Content Marketing for the Education Industry

If you’re in the education industry, then there’s probably at least one subject you really don’t want to talk about…  you might spend most of your time looking at the benefits of education, the value of education, the necessity of education, and so on and so forth.  And, sure, that’s what you do as educators.

But, you have to admit that a large part of your business is aimed at earning business conversions.  Business conversions are essential to the education industry just like they are to any other industry.  If you aren’t growing, you’re dying, the old adage goes, and it’s especially true with your industry.  So, let’s address the elephant in the room, and talk about how you can be earning business conversions for your school/University/what-have-you with content marketing.

Blogging for Business Conversions

When blogging on behalf of your educational institution or company, you will oftentimes have two audiences: students and parents.  In many cases, they couldn’t be any more different.  Students are looking for educational opportunities that meet their interests, exciting extracurricular lives, and plenty of amenities.  Parents are more concerned about value, cost, safety, and other important aspects.

If you try to target both of these audiences in the same blog post – or even within the same blog – you’re heading for disaster.  Acknowledge that you have two different audiences, and create two different blogs with two totally different content marketing strategies.  Yeah, it’s more work, but it’s totally worth it in the long run.

You’re trying to earn business conversions from students and parents because, ultimately, they’re both “the customer.”  (Oh, yeah, and there’s still that hugely important third group: your current students.  We’ll focus on them on another day!)

Blogging for the Parents

Let’s begin with this group.  When blogging for the parents, keep value factors in mind.  Your tone should be more professional and polished, and should primarily focus on the value of education.  You should cite research findings, case studies, and other data that supports the significance of what you do.  Don’t worry so much about self-promotion.  People will respond well to the fact that you provide them with valuable content.

Blogging for the Students

Blogging for students is totally different.  Give students an insider’s look, but also pepper your content with blog posts that are completely unrelated to your university or school.  Blog posts like “7 Essential Study Tips” and “A Legendary History of All-Nighters” can be fun and valuable bits of content.  (Remember, the term ‘valuable’ isn’t used to describe content that is actually worth something, but rather content that is exclusive to your blog.  Of course, the two definitions will most likely find a natural overlap in your content.)

Put Your Students in Charge – And Give Them Freedom!

Content marketing is about engaging people in conversation.  Be honest with yourself here… are you (yes, you, marketing sir!) really hip enough to blog to students?  Really?  Maybe you are.  But, if not, turn the reins over to your students.  Even if you do feel comfortable blogging to prospective students, it might be a good idea to let some of your current students do it instead.  After all, they can provide an inside scoop from the student perspective that you aren’t capable of honestly delivering.

One word of advice on letting students blog.  Give them freedom – lots of freedom.  If you intervene and censor their posts too much, it’s going to be evident in the writing (a big turn-off for prospective students).  Sure, you can establish guidelines (no profanity or extended stories of debauchery).  But, for the most part, your students should be free.  I think the Cornell student blog does a good job of this.  Take this blog post, for example, which talks about drinking and partying, but isn’t quite revealing enough to be a big deal.

Be Social. Not Promotional.

Another key way to get those business conversions is by using social media.  I always encourage business owners to use just one or two social media platforms really well, rather than try to use three or more without any real success.

To see a great example of an education institution that’s doing social media right, check out Maryland Institute College of Art’s Facebook page.  This relatively small school (fewer than 1,900 students) has over 6,400 likes at the time of writing.  That’s pretty impressive.

Also, pay attention to when you’re posting to Facebook and Twitter.  Prospective students are more likely to be browsing your social media pages later at night than, say, at 6:30 in the morning.

If things still aren’t picking up on the business conversions front, I’m happy to recommend to you 8 Gadgets That Can Energize Your Social Media Conversions, a blog post by my fellow CEM blogger and tech go-to, Andrew.

Your Content Marketing

I’m just getting warmed up on content marketing for the education industry.  However, this should be enough to get you started.  If you have questions or comments on any of these strategies, feel free to post a comment, and I’ll be happy to help you out!

Otherwise, remember to segment your leads (parents and students), and use appropriate strategies for deriving business conversions from each!

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Ben Richardson is a writer based in Nashville, TN. While he loves writing on a variety of subjects, he's our go-to on all things related to branding and the creative aspects of content marketing. Follow him on Twitter!

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