Introducing the Higher Education Guide to Content Marketing
July 28, 2016
“Content marketing? Oh, yeah, we do that.”
If you’ve attended a professional marketing conference in the last five years, you’ve likely overheard this phrase a number of times - and with good reason.
Today, most university marketers have embraced the practice to some degree with the understanding that messaging strategies need to be more audience-focused rather than product-focused.
But while most higher ed institutions “do” content marketing, quite frankly, only a small percentage of them do it well.
Launching a blog and posting on social media are fine tactics, but how do you know they’re working? A solid content marketing plan encompasses far more than the mere publishing of a blog post or even regular social sharing to all the platforms.
Effective content marketing must be preceded by an effective content strategy - a well thought-out plan of action that outlines your objectives, your approach, your actionable items and how they’ll be measured and evaluated.
To help you answer in the affirmative when you ask yourself, “Am I doing it right?” we’ve put together The Sophisticated Marketer’s Guide to Content Marketing: Higher Education Edition as a handy blueprint to follow as you build your content strategy.
Download our guide and receive:
- A tactical planning chart for content marketing
- Expert guidance on how to prepare your content strategy
- Tips on how to build a healthy mix of content your audience actually wants
- Lessons on how to distribute your content with accuracy and proper context
- A creative gallery of content examples used by other universities
An offshoot of our incredibly popular Sophisticated Marketer’s Guide to Content Marketing, the higher education edition addresses the needs and challenges specific to universities trying to elevate their brand while attracting more right-fit students to become applicants.
You’ll also meet “Sarah,” a university marketing professional charged with raising brand recognition and hitting enrollment targets. The guide follows Sarah as she prepares, executes and measures a winning content marketing plan for the school.
To give you a sampling of what to expect, here are three invaluable tips from our guide:
1. Understanding Your Audience
To really understand your prospects and their needs, you must develop detailed “audience personas,” or composite representations of your target candidates. Accomplish this by interviewing current students, analyzing your student database for key background information and observing the conversations they’re holding on social media.
Make note (as in literally, write it down) of your prospects’ aspirations, motivators, social habits and other key describers to get a holistic picture of who your audience is. Only after you thoroughly understand your target can you begin to craft content that speaks to them.
2. Develop “Big Rock” Content
A valuable practice common here at LinkedIn is the “Big Rock” content - a substantial asset (think 15-20 pages) that can be broken up into smaller pieces over time. It could take the form of an eBook, a student guide or maybe even your viewbook.
Your Big Rock piece should center around a theme that sets your school apart from the competition and makes your mark as a thought leader.
Once your Big Rock piece is complete, it’s easy to break it down into smaller pebbles of content that can serve as individual blog posts, infographics and checklists to share on social media. When you start with a Big Rock, additional content ideas flow naturally and you’re guaranteed to stay on message.
3. Measure Your Efforts and Scale What Works
Yes, there is a way to measure the effectiveness of content marketing - in fact, it is essential in order to determine your future efforts.
You should track both engagement metrics (likes, shares, click-throughs) and performance metrics (conversions, cost per lead) to get a comprehensive picture of how your content is performing. Routinely analyze engagement metrics to tweak and refine your plan as you go and focus on performance metrics to measure the overall effectiveness of your strategy.
LinkedIn also provides additional metrics such as Content Marketing Score, brand lift and impact on enrollment that allow you to take a deeper dive into your campaign’s impact.
You CAN do content marketing right, but you don’t want to wing it without a solid game plan.