Content Marketing and Blogging

Content marketing describes the art and science of attracting and retaining your target audience by strategically providing relevant and interesting content through marketing channels such as web pages, blogs, videos, print publications, emails, infographics, podcasts, and social media. By consistently publishing valuable content tailored to the interests of yourdiverse constituents, you can build  a close relationship with various individuals and increase the effectiveness of your communication, resulting in increased applications, yield, retention, donations, and engagement.

Search Engine Optimization and Inbound Marketing

Often the most significant use of content marketing is enhancing the website of a school, college, or university. By creating interesting and engaging pages with crisp, valuable content for your likely readers, and using powerful search engine optimization (SEO) techniques to improve rankings in Google and other search engines, you can change the dynamic from searching for your target to being found by him or her. Instead of costing often-scarce ad dollars to attract attention, effective SEO work gets you chosen for no incremental cost, and with high credibility in the prospect;s mind. You can gain from SEO techniques such as title, header, and alt tags; meta descriptions; keywords; and other "on-page" factors.  Powerful optimization of your site links content marketing  with inbound marketing, a close cousin (some say it's the "parent") of content marketing; the goal of inbound marketing is to help an organization get found by customers looking for that product or service versus "interrupting" people when they are involved in other activities.

Creating Great Content

Many marketers err by trying to trick Google or anticipate how its complex algorithm will react to their content. Instead, virtually all content experts urge that creators focus on creating truly great content first and foremost. What, then qualifies as "great" content? While this debate continues due to the complexity of Google's 200 ranking criteria, the most commonly-cited characteristics are: interesting and relevant to your audience; original; creative; authentic; accurate (for all content) and expert (more important for complex topics, research studies etc.) engaging for the reader; shareable by social media and forwarding; and of course, well-written. Education institutions may wonder how to make school newsletters interesting and alumni news creative. Here the subject essentially writes itself, so you want to find the methods of expression that connect with your readers. One way is to add images, video, and tools like infographics. Another is to test different storytelling techniques, writing styles, and copy and subject line/headline length and review the website, email and advertising analytics to see what your readers embrace.

Long Versus Short Copy?

Another heated discussion today concerns the optimal length of copy for various media. It's indisputable

that the people don't like to read as much as in the past. We live in a "short form" world influenced by

small mobile screen sizes, communication overload, increasing social distractions, and Twitter-fueled

character limits. Simple, eh? Actually, no - some people still want the the full story, e.g. Admissions

details, "why" to attend, or athletic game or drama reviews. And - Google rewards effective long-form

content with higher rankings. What should you do? Write for your audience on your topic. Test using a

capsule version with a "read more" button, and see how many clicks it gets. Test how long versus short

copy affects your search rankings. Break up your longer copy with plenty of images and video.

Blogging

Creating a blog and adding regular posts, especially from a Head or President, can be a major boon to your content marketing efforts. It offers the blogger(s) a platform to cover a wide range of topics, including those of strategic importance that may otherwise be ignored. It helps your search rankings. Regular posting, when integrated with your social media and email calendars, provides a reliable source of valuable content. Your blog, like your website, can connect with all your constituents. If your institution isn't blogging, you may be missing a major opportunity. If the school or college head is concerned with time constraints or regular idea-generation, communications and marketing teams can offer to provide a sample of topics and then create those selected by the leader, develop an ongoing  process with a quick review - and then do it!

Social Media Integration

Whether your content starts as a blog post, email component, web announcement, newsletter article, or similar piece, you want to ensure it is quickly distributed across all your social media channels. Feed your Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn pages with the stories and images you are creating for your other channels, then get your team, fellow employees and influencers to engage on your social media, ideally soon after you post, to ensure broad, multi-channel exposure.

Is your content marketing falling short? William Bullard has been doing content marketing throughout his career and inbound marketing since 1996. He has created several hundred web pages, hundreds of direct mail pieces, publications, white papers, and articles, and dozens of blog posts, and would welcome lhearing your challenges and how EdChanges can help you solve them.

@2016 by William R. Bullard. Proudly created with Wix.com 

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