For colleges and universities, marketing is a strategic extension of the admissions (sales) process. From beautiful brochures that depict life on campus to videos of on-campus events and guest speakers, the idea it to not only to showcase the vibrancy of the campus and community, but to convince prospective students – and their parents – that this is the best place for them to spend the next four or more years of their lives.
While campus visits, college fairs and strategic relationships with college counselors at high schools across the U.S. all play important roles in the recruitment process, what happens between these in-person interactions matters. In order to remain top-of-mind from the time a prospective student first visits campus to the day they decide which school to attend, colleges and universities need to develop a strategic blend of marketing communications that educates, excites and motivates future attendees.
By now you are likely wondering what this magical mix of content looks like and how it reaches students. The answer? Inbound Marketing.
Inbound Marketing uses content to attract prospects and convert leads into clients, and in the case of higher ed, students. By sharing a strategic mix of content – which often includes whitepaper, e-books, toolkits, blog posts, videos and social media marketing – colleges can both demonstrate their understanding of a prospective student’s interests and needs while showcasing their best features and assets.
Here’s why Inbound Marketing works for colleges and universities:
- It’s Trackable – By offering premium content that requires visitors to complete a short intake form before receiving their whitepaper, e-book, etc. colleges can identify who is visiting their site and funnel appropriate leads to the admissions team. For example, let’s say a student comes to an open house but never follows through on scheduling an overnight visit. Several months later, that prospective student downloads a toolkit from your university’s website. Now that the prospective student has a subsequent touchpoint with your organization, an admissions counselor can pick up the phone to follow-up, equipped with the knowledge of what is currently on the individual’s mind.
- It Helps You Get Found – Who doesn’t want to increase the volume of qualified traffic visiting their website and fill their pipeline with fresh leads? Who doesn’t want a student who Google searches ‘How to Choose the Right University’ to land on their website to find a blog rich with tips from both staff and current students as well as a series of short videos asking incoming freshman how they knew your university was the right school for them.
By creating optimized content that resonates with prospective students’ buyer personas, colleges and universities can position themselves as a trusted resource by providing answers to the questions students are trying to answer before choosing which school to attend.
- It’s Visual – The continued growth of social media and rise of visual marketing platforms such as Pinterest, Vine and Instagram have opened the doors for colleges and universities to showcase the atmosphere, attractions, programs and events that set their school apart from the competition. Whether it’s a Pinterest board of motivational sayings to keep students focused during their final semester of high school, a series of videos created by current students highlighting the best moment of their freshman year or another creative, visual display of what your school has to offer, visual marketing is a powerful way to attract prospective students and generate leads.
While there are countless tools available for marketing the college experience, higher ed institutions needs a nimble strategy that ensures frequency of exposure, salience of messaging and consistency of both communication frequency and voice. By developing a robust content marketing program to attract prospective students, colleges and universities can increase enrollment, boost engagement among current and prospective students (as well as alumni) and generate tangible ROI.
Thinking Inbound Marketing may be right for your college or university? Download our free whitepaper How to Attract Students to Your University and Increase Enrollment today. It’s packed with actionable tips to take your higher ed marketing to the next level and generate tangible marketing ROI.