Content Marketing for Higher Education Institutions

When was the last time you’ve seen a commercial on TV for a University application round? When students want to choose their university, where do they turn to?

According to a study conducted by Business Insider, young people are watching less broadcast TV than ever, and according to the Guardian, viewing of broadcast TV by 16- to 24-year-olds fell 33% between 2010 and last year. Since traditional marketing is becoming less and less attractive, most students turn to the internet when they want to decide where to continue their studies after high school. On the other hand, 93% of teens aged 12‐17 go online.

Content Marketing for Higher Education Institutions

Considering the large audience and their interests, higher education institutions can do a lot with Content Marketing. The main goal that we want to achieve is generating leads and converting more and more students to join their university. All efforts that are done in general have to answer to the main and the most important goal.

Builds the brand

Content Marketing is a great way to build your brand as a university, offer answers and solutions for your student’s questions, and finally create a relationship with your potential students.

How you do Content Marketing reflects completely on the success of your campaigns. The number and quality of leads are a factor in how well you write content, answer the potential student’s needs, and use your unique selling points. Differentiating yourself from the countless universities looking for students is the first step to gaining their trust.

Content Marketing in itself is a conversation. The conversation in the case of a higher education institution is started by the potential student. This is why we have to focus on providing the information that people are searching for, know when to offer it to them, how we want to reach them, and keep them interested in our institution.

Increases search presence

This last one might not seem so important for someone who doesn’t share an interest in digital marketing. But, if you ask an SEO specialist, it is the most important one. The higher the ranking, the more visible you are to potential students. The more visible you are, the more leads you’re going to generate. And, as we have established earlier, leads are what we’re looking for.

Your blog articles are more likely to rank than your program pages. This is another reason to invest in this type of content marketing. These content pieces are easier to rank because other websites are more likely to link them. They also offer valuable information and usually don’t ask for anything in return. Considering that links are one of the most important ranking factors, the need for content is distinct. When you rank higher, the number of leads will increase, and consequently, so will the number of applicants.

What Kind of Content?

Content doesn’t only have to be in blog post format or written form. Different types of content serve different purposes. Guides and Lists are best presented in written form.

Statistics, case studies, and others can be presented best with infographics. Photo and video are other popular content format. If you want to put student testimonials on your website, video testimonials are good practice.

Testimonials are not the only way students can contribute content-wise. Student-generated blogs are a great way to involve them in your content marketing. User-generated content is a quite popular type of content. Tweets, Instagram posts, Facebook posts, product reviews, comments, etc., are all content generated by the user, and universities can do all of that. But you can also assign your students to write different articles that you can later publish on your site, and you can publish their papers.

Who should write the Content?

This is where the expertise and experience in the education system and the importance of content collide for higher education institutions. The content on their sites can be written by people inside the institution, students, alumni, etc. Another thing that higher education institutions can do is turn to digital marketing specialists to create their content. SEO agencies are experts in creating content that ranks; therefore, their content marketing will be more effective.

Higher Education Institutions doing great with Content Marketing

Strayer University

A prime example of great efforts in content marketing is Strayer University. Being an Online University, they value their online presence a great deal. On their blog, they share career development tips combined and other information in the interest of students. Their blog articles are direct answers to what their students are asking while at the same time being SEO-friendly.

Their organic traffic value surpasses $2 million. This means that if they were paying for the traffic they are receiving organically, they would have to pay over $2 million.  

The University of Vermont

The University of Vermont follows a similar strategy regarding the content on their page. They offer their students advice on career, business, and education. They continue to build their brand, which embodies cultural diversity, and they publish stories of traveling. They also have a section on interesting things regarding Vermont, such as the lakes, skiing, farming, etc.

Their career advice blog articles seem to perform best within their blog. The total value of organic traffic on their site is over $500 thousand.

 The University of Idaho

The University of Idaho has a—what they call—Division of Student Affairs page on their website. This is where they offer all the information necessary for their students related to campus activities, health, career, media, etc. They use their content to build their brand and increase traffic on their site.

Their organic traffic value surpasses $400 thousand. This means that if they were paying for the traffic they are receiving organically, they would have to pay over $400 thousand.

Topic Clusters: What They Are (And How To Create Them)

The topic cluster model is a content organizing model created and made popular by Hubspot. The content on their website inspired this model. Seeing that they were continually creating content, their website was starting to get crowded. Google was also beginning to favor topic-based content as opposed to keywords.


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