How does the education industry preserve engagement with prospective customers?

Although the education industry is spending more time on customer retention, many do not use every available tool out there, and more than a few lack good content to drive their marketing strategy.
But colleges, universities and trade academies are businesses, and to survive they must attract new customers (prospective students), engage those prospective students, and convert them into enrollees.
Here are three strategies that can help educational institutions accomplish these goals:

Use newer technology methods

Technology can either be a tool or a weapon depending on how it is used. For the education industry, there are two tools that can be valuable toward engaging prospective students: gaming and adaptive learning activities.
Remember, content as it relates to the education industry is not just about blog pieces, videos and podcasts; it is also about the type of learning content that students can enroll in online.
One way to engage prospective students is for institutions to offer more game-oriented or game-based learning, which boosts motivation, helps students retain more information and does wonders for their problem-solving skills.
Gamification is hands-on and interactive – two huge ways to boost user engagement. Adaptive learning follows a similar path.
Adaptive learning refers to online learning that is customized to match a user’s learning curve based on previous lessons he or she has completed.
That helps students learn at the appropriate level based on their existing understanding of the material. A one-size-fits all approach may not benefit students who learn at more measured rates.

Keep content updated and fresh

The “buying” process for an educational institution is far longer than for a traditional business. In this case, buying refers to a prospective student who decides to enroll in some type of class or program at the school.
And because this process is so much longer, the content that educators offer must remain relevant and constantly updated.
This does not just refer to website content that may include helpful blogs and guides. Educational courses must also incorporate the most up-to-date information, theories and concepts.
Educational institutions may have to update their online textbooks and manuals to reflect the most recent and accepted information pertaining to a subject matter.
Schools should also update their sites several times per week and ensure that there is at least one new blog post every week. This will make users feel as if they are engaging with a site that is relevant and in tune with current events in education and society.
Remember, quality of content is much more important than quantity of content, so having two fresh pieces a week that are outstanding and valuable is far more important in engaging prospective students than 10 pieces of mediocre or throwaway content.

Focus on e-learning

Although many colleges and universities offer online learning, most do so at a loss to the bottom line.
But some marketing services are helping schools monetize online learning by opening up the subject matters that prospective students can “buy,” including courses in health sciences, business, computer technology, engineering, sciences, art, design, writing and sustainability.
There are three elements to focus on when schools attempt to sell online courses to the public, including:

  • Branding – Schools must communicate their culture and what makes their approach to learning unique.
  • Quality courses – Schools must offer high-end instruction and certification to prove the value of the course.
  • Target the audience – Schools must identify the ideal customer for each course, which will help them create content that this audience would find attractive.

Schools that take advantage of the growing trend toward online learning can attract new, motivated students; they can also make money doing so.
There are many services out on the market that offer course packages, marketing services and online course management, so schools interested in this new avenue of engaging prospects should investigate this further.

Engagement requires constant evaluation

Engaging prospective students is a full-time job that requires constant evaluation of existing content and existing technologies that can excite prospects and make them more likely to become “buyers.” Educational institutions must think like entrepreneurs because there is fierce competition and limited resources.
If you are interested in a review of your content marketing strategy, please contact us today.

Content formats that are effective and relevant to education

Most businesses understand by now that content is king. Unfortunately, however, most businesses do not have quite the same understanding about what makes content good and how to promote that content across platforms where their target audience will find it.
This is especially true in the education industry, which is struggling with declining enrollment numbers and fierce competition. Research shows that many people these days skim, rather than read, content. If this is true, then how can education institutions attract and retain interest throughout the buying cycle?
The answer lies in creating effective and relevant content formats that are properly distributed to a target audience. Here are three strategies institutions can employ to achieve this goal:

Recognize the powerful effect of improved content and web writing

Studies have found that only 16 percent of people read website content word for word. Instead, most people skim until they find words and sentences that are intriguing.
This means that education institutions must use “scannable text,” such as meaningful keywords, subheadings and bulleted lists that make it easy for readers to scan and consume content.
For example, this is one way to write a sentence about new school courses:
Our university now offers five new courses: the science of sustainability, the future of AI, gaming technology, live video marketing and augmented reality in healthcare.
Or it could be written:
Our university now offers five new courses:

  • The science of sustainability.
  • The future of AI.
  • Gaming technology.
  • Live video marketing.
  • Augmented reality in health care.

Notice how the second example jumps off the page more because it includes bullet points, and each course has its own line, providing clarity and making the content more readable?

