In a prior blog post on content marketing for higher education, I focused on defining what content marketing approaches for prospective college student lead generation look like from a macro perspective. With this post, we’ll dive into the details to explore some specific and actionable approaches you might try on your campus.
As a reminder, and to frame this post for those who may have missed the previous blog, here’s the working definition for content marketing I shared in that post: “Using brochures or other media to provide those viewing online ads with value-added information that we send them in exchange for sharing their contact information.”
With a content marketing ad approach, we use a value-added information resource—an e-brochure, a video, or infographic—as a “carrot” offered in exchange for a prospective student’s sharing their contact information with us via a form embedded in the campaign’s landing page.
As a specific example, assume a school is using a Google AdWords search engine advertising campaign for marketing a master’s level education program. A click on an ad could lead a prospective student who is searching for education programs to visit a landing page where they can request a free brochure, “10 Keys to Advancing Your Career as an Educator.” All the visitor has to do is provide a few bits of information (name, email, maybe a qualifying question or two) and submit the form. Once they submit the form, they then see a “thank you” confirmation page where they can download the brochure and, ideally, an email message to their provided address will immediately land in their inbox with a link to that same brochure.
As this example illustrates, the school is using a universal approach with their content marketing deliverable. In other words, the brochure is designed to be appealing to all potential education students who may have interest in an advanced degree. Its title and content convey informational value to the targeted student beyond just learning more about that particular school’s education program. The value here is to cast a wide net and attract the interest of those who may not yet be specifically interested in that school.
A different approach may have a very specific set of ads that are optimized to catch the attention of those who are already interested in that particular school. In this instance, the e-brochure content (or video or infographic) could be designed to provide information that is focused entirely on that education program’s favorable characteristics, such as employment outcomes, affordability, and so on.
Conventional wisdom may suggest that these two examples will result in slightly different groups of respondents (or conversions). The first approach would perhaps be predicted to generate a greater number of “softer” inquiries or leads. The second might be assumed to generate a smaller number of more interested respondents, based upon the fact that those who requested the brochure realized it would be specifically focused on the school’s education program offerings. It is only the overly confident or naïve digital marketer who would make this prediction with great confidence, however, as any seasoned marketer realizes that our audiences are fickle and unpredictable. This is one of the many reasons why it is important to have robust testing and measurement approaches baked into our digital marketing efforts from the very start.
In future blog posts, I will focus in on what it takes to develop the e-brochures for content marketing, but for now I invite you to share your questions and opinions in the comments below. You can also email me your questions, and we can even arrange a free phone consultation for you and your colleagues.
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