Unsure of how to implement an inbound marketing strategy for your school? Start here!
1. Know Who You Are, and Articulate it WellA successful inbound strategy begins with knowing what your institution is all about. What makes your school different from the hundreds and thousands of other schools out there—what are your distinctives? Don’t try to imitate what it seems like “everyone else” is doing; the inbound marketing methodology will work better for you when you highlight what makes your college or university unique, and when you communicate it well. Don’t rely on boilerplate statements about “dedicated faculty” and “academic excellence”—sure, you’ve got that, but what else do you have? A compelling and interesting location? Great partnerships for service learning?
Inbound Marketing methodology requires that you leave behind the advertising clichés and learn to tell true stories, well crafted, about what marks your institution as distinctively different.2. Know Who Your Ideal Students Are, and Optimize Your Content to Reach Them
Inbound Marketing methodology depends on the creation of detailed personas for the kinds of students you’re looking to attract. Who are they? What sorts of search terms are they entering to do their college research online? What are their interests, behaviors, and values?
You don’t simply want to attract a high volume of visitors to your website—to be successful, you need to attract the specific sorts of visitors, and what interests them may not interest everyone.
Inbound Marketing methodology includes optimizing websites to speak directly to the students your institution wants to reach. This goes beyond just SEO—it’s much more tailored and targeted, and generates the right kind of visitors.
Additionally, you don’t just want your website to function as a 24/7 billboard—the focus should be on providing just the sorts of valuable resources that your ideal prospective is searching for—targeted, shareable, significant content.
3. Offer premium content to assist the prospective student in their decision making process
Now that you’ve got a website that’s optimized for how your ideal prospective student is consuming content—mobile-friendly, targeted SEO, based around personas, valuable, shareable content—what do you do?
It’s time to convert those carefully curated visitors into leads by extending downloadable content offers they’ll be eager to take advantage of. Checklists, whitepapers, ebooks, and videos—again, tailored to the people you’re trying to reach and highly specific relative to your institutional identity—are all examples of premium offers that can help you convert visitors into leads.
To capture your ideal visitor’s contact information, you’ll need to have a compelling call-to-action button, and streamlined landing and thank-you pages—the idea is to help the prospective student feel great about the content she’s getting.
4. Nurture leads by reaching each prospective student at the ideal time
No one likes an email blitz—there’s a real art to nurturing those leads as your prospective students make their journey through the admissions funnel at their own pace. But it’s not all art and guesswork. With the help of HubSpot marketing software, lead nurturing can be optimized according to specific actions taken by your leads—helping you to reach each lead with relevant content at the perfect moment.
5. Develop and deliver more relevant content at the right time
As you continue to nurture those leads, you’ll want to be able to serve prospective students at varying levels of the admissions funnel. That means you’ll need content for students who are just starting out—rising high school juniors—as well as for those who are more advanced in the process. Inbound marketing methodology involves the development and delivery of just the right content at just the right time. Not only does this help give shape to all your lead nurturing campaigns, it tends to shorten the decision process by developing an increasingly educated and informed prospect.
6. Analyze, analyze, analyze
In inbound marketing methodology, analysis is important at every step. A/B testing for your CTA buttons and landing pages, and a comprehensive system to track which activities generate the most qualified leads are just some of the ways your college marketing and admissions teams can work well, converting and closing the ideal leads.
7. Put the prospective student’s needs first
At every stage of inbound marketing methodology, delight matters. Why? Because it hinges on offering content that’s of value: blog posts that people actually want to read, college preparation checklists worth entering your contact information to receive, a Twitter account that’s funny and informative at the same time.
Your content needs to be compelling at every stage of the process—the exact right thing at the right time; the kind of thing people can’t help but engage with, talk about and share.
8. The most powerful endorsement: word-of-mouth marketing
We hear it all the time in higher education marketing: when you ask a student why she chose [Blank] University, she says, “It’s because my (father, aunt, sister, friend) went here, and loved it!” or “It’s because my friend was telling me great stuff about it, so I looked into it too.”
Delighting your customers is an important part of inbound marketing methodology —you want to recruit not just students, but powerful endorsers of your institution! And you can.
Summing it Up:
Inbound recruitment methodology is simple, but relies on crafting compelling content that’s strategically targeted to detailed personas, generating high-quality visitors, converting those visitors into leads, and nurturing those leads into bona fide applicants. Along the way, successful marketers will determine which strategies are most effective, employ A/B testing, and strive to delight the customer, recruiting not just applicants, but powerful promoters of your institutional brand.
Learn how to beef up your college recruitment with our free Inbound Marketing checklist.