Why Content Marketing?
From recruiting materials to research papers, content has long played a significant role in helping universities attract students and engage with people in the academic world. But as reading habits change, the content should too.
In today’s digital age, direct mail and print materials are no longer the primary sources of content. As the demand for digital content increases, companies are turning to content marketing to produce their own media. In fact, content marketing produces 3 times more leads at a fraction of the cost relative to other channels.
What used to work
What works now
Videos & Social Media
Personalized, triggered email
“One of [universities’] major challenges is how to take the rich, in-classroom, on-campus, and now-increasingly-digital learning environment and make it accessible, meaningful, and relevant to these institutions’ broader constituents. This is where content marketing for higher ed comes into play.” — Convince & Convert
With that in mind, some higher education marketers are beginning to jump on the content marketing bandwagon. From podcasts to video series, schools are getting creative about how to better engage with their audiences.
To further your position as pioneers of higher education, it’s important for your institution to keep up with modern day technologies and leverage them to maximize the return on your university’s communications efforts.
Take a look at some statistics to get an idea on why you should ramp up your content marketing efforts.
Going digital: Where it all started
The majority of higher education marketers would agree the print materials that they have long relied upon aren’t nearly as effective nowadays. As competition increases, universities that can engage with students and prospects on their terms are the ones that are positioned to stay ahead.
But how do universities go about creating digital content at such a scale?
Back in the ‘90s, when schools first transitioned to digital publishing, PDFs were the standard for digital collateral. Many universities and business organizations still use them for their communications. But because they’ve been around for more than a quarter of a century, PDFs are no longer suited to the modern digital reader.
Can you remember the last time you read a PDF on mobile? I can’t, and for good reason
PDFs require you to pinch and zoom, which is not something you want your readers to do. They are inaccessible and hard to read on smaller screens. These are important factors to consider if you’re going to appeal to Gen Z and your Millennial alumni. Additionally, PDFs aren’t measurable, interactive, or media-friendly.
Long story short: whether you’re targeting alumni, faculty, or prospective students, you want to ensure you’re producing quality content that engages and drives them to act toward your goals. We’ll show you why content marketing is the best way for you to stand out and capture your audience’s attention.
The benefits of content marketing
From outbound to inbound
It’s no question that traditional, outbound methods are losing their effectiveness, fast. Students and alumni don’t want to be told what to do; they want to discover it themselves. Today’s audiences are smart and take the time to evaluate before buying products and services. You must entice your readers with valuable content to keep them coming back — and that’s exactly what content marketing is.
Leading with value
As previously mentioned, valuable content is key to securing a prospect’s interest and starting their journey down your marketing funnel. In exchange for your prospect’s time and attention, give them valuable content that will keep them coming back to you for more. Consider what questions they are asking, the information they need, the challenges they have, and the solutions you can offer across every stage of the journey.
Flexibility and agility
Relative to print, content marketing can be seen as your swiss army knife, ready to be whipped out just a moment’s notice. Unlike the 8.5x11 page, you have complete flexibility over the type of content that you can produce, such as the structure, format, visuals, layout & length. Why does that matter? It’s because some people prefer visual stories (infographics, slides), some video stories (YouTube, GIFs), some audio (podcasts, webinars) and others varying-degrees of text (short-form, long-form, eBook). On this level, traditional offline formats can’t compete.
Every institution is trying to maximize resources — and that includes content creation, distribution, and everything in between. Digitizing is the best way to preserve your content archive, allowing them to live forever online rather than get thrown out. Not only will you get more bang for your buck but you will be able to repurpose, revise, and update assets much more efficiently.
Imagine a world where all it takes for anyone from anywhere to view your content is merely hitting the publish button. Unlike print materials, which require you to mail them, your content will be live for anyone who has an internet connection. The future of distribution lies in multi-channel publishing. Think mobile, tablet, desktop, and social — all at the click of a button.
ADA compliance and increased scrutiny over digital accessibility have become a growing challenge for schools across the nation. Since the majority of publishing formats being used by schools, such as PDFs and Flipbooks, are not ADA compliant, many schools are on the hunt for more compliant formats. With lawsuits on the rise, this is becoming a top priority for higher education marketers to address in 2019 and beyond.
Ask any marketer how they feel about metrics and their eyes will surely sparkle with joy. Then ask any marketers about measuring their content’s effectiveness, and their hands will begin to clam up. Every marketer knows that the future of marketing is rooted in data-driven growth. To truly scale an effective marketing team, you need to be able to understand what works and why. From conversions to engagement, your ability to turn data into insights is the quickest path to predictable, scalable growth.
According to LinkedIn, interactive content generates 4-5x more page views than static content. Unlike static PDFs or print materials, interactive content let you embed vibrant visuals, media, and animations that breathe life into your collateral. With this in mind, your interactive content also generates twice as many conversions as passive content.