Colleges like the University of San Francisco roll out a slick ‘outbound’ marketing campaigns to increase enrollment. They receive mentioned in SparkRoom as “awesome.” Clever print media, billboards and posters in bus shelters are effective, yet costly. There is another option, and it delivers far more for less—inbound marketing.
Inbound marketing has been extremely successful in the business world. A concept based on “earning people’s interest instead of buying it,” inbound marketing focuses on two-way communication. It will bring students to you, especially if you’ve branded your educational institution.
While branding is usually associated with outbound marketing initiatives, it’s also foundational to successful inbound marketing. According to Barbara O’Malley, chief communications officer at The University of Akron (Ohio) , “institutional branding is meant to help propel an institution from its mission to its vision by creatively conveying the powerful strategy that will take it from where it is to where it wants to go.” Successful inbound marketing strategies hinge upon knowing what differentiates your campus from other choices.
Inbound Marketing is Essential.
Generation Z is your target. This generation may be leaving Facebook for SnapChat, Secret and Whisper, but they are attached to their smartphones and tablets. Pushing ad campaigns at them in these spaces will be perceived as intrusive! You have to woo this generation. The old ways of attracting students are losing their effectiveness. At least 44% of the direct mail you send out won’t be opened!
Unless your institution is Ivy League, most of your admissions will choose you based upon what they find through internet search. If 72% of B2B buyers start with Google research, you can expect your potential students to begin there as well. Putting inbound strategies into practice positions your college for increased admissions.
Essential Qualities of Inbound Marketing
It’s not about self-promotion.
Content marketing with social media participation are key components of inbound marketing. Content includes things like white papers, ebooks, podcasts, blogs, infographics and pay-per-click (PPC) ads.
Your content will be most effective when it focuses 67% of the time on helpful information, 27% of the time on branded information and 7% of the time on selling. This translates into 10 posts which draw on resources outside of your institution, 4 which focus on your college and 1 which ‘sells’ what you have to offer. Your goal is to prove the value of your college through thought-provoking, beneficial content. The spice of entertainment value can’t hurt either. You want your content to have viral potential.
It’s about being where potential students are.
While HubSpot statistics focus on business results, they’re informative. Survey results show that 67% of B2C companies have acquired customers from Facebook, while 41% of B2B companies have found customers there. If you engage in those social media platforms where potential students hang out, you can expect results.
The savings to your college for investing in this shift in marketing focus could be significant. Inbound marketing consistently costs 62% less per lead than traditional outbound strategies. Blogging, social media engagement, SEO and PayPerClick are all very cost effective channels for finding students, with blogging bringing more leads for less cost than any other inbound strategy.
You will increase your college admissions with an inbound marketing program. Moving in that direction confirms your institution’s ability to provide relevant education for the world your students expect to face upon graduation.
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