The concept of content marketing isn’t a new thing popularized by the internet. Entrepreneurs like John Deere and Édouard and André Michelin were churning out content in the 1800s to market their products.
Content marketing, however, has taken on a new form in the information age. Today, we see all forms of content aside from print. We have blogs, videos, images, posts, and such.
However, are they important to colleges? How does it help educational institutions reach their goals?
Keep on reading to see why you should have a good content marketing strategy.
Why Content Marketing Is Important for Colleges
The digital age has changed the landscape of marketing forever. It has led businesses to change their strategies. They now need to conform to the digital behavior of their consumers.
Now comes the question, has schools and colleges adapted to it yet?
The sad truth is that not all institutions have seen the need to address the change. Some of them still have the same standard recruiting process. They don’t realize their competitors are stealing new students with solid digital marketing.
What this means for you is that you should be keeping up with the trends if you want your college to survive. One of these trends is online content marketing, which can help you with:
1. Reaching Prospects
Content marketing allows you to appear on the radar, so to speak. Every student goes through the research phase to discover potential schools. They gather information about different colleges, which would ultimately result in a decision.
You want to be there when they’re searching, and it’s not enough to have a website or a social media profile. You must post content to help your SEO efforts and your ranking.
For this goal, it’s important to know what keywords they use in their data gathering journey. Search phrases like, “business college,” “community colleges in *location*,” why get an engineering degree,” and such are a good start. But, you want to be there for each part of their journey as much as possible.
These keywords will form the foundation of your content marketing strategies. As you churn out more content, the more visible you’ll be in the search results. The quality and quantity both matter, but we’ll talk about that later.
The more people visiting your website means more leads if you do content marketing right. Good quality content can keep them engaged with your website. The longer they stay, the more likely they are to give you their contact information.
2. Building Relationships
The more students know about your institution, the more familiar they’ll feel about you. With a good content marketing strategy, people will get to know more about what’s going on in your college.
For instance, they’ll get to know what your students’ lives are like on campus if you share some students’ stories. They’ll know where the coolest hang-out spots on your campus are when you let them in on the secret.
You see, content marketing isn’t only about hard facts and data. It also involves storytelling. You can use this to build genuine relationships with your prospects.
Another important aspect of building a relationship is frequent contact. A good strategy allows you to make contact with your prospect at various points. They may visit your website one time and then get frequent updates through email or social media.
Helpful content also builds trust, which will nurture the relationship further. In a part of their lives where they have to make some tough decisions about their future, the help they’ll get from you is going to have a big impact.
You can take advantage of this by incorporating informative content into your strategy.
3. Building Credibility
Want to build up your credibility as an educational institution? Then it’s time to start sharing your achievements, research, faculty members, and such.
Remember that you don’t have to pull stories out of thin air. There are great stories to tell around you, and it so happens that some of them can also enhance your reputation.
Using this as content will strengthen your college brand. It also helps you build trust, gain community support, and get quality enrollment.
Some of the stories you could tell are about an alumnus who has gone on to be successful in their field. Keep track of your alumni, reach out to them, and interview them for higher quality content. You can also invite them to talk about their experience in the student body, which you can use as a story.
You may also highlight the recent accomplishments of your faculty. Kindly ask one of them to share their research, which most will be happy to do. If any of them gets invited to talk at events or conferences, you can feature that, as well.
If you have any community involvement, don’t forget to share that, too. It will go a long way in building your reputation.
4. Standing Out
Sometimes, all the options start to look the same to burnt-out students who aren’t sure where they’re going. It doesn’t help that the websites of most colleges look too similar to each other save for the color theme. Try and see for yourself; strip the website of the college colors and you’ll see they’re almost the same.
Content marketing, thus, can help your college stand out. Content marketing is about crafting a story that sells, and in this case, you have to craft your story. For certain, your college has a unique story to tell, and content marketing will help you show that.
Aside from the programs, schedule, contact information, and the other important details of your college, your content can keep them interested. If they’re interested enough, they may even sign up for your newsletter. Better yet, they may want to give you their contact information.
Let’s set a scenario, in which there’s College A and then there’s College B.
Both boast similar accomplishments, notable alumni, student population, and everything else. But, College A has a solid content marketing strategy. On the other hand, College B dismisses it as unnecessary.
