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Increasing ROI with Higher Education Content Marketing

Increasing ROI with Higher Education Content Marketing

Make no mistake: in the competitive world of higher education, content marketing can make or break your enrollment success. It allows you to differentiate your school from others your students are considering and can provide relevant and persuasive information throughout the enrollment cycle.

And as with any other higher education marketing tactic, you'll need to optimize your content in a way that matches student preferences. You'll also need to measure your marketing efforts, both to understand what works and to prove their worth to others in the institution. 

In this guide, we'll focus on the basics of content marketing, especially as it relates to the return on investment (ROI) you can gain from it.

Table of Contents:

A Simple Definition of ROI in Higher Education Content Marketing

Simply put, ROI is the tangible return you can get from any of your marketing efforts. In the context of higher ed content marketing, that means answering this question:

How can my marketing content produce tangible results like brand recognition, lead generation, and improved enrollment?

Of course, the concept can quickly become complicated. Not all returns in education, after all, are tangible. You might need to learn how a single piece of content may have impacted a student lead to apply or an admitted student to submit their tuition deposit. 

Still, the idea of ROI in content marketing is proving that it is worth it, as well as possible. On an even higher level, it's about creating content most likely to make a positive, tangible impression.

Content Marketing for Higher Education, Defined

The second half of the equation, of course, is the type of marketing you're using to create that ROI. The Content Marketing Institute describes content marketing as

"a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action."

This is not about creating promotional content that openly pushes your university's differentiators or value proposition. Instead, it's about positioning yourself as an expert in the eyes of potential students (and their families) by publishing content designed to help them in their college journey.

The 5 Core Types of Content to Build Your Education Marketing Plan

The beauty of modern content marketing is its versatility. In fact, almost every higher education digital marketing tactic can lend itself to the type of content described above. That said, a few content types tend to be a the core of every successful strategy:

1. Long-form website content 

Like whitepapers, eBooks, and online guides. They're typically free but offer enough value to audiences that they can be gated behind a sign-up form to get inquiries every time a potential student wants to read them.

2. Blog posts

Which can showcase snippets of the long-form content on your school's website. Blog posts can also offer inside glimpses of university life, and content here can be keyword-optimized to enhance your search engine optimization efforts.

3. Social media posts

Designed to drive engagement from prospective and current students, as well as alumni. Content tends to consist of short, often visual snippets that grab your target audience's attention, ideally leading them to longer-form content on your website.

4. Videos

Which can offer more in-depth views into your university community and campus. You can highlight anything from faculty research to a recent campus event. Videos can enhance your website and social media presence but also have a home on YouTube.

5. Podcasts

Which are long-form audio series about specific topics. On a podcast series, you might regularly interview faculty or students about relevant and interesting topics for your audience.

Not every content marketing strategy, of course, needs to include all five of these channels. Instead, it's all about ensuring that the types of content you prioritize align with what your audience wants to see.

How Content Marketing Can Increase Your ROI

Dig a little deeper, and the potential ROI of content marketing is immense. Take long-form content as an obvious example. If you publish a guide that's helpful and unique enough for prospective students, you'll get a regular flow of inquiries as a result. You can fill your enrollment funnel without the need to buy any search names or lists.

But the potential ROI of this education marketing tactic also goes beyond the obvious. High-quality content can live in emails you push out to admitted students as you look to maximize yield rates. Meanwhile, engaging potential students on social media can keep your college or university top of mind even as they still consider multiple options.

To get there, your content has to be engaging. It needs to provide tangible value but also remain fresh and original at all times. Keep in mind that your audience doesn't owe you anything. From your headline to even the most random sentence in the 10th paragraph, you must keep them reading, watching, and listening.

How to Prove (and Improve) Your Content Marketing ROI

The theoretical benefits are undeniable. With the right strategy to measure results, you can also make them practical. 

That means first identifying what success actually means for your marketing. Obviously, it would be best if you improved enrollment. From there, you can build it backward. How many website visitors do you need to generate an inquiry? What percentage of your inquiries become applicants, and how many of your admitted students yield deposits?

These numbers are available in your CRM and/or digital analytics software. Use our full-funnel enrollment conversion calculator to get the numbers right. Once you can compare your marketing cost to the number of enrollments you get, you can understand the exact ROI your content marketing is generating. 

That process, of course, is still complex. You might need help building and executing a great content marketing strategy and measuring your results and ROI. Fortunately, you don't have to do it on your own. Working with a higher education marketing agency like Sonority Group puts a reliable partner on your side with unique expertise in the industry and ROI-optimized content marketing. 

Ready to take your digital marketing to the next level? Let's chat

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FAQ Recap:


What is ROI in Higher Education Content Marketing?

ROI, or Return on Investment, in higher education content marketing refers to the tangible results achieved from marketing efforts, such as brand recognition, lead generation, and improved enrollment. It aims to measure the effectiveness and success of content in making a positive, tangible impression.


How is Content Marketing for Higher Education Defined?

Content marketing in higher education is a strategic approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience. The goal is to position the institution as an expert by providing helpful content that aids students and their families in their educational journey.


What are the Core Types of Content for Education Marketing?

The core types of content for education marketing include:

  1. Long-form website content (whitepapers, eBooks, online guides).

  2. Blog posts showcasing snippets and insights.

  3. Social media posts for engagement and visibility.

  4. Videos offering in-depth views into the university community.

  5. Podcasts, long-form audio series on specific topics.


How Can Content Marketing Increase ROI?

Content marketing can significantly increase ROI by:

  1. Generating a steady flow of inquiries through valuable long-form content.

  2. Enhancing yield rates through targeted emails to admitted students.

  3. Keeping the institution top of mind through engaging social media content.

  4. Filling the enrollment funnel without purchasing search names or lists.


What Makes Content Engaging and Effective?

Engaging content provides tangible value, remains fresh, and is original. It must capture the audience's attention from the headline to the last paragraph. The key is to continually offer content that is valuable and relevant to the target audience.


How to Prove and Improve Content Marketing ROI?

To prove and improve content marketing ROI:

  1. Identify success metrics, such as improved enrollment.

  2. Work backward to determine the number of website visitors needed for inquiries.

  3. Utilize CRM and digital analytics to measure conversion rates.

  4. Use a full-funnel enrollment conversion calculator.

  5. Compare marketing costs to the number of enrollments for exact ROI figures.


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