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Inbound Marketing for Higher Education: The Ultimate Guide

Flying Hippo

By Flying Hippo

It’s no secret: college is a life-changing experience. From the day you meet your roommate at the dorms to the day you snag your diploma, college trains you for the real world and for success.

And if you’re working at a university, you’re looking for a way to succeed, too: more applications, more students and more engagement. Luckily, there’s inbound marketing, which generates an average of 54% more leads at a huge savings over traditional marketing.

If you’re looking to start inbound at your school or university, look no further. Here’s everything you need to know.

Is it Effective to Use Inbound Marketing for Higher Education?

Inbound marketing is all about publishing the right content at the right time and distributing it to the right people. It’s marketing that people love. And your prospective students are right at the cusp of loving your school, too. So why not publish the information they’re really looking for and build that love?

In case you’re wondering: yes, inbound marketing is effective for higher education. Here are five reasons why.

  • Your Audience is Online All the Time. The days of college representatives visiting high schools to recruit students might not be over, but they’re becoming less and less important in the minds of students. Students (and their parents) want to learn on their own schedule, and that means doing their own research online. And with smartphones, tablets and laptops in nearly every classroom, they’re online anyway.
  • Your audience has an obvious need. B2B businesses spend a lot of time trying to hone their business offerings and trying to determine precisely what their audience wants. Thankfully, prospective students and their parents all have pretty much the same need and goal: getting into school. Because their needs are so clear, creating content to fit that need isn’t as hard as you might think.
  • Colleges already produce a lot of content. If you’re in the marketing department of a university or college, you know that there’s an incredible amount of content that’s produced—blogs, brochures, mailers, magazines and more. Inbound doesn’t disregard these successful forms of communication, but it positions that content so it’s available and prominent right when it’s needed most.
  • Universities have a lot of stories to tell. Your school is drenched in history. Maybe the columns on the quad are left over from a building fire in the 1800s, or that Ronald Reagan was the Grand Marshall of a parade through campus. How can your school harness history and its ever-evolving stories to boost admission?
  • Inbound is cost-effective: Compared to the old days of sending college representatives around the country or mass-mailing thousands of flyers, the cost per lead for inbound marketing is very low.

How Can Inbound Marketing Help My School?

What exactly can inbound marketing do to help your school? It goes deeper than you’d think.

Inbound marketing…

  • Promotes your school as a brand that sets itself apart from the competition 
  • Attracts top-notch students who are a better fit for your institution 
  • Increases the quality and number of applications
  • Bumps donor engagement, driving them to donate more to your school
  • Builds relationships with counselors, parents, students and everyone else involved in the decision-making process with content directed at them
  • Boosts SEO by targeting precisely what students and parents are looking for online

How Can Inbound Marketing Help My Department?

“That’s great,” you say. “But I don’t work in marketing at my school. Why should I care?”

  • If you work in enrollment, inbound marketing is a great fit, as it’s proven to help capture top-of-the-funnel initial researchers and help convert organic traffic into applications.
  • If you work in fundraising, inbound marketing content can be a great way to boost conversion, build engagement and more.
  • If you work with alumni, you already know that awesome content can keep graduates engaged. Inbound keeps them active and involved, years after tossing the mortar board.
  • If you work directly in education, inbound helps you showcase your work and accomplishments to position you and your department as thought leaders in your community.

How Do I Get Started With Inbound Marketing for Higher Education?

  • Get planning. What sort of content do you have already? Who is your competition? What marketing have you tried before?
  • Think distribution. How are you going to disseminate all this content to the right audience?
  • Brainstorm content. What sort of content answers the questions your prospective students, donors or other audiences are looking for right now?
  • Sell it to your Boss. Everyone’s got a boss—are you prepared to discuss how inbound marketing can work for your school?
  • Find a partner. You can’t be the quarterback, cheerleader, mascot and radio announcer in the same football game. You’re going to need someone to show you the ropes.

Find out how Flying Hippo and inbound marketing can rock your brand!

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