Content marketing is all around us. In fact, you're probably either using or viewing some form of content marketing on a daily basis and you might not even know it, especially if you use social media. The Content Marketing Institute defines content marketing as "...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."
To put in in simple terms, content marketing is a long-term strategy meant to establish a meaningful relationship between a brand and its audience by delivering them valuable, relevant content. So exactly how can you do this in a military and student veteran recruitment campaign? First let's start with the basics.
Your content marketing, no matter what methods you choose to use, should do three things:
- Identify/Reinforce somebody's pain point
- Agitate their pain point
- Provide a solution for their problem
Additionally, each piece of content you create should be part of a grander funnel, or applicant journey path. All your content should fall neatly into one of the following areas of the journey path:
- The prospect is made aware/reminded that they have a problem/need, and that your school has some kind of solution for it.
- The prospect evaluates the options they have available to them, including yours and your competitors'.
- The prospect makes a decision to do attend either your school or one of your competitors'.
Here is a great illustration:
Once you realize who your target audience is, you'll be able to craft a message and, ultimately, begin to craft your content. Service members and veterans have a unique set of circumstances, as they have had a different path of experiences than other students leading up to their college education. It's important that your marketing efforts recognize those differences, and cater to them.
So what kind of content should you use for each stage of the funnel? Well, let's take a look at some examples.
Top of Funnel Content
Prospects entering the top of your student recruitment funnel may not know that you have a solution for their problem. In the case of the military community, you are trying to showcase why your school is a great fit for them, and that you have specific services to help them succeed. Your content must be relevant to their place in the journey path - they must be made aware that you have special accomodations for military students.
Here is a great example of a video being used as top of the funnel content to recruit military students by The University of Michigan.
The video speaks directly to the specific audience they are targeting - members of the military community (active, reserve and veterans). It also subtly makes them aware of their problem of finding a university that supports them. Finally, it offers a solution in a great way - by showing not just one or two military student success stories, but by introducing many military students succeeding at the university.
Here are some other ideas for top of the funnel content:
- Social media posts
- Research Data
Middle of Funnel Content
Once a prospect has been made aware of their need, and that you have the solution they're looking for, they must now be able to trust you before they make a decision on your offer. This is where middle of the funnel content comes in. Middle of the funnel content is all about nurturing your prospect so that, in time, they will come back to you. Remember, content marketing is, in most cases, a long-term strategy.
Typically, prospects will have questions during the consideration stage of their journey, which is why I love content that aims to answer those questions. Here is a great example of a military and veterans affairs "resources" page Eastern Michigan University has on their website. It houses all of the important resources military and veteran students might need, all in one place. Don't make prospective applicants work to find answers to their questions. Make it as easy for them as possible to make their decision.
Some other great middle of the funnel content ideas are:
Bottom of Funnel Content
You're almost there! Assuming the content prior to this has served its purpose, your prospect is ready to convert, either with you or somebody else. Whether that is getting them to click "apply now" or a different kind of goal, bottom of the funnel content will serve the same purpose. Get your audience to take your desired action. In the case of student enrollment marketing, it might be a prospect requesting more information or actually applying/enrolling.
Here is a great example of a landing page for Felician University, dedicated to military veterans. The messaging and imagery is directed solely towards the military community.
One of the things I like about this landing page is that it offers the prospect a couple different options, which in this case Felician University would consider them all to be a conversion, just of different variations. Somebody who applies immediately is certainly a conversion, while those who elect to plan a visit or request more information would fall into the "qualified lead" category. Now, this type of multiple CTA landing page may not work for every situation, but I do like it in student recruitment.
Here are some more examples of bottom of the funnel content:
- Demos/Free trials
- Comparison Sheets
Bonus Tip: Reach Prospective Students on the Platforms They Use
Social media has changed the way we communicate, but it has also made it easier for schools to reach prospective students. Social media platforms like Facebook have allowed schools to reach more prospects than ever before.
Here at VIQTORY, one of our areas of expertise is in helping schools reach highly engaged candidates through social platforms like Facebook. We are able to deliver a school's message directly to the audience they seek, in this case, service members and veterans. Here's a great example, an ad we ran as part of a campaign for The University of Pittsburgh.
This ad is part of Pitt's successful campaign to increase military student enrollments. By using our G.I. Jobs brand, Pitt is able to reach their target audience through a channel that the military community already trusts. It also allows Pitt to develop their own brand within the military community, making them a viable option for service members and veterans.
How your content marketing fits within your greater recruitment funnel is just as important as what types of content you choose to use. Ensure that all of your content is aligned to recruit military students - this means that the messaging is all consistent and every piece of content is dedicated to their needs .