Content Marketing Strategy for Schools
“Content is king, but engagement is queen, and the lady rules the house” – Mari Smith
Confused? Well, you ought to be! With content marketing set to become the backbone of digital marketing in 2019 and thereafter. Apparently, the numbers are in favor of the marketing gurus who have been saying this – content marketing is slated to become a whopping $300 billion industry globally. Not surprisingly then, individuals and businesses have been taking notice.
The number of indexed pages in Google has risen from 1 trillion to more than 30 trillion in the last 7 years. This stands testimony to the fact that more and more businesses are turning to the digital medium to reap the benefits of putting content related to their work in front of the public. With so much hype surrounding content, it is easy to become overwhelmed.
Alright, I run a school/college. What’s in it for me?
If you are the owner of a college or are into the education business in one way or the other, content is important to you, as it is an essential ingredient of your digital marketing efforts. You can think of content development, distribution and marketing as part of your PR efforts as well. Not everything you put up on the internet has to be about your college. You can write stuff that connects in general with your target readership – potential students, funders, government bodies, investors, parents, other institutions, potential partners and the like.
When you create content that shows off expertise of your school, college or university, you are essentially positioning yourself as an expert in your field. So if you are a management college, you may be posting on a wide variety of topics, ranging from human resources to customer relationship management to the importance of management education on the whole. Informative, well-written articles can act as potent PR bombs since:
- You can portray yourself as an expert, as already pointed out.
- Your writing can benefit your target readership and prospective clients
- Even if you cannot generate or convert a lead, you can increase your brand’s awareness.
Sounds good enough? That’s because it is.
However, make sure you avoid the pitfall pointed out earlier. Don’t publish content just for the sake of publishing. Which is exactly why it is so important to choose the marketing agency wisely. An agency that does not realize the value of ensuring brand consistency across all channels will fail to do justice to your investment.
So, whether you are getting your content written by an in-house team of writers, or you are outsourcing the task to an external agency specializing in content marketing for educational institutions, the tone and approach across all offline and digital channels and platforms should be in sync with what your brand wishes to offer. To put it a bit differently, toilet content is not king.
From the college website to email marketing campaigns to billboards to social media platforms, the approach towards copy should remain the same – it should reflect the ideals and values of your brand. It should perform any of the following four functions: attract, educate, please or immerse readers. Based on this idea, we posit that content can be classified into four functional categories. It should be noted that none of these are watertight categories and there will definitely be considerable amount of overlap among them.
Magnetic content tends to attract users. As the owner of a school or a college, you would obviously want more and more people visiting your website. So how do you get people to visit the site? By sharing share-worthy and not cringe-worthy content. Once again, you need to ensure that the copy is crisp and is written keeping in mind the target audience.
If the target audience is not very proficient in English, there’s no point writing Shakespearean English, which will only make them feel awkward about themselves. There’s nothing better than telling stories to create a compelling case for your brand. These could be stories about your college, the students, and the faculty or staff members. A social media story can be on anything really, as long as you are able to establish a link between the story and your brand.
Now, just have a look at the image reproduced above. The above is a screenshot of a video of MM School, Raipur that went viral, as seen from the data on the number of people reached and the total number of engagements that the video had. It showed a school topper who did extremely well in a Rubik’s Cube contest. The video had motivational content which could resonate with everyone, making it a good example of magnetic content.
Keeping it simple allows you to produce content that will resonate with users who need information. Content can be considered practical when it serves a definite purpose. So what kind of content will be practical in the context of education websites? Your college website can have blogs on the following topics:
Tuition fees of different courses
Best books on individual subjects
Important topics to revise before exams
Study tips before upcoming semester exams
The content strategy adopted by University of Louisiana across different platforms like blogs and social media had that element of practicality. Students seek not just hard information but also soft information. The university ensured this through different content platforms.
Content can be highly immersive if the visitors to your site get engaged while browsing the pages. Immersive content gets users involved. The ultimate objective of such content is to increase the time spent on the site and provide a great user experience. If this can be ensured, the website will naturally have more traffic, both in terms of number of returning users as well as unique visitors.
So what kind of immersive content should populate school and college websites? Fun quizzes, small games using technology that does not slow down page loading, interesting videos and images are some tried and tested ways of enticing visitors to stay on the page. The longer they stay on the page, the greater the chances of them getting converted by clicking on the call to action button.
Another way of immersing users is to have content that encourages feedback in the form of comments and social media sharing. Content on social media platforms can be far more engrossing and engaging, since it allows for more direct participation in the form of user-generated content. An example of immersive social media campaign for your school is to give out a call to existing students to click selfies and upload them on their profiles while tagging the official social media handle of the school or college, be it on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.
A great example of immersive content for educational brands is the Drachno campaign for Techno Institute of Higher Studies, Lucknow. Drachno is a smart dragon mascot for this management college and achieved cult status immediately after it was launched during the admission season. It was highly immersive in that it constantly interacted with students of the college and encouraged them to upload pictures and tag the Facebook page of the mascot. The fact that the campaign went really well again shows why in many ways was also magnetic, as it attracted the attention of students and youth beyond the institute as well.
While there is no overarching definition for smart content, the thumb rule for smart content should be to be more precise and analytical. While this can be the case with practical content as well, smart content makes more rigorous use of technology integration and analytical tools. A good example of smart content with respect to the education industry would be content that has an on-page scoring system for students who want to test their knowledge. This could be in the form of a daily quiz, just like Datacamp does it on their site for those interested in their programming courses.
The image above is from Clemson University, who used the power of smart content to attract ex-students to its alumni event. The university leveraged the power of apps and omni-channel integration in order to maximize reach. The use of data helped achieve a degree of precision in the campaign, making it a good example of “Smart Content”.
Golden Rule of Content Marketing
So now that we have already discussed what kind of content can go into the website, let us do a brief recap.
The content should be:
- To the point
- Not repetitive
- One that adds value
The problem is that many educational institutions do not have the time for creating content internally, either because they do not have the manpower or the necessary marketing vision. However, the alternative that they opt for is not that great either. Too many schools and colleges, especially in India, have outsourced their content marketing needs to digital marketing agencies who do not take content quality too seriously. This results in toilet content getting posted across digital platforms, from websites to social media, which leaves the user with a bad taste in the mouth and creates a bad overall impression about the brand.
Contrary to what many digital marketing firms would want you to believe, content in the digital spectrum isn’t anything mysteriously different from the copies that we are all familiar with in the traditional marketing space. Marketing still remains marketing – it doesn’t become rocket science just because we have started viewing advertisements more often on smart-phones and PCs than newspapers and television.
The basic principles of consumer psychology remain the same and therefore the rules of thumb that used to guide content creators in traditional marketing are equally valid in the case of digital marketing too. This is because last time we checked, humans have not mutated into some other creature and therefore they continue to get moved by marketing communication that stimulate and arouse their senses.
So the key takeaway is this
Your content should engage in nothing less than brand storytelling. No matter where the content is present, it should consistently uphold the brand statement and brand personality that your institution wishes to reflect. Only then will it be fruitful to say that you have “gone digital”; otherwise putting content without out there will only cause irreparable harm to your brand’s reputation. An educational institution is nothing without respect. We leave you with this question, as a food for thought:
Would you have ever published poor content in your prospectus?
The answer, as they say, is blowing in the wind!
Content Marketing Strategy for Schools
Use this as a litmus test for the content that your school or college is publishing. These guildlines will help you device a successful digital strategy.
February - 19,2019 | Posted by: Iosignite