You can't ignore your prospective students. But the majority of those visiting your website are just looking for more information -- and are not ready to take the big leap of applying.
This is where your school's content strategy comes into play. You need to develop, publish, and share information that these students are looking for on your website, blog, and social media channels -- what we call your TOFU (top-of-the-funnel) channels. Then, once you have these students' email addresses, you'll be able to nurture them with more information over the course of their interactions with you via email until they apply.
So naturally, you'll need some content ideas to attract and engage those students. Here are eight types of content that you can create to engage those prospective students online.
1) Career Guides
This can be a great TOFU offer that you should host on a landing page. You can offer it as a PDF download that students must provide their email address to access -- to help guide their futures, and fill your funnel. This content can be focused on the top areas of study that your school needs to fill, or the areas for which you're best known.
Provide information about how a student can plan for their career in this guide, and how your school can help them do so. This can be a short guide, a checklist, or both! This is a great offer to help to build your schools list of prospective students by areas of study and then nurture them with other relevant content via email.
2) Student Stories
The best way to show how it is to attend your college (or to take your online courses) is with student stories and testimonials. This is a great way to offer a real look into the student life for your prospective students and perfect content to post on your school's blog. You can create a section dedicated to these stories and make it simple for students to submit their pieces of writing by creating an email alias, like stories@XYZ.edu. Share these stories on social media, too, so your network can do some marketing for you.
3) Campus News
If someone is just starting their search for a school to apply to, setting up a lead nurturing campaign for those contacts you already have about campus news -- like sports teams' big wins, academic achievements, student group news, etc. -- is helpful to keep them engaged. This information is a great fit for a monthly newsletter format. Nurturing individuals who are researching a number of schools to apply to is critical -- because they may forget about you if you don't continue to share information to stay top of mind.
4) Course Offerings
For students that are more serious about applying to your school and are looking for middle-of-the-funnel content, providing a sample or example course offering, segmented by area of study, is a great idea. This will provide them a glimpse into what a day or week would look like if they attend your college. It will also give them an idea of what types of courses are available for them to enroll in. This can be on a landing page, behind a form so you can track who redeems the offer.
5) Alumni Achievements by Industry
Career information is very important for prospective students. They want to know how an education at your university will help them find a job when they graduate. By providing stories of your successful alumni, segmented by industry, you're connecting prospective students with those that have graduated and gone on to build admirable careers.
Reach out to your alumni office and work on a campaign to gather these stories for your blog and social campaigns on an annual basis. Why spend time trying to think of stories to tell when you can solicit them from past students? You can also create LinkedIn groups for your alumni and invite prospective students to join them so they can connect directly with graduates.
6) Athletic Clubs
Students athletes may be curious about intramural clubs that they can join if they get accepted to your school. Make sure this information is available on your website. You can even ask current student athletes to share their experiences of being on a team sport at your school. Targeting this particular persona can draw in those specific individuals that are interested in sports, and who will also show high school spirit for your collegiate teams.
7) Videos of the School's History
Videos showing past academic achievement are a great way to share content in an engaging way. Featuring videos on your website, sharing them on social media -- on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, in particular -- as well as via email are the best ways to get your content out there. There are a lot of easy ways to make a video, including reaching out to your creative students for help. Videos are more likely to be shared, Liked, and commented on on social, so think about incorporating visual content into your next enrollment campaign.
8) Information About the Town or City
It's great to share information about your school, but to give a full picture of what it's like to live in your school's city or town is in is even better. Share local attractions, favorite restaurants of students, concert venues, libraries, and historical sites.
You can even create a short guide to the city or town you're located in for students to download. Give the full picture of life on and off campus.
What content do you create to engage your prospective students?
Originally published Apr 18, 2014 5:00:00 PM, updated July 28 2017