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.