Last week I posted an introduction to Inbound Marketing for higher education, which provided a basic understanding of the concepts behind inbound strategy specifically for enrollment marketing. In the coming weeks, the Direct Development team will be producing detailed content to help enrollment managers and marketing professionals understand the best practices in Inbound Marketing for this industry.
However, before going deeper into technical and methodological aspects of this strategy, I am realizing the need to answer the bigger question of WHY higher education needs to embrace Inbound Marketing in the first place.
Here are 6 reasons to consider...
- Institutions Have a Goldmine of Content: Whether you work in enrollment management or marketing/communications for your institution, you know that there is content that could be pushed out to your audiences. I'm talking about content that is produced by students (positive experiences), alumni (success stories), faculty (trendy subject matter), and yourself! The problem is that most schools are not leveraging that content. It either exists and is not being purposefully promoted, or it doesn't exist because the need hasn't yet been realized.
- Your Social Media Admins Need Guidance: According to our recent social media survey, most enrollment management departments have two or more people managing their social networks, yet 75% say they do not have a strategy guiding their content. Engaging social content is just one part of a good Inbound Marketing strategy, and having a strategy in place would help establish a purposeful approach to the "Who, What, Where, and When" for whomever is administering your social media communications.
- Google Wants More Indexed Pages to Boost Your SEO: Organic search results are extremely powerful in directing a prospective student's research process. No matter how pretty your institution's website may be, without regular, fresh content on landing pages that consistently use unique keywords, you will have a hard time attracting new visitors to your site. So, it will be extremely important to be able to quickly produce landing pages (LP's) that are lathered in Inbound Marketing "sauce" to help increase your SEO results.
- You Need to Blog Effectively! Piggy-backing off of #3, one of the easiest ways to increase your indexed pages is to blog regularly. And frankly, most institutions probably need multiple blogs tailored for different Personas. We're talking about blogs built around attractive premium content, using simple Calls-To-Action (CTA's), designed to get clicked, downloaded, read, shared, etc. (all properly branded according to your institution's branding guidelines, of course!).
- The Student Journey is Not Linear: Today's students do not just go to your website, request more information, get your email with a call to apply, complete the application, then consequently enroll. In between each of those steps is online research, live events, communication with counselors/program coordinators, social engagement, etc. That's the nurturing part of the student journey, and realistically prospective students go back and forth in their decision process. The way you can best nurture the relationship is by providing personalized content that prospects actually care about. But wait, you don't really know what that is unless you can track them individually as they are checking you out. And you need powerful Inbound Marketing tools that enable you to see that information in real time.
- Your Institution Needs More Promoters: Most recruitment strategies involve some sort of enrollment funnel that ends with the enrolled student. Inbound Marketing goes another step and includes your existing students and alumni as critical evangelists who promote content that gets seen by strangers. By tracking and measuring the reach of that content, you can understand which topics are resonating and actually working for you to bring in new prospects.
There are more compelling reasons why adopting an Inbound Marketing strategy is essential for both undergraduate and graduate enrollment management. But you don't have to take my word for it. I, myself, am hesitant to adopt new marketing ideas until I see the data behind them. The data doesn't lie! We put together a Statistical Guide with 12 Inbound Marketing fun facts, charts and graphs so you can see the industry trends related to different aspects of Inbound Marketing.