In today’s digital age, traditional marketing strategies alone are no longer sufficient to capture the attention of prospective students. As a result, business schools and universities around the world are embracing newer approaches to engage with their target audience and stand out in a competitive landscape, and they’ve discovered content marketing.
What is content marketing?
Content marketing is a long-term strategy that involves the creation and sharing of online materials. It goes beyond the promotional tactics by offering educational and insightful content that addresses the needs and interests of the audience.
However, it is important to remember that content marketing is more than just publishing a piece of content and hoping people will find it. The best content marketing offers valuable information, that is tailored to your specific audience, that people will actively seek out and even share with others.
What can it do for your business school or university?
Help you develop a relationship with potential students
By talking about research papers, faculty and alumni success, and events on campus, prospective students will become increasingly familiar with your institution, which builds trust over time.
By providing relevant and interesting content, institutions will highlight their expertise, which is more powerful than simply just promoting rankings for instance.
Expands reach of academics
Posting your content on social media and other shareable channels, as well as incorporating SEO keywords into your content, and using it to inspire PR and media opportunities, can help academics as well as institutions reach new audiences.
What kind of content should you use?
Having a blog that is regularly updated is a fantastic way for your institution to share valuable insights, industry trends, research findings, and faculty opinions. As a business school or university, you are very well positioned to create informative and well-researched blog posts that cater to the interests and challenges of your target audience, including prospective students, alumni, potential corporate partners, and other professionals.
Creating engaging video content allows you to communicate your message effectively, and as a type of content that is prioritised on social media, a great way to help reach your target audience.
You can produce videos that interview industry experts, shares alumni success stories, showcases your campus and more. They can link back to your blogs too. EHL Hospitality Business School do great examples of this; they have an interactive video which takes you on a tour of their campus with one of their students. You can select options which personalises the tour to you, will you go straight to class or stop for coffee first?
Infographics and images
Infographics are visually appealing and can effectively convey complex information in a simplified manner. You can create infographics on numerous things, such as research findings, curriculum highlights, and industry statistics.
Visual content such as images, charts and graphs, are also great forms of content to enhance blogs and social media posts.
Sharing case studies that highlight successful business strategies or problem-solving approaches can demonstrate the practical application of the school’s teachings. These real-life examples can showcase how the school’s programmes can translate into tangible results.
Podcasts are an excellent marketing tool for business schools as they offer a convenient way for individuals to consume content while on the go. By creating podcasts, business schools can reach a wider audience and provide valuable educational content in a format that fits people’s busy lifestyles.
How to use content marketing effectively
Now that you’ve figured out what content you should use, next is to make sure that you use it effectively.
Set your goals
In order to have a successful content marketing strategy, you need to set clear goals of what you want to achieve. Does your school want to increase student recruitment as a whole? Do you want to focus on faculty hires? Establishing what the goal is, makes the next step a lot easier.
Define your audience
Once you have set your goals, you need to clearly identify who you want your target audience to be. It is really important to clearly define your audience, so that you can tailor your content specifically to that audience.
Develop a strategy
In order to be successful you need to create a strategy that aligns with your goals and objectives. You need to decide which type of content you use, the topics you’ll cover, and the platforms you will utilise. Creating a content calendar could be helpful to ensure a consistent and timely delivery of content. This can also align with other efforts such as your PR and communications outreach.
Produce valuable content
The key part of a successful content marketing strategy is to produce valuable content. Provide insights, practical advice, industry trends, research findings, and thought leadership. Address the challenges for your audience and offer solutions. Your content should be informative, actionable, and relevant to your audience's needs.
Utilise different content formats
Diversify your content by using various formats such as blog articles, videos, podcasts, infographics, webinars, and social media posts. Different people prefer different formats, so cater to a wider audience by delivering content in different ways. Experiment with multimedia content to make your content more engaging and shareable.
Optimise for SEO
Optimise your content for search engines to increase visibility and organic traffic. Conduct keyword research to understand the search terms and phrases relevant to your content and incorporate these keywords naturally into your content, including titles, headings, and meta descriptions.
Adapt and evolve
Make sure you continuously assess the performance of your content marketing, and adapt your strategy accordingly. Stay up to date with industry trends, feedback from your audience, and changes in the market. Experiment with new content formats, topics, and distribution channels to keep your content fresh and engaging.
Content marketing is a fantastic way to promote your school, as long as you consistently create high-quality, relevant, and valuable content that resonates with your target audience. By providing insights, knowledge, and thought leadership, your business school or university can attract prospective students, engage with alumni, and establish your reputation in the industry.
Katie is an Account Manager at BlueSky Education.
She is an education communications specialist with journalistic flair thanks to a degree in Multimedia Journalism and a stint as a reporter at the Financial Times.