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04 Sep 2012

Higher Education Marketing: Leveraging the Holiday Rush

September 04, 2012Education

Education Marketing Leveraging the Holiday Rush

The holidays are just around the corner. Thanksgiving is less than 80 days away, Christmas under 115 and New Years under 120. Sure, it’s only September but the busy season for some industries and the lull for others is just around the corner. It’s time to start thinking about your holiday marketing strategies.

In the world of higher ed, the holidays are seemingly a time of rest and relaxation. Students are on break, staff and faculty are on vacation and you can finally start to breathe again. The holidays, however, are the perfect time for those in higher education marketing to start ramping up for the new year and to leverage the holiday rush.

With students home on break, your marketing efforts can make a large impact. Prospective students and existing students have more free time to read, share and browse. Prospective students are applying for college, writing admissions essays and parents are helping them all along the way. While others might be backing off their marketing efforts during this time of year, you can take advantage of it. Here are some ideas to help you leverage the holiday rush in higher education marketing.

Content Marketing in Higher Education

Some of the most engaging content is produced at the end of the year. “Best Of” lists, end of the year awards and compilation articles are frequently published and shared in the months of November and December.

Content Marketing Best of the YearThink about the type of content you can produce that will utilize this technique to draw in visitors or entice students enough for them to want to share. The goal here is to compile a list of the “bests” while also thinking about the marketing potential these sites offer. The best content should offer traffic potential, conversion potential, help with branding and awareness or attract backlinks.

  • Best student blogs
  • Best industry blogs
  • Best industry resources
  • Your most successful posts of the year

For a bit of additional impact outside of a “best of” post, think about giving away an award for those featured on a list. A badge to share on their site, a special offer for their readers, a small gift to show your appreciation, a custom video thank you or poster, or even an actual trophy. These are all great ways to make your “best of” list that much more unique and appealing for top influencers to share.

Parents

Develop content that will win over mom and dad and utilize the holiday downtime to get their attention. Many high school students utilize the holiday season to apply to college, apply for scholarships and make plans for Fall. Parents are inevitably a part of this process and likely using search engines for research.

Start developing content now that will help parents and students in their research phase. Conducting a bit of keyword research is a great first step in developing this content. How are students and parents searching? Use the keywords and information you find in your research to help you develop the type of content that will draw in readers. Some ideas might include:

  • 10 Ways Parents Can Save on Higher Education
  • 20 Things Every High School Parent Should Know About the College Admissions Process
  • 55 Scholarships to Apply for During the Holidays
  • 6 Expert Tips for Writing Better College Admissions Essays
  • 90 Day Plan to Get Your High Schooler Ready for College
  • Motivating the Unmotivated Student
  • 20 Questions to Help You Choose the Right Major

These are just a few of the many ideas that you can come up with after conducting a bit of research. Try Keyword Discovery or Word Tracker to get started, by finding questions and keyword groupings in your industry. Use Google AdWords Keyword Tool and Google Insights for additional information as well. You’ll start to see keywords that will lead you to make the right decisions about the content you develop.

Video

Another good use of interesting content are holiday video cards. What better way to show a bit of creativity than with a funny holiday card video from the faculty and staff at your institution? Video in general is a great way to capture a student’s attention. Think about the types of video content you can develop to appeal to your demographic.

  • Expert interviews with faculty or staff
  • Turn your top 10 most trafficked posts into a video
  • Create a “Best of” post with video
  • Produce a video that introduces new students and parents to the campus
  • Answer frequently asked questions via video and set up a video library

Here at Vertical Measures we offer up some great expert videos, which help to draw in traffic year round. Not only are these content marketing efforts helpful to leveraging the holiday rush, but their traffic driving potential can help sustain throughout the entire year.

Social Media in Higher Education

Regardless of whether students are on break or not, an estimated 90% of students are active on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter and an estimated 83% of Millennials use social networking sites. The use of social media in higher education marketing is essential for success in the online environment today.

Social MediaOne of the better uses of your social media marketing dollars is to conduct a contest that encourages user generated content. Prospective students looking to attend your institution are likely to do research using social media, looking to see what other students think of the school and degree offerings. Contests that encourage students at home to help soft sell prospective students are a great dual use of your dollars. Here are a few contest ideas to help get your creative juices flowing:

Show Your School Spirit

Ask students to submit photos of your school gear all over the world; the most adventurous, creative and interesting photos the better. Use these photos in other marketing efforts, but during the holidays use them to show prospective students the diversity of the student body. My alma mater University of Montana (Go Griz!) does this, and features Griz Gear sightings in their monthly alumni magazine. Every now and again you’ll also find these photos shared on their Facebook page as well.

Favorite Teacher

Students submit videos nominating their favorite teachers, describing why they are the best teacher at your institution. Many institutions have students vote for their favorite teacher at the end of the year, why not do this through social media and ask for user generated content?

Volunteering

Many students volunteer over the holidays, and school’s pride themselves on teaching the value of giving back to the community. Have students submit videos showing the positive impact they made while away from your institution.

Best Of

Instead of developing the content yourself, ask students to make their own “best of” lists and submit via video. The best places to eat, best places to study, best places to shop and more.

As you can see, there are many ways to leverage content marketing and social media efforts during the holiday season. Start thinking about these efforts early and get your game plan together soon. Develop the right content and outline the best promotion possible to prepare yourself to combat the lull of the holiday season. What content marketing and social media efforts do you utilize to leverage the holiday rush?