Colleges and universities rarely approach content writing from a sales perspective—yet that’s exactly what you’re trying to do: Turn prospective students into actual enrollees. Expert sales trainer Richard Harris suggests the following steps to engage your readers so that they follow through to the next step of your recruitment process.
- Write for your intended audience. Keep in mind that a recruitment blog for prospective students on the application process should have a different tone and slant than one written for parents.
- Preview before publishing. Before you publish content, ask someone of the generation you are writing for to read it. Again, your message will sound different to a 20-year-old than it does to a parent. Because a college campus is full of people of all ages, it should be easy to pull someone aside and ask for an opinion.
- Use content as a mirror. Prospective students hone in on stories that feature students who look like themselves, so create content that shows students interacting on campus in a variety of activities.
- Answer the “why” instead of the “what.” The student already knows the “what”… that she is researching colleges to find the best academic/social/geographic fit. But why your institution? Tell her about the intangibles that make you stand out from your competitors.
- Don’t outsmart the data. Your analytics should not only influence the content topics you choose, but be used in your content to validate what you are saying.
- Use plain language. Jargon and academic phrases may be foreign to your audience. Using slang in an attempt to speak the language of your readers comes across as condescending. Don’t write cute; write clearly.
- Connect the dots. Rather than posting the same content across multiple outlets, look at each recruitment tool as part of an overall campaign, with different points emphasized on different channels. A short video on Instagram and Facebook should complement an email that directs prospective students to detailed information on your website.
- Be authentic. Generic copy waters down your message, whereas thoughtful, genuine content allows parents and prospective students to envision themselves on your campus.
- Include a next step. Readers have made it to your website—don’t lose the chance to help them farther along in the process. Include forms, links to social media, and other ways they can engage beyond visiting the website.
- Write strong headlines. If the headline doesn’t inspire curiosity and pique the interest of your readers, chances are that they will move on to something that does.
For more insight on content that converts college-bound students and their parents, download the 2017 E-Expectations Trend Report.