The Educated Marketer


Better Be Good: Creating Better Content Offers

by Leah Peters | Jan 19, 2016

 |  college recruitment, inbound marketing


Don’t skimp on the quality just to capture an email address—it doesn’t pay off. Here’s how the best higher education marketers do content offers.

Lead generation strategies in higher education these days are all about inbound marketing.


Inbound is kind of like content marketing, but better—it goes well beyond just offering great content to earn (not buy!) your audience’s attention. It’s also about creating a seamlessly integrated system that prospective students can opt into at any time—allowing you and your team a close look at your leads, which in turn enables you to communicate with them in the right way and at the optimal times.

The hinge on which the success or failure of an inbound marketing lead generation strategy depends is this: content.

Every Instagram or Facebook post, every tweet, every blog post, every aspect of your marketing efforts must move toward one crucial goal:

You want the prospective student (or their parent) to enter their contact information into a form, converting them into a lead.

The way you do that?

Offer great content.

There’s no substitute for great content: it can take many forms—whitepaper, presentation, ebook, video—but, whatever it is, it has got to be high quality, and relevant to the concerns of your target audience.

Your market research should indicate the kinds of content that your key audience is likely to find most relevant and effective. Premium content offers should be organized around the search terms that your target consumers are likely to employ in the college decision-making process. For rising juniors and seniors and their parents, these terms may include things like “SAT preparation guide,” “ACT test prep,” “choosing a college,” “writing a college admissions essay,” and so on.

Your content offers—the thing you’re giving away on the other side of the contact form—are, as you might have already noticed, going to be optimized around the same sets of keywords that your most successful blog posts are based on. That’s no mistake: both premium content and blog content are (or should be) working toward the same goal: high organic results in search engines.

But the difference between a blog post and a ‘premium’ content offer is this: the latter has to be worth handing over your contact information for!

One thing you don’t want is to pass off as ‘premium’ something that might as well be a blog post. Whether through design, length, quality, or detail, something that someone exchanges information to receive must be in some way superior to ‘free’ alternatives elsewhere on the web (including on your site!)

Yes, we know: it’s hard to hand over valuable content for free. But remember, it’s an investment in a different kind of marketing, and your generosity will more than pay off in the form of leads. And it’ll pay you back: leads generated through inbound cost more than 60% less than leads generated by traditional advertising!

To sum it up, when assessing whether your content offers are ‘premium’ enough, ask the following questions:

Does the content seem professional?

It’s tempting to keep things in-house, but for maximum impact, your best bet is going with a professionally designed, professionally produced content offer—not something that looks and feels like it was slapped together by an intern.

Does the content seem worthwhile?

Consider carefully whether you would be satisfied with the content offer if you were on the other side of the desk. Is it worth exchanging your contact details to receive? Is it worth your time in downloading and consuming it? Or—be honest—is it a little disappointing?

Does the content have a unique flavor?

Yes, we know—there’s nothing new under the sun, and you can find so many things online for ‘free,’ but every content offer should have something that’s surprising, unusual, and valuable—perhaps a line that’s funny enough to make a reader say “hey, listen to this” or something that’s quirky and interesting enough to be shared on social media. It’s hard to define the “x” factor that makes content pop (though often enough it has to do with cats, puppies, Photoshop, or some combination thereof) but it’s worth pursuing.

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