Three Internet Strategies for Building and Retaining Students

Liz Kistner - Monday, October 27, 2014

"Space: The Final Frontier. Seek out new life and new civilizations, and to boldly go where no man has gone before". Captain Kirk commanded a crew of 430 men and women aboard his starship, traveling at speeds surpassing the speed of light. Trekkie or not cyberspace 2012 is changing the way we communicate. The days of archaic advertising methods are gone. The web has shifted towards user-driven technologies such as video-sharing platforms, blogs, and social networks. According to the International Journal of Market Research, the use of consumer-driven multimedia platforms such as video sharing is up from 32% in 2006 with 83% watching video clips online making it the quickest growing platform in history. Increasingly, marketing programs are being built around the use of digital technologies. Three internet strategies you can use to build and retain students: social media, search engine marketing, and content marketing.

Social Media - what social strategies do you have in place? Devise a strategy that helps people create or enhance relationships. It's all about sharing experiences and connecting with others. Build virtual communities that are relevant and authentic. Deliver in-time marketing, with a personal touch that is meaningful. This will in turn lead your followers into becoming brand ambassadors. Social media moves fast. It is an opportunity to learn quickly and through unfiltered feedback what your students and prospects need, and what's important and forefront in their minds. For example, create a fan page that serves as a resource portal and brand builder. This can be done through the use of social RSS applications with which you can easily add videos, publish Twitter updates and add notes to your fan page. Keep the page updated regularly and work proactively to build "fans".

Search Marketing - 79% of marketers surveyed by BtoB cited building Web traffic as their primary goal in using search marketing, followed by lead generation and branding (each at 76%). When paid search was considered alone, lead generation was cited as the most important goal. Create a visual blueprint for effective Internet marketing through strong landing pages (convert a higher percentage of landing page visitors into leads), remarketing (free branding), and online search (long-tail search queries, ad groups, head keywords, and PPC Campaigns). Get the most out of your SEO efforts and increase the effectiveness of your search campaign by understanding your target audience.

Content Marketing - Marketers realize that the paradigm has shifted from push to pull. Prospects would rather seek out your brand than get bombarded by it. Create content that is valuable, and is organized into digestible, powerful pieces. These pieces should offer something of value: tips, trends, relevant news items, or information that is helpful in their jobs and lives. Use content that entertains, educates, and inspires. Tell compelling stories to ensure that prospects feel engaged. Use stories that are buzz worthy. Consider stories in the form of short video testimonials, newsletters or blogs. If your story is valuable, people will share it with their peers, while helping to build brand awareness for your university. Some call it content marketing. Others call it brand journalism.

Times have changed and so have the ways in which people consume information. With the sheer amount of information available how do universities compete in today's world of Facebook, Twitter, and Search Marketing? While the conventional ways of attracting students are still crucial, they should be part of a much broader strategy which incorporates Internet strategies that will produce sustainable, long term web traffic.