“The education sector doesn’t need marketing!” “A good college doesn’t have to sell themselves!” You might have heard such statements quite a lot. But, the reality is something else. Every educational institute needs a good marketing strategy if they want to survive in this highly competitive industry. After all, with the increase in a number of colleges and e-learning platforms, it is pivotal for education institutes to market themselves appropriately to attract a suitable audience.
Everyone who looks for information about universities or good schools for higher education has one thing in common – they do it online. Students and parents now primarily depend on the internet to access any information, which signifies the necessity to upgrade these marketing strategies to establish a presence on these digital platforms.
If we consider the current stats of the marketing world, a clear understanding that we get is that using traditional marketing strategies is not going to yield significant results. After all, it has become pretty clear that the future lies in Inbound Marketing. Through the usage of dedicated inbound marketing strategies, an educational institute can efficiently use their marketing plans and increase their enrolment rates substantially.
Inbound marketing is the process of creating and distributing relevant content across various digital platforms in such a way that it meets the audience where they are as per their convenience. Inbound marketing is more about educating and attracting your audience rather than selling a product or a service. While our traditional marketing strategies come across as intrusive to consumers, inbound marketing is the complete opposite and is meant to attract customers to your site via non-intrusive means.
Inbound marketing can help an educational institute to attract potential customers and convert them to students. It works on the basic methodology which has four steps:
The majority of the target audience that an educational institute wants to appeal to has an online presence. Students are digitally smart and are on a constant lookout for relevant information. Generally, the target audience for educational institutes are confused and search the web for information which can guide them on a certain path. By understanding the general buyer persona, i.e., the thought process of students, an educational institute can create content accordingly and market themselves better.
When an institute understands the pain point of students and creates content that they are looking for, it creates a certain affinity towards the institute. By doing so, an organization can establish authority in their own domain and attract potential leads towards them.
Consider an example where a student is confused and not able to come to a conclusion when it comes to whether he should opt for a 2-year MBA or a 3-year project management course. So, to gain information, he’ll look on the internet for relevant information about the courses with keywords like: “Job opportunities after MBA” or “Which one is better MBA or project management”. Now if your institute has written and published such content pieces on the internet, then there’s a good chance that this student will end up landing on your website. If you happen to have quality content that’s helpful to the student, then it will generate an affinity towards your institute and provide you with a potential lead.
Once an institute has attracted a potential lead to their website, the next task is to convert them. There are many institutes that are publishing the same content and thousands of students are reading that information online every day. How can an institute convert these readers into potential leads and get their valuable information?
The answer is to optimise your website. While you might have relevant data floating around the internet which is being read by many students, all of it will go to waste if they simply can’t reach you. Therefore, it is essential for educational institutes to optimise their website and include landing pages and CTA’s in their content.
Once you include these in your content and direct a reader to reach out and read your quality content, then they can simply click on the link and give their valuable information to you. This information is what helps you to understand the students better and provide them with personalized solutions.
This is the stage where an institute can create a strong impact and convince the potential lead to take the next step and become a customer. Once students share their relevant information with an institute, it’s up to them when it comes to how they can close and convert them into a customer.
For example, let’s consider a situation where a student filled a query form on your website and asked a specific question regarding the placement opportunities of a course. Now, either an institute can send a one-off information to that student, or simply add him to a subscriber list and share relevant content every week/month to establish a goodwill with that student. If the student likes the content, then there are chances that he/she might share it with others, which will create an authority towards the institute.
When you send relevant information to that student, there is a high probability that he’ll enroll himself for a course in your college.
This is where a lot of institutes make a mistake. Once they have the guaranteed business of students, they simply don’t focus enough on them afterward, which generates a negative impression towards the brand. Emphasising on the students that have already given their business to you is equally as important as giving importance to leads.
Making communities for new entrants, forming alumni groups on social media, developing student engagement programs and many such activities can be done to engage the students in activities on these digital platforms. These activities will contribute immensely to the creation of a digital awareness about the institute in a specific age group, which will further amplify the online presence of the brand.
Apart from generating awareness and getting admissions, inbound marketing can also help an institute to establish thought leadership, attract potential investors, build a team of esteemed faculty and so much more.
All these pointers should ideally be enough to give you an understanding of how inbound marketing is beneficial for any educational institute, and how an institute can increase their enrolment rate.