Content marketing – The best way to reach defined and diverse student audiences.
Before we ask ourselves this question, let’s look at what we mean by content marketing. The Content Marketing Institute have created this helpful definition:
“Content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.”
So, if we translate that into our world of student talent acquisition it might read:
“A strategic marketing approach that delivers valuable, relevant and consistent content to engage, attract and retain a clearly defined and diverse student audience that ultimately produces a win for candidates and employers.”
Most student recruitment campaigns will feature elements of content marketing, often including some listed here:
However, posting a one-off blog highlighting a day in the life of a current trainee or hosting a standalone webinar or on-campus presentation about application tips and deadlines doesn’t constitute a content marketing plan or strategy – there must be a stronger thread.
The future of content marketing is all about digital storytelling, immersive reading experiences and value-driven content. Content marketing is one of the biggest growth areas in student marketing; because without it, employer brands are unlikely to gain traction with the right audiences and unlikely to drive cost effective candidate acquisition.
Why else should you do it?
- To increase your student reach: it’s more interactive, engaging and fun and can help you reach hard to find talent
- To differentiate your brand
- To build a more loyal talent pool by forging relationships over the longer term
- Because “traditional advertising” is missing the mark: 99.99% of banner ads are being ignored as our mental muscle memory has taught us to tune out advertising
- Because 40% of candidates say that thought leadership is their #1 preferred content style
- To drive down effort and increase ROI: in content marketing, you can employ content atomisation where you invest in writing a single comprehensive piece of content and then break down and disseminate in smaller content pieces
Here are five things to remember to maximise your content marketing.
# 1 – Know your audience inside out
Content marketing is about providing useful, relevant and valuable information to your target audience. If you can’t, hand on heart, explain using what the consumer market calls buyer personas, then your content is unlikely to hit the mark. Content needs to be designed for a specific audience with a specific reason or call to action in mind.
# 2 – Have a Plan
As we said earlier, content marketing isn’t just producing individual pieces of content like blogs, social media posts, videos, landing pages, email etc. and hoping your perfect candidate reads it and responds!
Without a defined plan or strategy, your content can’t take advantage of the nuances in your target audience and their internal sub-sections, nor can you capitalise on “buying signals” at the different stages of the candidate journey.
#3 – Structure your content around themes
Themes are key to driving purpose-driven content. Content should be structured around themes that matter to your target audience and delivered through a pre-defined schedule with a degree of consistency to keep the audience alive to the brand over time.
For example, 106 Comms is working for a large public sector organisation looking to hire over 300 graduates per year that faces significant challenges and has a wide range of target audiences. Building a matrix by target audience of their key career motivators and detractors allowed us to identify specific content that would resonate with the desired audiences. We were then able to group this content into 3 themes, namely:
Making a difference
What makes a great (data scientist, finance manager, HR specialist)
Being your true self at work
#4 – Think creatively about the delivery of the content
One of the major barriers to many student recruitment teams is the sourcing of original content to be able to deliver a great content-based campaign.
But remember that content doesn’t have to always be shiny and glossy – think creatively about how to deliver the content using animation or infographics instead of original video production for example.
Furthermore, content doesn’t always need to be created by your own brand. Offering comments or sharing other articles related to your campaign themes will bring you a new audience.
#5 – Get your internal teams on board
It’s vital that you galvanise your internal marketing or communications team by bringing them in on the project early and making it easy for them to generate content. Some of our clients have achieved this by investing in internal content hubs that support their internal brand ambassadors with valuable source material.
If you would like to have a chat about all things content marketing and student marketing then don’t hesitate to drop Jayne or the team here at 106 an email… firstname.lastname@example.org