Content marketing stands apart from most other classic forms of marketing. Less invasive and less obviously ‘salesy’, its main focus is offering consistent and valuable information to the consumer. So what is it, what are its pros and cons, and how can education institutions take advantage of it?

What is it?

Content marketing is a catch-all phrase for a variety of different kinds of content. The one thing they all have in common, however, is that they are designed to provide potential customers with information devoid of pushy sales pitches. The classic that most people know is the blog post – like what we are doing right now. But that’s not the only sort. Other kinds can include videos, case studies, infographics, newsletters and downloadables, to name just a few. The relevance of each format will depend entirely on your business model.

Pros and Cons to Content Marketing

There are many positives to implementing a content marketing strategy. By creating great content you can provide valuable information to potential buyers, building trust before you go for a more formal sales pitch at a later date. This builds your credibility in the consumer’s eye and means they are more likely to think of you next time they need an answer to a similar question.

In relation to your other digital marketing strategies, content marketing is a great way of creating (you guessed it) content for your social media platforms.

This is not only from sharing it on your own platforms but also the re-sharing that will occur if your content is good. This will result in a great exposure and a higher potential of free word-of-mouth advertising for you. And finally, its good for improving search engine results. When appropriate keyword use and SEO can be integrated naturally into your content it can help your site rise in search engine page results and mean you’re more likely to be seen by potential customers.

As with all forms of marketing, however, there are some downsides to content marketing. Creating quality content takes up a lot of time, and relies on a consistent output of new information. This makes it both time consuming and hard work for a lot of businesses. Content marketing by its very nature is also a highly creative endeavour and that doesn’t always suit peoples skillsets. It can also be difficult to assess exactly how effective it is being and it can often take a long time to build a reputation that will then yield results. A content marketing strategy has to consider the long game as it really isn’t a quick fix option.

Getting the Most from It

Most universities will be doing some form of content marketing already, without even realising it. Any articles and blogs about what life at the university is like count as a form of content marketing, as well as downloadable content such as suggested reading lists. But there is a big difference between casually doing a form of marketing by accident, and having a strategy in place to optimise your return on a piece of marketing.

Having a strategy of what you intend to post and where it should be shared can ensure the consistency needed to get results from this form of marketing. This should be integrated with your existing social media strategy to allow for maximum reach. Education institutions are in a stronger position than most in that the range of content available to create, and indeed who could be creating it, is higher than other industries. You could use existing students to create content such as ‘A Day in the Life Of’ blog style videos, articles on student events, or tips for the intense studying in exam periods. Each faculty or course could easily create content specific to their field of study, which could then be integrated into the university-wide content.

Key metrics to measure with content marketing include things like how often it is being engaged with, either on social platforms or in its original source, and how long people tend to engage with it. How long do people spending watch that video, how much of that blog do they read? It is also worth looking at if there is a next step for interested parties to take, such as signing up for a newsletter or downloading more content from you. This can be a great, relaxed way of capturing peoples details for later use without coming across as overly pushy.

Everyone is constantly creating content just by sheer virtue of existing on the internet these days, and education institutions are no exception. But with a few simple steps and a little bit of thought, this casual content creation could become a streamlined and strategised form of marketing that yields great results.