The “Marketing” Guide for Higher Education Content Marketing

The “Marketing” Guide for Higher Education Content Marketing

Welcome back marketers. Before we jump right into part #3, let’s do a bit of recapping shall we? So far in the series, Content Marketing for Higher Education, we have covered just what can serve as effective content marketing when looking to promote the great things going on within your university. From highlighting participation in scholastic events or just videos detailing the day-to-day of campus life, we both know that content marketing can legitimately be anything given it sets your school apart from the rest and the marketing fundamentals are right.

That all being said, it’s time for the bad news. Getting the content together is only half the battle. The 2nd half of this crucial marketing game involves serving said content across the limitless digital avenues to the students. Because at the end of the day, that is the true goal isn’t it? The name of the game is getting students interested in your brand, talking about your school with their peers, and finally, considering enrollment at your school itself. With blogs, websites, videos, social media and a host of other options available as promotional avenues, the prospect of beginning the actual marketing part of content marketing can seem…daunting to say the least.

But have no fear, for as Newton’s 4th law of digital marketing clearly states: For every digital marketing question posed, an infographic exists as an explanation. And my friends, we here at Fathom EDU don’t have disappointment in our vocabulary. So without further ado, an infographic for all of your content marketing for higher education needs.

Drum roll please,

content marketing market channels

  “For every question…an infographic”


Interesting stuff right? The main take away here is that like the possibilities for content, the related marketing avenues are nearly limitless. This infographic is a guide, a tool to visualize examples of digital avenues available online for content promotion. Use it like a map, and think of me as a tour guide as we dig a little deeper into all of these different areas and figure out just how this whole content marketing things works. So why not begin with arguably the most important component of the marketing profile, your website.

1) Website

Here is an interesting statistic, in a recent survey, 60% of high school seniors and 70% of juniors said an institutions website was the first place they turned for info when they had questions about attending a particular college. (Geyer) Further along these lines, 50% of seniors and 42% of juniors believe that the quality of a website directly reflects the quality of the educational experience offered at the school. (Geyer)

What do all these facts mean? They mean your institution’s website and its related content are crucially important for the prospective student’s perception of your brand. If the right amount of attention and detail is not appointed to the content on your intuitions website, potential students will associate this lack of detail as an indicator for a poor overall educational experience.

Let’s start by mapping the content plan of the student journey, or the prospects experience with your brand online. What exactly is content mapping for the student journey?

content mapping for blog post

A huge number of students these days are beginning the college search online. They are coming to your page from either an organic source (Google/Bing) or through some medium of paid advertising. (PPC ads/Social) Once they are there it is up to the content of your page to A) Get them to stay B) Answer their questions easily and efficiently and C) Get them to fill out some sort of lead form. Now the question to pose yourself is how would my universities great, unique content, make any of these aspects stronger. Integrating video into the right spots of your domain, for example the engineering department page, can be a crucial optimizing factor in getting students to convert. Supplementary information, such as the future earning potentials of specific majors, or case-studies of graduates and their current careers, can add untold amounts of legitimacy to the parts of your website that matter the most when students decide to make that leap into considering your school for selection.

2) Blogs

Blogs are an offshoot of your website, yet they deserve a mention of their own. While they can be flagship enterprises for some brands, for most schools, blogs are a way to kindle the university-student conversation. University blogs, for the students interested, are a perfect way to keep prospects aware of the exciting things going on within your school.

Check out the Harvard Student Blog for example. Located smack dab on the admissions section of the website, this student driven blog adds an element of humanity to the page. Letting the people who know the best, the students, talk about why attending Harvard has been a fantastic decision.

harvard student blog

Scrolling through some of the more recent posts we can see articles on studying abroad, campus life and a bunch of other subjects pertaining to almost any question prospective students might have. Is your blog alone going to convince a host of students to drop everything and enroll at your university? The answer is most likely no, but just like the greater game of SEO, a blog is a contributing factor to the overall decision process.

The same holds true for a universities video profile.

3) The Video Profile

Lets talk YouTube for a minute. Nothing looks worse than browsing to a schools YouTube channel and finding the last video produced was in 2008. Like a poorly designed website, an unkempt YouTube channel contributes to a negative brand connotation. An important aspect to consider when developing your institutions YouTube channel is how to go about segmenting content.

