Following on from the previous session on social media myths, Dr Alex Grech delved into content marketing that might help international educators build a customer base.
People who give word-of-mouth referrals are the “holy grail” of marketing, according to Grech. People are increasingly making decisions based on recommendations; website such as TripAdvisor have become “hugely influential” for this reason. So it follows that information or a recommendation of a particular school, for example, will hold more weight when it is shared by a friend or family member.
And as people are increasingly tuning out the “background noise” of the internet such as aggressive advertising, a piece of content is more likely to trigger a response than an ad, he noted.
SEO and backlinks are valuable tools to drive traffic to a website, but as search engines become more sophisticated in their ability to determine the quality of backlinks to your website, rather than just monitoring quantity, it’s no longer enough to just hire an expert.
Instead, marketers should develop, execute and deliver content with the broader aim of growing an audience and customer base, Grech advised.
Players in the international education sector should be looking at the Education sector rather than Travel and Tourism and use more content marketing as opposed to online advertising says Grech.
However, quality is paramount and when it comes to content marketing, Grech urged stakeholders to ask themselves: “Would you share that last piece of content you created?”
When thinking about content marketing, he advised, it is crucial to consider the target audience. Content should not only be interesting, but delivered using a consistent voice across all channels – blogs, advertisements, and social media – to engage with an audience and to enhance a brand.
Creating content takes time, but these “slow burn” strategies that are often ignored can turn out to be most effective, he stressed; therefore, marketers should focus on developing, executing and delivering content that people will engage with, with the aim of growing an audience and a customer base.
And sharing content other than your own can also be an effective way of growing a customer base – think of it like building a community, Grech advised.
As Grech said, “curation is a vital part of content marketing” – he suggested sharing relevant content from other sources such as local papers, focussing on a particular niche.
While it’s true that content creation (and curation) takes time and investment, Grech challenged those who say they don’t have the time to invest in it to consider how much money they are spending on pay-per-click campaigns.
Ultimately, Grech urged, there’s “no free lunch” when it comes to reaching out to customers.
“Content strategy – things don’t happen by accident,” he said. “What are your goals, who are you trying to create content for, what are the channels you should be using to optimise your content?”