What you can discover by reading this article:

1. A content strategy that’s easy to produce, highly targeted and gives you all the information you need to perform highly personalised marketing and lead nurturing for free.

2. A content strategy that allows you to harness your students’ capabilities and connections to help you deliver marketing material that’s subtle, effective and requires minimal expertise, time or effort from you.

3. A content strategy that allows you to take control of your prospects’ organic research and turn that process into a guided nurturing experience that answers their most important question.

As an education provider, your ability to generate interested and serious applications is critical to your success.

Your reputation, your advertising, your canvassing of high-schools – all of these help you generate the interest, inquiries and applications that sustain your organisation.

But a strategy is something else entirely.

You’ve heard by now that you need a “Content Strategy”. But what does that mean?

A Content Strategy is the management and use of any tangible media that you create. It’s how you attract new applications using the media you develop, and it’s incredibly powerful. 

Here are 3 strategies to generate and convert interest in your organisation into new applications

Content strategy 1:  Give away helpful information

Good news! You are already sitting on a giant pile of content

Your lectures are content. Your programme information is content. Your course materials are content.

Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) are among hundreds of higher learning institutes that have made their lectures available online, to great success.

A recording of a single Harvard lecture, Introduction to Human Behavioural Biology, has generated over 4.6 million views on Youtube.

By becoming a source of information for an audience of prospective students, people will seek out your content all by themselves — and thanks to your strategy of attracting interest based on people’s interests and preferences, you can very easily target them with customised marketing.

Let’s jump straight into it.

Decide what content you are going to produce

Are you going to record lectures and upload them to YouTube? Or are you going to comb through the course material of you most popular and interesting courses and create interesting blog posts for your website?

Perhaps, with some help from your students, you’re thinking of generating a “Student Story” photo series every week and posting that to your Instagram page?

Better yet, are you going to create interesting animated videos for Facebook that explain key concepts drawn from your courses? Or maybe produce interviews with successful graduates and publish them on your LinkedIn page?

Or perhaps, if you’re really looking to generate interest, are you going to produce short courses on your material, available to the public for free and online, on your website?  

No idea? That’s OK.

When considering what content to produce, keep in mind why you are generating this content in the first place.

Every piece of content you produce should work to stimulate enough interest in prospective students to drive them to your website. Your website’s job is to convert those interested visitors into applicants.

When deciding on what content to produce, think about your platforms.

Let’s look at some of those content suggestions again.

  • Record lectures and upload them to YouTube.
  • Comb through the course material and create interesting blog posts for your website.
  • Generate a “Student Story” photo series every week to post to your Instagram page.
  • Create interesting animated videos for Facebook.
  • Produce interviews with successful graduates and publish them on your LinkedIn page.
  • Produce short courses on your material, available to the public for free and online, for your website.  

Effective content is always platform-specific. Why? Because audiences are platform-specific.  Think about what your different audiences would respond to and develop content that would interest those audiences. 

Consistency

One of the great things about content is that it works for you long after you produce it. That Introduction to Human Evolutionary Biology that’s still generating traffic for Harvard? It was uploaded 10 years ago.

But don’t think that producing great content for a month is going to produce the sustained interest that will continually generate new applications. Your content strategy is about how to perpetually produce interesting, engaging content and using that as a basis to further interact with, learn from and engage your audience.

Make sure the content you decide to produce checks these three boxes.

  1. It’s well-suited to a specific platform and, more importantly, the audience on that platform. 
  2. It will interest and engage that specific audience, and encourage them to see more on your site.
  3. It’s content you could produce with regularity and will allow you to interact and engage your audience.

Content strategy 2: The Student-led Approach

If you had R10 000 to market a new course, how would you spend it?

What about offering that R10 000 to students who had recently completed the course as a prize for creating and posting their own social media post explaining what the course was like and what they learned from it?

This requires no content production, management or distribution from your side. The students generate the content, they disseminate it on their own social media channels and information about your course reaches other young individuals in the most organic way possible – from their friends.

This is essentially what GoPro did when they launched their Million Dollar Challenge. To promote their latest Hero8 camera they recruited over 42 000 clips, awarded a total of $1 million to 45 content creators and produced the incredible promotional video you see above, which premiered in January 2020.

Let’s see what other examples of a student-led content strategy might look like.

Student blogs

Blogs are one of the best forms of media around which to build a strong content strategy

With just one full-time editor, you can recruit, edit and publish articles written by your students that speak directly to the audiences you want to engage and generate considerable traffic to your sign-up pages. 

Remember those three boxes your content needs to check?

1. It’s well-suited to a specific platform and, more importantly, the audience on that platform.

Blogs are very well suited to Google Search, and with the right blogs, they are perfectly suited to every audience you might want to target. 

Say you’re trying to fill up all your Graphic Design courses. You could generate four blog topics that speak to the kinds of people you want to attract to your sign-up page, and offer students a financial incentive for submitting their blogs to your marketing team. 

