The Educated Marketer

 

Earn Your Way In To the Student's Attention Instead of Buying Your Way In

by Leah Peters | Dec 20, 2016

 |  college recruitment, inbound marketing

 | 0 comments

Inbound marketing for higher education hinges on this one moment. It’s essential to get it right.

One of the misconceptions we often hear about inbound marketing is that it’s synonymous with content marketing.

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This is understandable: both inbound marketing and content marketing are concerned with content, with earning your way in to the prospect’s attention instead of buying your way in, and with creating and promoting a digital presence that generates real buzz and interest.

So both inbound marketing and content marketing begin with content that is valuable and worthwhile—something your target audience would notice, read, and share without your having to pay someone to push it toward their eyeballs.

Where inbound and content marketing part ways is that all important moment of conversion – when the rising junior or senior who’s been reading one of your college blogs or following your Instagram enters his email address into a form and joins your mailing list, becoming a bona-fide lead. Whereas content marketing pushes great content and crosses its fingers, inbound marketing relies on digital platforms that capture and track a prospect’s actions from the moment he or she opts in, allowing your admissions team unparalleled insight into the college decision making journey.

Which means that the decisive turning point in the inbound marketing methodology is this: the content offer.

A lot is riding on the content you’re putting behind the opt-in wall. Think of it like a paywall on other sites. If what’s rumored to be on the other side of the paywall is worth it, you reach for your credit card or your PayPal login info. If it’s a whole lot of nothing—or something you could easily get for free elsewhere—you’re probably not going to be willing to fork over the money. And even if all they’re asking for is your contact information, you want the content to be worth it—after all, you know you’re probably going to be getting on a mailing list, so you’ll want to feel like you’re dealing with trustworthy people who aren’t going to send you multiple emails a day.

And that means your offerand the way you offer ithas got to be superb.

We don’t just mean that what you offer has got to be good—though that’s true too, of course. We also mean that the way you frame your offer—in the industry, we refer to this as the “call-to-action”—has got to be good—no, great—as well.

Industry-leading inbound blog HubSpot has a post showing more than 15 stellar examples of the kind of call-to-action pages that really grab people’s attention and compel, well, action! Check it out here.

Great calls-to-action include vivid language. Don’t say “click here”—say “get started with the best guide to spelunking around!” Use your call to action to indicate what lies on the other side of the form, to drum up some excitement, and to impart a sense of, well, action. Employ better verbs!

Great calls-to-action also play off of people’s fear of missing out—or what the millenials call FOMO. “Act today” and “act now” may be the clichés of “As Seen on TV” infomercials of yesteryear, but they were on to something with the sense of urgency they imparted. Let your target audience know there’s not a minute to lose—that they really must take you up on your offer now!

Finally, great calls-to-action deliver on what they promise. Don’t promise a lightening storm and deliver a lightening bug. Make sure that the actual content on the other side of that call-to-action lives up to what you’ve made of it.

The call-to-action, and the offer you make, is the hinge on which the success or failure of inbound turns.

Don’t let it get rusty.

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