Content Marketing Strategy for Higher Education

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By each passing year, digital marketers need to evolve their marketing strategies to the next level. The challenge for higher education marketers in this context is even tougher since they cater to a market segment which is very dynamic and keeps changing. That’s why if you are an education marketer, it’s critical to engage with your target audience at an early stage.

Content marketing more or less works on the AIDA principle (Attention, Interest, Desire, Action). The content is only engaging if it attracts attention at the initial stage followed by arousing interest and creating the desire for the brand and finally converting into action in favour of your brand.

But before you begin revamping your content strategy for this year, it is crucial to understand the decision-making process and its stages of evolution from the perspective of prospective students.

Starting from the attention stage, prospective students need to be engaged by institutions. At this stage, your target audience is trying to explore career options to finally zero down on one choice. This community is unclear about its choices and ill-informed about the range of educational products available in the market. The keywords that can best describe their dilemma can be many but the most apt could be fear, doubt, and excitement. Fear and doubt about their final decision and excitement about the professional life ahead.

At this stage, prospective students are navigating through a lot of content.  But how should academic marketers in higher education provide them with attractive content which is not only full of valuable and relevant information but at the same time is also potent enough to inspire action, is a big challenge. This ultimately sets the stage for making a more impactful brand impression at the consideration/decision stages.

Engaging content can really help to strengthen a university or business school’s brand. Besides, it will also separate you from your competitors. In the digital age, it is becoming increasingly important for universities and business school’s to develop a strong online presence. Almost every student today uses the internet to research for their desired study destination.

Keeping in mind the growing challenges of higher education institutions to engage prospective students for bolstering enrolments, we thought that the time is ripe to share some effective ideas for generating attention, interest, desire, and action through digital content marketing.

So, here are top strategies to facelift your content marketing initiatives in 2019

#1. Testimonial Marketing 

Testimonials can be a great content strategy for generating brand endorsements. They are very effective in garnering trustworthy recommendations for your brand. While seeking testimonials, you may ask current students or alumni to reflect on their experiences with your college. Their feedback will automatically feed into your content creation strategy. Such an approach of using user-generated content is particularly helpful in the final stages of prospective student’s decision making the journey.

For strengthening your content strategy, not just content creation but also its dissemination on various social media / digital platforms is very critical for its success.  Start by putting up student testimonials on your website. Include testimonials from industry guests as well to add further credibility. User-generated content also needs authentication. Feedback from recruiters, guest faculty etc. is useful to validate all of this.

Provide space on your college website to students and alumni for sharing inspiring stories.  You can also leverage this section to create more talking points by embedding links that will give an opportunity to sneak peek into your institution’s USPs.

Considering the volume of students on social media, you can create Facebook / Instagram posts around these testimonials to increase outreach. 

#2. Does Your College Have a Blog Page

In the last few years, blogs have come up as a potent content marketing strategy for academic institutions.

Blogs can be used to engage prospective students in a number of ways. Through blogs, you can start raising a lot of admission leads.  Besides enhancing your online presence, blogs present a wonderful opportunity to invoke the interest of prospective students in your brand. You can run blogs on several topics of interest and themes, add a call to action and capture leads.

#3. Develop a Visual Content Strategy
While developing a robust content marketing strategy, marketers often do not give sufficient attention to visual creatives, of which Infographics are a powerful tool.

Infographics are a great way to present information in a condensed and effective way using graphics and visuals. Your messages can be packaged in an appealing manner using Infographics. In the digital world, the attention span of an average user is very less. But by clubbing information with graphics, you can convey messages in a much more comprehensive and effective way.

Infographics can be used intelligently to summarise a lengthy piece of information. It can be used to highlights an institution’s unique aspects that differentiate it from similar players in the market.

Ultimately, it is important to understand that your institution has a lot of useful content at its disposal. The only thing is how interestingly you present it to your stakeholders, especially prospective students. In doing so, finding the right medium to communicate and project it differently will generate the desired impressions and result in the overall success of your content marketing strategy. And infographics provide valuable support in this direction.

