Content marketing is a great way to build trust with your audience because it allows you to leverage your brand as a solutions-oriented thought leader whose chief mission is to understand your audience’s pain points and help solve them.
One of the biggest challenges faced by higher ed marketers is solving prospective student problems while also maximizing content value and effectiveness. If you’ve taken the time to create student personas for your institution, then you are probably already familiar with your audience’s pain points. If you haven’t created student personas yet, understand that it is impossible to address your audience’s needs without knowing who your audience is, what their priorities are, and where they can be found online. It is highly advisable that higher ed marketers create student personas prior to developing a content strategy.
Prospective students have lots of questions, and you've got the answers to help guide their decision-making process. Here's how colleges can solve prospective student problems with content.
1. Be an indispensible resource.
In addition to giving prospective students the traditional spiel about your institution, position yourself as a thought leader on all things related to higher ed. Educate students and their parents about the college admissions process including SAT/ACT testing, FAFSA deadlines, college essay tips, admissions statistics, etc. Share this valuable information in content formats that are channel appropriate including a dedicated section on your school website, your social media accounts, or your admissions blog.
2. Offer actionable solutions.
Another way to build your school’s reputation as a higher education thought leader is to maintain an active presence on popular college admissions message boards like College Confidential and Reddit's college board. Monitor and respond to prospective student’s social media inquiries and offer up solutions to some of the biggest challenges expressed via links to your own actionable content like how-to videos and blog posts.
3. Optimize for long-tail search.
Long-tail search is an essential part of a content strategy that allows marketers to build a foundation for solution-based content. Many prospective student long-tail keywords focus on interrogative queries (e.g., "What is the typical freshman experience?" or "How are freshman dorms assigned?" or "Are study abroad programs beneficial?”). Content that directly responds to such queries helps position your school as a valuable resource to your audience. Another upside is your website or social media accounts experiencing increased organic traffic as a result of higher ranking for these long-tail keywords.
4. Share compelling student stories.
Student stories and testimonials offer prospective students a real look into student life at your institution. Encourage existing students to share their experiences by running a social media contest for the best stories. Or simply create and promote a “MyStory@XXX.edu” email alias via your school website or social media accounts where students can submit their stories. Share these stories with student prospects via social media or on your blog.
Chime in and let us know how you’re gearing your marketing efforts towards solving prospective student problems. We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.
To learn more about how you can create and use student personas to recruit higher quality prospects for your institution, download a free copy of our ebook.