Understand how concise text and objective language can make every word count

Scannable text is not the only way to make content for education institutions readable and therefore more likely to reach a target audience. Using concise text and objective language is an effective way of communicating information without resorting to promotional content that can turn off many readers.
Promotional content that uses words like “the hottest course on campus,” or “the best faculty in the world” is often seen as boastful instead of useful. Readers expect a business to make these claims, but unless they are substantiated with evidence like actual rankings and ratings, they mean little. Instead, education institutions should make sure that their content is filled with text and language that sticks to the point without exaggeration.
For example, instead of a sentence like this one: Our university has the best faculty in the country and the most diverse student body possible…
A sentence like this one might be better: Sixty-six percent of our faculty have doctorate degrees, which ranks fifth nationally, and 55% of our student body is from another country.
The goal with any piece of content is readability, so sticking to objective language and concise text makes every word count and offers readers a more harmonious experience.

Understand why and how to capitalize on social media marketing

Education institutions must not simply create content for their websites, but must also distribute that content on social media platforms where their audiences gather.
There are several ways that schools can use social media marketing, including:

  • Promote culture, curriculum and campus activities – Platforms such as Twitter and Facebook are ideal outlets for schools to brand their “product.” Whether it is posting pictures of a campus activity, showing students applying knowledge in real-life settings, or highlighting a specific program that received accolades, social media is a powerful way to reach prospects.
  • Promote research activities – Schools can use social media to promote new research that has gained attention, and spotlight faculty and students who have gained recognition for their research work.
  • Engage donors to raise money – Schools can create social media campaigns such as donor match challenges for alumni and live streaming of fundraising events to engage existing and prospective donors. Columbia’s 2012 Giving Day Campaign, which relied heavily on social media promotion, raised $7.8 million in one day.

Create and distribute

Education institutions that create quality content that is concise and informative, and distribute that content on social media platforms where their target audience gathers will maximize their marketing toward prospects.
If you need help creating a content marketing plan, please contact us today.

Why content is the golden ticket for higher education marketing

One of the most effective ways for higher education institutions to attract new students is by creating valuable content. And for many institutions, identifying a target audience may not be a question of segmentation as much as it is a question of motivation.
In other words: What drove a prospect to arrive at an institution’s landing page? And once an institution can answer that question, then they can target the content to a wide group of prospects.
Here are some important content strategies that can drive higher education marketing and help institutions develop a plan for content management.

Create good, updated content to attract quality students

Higher education marketing begins with a website that has attractive landing pages, bold headlines and call-to-action (CTA) buttons that compel a user to seek more information about the school or to apply online for enrollment.
The website should also be responsive, which means that when users access that site on their mobile devices, the images, colors, text and font all shrink to fit those devices, without affecting the site’s ease-of-use.
And colleges and universities can create valuable content by answering the question mentioned earlier: What drove a prospect to arrive at the school’s landing page?
A list of reasons why a user would land on a university’s website:

  • Finding affordable education.
  • Seeking flexible ways to pay for higher education.
  • Seeking information about the value of an advanced degree.
  • Seeking information about diversity at the school.
  • Seeking information about quality of education.
  • Seeking information about transfer requirements.
  • Seeking information about admission requirements.

This is just a place to start, but even with this short list, administrators can begin to craft informative and entertaining content about subjects such as the value of a college degree versus only having a high-school diploma, social activities available on campus, the school’s latest rankings that speak volumes about its quality education, and the types of jobs available for students who want to earn money while attending school.

Ensure that administrators and faculty are on the same page regarding content

As with any business, content is not a one-size-fits-all proposition, and that is why it is so important that administrators and faculty are on the same page regarding content creation.
School administrators are often more concerned about how to attract new enrollees and retain existing students, so their content ideas are going to be skewed toward that goal.
Faculty, on the other hand, is more likely to want to promote the educational aspects of the institution, which means their content ideas are going to lean more toward orientation sessions, online academic conferences, educational forums and classroom dynamics.
But guess what?
Colleges and universities need both of these types of content to ensure that they are servicing as many prospects and as many existing students as possible.
Summer is a great time for administrators and faculty to meet to explore what content to create because there is time for everyone to take a look at web analytics to identify what users searched for on the school website.
Web analytics also sheds light on what content did not quite hit the mark, especially via social media comments that can illuminate trending topics that are engaging students.

Set measurable goals for developing content strategies

Many people think higher education marketing is something abstract that cannot be measured, but that is not true.
Administrators can set measurable goals by tracking the following information after a marketing campaign:

  • Number of requests for information.
  • Number of requests for an application.
  • Number of online applications started.
  • Number of online applications submitted.
  • Number of mailed applications submitted.
  • Number of contact forms completed.
  • Number of people attending live chats and online information seminars.
  • Number of social media comments after new campaign launched.

These can all give provide a quantifiable way of analyzing the success or failure of a campaign, which also helps administrators set new goals.

Content is about more than just blog pieces

Relevant, updated and valuable content is one of the keys to higher education marketing, but administrators should not forget that content is not just blog pieces; it includes videos, webinars, live streaming and podcasts.
If you need help with a content marketing strategy, please contact us today for a consultation.

Send this to a friend