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Where Marketers Go to Grow

January 14, 2016 // 7:00 AM

Marketing Must-Do's For Helping a New Education Program Take Off

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Launching a new program at your school is a huge and exciting undertaking. Yet it isn't merely about creating the new curriculum, or finding the right faculty to deliver the program. Your biggest responsibility is finding students for it and getting them to enroll.

You've been thinking a lot about how to market this new program. The good news is you've got building blocks already in place that you can leverage. All it takes is uncovering them and suddenly you've got a launching off point for your marketing efforts.

Here's our list of inbound marketing priorities so you can make the most of these building blocks as the foundation of your new assets designed to promote the new program. 

Marketing Must-Do's Checklist for Promoting a New Program

Build Personas Specific for the Program 

A new program is definitely one of those events that should trigger new persona development. Start with some of the information you already know about the persona of your institution's general ideal student. Then do your research to refine the personas for this program. Talk to:

  • The program director or manager who created the program and got it approved. They will certainly have an on-the-ground view of the type of student the program was created for and what their needs and priorities are.
  • The admissions officer responsible for the program, who can provide perspective on what questions potential applicants are asking and what factors loom largest as they make their enrollment decision.
  • Academic and career counselors who are steering prospective and current students into the right programs suited to their interests, abilities, and strengths. These can be counselors both at your school and at some of your feeder schools.

Don't overlook the students themselves, or their parents! Research social media to hear from students enrolled in similar programs, or talking about enrolling. Visit relevant blogs and forums to read through the comments section. Note the language they're using, as well as the concerns and preferences they express about researching and selecting the right school or program.  For more info on creating personas for your school, check out this post

Craft Messages that Resonate with your Personas

Personas in hand, you job now turns to content creation. Here's how to take the personas you've developed, and put them to work:
  • Clarify where your new program fits in your school's current landscape. Does it fill a gap? Or expand a popular study area that needs fresh, new challenges?
    • Use how the program is related to, or different from, other school programs, to give prospective students a context that's appealing to them. For example, let's say you have two different programs you want to feature, astronomy and history. Your messages would be different for each. You could tout technology in the classroom for one, and access to online research tools for the other.
    • Review what you've learned about your past messaging for related or similar areas. Now you're not starting from scratch wondering what language, style, and content will engage prospective students.
  • Align your new, very specific messaging for the new program, with the established message priorities you've set for the school at large. In other words, make sure the two messages don't conflict or contradict each other. If one of your key messages for the school is to tell the stories of your instructors' real-word expertise and experience, then show how that applies in your new program.
  • Outline the flow of the main messages you want to deliver at each stage of the enrollment cycle, including the messages designed to draw prospective students into the next phase.

Develop Unique Content that Drives Eyes and Enrollments

Put your new personas and messaging at the center of all the content developed specifically for this program. 

  • Select your primary persona. Do you need to quickly start showing enrollment? Then select the persona most likely to be looking at your initial enrollment date.
  • Build your smart lists criteria so you know exactly what information you want to capture about website visitors showing interest in this program.

Create Content For Each Stage in the Enrollment Journey

 Generate Awareness

  • Research and create your working list of SEO keywords
  • Will you run a PPC campaign to raise awareness?
  • Set up program page within school website
  • Does any aspect of the program lend itself to a creating a microsite? If it's filling a gap, what gap is it filling? Does it prepare students for a field expected to have high job growth over the next decade? A microsite exploring an issue that attracts people interested in the area of study — and provides an opportunity to get them into your contact database — may be worth the investment.
  • Write up a list of blog topics and create your editorial calendar. Use your research from the persona stage for keywords to create your topic list, and consider setting up a category tag for the program.

 Convert Strangers into Leads

  • What is your key piece of premium content that will convert visitors into contacts? Look to your persona research to find the most compelling question to answer.
  • Set up the download form on the program's webpage. Do you want to create a separate landing page for the premium content offer as well?
  • Outline an email nurture campaign that will move contacts into actors. What different actions do you want them to take? Read about the practicums available in the program? Set up an interview appointment? Go to a "meet and greet" with the program faculty?
  • What criteria move a contact to the smart list ready to receive application CTAs?
  • Develop your follow-up sequence to move accepted applicants to enrolled student.

You can find some email tips for the admissions process here.

Leverage Existing Assets and Channels

There are lots of ways you can take existing content and re-use it, again and again, as well as ways to draw people's attention to your programs. Here are three sure-fire cost-effective ways to do that:

  • Add special announcements on every relevant asset with a link to the program webpage or landing page:
  • Website homepage
  • Community newsletter(s) to students, faculty and alumni → get your word of mouth network going!
  • Rotate announcements focusing on your different messages through your social media channels. What fun, attention-grabbing content can you create specifically for social media? Does your school have an active Snapchat channel? Have one of the program faculty or student in a related program create a Story showing their day on campus.

Freshen up some older blog posts that will interest these personas.

  • Insert a program keyword into the text.
  • Tag it with the program's category.
  • Add a new CTA offering premium content related to the program for download.
  • Add a link to the program's webpage.
  • Re-promote and distribute these posts with applicable keywords and hashtags.

Audit your existing content to find repurposing material

  • Look at content for a related area of interest or addressing similar concerns and priorities expressed by this program's personas; prioritize content with a track record of success
  • Re-promote and distribute content as-is with new hashtags and headlines
  • Re-work the content, or pieces of it, customizing it as a new piece of content for the program

Our "must-do" checklist is part to-do list/ part issues to consider. Step through the entire list to design a campaign plan that will attract the attention of the right applicants and hook them in with awesome, informative content they can't bear to ignore.

The Ultimate Guide to Inbound Marketing for Schools

Topics: Education

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