#4. Single Point Control for Content Creation and Promotion

In institutions of higher education, a common challenge is centralization of content. Content is being created and disseminated across departments. Lack of proper coordination between marketing teams and various department leads to inefficient management of content. A lot of valuable stuff is lost in between. But by centralizing the flow of content and its subsequent promotion can improve the efficiency of marketing teams in higher education institutions.

This will ultimately bring some standardization in the process and help in ensuring key performance indicators for your campaigns. By creating a centralized place for promotion, your college can effectively measure the performance of content marketing campaigns.

Without centralized reporting, you cannot control the flow of information and duplicity of efforts. Everyone will be following a vicious circle and repeating the same strategies one after the other.

#5. Use Technology for Effective Measurement of Your Content Marketing Campaigns

For measuring the performance of your content, you need granular data that is more specific and supported by meaningful insights. It is not an easy job to do. But marketing automation has made it possible to track the ROI of digital inventories to a granular level. The review reports generated through such platforms are evidence-based and very insightful.

These platforms allow marketers to streamline their content marketing plans for effective implementation.

#6. Automate Email Content Marketing

On similar lines as mentioned in the previous point, your college can use technology to make email marketing campaigns more efficient and result-oriented. You can improve the delivery of bulk emailers by tracking matrix such as click-through rate and open rate.

Emailers are a good medium to engage students. They prefer to receive college updates via email over phone calls. You can optimize the performance of emailer campaigns by trying different variations in the subject line as well as text placement within the emailer body.

In addition to the above, sending personalized, segmented, relevant and contextual emails is one of the best ways to increase your engagement and improve overall deliverability.

#7. New Forms of Emerging Content – Live Streaming

Apart from the text-based content, video content is considered to be more engaging. In this context, there are many digital content creation platforms emerging for higher education. One such popular medium is the use of live streams. Facebook Live or Instagram Stories etc.  is the upcoming phenomenon.

Live stream content can be generated in many ways; it could be a Q&A session with admission seekers or live streaming of events on campus and more. Live streams are viewed as more authentic by many millennials and can be a great way to build relationships with potential students.

#8. Use Personalize Content

By personalizing your content you can enhance engagement time and optimize your communication strategy.  For personalizing content, it is important to segment your audience first. This can be done on the basis of their interest, demography, location, etc. to better address their individual needs.

By understanding what types of students your university or college is targeting, you can better position your content strategy to address their concerns.

#9. Is Your Content Mobile Responsive

When it comes to content, your college website is the prime web property prospective students will look for. Most of the prospective students start their search for colleges or universities using the website. This will probably the first time they will ever come across your academic brand.

If by any chance, your website design is not mobile-friendly, you are likely to lose a large chunk of your audience base. So make sure that making your website mobile responsive becomes your top priority if it is not done yet.

Making your website mobile-friendly will optimize your content and improve conversions.

Millennials prefer mobile devices to access the internet. So make sure your website performs well on both desktop and mobile.

Finally
Try the options given in this blog to give your content strategy a new boost. You can start revamping content marketing campaigns by identifying gaps in the current workflow. Based on the findings thereafter, you can decide on the new content strategy workflow for your B-School or University for this year.
Getting rid of obstacles and finding solutions to problems will be the key to success for making your content strategy work for your academic brand in 2019

You can document your content marketing plan to ensure effective monitoring of campaigns vis-à-vis budget allocated. Create a centralized and standardized process that receives content inputs from key departments.

Bring liveliness in your content to make it more engaging. It has to be a balance of video, photo, and text. A good content marketing strategy uses all these three formats of distribution.

Content can be created from any source. Use your internal audience (faculty and staff) to generate content ideas since they are the ones who frequently interact with students and hence understand their psyche better than anyone else. Content could also be built around helping to answer questions of prospective students.

Make the best use of alumni and current students to garner content. For e.g. testimonials from this community of students can be a powerful part of your content marketing message. Institutes have a significant opportunity in this area. Alumni and current set of students can be utilized to feed photo, video, and text testimonials.

Marketing is all about content. How interestingly you package it year after year will define your success. It should be smarty crafted to drive engagement and conversions. Plan and execute your institutional content marketing strategy in a way that enhances your brand equity and further builds its outreach.

We hope that based on the insights given in this blog you’ll be able to craft a fresh content marketing strategy for your B-School or University in 2019

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