It would be hard to find an industry that’s more content driven than the education sector. In fact, information is its lifeblood, both for attracting new students and for teaching them once they become part of the institution. That’s why schools and universities are missing out if they don’t have a content marketing strategy. Increasingly, that strategy is going to have to be mobile based.
Think about it. Consultant Benedict Evans believes that “mobile is eating the world“, and he’s right. Many current mobile users were born into a world where these devices didn’t exist, but that hasn’t stopped an increase in mobile devices to the point where there will be more mobile devices than people by the end of this year (according to data published by SuperMonitoring).
Meanwhile, younger generations take being constantly connected for granted. And future students will be among the “mobile-born” who have never known a world without mobile devices. Since those are the students of tomorrow, schools and universities should start thinking about mobile content marketing now.
SuperMonitoring has some more fascinating statistics on mobile adoption, including:
- Adoption of the mobile web is happening eight times faster than the web was adopted in the late 1990s.
- 1.2 billion people worldwide use their devices for browsing.
- About 25 percent of all searches are conducted via mobile devices.
That means that the parents looking for information about the best schools for their kids and the kids looking for peer reviews of top universities will probably be looking for this information on mobile devices. Are educational content marketers ready?
Educational websites typically cater for two audiences at different points in the purchase cycle, so educational content marketers have to build engagement and trust while educating, inspiring, convincing – and even entertaining both prospective and new students and their parents. The Content Marketing Matrix from Smart Insights has some great ideas on how to do this effectively. Though the matrix is intended for any kind of content marketing, many of the content types would fit well on the website of any educational institution.
One of the recent changes from an SEO viewpoint is that Google is giving more prominence to long form content which meets the needs of web users looking for in-depth information. Universities and schools, who have always used content to enhance their reputation by publishing papers, speaking at conferences and leveraging their expertise, are well poised to take advantage of this trend and improve their search engine positioning. But long form content is not enough. To meet the needs of their audience this content must be mobile-ready.
The Importance of Being Mobile Adapted
One issue to think about is making sure the website for your educational institution is mobile adapted, so that everyone can easily access key information, no matter what devices they are browsing from. We prefer the term “mobile adapted” to “mobile friendly” because it means that the content actually WORKS on the mobile device as people swipe, tap and press to navigate the site.
But there’s more, because educational websites typically have a lot of downloadable material, usually in the form of PDFs. Sorry, but that just won’t work well for some mobile devices. If you have ever tried to read a PDF on a small screen, you’ll know what we mean. Getting the print to a size where you can read it, without having to move each page from side to side so you can read each line, can be a trial.
From a usability point of view PDFs are pretty useless. That’s why we disagree with Content Marketing Institute’s Kathryn Hawkins when she suggests converting existing alumni magazines to PDF. There’s a better way, using a magazine platform that’s mobile adapted and reader friendly, with built in controls that are easy to navigate. A platform that allows you to share magazine content socially and track how your audience is interacting with your content. (That’s us, in case you hadn’t guessed).
The good news is that mobile content marketers can get more data than ever before on how people are reacting to their material. Just as you get statistics for web interactions, having a mobile magazine can add another layer of data to improve the targeting of your content marketing efforts. Provide a good mix of evergreen and topical information that’s ready for social sharing and you will meet the needs of both current mobile users and the mobile born.
Some institutions have been slow to adopt mobile technologies, so if you get there first, your institution can be seen as more relevant to the way students (and their parents) want to find information. You want to be sure that when your recruitment ad shows on TV, they can go to their tablets, explore the material on offer and have a positive experience which leads them to choose your educational institution.