Content marketing is the best tool to captivate, educate, and engage prospective students.

Your prospects start researching well before they decide what program or school suits them best. So, you must create content and provide valuable information to drive traffic to your website.

Higher Ed content strategy allows you to address the entire student journey from early to mid-stage and hold the user’s attention by providing relevant answers through various forms of content.

Moreover, to compete with the universities, you need to boost your brand presence and make it recognizable to increase enrolments.

This post will explore how content marketing can help universities build a compelling brand that appeals to the target audience.

10 Effective Content Marketing Strategies for Higher Education

Here are the 10 proven content ideas for universities to elevate their higher education marketing efforts and engage prospective students across various channels.

1. Create and Maintain a University Blog

Blogging is a powerful tool that facilitates content marketing for higher education by building the brand’s unique voice, values, and foundations.

It is a great way to regularly add new content to your website, deliver consistent messages, and reach more prospects.

It also makes the content easier to share and allows universities to carve out a niche they prefer to associate with the brand.

To get the most from blogging, here are some ideas that work well:

  • Student success stories
  • Campus news and updates
  • Events and activities
  • Faculty spotlights
  • Career advice and job market insights
  • Industry trends and insights related to academic programs

For example, Northeastern University has created a blog for its graduate programs focusing on brand building, programs, and other important information.

The university regularly updates the content, creating a valuable resource for prospective students and helping them in decision-making.

Northeastern University has created a blog

Source: Northeastern University

2. Build an Online Community Around Your Content

We humans are social creatures. We thrive in supportive environments and need others to reaffirm our existence.

Therefore, content marketing for schools can be done through online community building. It will help you invite your target audience to explore your university.

A vibrant, active, and engaging community can strengthen your institution’s reputation.

The community will act as a platform to communicate and stay connected by bringing together like-minded students with similar interests and preferences.

Here are 3 key tips for building an online community of students and alumni:

  1. Facilitate student interaction, connection, and experience-sharing
  2. Provide tailored resources and offer content that meets the needs and interests
  3. Recognize and showcase achievements to highlight their contributions

You can also share some form of entertainment if it is good, mind-stimulating, and will benefit the community.

For example, Manchester Metropolitan University has created an online community for its students, prospects, and learners to interact, engage, communicate, receive personalized guidance, and gain insight into all the happenings.

Manchester Metropolitan University has created an online community

Source: Manchester Metropolitan University

3. Create Engaging and Informative Digital Guides & E-books

E-books and digital guides are powerful content marketing tools, serving as effective lead magnets to attract prospective students. 

E-books help learners explore programs through research findings and academic disciplines. Digital guides cover various topics, such as career exploration, communities, programs, and campus life.

You can also repurpose the available content, information, and materials in new formats.

Most importantly, it must reach the target audience at the right time. It can be achieved through increased visibility and engagement derived through social media and email marketing tactics.

For example, the University of Chicago offers eBooks and digital guides for prospects, current students, and alumni to get information and learn more about the programs, courses, environment, and resources.

University of Chicago offers eBooks

Source: The University of Chicago Press

4. Power Up Your Content Strategy With Virtual Tours

Content marketing for universities is incomplete without an immersive virtual tour.

It helps captivate the attention of prospective students by offering an interactive and visually appealing exploration of campus facilities, academic buildings, residence halls, and recreational spaces.

It also empowers students to plan their visits confidently, give firsthand previews, and help them know what to expect upon arrival.

Moreover, content shared via virtual tours makes campus visits accessible to a broader audience, including international students, those with mobility challenges, and individuals unable to travel to the campus in person.

Promoting virtual tours on social media enhances visibility, engages prospective students, and drives traffic to the university website.

For example, UC Davis offers a complete virtual tour for prospects to explore the campus, get into detail, and learn more about their community.

UC Davis offers a complete virtual tour

Source: UCDavis

5. Promote Campus Activities on Social Media

Social media is a powerful tool for institutions to market their content. It allows universities and colleges to engage with their target audience and reach beyond traditional channels.

It also builds long-lasting relationships and showcases unique value propositions to establish itself as one of the best educational institutions.

Showcase your university through engaging videos, images, and important campus events, such as virtual tours, building images, and event happenings.

For direct and ongoing interaction with the audience, use polls, quizzes, and surveys to obtain feedback and acknowledge your audience by reposting their stories.

You can share behind-the-scenes from on-campus activities and events, share a glimpse of the event, and promptly respond to the audience through messages and comments to maintain interaction.

For example, the University of Central Florida leverages the social media platform Facebook to feature an upcoming event and provide images from campus for prospects to learn more.

University of Central Florida leverages the social media

Source: University of Central Florida

6. Inspire Prospective Students With Compelling Case Studies

Case studies are an effective marketing technique that compels prospective students by highlighting real-life examples of students who have successfully finished their programs.

Case studies enable prospective students to relate to and influence their decision-making. They should demonstrate the impact of the university experience on the lives of students and alumni.

This could include academic achievements, career success stories, personal growth and development, and societal contributions.

 Here’s how you can create case studies that generate maximum outcomes.

  • Choose a student/alumni profile that maximum prospective students can relate to and resonate with their circumstances.
  • Highlight student achievements and demonstrate how universities facilitate and support students throughout their journey.
  • Share case studies on social media and email prospects to entice them to take the next step in the enrollment funnel.

For example, IOWA University Distance and Online Education showcase student success case studies that highlight how they started their lifelong journey towards success at IOWA.