As such, College A has a blog that posts updates about events in the school and their accomplishments. It features stories from actual students and faculty members. Their social media account has videos and images that give you a good look at the college.
College B has the basics, but they don’t go in-depth. You have no idea about the students’ experiences in the school. You might know their achievements but only the title – you don’t know the story behind them.
If you were the student, which college feels more compelling?
How Colleges Can Use Content Marketing
We’ve explored how content marketing is important to student recruitment and building a reputation. But, it’s important to note that there’s good content marketing and then there’s bad content marketing.
You must know how to do it right for it to fulfill its purpose. Here are some content marketing tips to help you gain footing in this area.
1. Your Team and Resources
First, assess your current team and resources; all your efforts must align with them.
Assemble a team that’s already invested in your institution’s story. This will likely include faculty members, administrators, and such. Students can also be a part of the team.
Don’t hesitate to hire outside help, especially in areas outside your team’s scope of skills. You can outsource some parts of content marketing, like keyword research, to an SEO team. You can also leave the filming of college marketing video content to outside vendors.
This allows the internal team to focus on the institution’s story and strategy. Meanwhile, external teams make them come to life.
The general idea is that you can always hire help with your strategy. You can even hire an external team to do the strategizing.
Of course, you can also seek these kinds of help from within the school. For instance, you can ask the film department, if you have it, for video content. This is why you must first assess your resources to see how you can go forward with your strategy.
2. Content Marketing Platforms
You should also consider the platforms you’ll be using for your strategy. A blog section on your website is a given, but what about social media and email? These three are the three main avenues of content marketing.
Your target audience will dictate the platform you have to use. Then, the platform will dictate the content. Your content on your blog, social media, and email newsletter is going to be different. That’s because they have different purposes.
If you have graduate programs, for instance, you’ll be targeting undergraduates. They can be fresh out of their bachelor’s degree or they’re already professionals. As such, there’s a good chance they’re on LinkedIn.
As this platform has a professional environment, the content you produce here must be well-written and has a high value. This is where your faculty members can post about their research. You can also craft some content of general interest to the professional community.
The good thing about LinkedIn is that you can attract potential faculty here, too.
As for the other social media platforms, Facebook is popular for targeting the general public. However, young adults are more active on other platforms. Snapchat, Instagram, and TikTok are the more popular choice for 18- to 24-year-olds.
Facebook has a good number of older generations, though. That makes it’s a good choice for targeting the parents of your prospects. Regardless, the billions of active users make it an obvious choice.
3. Types of Content
As we said above, the type of content depends on the platform where you’ll be publishing it. You can reserve long-form content for your blog. You can share it from any of your social media accounts anyway.
Still, it helps to publish diverse content, like infographics, videos, and such on your blog.
Considering that Facebook videos receive an average of 8 billion daily views, making it the best form of content for user engagement on the platform, it’s worth publishing videos here.
On Snapchat, vertical videos are a must, while photos are the main point of Instagram. On Twitter, short updates and witty banter get the most traction.
As for your email newsletter, you should create informative pieces. Write something that can help your prospects. This will help you build trust and make them feel a part of the community.
4. Content Calendar
Plan out your content and decide when to post them and where. Don’t go thinking your team can decide on the content on the fly.
It’s going to be harder for the marketing team to do this than to create a content calendar in the first place. Furthermore, this is where uninspired content comes from.
You want to post well-thought-out content and well-made. Planning your content in advance allows you to plan the resources you’ll need. So, you won’t go scrambling when you need to post something.
This also ensures you have regular posts, which is key to building a relationship.
Plan out evergreen content and time-sensitive content, like for events or enrollment period. If another time-sensitive opportunity emerges, you can postpone the evergreen content.
5. Measuring the Metrics
Don’t forget to see if your content marketing efforts are working. Keep an eye on the results by looking at your metrics.
This will show you if your target audience is engaging with your posts, if a certain type of content is underperforming, or how much engagement your post is eliciting.
Be ready to adapt according to the results, but avoid knee-jerk reactions. Monitor the results for at least a month before concluding.
Boost Your College Brand with Content Marketing
Content marketing can give your college the boost it needs to attract more students and build a good reputation. However, the key to achieving these results is doing content marketing right, which can be hard to do.
That’s where we come in. We can help turn any bad situation into a good one; contact us to know more.