Appealing to Potential Students – Why Native Content Campaigns Work


Native content is a type of advertising that matches the form and function that it appears on. A typical example would be an article or blog post, designed to look like standard content, but it’s actually been paid for to promote a specific company/product etc. We see these everywhere, from Buzzfeed’s 10 Best Places to Visit from TripAdvisor or Top Tips for Social Media Management from Hootsuite.

In a world of continual advertising and more nuanced targetting, native content represents an excellent way to get in front of potential students. Hitting potential students when they are at their most inspired, is one of the best ways to encourage a connection with your brand. So how does it all work?

Native Content in Action

In comparison to the white noise of most marketing, native content is niche and specific. A general sweeping article about the reasons to come to your institution isn’t going to make an impact. Instead, it is necessary to be more intelligent when attempting to excite potential students. Engaging them with well-placed native content is a more insightful way to tap into their personal motivations.

Let’s take, for example, a potential student who holds an interest in the world of business. They are an ambitious, career-driven personality who dreams of nailing down a director role, or maybe even sitting in a CEO’s chair someday. Part of their daily routine involves browsing the International Business Times website. They want to feel like they’re connected to the business world and building up their knowledge of the subject. And one day they spot an article – published by your university from one of your current students. It details how your postgraduate business programme helped them fast-track their career into their dream role. Interest piques, this potential student may go on to then find out what university was this, what course, how do they get on it? And these questions can lead them straight to your website and potentially onto an open day. This is just one example of how native content could work.

Pros and Cons

Like with any marketing option, there are pros and cons to integrating native content into your strategy.

The pros of native content marketing mainly focus on how effective it can be. Native advertising attracts three times more time and attention and has ten times better performance than traditional mobile ads. It can also side-step user patterns of avoiding ad-based content on a site. Users have developed habits of avoiding common ad content locations and this can bypass that by placing it where readers are already looking.

The cons of native marketing are mainly focused on how time-consuming it can be. It’s effectiveness only works if the content in question is specialised to the platform and the users’ interests. Creating this content for every faculty/course will take time and may not be something that you feel is worth investing in. But the pay-off can be huge, so it comes down to individual marketing strategies and where you feel your time is best spent.

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