2. It will interest and engage that specific audience, and encourage them to see more on your site.

By producing highly-specific blog posts that address your audiences’ interests, you will be able to draw them onto your site. Once they land on your site and read your blog, you can introduce offers – or links to other pages that host your offers – for courses that those blogs were designed to produce interest in.

This is the process that gets your audience from Google Search, onto your blog page and then onto your sign-up page. 

3. It’s content you could produce with regularity and will allow you to interact and engage your audience.

Another major benefit of using blogs as the foundation of your content strategy is that they are easy to produce. If you are using a massive pool of students to produce these blogs, you should have no trouble generating a ton of hyper-specific content for your blog that will attract – and allow your sales team to convert – a ton of new prospects.

Competitions

Let’s take a closer look at the benefits of a competition like the R10 000 student competition.

This requires no content production, management or distribution from your side. The students generate the content, they disseminate it on their own social media channels and information about your course reaches other young individuals in the most organic way possible – from their friends.

If you elect to run a competition asking students to share their own content to their own social media pages, then you are effectively reducing your content management to explaining the rules to your audience and managing the results of the competition. 

If, like GoPro, you only use your competition to recruit content from your audience, then you will still need to perform much of the management and distribution of that content once you receive it.

Developing your own competitions allows you to make up for any gaps in your ability to produce, manage or distribute content. 

It would have been very difficult for GoPro to produce that many phenomenal videos by themselves, but they wouldn’t have struggled to promote or distribute that content with great success. GoPro benefited from recruiting content from those creators, but knew that they could have a bigger impact by turning that material into a single video and releasing it themselves than by having those 45 individuals share that content under a common hashtag.

For your own organisation, reaching all the followers of those content creators who enter your competition, in a very natural and organic way, may be more impactful than releasing that content on your own platforms.

Content strategy 3: Show potential applicants their future

“What can I do with a communications degree?”

Google “Communications Degree”. The first page of results will always have articles answering this question, written by education providers like yours, to attract the attention of prospective students.

“What can I do with X degree” is a great focus for your content because it answers a key question for most students: How does this course get me from where I am to where I want to be?

Being able to answer that question is incredibly powerful.

A blog post is one way of showing students how your course could guide them to a prosperous future, but many education providers have gone much further.

Let’s see what content strategy based around answering that question might look like.

A Virtual Tour

 

A virtual tour can be many things. In this example, The University of Miami shot a video less than 2 minutes showing off the the campus and posted it to their YouTube channel. 

Students who can see your institution, especially in the form of a tour, will more easily be able to imagine themselves there. This helps them to place themselves in the story you are creating of how this course gets me from where I am to where I want to be.

Want to really get results? Create an interactive virtual tour

There are more benefits to producing video tours

  • You could be generating attention – and sign-ups – directly from the views your video recieves.
  • Videos allow you to compete with other universities for the attention of prospective students on YouTube.
  • Video is the most powerful way to show off what your institution’s facilities or grounds look like, and exercise some control over their public perception.

Another major benefit? The comments section of the the University of Miami’s virtual tour  has 46 comments by young students expressing a very enthusiastic interest to attend the university one day. By reaching out to these individuals and offering to answer their questions, the university is able to impress thousands of viewers with their responsive and thoughtful customer service.

Completing the story

 Giving your prospect’s the ability to imagine themselves at your institution is the first step in answering that important question: How does this course get me from where I am to where I want to be?

How else could you fill the gaps in your prospects mind, in order to help them fully answer this question?

“Your first week / month at (your institution)”

You could generate a blog post detailing all the experiences a first-year student can expect in their first week or month at your institution. A link to this article ( or Youtube video, or even an infographic for your Facebook page) could be used both to serve your latest students as well as a piece of marketing for prospective students.

“What it’s like to be a first year at (your institution)”

You could reproduce the same content that you produced to give prospects an idea of what they can expect in their first week / month, except to give them an idea of what they can expect from their first year.

In this way you are creating a natural flow for your reader, in which their journey through your content also takes them through their imagined journey with your institution.

Being able to control your prospects experience when researching your institution allows you to turn their own research into a guided nurturing process.

Close the gap

Once you’ve sufficiently answered their questions about their first year with your institution, you need to finish the story by ensuring they have content describing their courses and how completing them would deliver them to where they want to be.

Here are a few more content focuses with which you could close the gap and fully answer the question: How does this course get me from where I am to where I want to be?

  • “What it’s like to study (this course)”
  • “Career guidance at “your institution”
  • “How (your institution) got me to the company of my dreams”

If you received 1000 inquiries, what would you do with them?

Know who your students are – with LeadSquared. Lead generation can be a complex process filled with small details and moving parts. Many professionals are finding success with LeadSquared.

LeadSquared provides an all-in-one solution to lead management, helping you collect and track leads from all your online and offline sources. With tools like lead scoring, lead qualification, and lead distribution, you always know who your hottest leads are and where they are in your sales funnel. You can also automate tasks like follow up and scheduling to continue growing the relationship at scale.

Try LeadSquared with a free 15-day trial and discover a better path to lead generation.

 

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