The old adage content is king is more true than ever in higher education, and more specifically, in enrollment marketing strategy. While content marketing as a strategy is not new (in fact, according to this infographic it has been around for over 6,000 years), its importance has increased exponentially in the past 15 or so years as competition and price sensitivity in higher education have grown.
Content comes in many forms; blog posts, articles, social media posts, video, web page copy, and any other form that can be posted online. The role this content plays in enrollment marketing comes down to three key points that you need to consider:
Content reaches your target audience when and where they are doing their college search. It’s no secret that prospects are researching online, on both desktops and mobile devices. They aren’t running to the mailbox every day hoping for information from colleges; they’re sitting down on their own schedule, searching for the things that are important to them, asking the questions they want answered, and comparing schools based on the content they find on your website (and your competitor’s). You need great content that answers their questions and show them what differentiates you.
Search engine rankings may determine your institution’s future. As traditional student search campaigns become less effective, and stealth applications rise, more schools are turning to search engine marketing to increase their inquiry pool and drive those prospects through the funnel. It is becoming more important to rank on specific keywords that prospects search for in search engines. For example, if you offer an architecture program, you’ll see quality, qualified prospects visiting your website on keywords such as top architecture schools, best architecture programs, or top-ranked architecture degree. The only way to rank on these keywords and be found by those prospects is through great content. Content marketing is a cost-effective way to gain a competitive edge in today’s competitive market.
Your competition is fierce. Competition isn’t just coming from your handful of historic competitor schools anymore. Online universities are gobbling up market share, and increasing the cost to compete, MOOCs have gained popularity in recent years training in specific areas, demographics are shifting and the prospect pool is dwindling, and some people have gone as far as questioning the value of a degree in relation to the rising costs, and debt that students carry after graduation. Overcoming these barriers and challenges is a tall order, but using content to extend your brand, create a dialogue with prospects, and attract prospects researching on their own will give you a distinct advantage and help you meet these challenges.
It’s time to revisit your existing enrollment marketing strategy and consider where the gaps are, and what you can be doing differently to see better results. The days of if you build it, they will come are over, and you need to build something new to hit those challenging enrollment goals.