficult for you to personalize your content. 

Over 70% of people get annoyed when website content fails to align with their interests. In fact, 45% of people won’t spend time with content that’s irrelevant to their needs. People now expect brands to understand their needs and preferences.

Personalization could even drive results. About 90% of marketers notice a measurable lift in results due to personalization. Nearly 60% say the lift was over 10%. 

About 98% of marketers also say personalization can advance customer relationships. 

Personalization could improve your marketing ROI, too. 

Take the time to research your target audience and segment them into small groups. Then, create personalized content for each group. For example, you can speak to prospective students directly.

Perhaps you want to focus on older students who are returning to school to advance their certifications. 

Focusing on specific buyer personas will help you connect with your audience. 

Website Building vs Content Creation

You can use inbound marketing to build your website and blog content. Then, you can encourage readers to complete specific actions.

Content alone, on the other hand, focuses on specific methods for content creation. It also focuses on distributing content across different channels.

Using multiple channels can help expand your reach online. 

A Multitude of Strategies

Inbound marketing covers a mix of different marketing strategies. 

For example, you’ll need to build, maintain, and optimize your website. You can also use SEO to generate website traffic. Inbound marketing can also include running ads or managing your reputation online.

Uniting Your Strategies

When comparing content and inbound marketing, there are a few similarities to consider.

For example, content is essential for both strategies. You can’t attract prospects without high-quality, unique, variable content.

Both marketing strategies are also non-interruptive. They focus on a customer-centric marketing approach. To use both successfully, learn about your customers and their needs.

Then, you can use your content to build a slow, steady relationship before generating leads and converting prospects. 

Many marketers consider content marketing a subset of inbound marketing. Using both strategies can help maximize your results.

In fact, 90% of marketers use content marketing to generate inbound leads.

Remember, content creation focuses on building relationships through high-quality content. Inbound marketing, on the other hand, focuses on the bigger picture. It uses a combination of concepts and approaches to inspire consumers to act.

You can use these content marketing tips to get started.

SEO

You can improve your inbound marketing strategy by creating high-quality, focused content. Then, you can use SEO to expand your reach online. SEO will ensure people find your content. 

First, take the time to gather keyword research. Determine what keywords students use when researching colleges online. Then, start creating content based on their queries.

Web Design and Development

As part of your inbound marketing strategy, don’t neglect to update your website. Your website will help you generate conversions through your content. Make sure your site is fast, secure, and mobile-friendly.

Otherwise, a difficult-to-use site could scare away potential students. Your SEO rankings might drop, too. 

Social Media

Use social media marketing to share your content online. You can generate website traffic through social media, which could boost your SEO rankings.

You can also work with influencers, other bloggers, and brand ambassadors who can promote your content on their own channels.

Inbound and Content Marketing: Start Reaching New Students Today

Want to reach more prospective students online? Make sure to use bund inbound and content marketing this year. These two strategies will expand your reach and attract prospective students to your school.

You can attract, engage, and convert students to gather more admissions than ever before.

Eager to start using content and inbound marketing? We can help.

Contact our team today to get started.

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