By this I mean making the choice between aggregating all branded content under one umbrella channel, or splitting content specific videos (like content about the nursing school) into separate channels.  If you have a very notable nursing program, with a wealth of video content associated with it, it may be worth your while to create a separate YouTube channel for nursing related content. On the other hand, if your degrees are less renown, or if you have significantly less content to promote, creating separate YouTube channels may serve as a disadvantage.

Think of your YouTube channel as a digital story, ask yourself, what type of picture am I painting about my school for students who know nothing about us or have never been to campus? Are we fun and exciting, are we showcasing a vibrant study body or robust graduate program? When marketing video content, it is important to consider not only WHERE to market, but also what sort of  brand perception the videos are painting.

Where is your school in the YouTube channel development process? Are you level one, I have no idea where to begin? Then this guide might be of some assistance. Or are you more of a level 5, “I have some Videos but have no idea what to do with them.” Well then, may I suggest to you the YouTube 201 course? Content marketing via YouTube is a lot like SEO, a long form strategy, that given the right nurturing, will pay off big in the long run.

4) Social Media

Social media can be a hard beast to tame. Everyone loves to talk about it like some magical marketing tonic, but the hard truth is that without proper strategy, promoting your world class content can fall short from the potential ears that matter the most. The real question to consider when thinking social is figuring out what content works best on each different channel.

Professional, graduate, research based content? Put it on LinkedIn in. Promote it as sponsored content directly from your university page and let it resonate with graduate students networking on the site.

Is your content more about campus life, the sort of things that incoming freshman might be interested in? Don’t put that on LinkedIn, how many high school seniors have a LinkedIn? Not many. Surely not enough to be worth marketing dollars. Put content like that out on Twitter, Pinterest or Facebook, the places more largely populated by the undergraduate population.

See where I am getting it? This advice may seem obvious, but when it comes to promoting content via social media, 75% of the game is knowing WHERE to promote WHAT. Examine each piece of content within the context of the audience, and then tailor the channel strategy accordingly.

5) Paid Media

If you school is currently engaging with digital marketing in any capacity, chances are that you are running PPC campaigns to some degree. If this is the case, a great way to utilize research related content is to use it as a complimentary feature to landing pages currently being used as lead generation forms.

Think of it this way, while your landing page may now list a few facts of why getting an engineering degree from your university is a great idea, a video or infographic getting into the details about your program may be that extra push a prospect needs to click the submit button on that lead form. Don’t use content as a substitute for lead forms to drive unidentified website clicks, use content as a driving force in combination with forms to develop superb CTA’s.


Not a higher education landing page, but HBLOOM is always the example I cite when talking about how great content compliments lead forms. HBLOOM sells flowers, and they integrate this initiative flawlessly with their CTA.


Besides getting more students to fill out forms, using branded content is a great way to differentiate your schools landing page from the pack. How many nursing programs paid ads have a landing page with some smiling young ladies, and a featured “apply now” button. Yeah, they all do. Now ask yourself a different question, how many schools have interactive quizzes, infographics, videos or other forms of branded content alongside their lead forms? A whole lot less. Stand out from the crowd of schools clamoring for prospect attention by leveraging your world class content as a complimentary feature for paid campaigns. Our very own Cara Thistlethwaite has written a great guide on leveraging content for landing pages, and if that doesn’t satisfy your insatiable PPC appetite, then check out 15 great examples of landing pages.

So…what have we learned today? Well, firstly I would say that the main take away is that channel strategy is important. Finding out where world class content fits into marketing strategy can be a make or break factor when coming up with a successful digital marketing campaign. Don’t be afraid to re-purpose content for multi-channel promotion. Further along these lines, focus on promoting the right types of content on the right channels.

Ultimately, the overall thing to remember is that your university has great, world class content. Be proud of it, own it, but don’t blindly fire it out into the digital stratosphere. You want to nurture the content you have developed, make sure it has all of the potential it deserves to resonate with the right students. Cultivating content is a lot like raising a child (I think), do the research and take the time to set it up for future success.



Geyer, S. (2015, July 28). E expectations 2015: What 10 Years of Research Has Told Us About College E-Recruitment.



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