If you were looking for a sign to make content marketing strategy for higher ed a priority, this is it... Don’t have a content strategy? That’s fine too—we can work from the ground up.
As a veteran agency with a significant amount of higher education experience, we have a vast knowledge base when it comes to crafting effective and dynamic content strategies that speak to your prospective students and move them through their journey to enrollment.
Content strategy for inbound marketing is more than a couple of social media posts. It is an important element to your marketing ecosystem because it creates tangible touch points across all of your digital properties, including your web presence. There are many types of content that can be created to support and lift your inbound content strategy.
On this page, we provide an overview on how content marketing plans can benefit higher education firms, how exactly to define these strategies, unique opportunities and challenges, plus examples and benefits of the “LT Approach” to marketing efforts, especially for higher education institutions.
At this point, you may be asking yourself, what exactly is content marketing strategy? In general, it is an understanding of who your audience is, deciphering the information they desire, and bringing that information to life for digital properties. Content marketing can apply to any digital property; we place high value on websites since they’re a great central hub for organizations to reach their audience(s) and they usually inform the rest of their materials across all channels.
A content marketer's job is to understand who we’re talking to, the journey they’re taking, and the various touch points we have to move their journey forward.
So, how does this relate to higher education? We’re glad you asked. In the higher ed space, student journeys are extremely interesting and intricate. From the recent high school grad looking for an undergraduate degree to the working adult looking to go back to school, from the lifelong learner to those pursuing a master’s or doctoral degree, each journey is different and there are endless variations.
The main goal of a higher education content marketing strategy is to help these students overcome barriers that are stopping them from enrolling, such as tuition costs, work-life balance, scheduling conflicts, how long it takes, and more. A good content marketing strategy answers these questions and helps students inch closer to the finish line of enrollment.
Higher education institutions will see tangible benefits when they pay attention to their content strategy and engage prospective students. If you engage in a meaningful, interesting way, then these potential students start to think about their education that way too. We’ve found great success in strategies focused on the emotional impact of going to school. We give students the opportunity to envision their future with a degree and see how it will change their life.
When defining higher education marketing strategies, our VP of Content Marketing, Hannah Tooker, has a two-pronged approach.
First, she will assess a brand’s existing footprint from a marketer’s perspective. Does this website feature strong calls-to-action (CTAs)? Is the user journey obvious? Is the right information being featured at the right time?
Then, she will take a step back and look again, but this time through the lens of the target audience, pretending she is a college student looking to enroll. She has found this approach actually highlights blind spots that most marketers miss because their experience in the industry naturally provides them with better insights—but a prospective student might not know where to look. By using this perspective, our team develops strategies that identify areas we didn’t think about before. This allows us to better answer students’ questions and help them tackle their barriers.
Other important questions to think about when developing a content marketing strategy include:
By answering these questions and clearly defining the variables, high education firms will gain a better sense of what they need to focus on, such as search engine optimization (SEO), social media, a website refresh, rebranding, or content creation, such as writing blog posts. For a more in-depth understanding, you can learn how to develop a content marketing strategy here.
We’ve had the privilege to work with an array of higher education institutions, helping them to create dynamic solutions to the challenges they faced.
The Challenge: Due to market saturation for online universities, University of Phoenix had become lumped into the diploma-mill category.
Our Solution: We positioned University of Phoenix as a credible alternative to traditional colleges and universities, speaking directly to prospective students. Our brand position focused on “thinking ahead” and simultaneously highlighted the community of students.
The Challenge: Rio Salado College, a forerunner in the industry with a tried and true curriculum, faced increasing pressure from new entrants. Not only did they need to address this challenge, but they also wanted to ensure their next phase could scale with their growth.
The Solution: Rio Salado’s competitors were doing a great job of talking about themselves. So we flipped the script and went against the grain. We put students first in their positioning and built in easy ways the college could grow.
The Challenge: Ancora Education hosts a house of brands, all of which are unique school offerings within various industries. Ancora knew they needed to develop functional and distinct websites to support each training program.
The Solution: So we did just that. We designed websites for each school under Ancora’s umbrella, all while following website design best practices with unique student audiences in mind and placing education outcomes at the forefront—all with the goal of inspiring students, regardless of which school they were interested in.
We are well versed in higher education thanks to years of experience in the industry. We are passionate about helping students achieve their educational goals and enjoy learning more about the various student personas unique to each school offering. This is why content marketing strategy is important.
Within the higher education space, there are both opportunities and challenges for content marketing strategists.
Increased interactivity and progressive profiling present exciting options to better understand users in their journey. Through interactive elements on websites such as degree finders and quizzes, we are able to better understand potential customers, who they are, what they want, and how to market to them.
Due to a high saturation within the higher education space, there can be a sea of sameness in messaging to overcome. We work to differentiate our clients from others in the category, especially as online universities have become more common. In order to break from the pack, a strong content marketing strategy will isolate what makes the client different and bring it to life on the website and other digital marketing materials.
The better you can understand your prospective students as individuals versus lumping them by category or industry research, the better you can create content that speaks to them, and ultimately, increases student enrollment.
Have a specific marketing objective? Not sure where you need help? Whatever your needs are, we can help you achieve your business goals, increase leads or conversions and craft a sustainable strategy that will serve you for the long-term.
We’re proud of our client roster and the work we’ve done for them. Every project is an opportunity to meet new challenges and embrace boldness that truly stands out in the saturated digital market.