A steady stream of leads is key to increasing sales of your education product. And one of the best ways to generate leads is by using your own PR and marketing content.
When teachers and school leaders search online for information, solutions or answers to questions, you want your content to pop up in front of them. You want your content to solve a problem, so they can get to know more about your business, understand you’re an expert and be open to buying from you.
Content can take many forms including research, a report, an infographic or a podcast.
But what are the specific steps to using content to generate more leads from the education sector?
Let’s look at the process and how you can ensure the leads you’re getting are of the very best quality.
Research, research, research
Kick off by researching key areas – start wide and home in as you go.
When it comes to understanding what your target audience are searching for online, Google is a great place to begin.
For example, you can find out what headteachers are searching for in relation to your education product or service by using Google Trends and a range of other keyword research tools.
We’ve written a full blog on how to do this here.
Other research ideas
Once you’ve carried out keyword research, there are other ways to find out more about your target audience and what they’re looking for:
- Research the media that teachers read. Whether that’s Teach Primary, Times Higher Education or Independent Schools Magazine, you’ll get a view on what interests the very people you want to attract.
- Hang out with them online. You may follow headteachers on LinkedIn or hop onto a UKEdChat. During these weekly Twitter discussions about education, you’ll find out about the issues education professionals are facing at the moment and can also ask questions and become a part of the discussion.
- Interview schools you with to get as full a picture as possible about your target audience. Find out how they like to receive content. Is it via email or do they prefer to listen to podcasts?
Then use all of this information to understand what they need more of or less of. What bothers them or excites them. And most importantly, how your education product can help.
Look at pre-existing content
Once you’ve found the area you’d like to focus on, you can delve deeper to find out more.
- Looking through any pre-existing content you have access to already, like case studies or previous reports.
- Taking advantage of research that already exists in the public domain, for example Teacher Tapp regularly surveys their database of 8,000 teachers about what’s going on in schools and publishes the results.
- Interviewing experts in your organisation or externally to ensure you have interesting, relevant and useful information to share with potential customers.
Generating content through leads – an example
Let’s take the example of an organisation that helps students get into the top universities around the world. We worked with them to generate leads among affluent parents in London. Our research showed that these parents were comfortable supporting their children when they were applying for Oxford and Cambridge. Yet they found it more difficult to help with the application process for the Ivy League universities in the USA as the system is so different.
We decided to develop a Beyond Oxbridge guide for parents, explaining the main differences between the UK and US university system.
Within the business itself, there were a series of experts we were able to interview in order to develop the content, including course work and exam tutors, university admissions professors and previous students.
They gave us all sorts of useful information, such as how the application process works, what life is like on campus and how to get an athletics scholarship. They explained how undergraduate courses in the US allow for a wider range of subjects to be studied and how to finance a degree in the States.
We carried out our own research as well, using the QS World University rankings for top institutions according to subject. We were also able to tap into existing research, such as information on employment opportunities and average graduate salaries according to university attended.
This process made sure we had all of the relevant information to prepare the best content possible for potential customers.
Create the right content
The next step is to start creating your content. Choose the medium you think will work best for your audience. If you’re not sure, then try out one and test the results.
Your content can be in written form, such as a report teachers can download, a series of top tips emails you plan to send out, or a blog post for your website. It can also be multimedia content, like a video or podcast interview with an expert, an infographic guide or a webinar training session.
For our university admissions organisation, we opted for a guide format that was hosted on a gated landing page on the client’s website. In order to download the report, parents had to share their email address for further contact by the marketing team.
On the back of this guide, we also developed additional pieces of content, such as articles on the Beyond Oxbridge theme for education publications and infographics for social media. All content had links back to the landing page with the report on it, so we could use Google Analytics to track where leads were coming from and assess which content was producing the best results.
The content generated 428 leads in just a few weeks of promotion, plus additional web site traffic for the company.
Don’t forget the follow up once you generate leads
Be prepared for what you plan to do once the leads start coming in.
Drop them into your lead nurturing programme or follow up with a phone call or an invite to a demo of your education product. Maybe you could offer a free trial or some free consultancy.
You can continue to use relevant content at each stage of your customer journey to help move them along the marketing funnel, such as targeted email marketing or a case study from one of your clients.
Follow these steps and in no time, you’ll be an expert at using content to generate leads for your business and it will support your overall education marketing strategy.
If you want to know how to get your education product noticed by senior leaders in education, you can download our Influence Schools White Paper. You may also be interested in our guide to good PR Planning.