University Distance and Online Education showcase student success case studies

Source: UIOWA

7. Create Compelling Videos as a Key Element of Your University’s Content Marketing Strategy

As the number of digital video viewers rises to 3.37 billion worldwide, universities are embracing videos as a tool to reach a wider audience base.

Video content captivates audiences like never before. They communicate the message easily and stand out in a crowded digital space.

People are more likely to engage with and share video content than any other.

As a result, videos can give a powerful boost to universities looking to increase brand awareness, engage audiences, and boost conversions.

Moreover, the rise of short-form video has been a game-changer. Therefore, universities must create short videos with clear and concise messages to get your point across quickly.

While creating stories to be shared via video format, consider different scenarios students can face in educational institutions and how your university facilitates the process.

Most importantly, incorporating university brand elements in your videos is essential to create appeal by ethics, emotion, and logic.

For example, Seattle University shared a video on Homecoming that most audiences can relate to and develop an instant emotional connection with the visuals and storyline.

Seattle University shared a video

Source: Seattle University

8. Put Information in Context Through Infographics

As a professional content marketing higher education marketer, you must know how to combine images, visuals, stats, and text to create infographics to deliver key messages to prospects.

Educational institutions can convey compelling facts and information through easily digestible content that gives a clear picture of the university. Infographics are also great for illustrating complex information to prospects.

Moreover, infographics are highly shareable across various digital platforms, extending the reach of university marketing efforts. 

Here are some tips for creating infographics:

  • Create an outline with a clear title and elements to assemble all the information
  • Keep the theme and colors relevant to make prospects establish a connection
  • Create a flow and tell a story that compels the prospect to take action

For example, the University of Michigan has a webpage that shares all the relevant information about its programs, faculty, campus, and other critical areas through infographics.

Rather than listing the number of academic programs offered or the faculty-to-student ratio in plain text, the university presents this information through visually engaging graphics.

University of Michigan has a webpage that shares all the relevant information about its programs

Source: University of Michigan

9. Podcasts are Content Goldmine to Drive Engagement

Podcasts enable listeners to consume content on anything, anywhere and anytime.

Podcasts have evolved and continue to grow. Close to 70 million people in the US listened to podcasts in 2023.

To stay connected with the audience, you need to incorporate podcasts in your strategy to stay relevant and drive engagement.

Podcasts offer an exciting opportunity to answer the questions and concerns of prospective and current students. They are a powerful way to add new dimensions to your university’s brand.

It is always a great medium to communicate stories, share insights from industry experts, talk to alumni, or interact with faculty members to convey the message.

Here are a few tips for creating compelling podcast content.

  • Narrow down and identify your audience if you want your podcast to reach as many people as possible.
  • Plan your podcast, and discuss the most relatable topic/subject that interests your target audience.
  • Make a list of relevant questions, and come up with interesting things to say on the spot.

For example, the University of Oxford has created a webpage showcasing all the podcasts conducted and the upcoming podcast.

Oxford University shares insights, research findings, and innovative ideas with a global audience through podcast interviews and discussions, further enhancing its reputation as a center of intellectual excellence.

University of Oxford has created a webpage showcasing all the podcasts

Source: University of Oxford

10. Deliver Highly Targeted Content for a Campaign via Microsites

Microsites offer a concise, focused message shared with prospective students.

They are an ideal tool for content marketing for colleges to feature informative and interactive content. They also help brands achieve multiple marketing goals and generate leads.

However, microsites are well-suited for short-lived campaigns. Colleges and universities can use them to promote their programs and appeal to a broader audience.

Here are some tips for creating microsites as part of the content marketing for educational institutions:

  • Add value for prospective students and guide them towards the admission process, accommodation booking, and program details.
  • Microsite CTAs should be aligned with your main website to help prospective students explore detailed information.
  • Keep your microsites user-friendly and create an intuitive user experience that keeps all the relevant information on a deeper level.

Also, a microsite can have its domain name or subdomain, further emphasizing its distinct identity within the main website.

For example, The University of Arizona created a microsite that engages prospects to Apply for First-Year Admission and Apply for Transfer.

This microsite presents prospective students with clear prompts to begin the application process, accompanied by persuasive messaging highlighting the benefits of attending the university.

University of Arizona created a microsite that engages prospects to Apply

Frequently Asked Questions:

What content marketing strategies do colleges use?

  • Blog Posts
  • Infographics
  • E-Books
  • Virtual Tours
  • Social Media Marketing
  • Microsites

What are the four keys to content marketing in Higher Ed?

  • Awareness about the target audience
  • Evaluation of the topics
  • Content delivery across channels
  • Leverage data insights

What is educational content marketing?

Educational content marketing is essentially a strategy used to market your products or services to prospects. It basically involves teaching a prospect rather than selling them something. In the higher industry, your product or service would be the programs your university or higher education institution offers.

To Sum Up

The higher education sector has become highly competitive. And the influence of content marketing in shaping a university brand’s narrative is undeniable.

Universities must stand out in a crowded space where the number of students seeking enrolment is increasing, and the demand is growing more than ever.

Content marketing for universities can help you enhance your visibility, reach, and engagement.

Creating and sharing valuable content with your target audience is the key to generating more leads and securing higher conversion rates.

Partnering with a reputable higher ed marketing agency can amplify your efforts and ensure your content resonates effectively with your audience.

Regardless of your chosen strategy, carefully consider the voice and tone of your university brand, as that will shape how you convey said messages.

Ensure you opt for a combination of strategies appropriate to your brand, purpose, and audience context.

Remember these 10 best content marketing strategies while creating content that captures your prospects’ attention and moves them forward in the enrollment funnel.