Content marketing has been proven to drive traffic and leads to organizations and businesses, including Admissions departments. However, it is important to ensure that your content marketing plan is strategized correctly in order to have the success you are looking for. It is not enough to select topics to write about and call it content marketing. Instead, content marketing needs to be directed to your audience, each article planned out and written specifically to students or parents. In fact, you may need to narrow it down further and direct some content to incoming freshman, high-school students looking into college or single-parent families. Content marketing for Admissions works best when you consider the following questions:
All good content needs to be written for a specific audience. This fact is true for literature, plays, movies, music and marketing content. If you think about the last movie you watched, you can most likely figure out who the targeted audience is pretty quickly.
When writing content marketing, think about it as if you are writing a letter to someone you know. Direct your focus to that person or group of people. Then write content that they are interested in.
Before you write your content, consider what questions your audience has. If they are prospective students, they will have different questions than prospective parents. Incoming freshmen have different interests than upperclassmen. Nursing students have unique needs. So do art students. Narrow down your audience and their interests specifically before you write.
One of the biggest issues with content marketing for Admissions is that posts or articles are too vague. It is better to stick to one narrow topic than write a vague article about several topics. For instance, if your audience is parents of art students, a post on requirements for art school, how to apply and what supplies they need before they start would be an in-depth post for incoming students. The more detail and depth you add, the more likely it is that you will reach the right audience.
Once you know who you are writing to, you then need to decide exactly what you want them to do after reading your content. What is the point of your post? Do you want them to call for an appointment? Do you want them to visit your campus? Do you want them to join a club?
Content marketing works best if you have one purpose for each post. This purpose is called an action. For instance, let's go back to the art students. A possible goal could be signing up for a newsletter. If you want students to take this action as a result of your post, this is your purpose.
You can put a "call-to-action (CTA)" within your post. A CTA is an invitation to take a specific action, in this case signing up for the newsletter. Having a focused, direct purpose for each post takes away any confusion about what you want your audience to do. They can read it; then, take action.
If you have gotten to this point, you know who you want to reach and what you want them to do. However, is your message getting where it needs to go?
Here is where content marketing becomes a mix of an art and a science. The best way to target content marketing is through the use of keywords. Keywords are the words and phrases that are input into search engines to find information. Long-tail keywords (phrases of two or more words) are more successful than single words. For instance:
Each of these keywords above targets the same audience; however you can see that the last one is the most specific. If you are targeting incoming art students from Ohio, they are more likely to find your content with the last keyword.
Keywords can be analyzed before you begin using content, and tested during your campaign. Don't forget that regionalisms differ from city to city, state to state. When you search for keywords, remember who your audience is and how they phrase things. Students speak differently than parents, for instance. Keywords would overlap but may differ for each group. This is the science. The art of choosing keywords comes down to the fact that sometimes keywords are hit or miss. Experienced content marketers and keyword researchers are better at finding keywords that will be successful more often.