UCLA’s Empowered.com Program: Content Marketing Case Study

Last month, I wrote about content marketing in the education industry. We covered a lot of ground, but I left out (at least) one major oversight: Empowered.com, a new UCLA extension education program.

Empowered provides adults with professional certificates in a variety of fields, ranging from Health Care Management to Human Resources. All of the programs take just 12 months to complete, and coursework is done entirely through the iPad. Even better – prices are incredibly low (especially when you consider the great instruction that’s provided by UCLA staff).

How Empowered Is Marketing Itself

While this is all great stuff for the education field, I want to talk about how Empowered is getting conversions from the content on their website. The content marketing strategy at Empowered is leveraging three major ‘Californian’ forces:

  • Technology/Silicon Valley (through the iPad)
  • Celebrity Sponsorship (through The Sherry Lansing Foundation and the Creative Artists Agency)
  • Academic Excellence (through the UCLA brand name)

In a nutshell: Empowered, a UCLA-affiliated program, provides iPads to their students who, in turn, have good vibes about celebrities endorsing their chosen course of study.

These Content Marketing Strategies Work for You

Good for them, right? Well, you could be doing the exact same thing in your content marketing strategy. In case you haven’t heard, we’re big believers in the fact that content marketing works on a sliding scale.

For example, if Empowered.com throws $500,000 into its content marketing budget, and gets 2,000 conversions, then you should be able to earn 12 conversions with a $3,000 budget. You may not have a brand name as strong as UCLA, and you might not have James Franco backing your cause, but that doesn’t mean you’re at a total loss.

Let’s take a closer look at these three angles Empowered is leveraging.


First, let’s be clear… Empowered isn’t “giving away” free iPads. Students pay a non-refundable $800 fee in addition to tuition costs.  Hmmm… I wonder what that covers? But, the “included” iPad isn’t the only tech angle Empowered is leveraging. Empowered is making a big push about easy access, clear organization, flexibility, and the social network that will grow around the student through the learning process.

All of these factors make iPad learning just as good – or better – than classroom learning from the Empowered perspective.

Takeaway: If you’re looking to drive conversions in your education institution/business, make sure you’re presenting technology as a way for your students/customers to streamline their experience. By developing simple education apps you can help give your brand this convenience factor.


Go to the Empowered home page and you can’t help but notice all of the celebrity endorsements: Sally Field, Pierce Brosnan, etc. The scrolling banner quickly runs through them all. This is where your small business budget is going to let you down. Unless you have some amazing charitable cause, you’re probably not going to get George Lopez endorsing your product/service.

That’s fine. The point isn’t that you need Empowered’s celebrities in order to be successful. But, you want to have endorsements of some kind. Endorsements help companies build trust.

Takeaway: You should be leveraging reviews from your current students/customers on the front page of your website. You might even consider incentivizing current customers so you get thoughtful, detailed, and persuasive reviews.

Brand Name

Lastly, Empowered is working that UCLA brand name! It makes sense though. Would you rather sign up for a program through UCLA that was founded 2 years ago, or a program that was started in someone’s basement 5 years ago?

No doubt, Empowered is getting a lot of conversions from the content that’s heavily stamped with UCLA. You might not have a major education institution backing your school or company, but that doesn’t mean you can’t start branding yourself.

Takeaway: If you aren’t sure how to stat branding your own company, I love these 9 rules from Inc.. There are some great pointers in this article, from advice on how to be an integral part of the conversation in your industry to tips on how you can find and target a niche. Definitely a must-read on branding.

Remember, Empowered may have more resources than you do, but you can get the same conversions from content, dollar for dollar. What do you see as crucial for successful education industry content marketing?

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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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