Your website is among the most powerful channels for conveying your institution’s brand. It’s a digital portal into your school and everything it has to offer for prospective students, alumni, and community audiences.
But not every college or university gives its site a starring role in marketing plans. On some campuses, the website is seen as an IT project, not a marketing tool. On others, it primarily serves internal audiences and interests.
If your site—and specifically the content you’re showcasing—isn’t serving your marketing
goals, you’re missing opportunities for student recruitment, reputation building,
donor support, grants and contracts, and more.
Marketing Goals Shape Content Strategy
Your website is your single best tool for introducing your institution to audiences everywhere. But your reach and influence depend on clear marketing objectives that recognize this unique role and embrace the web as a marketing medium.
In the early days of the web, schools tended to produce web content that was strictly promotional, overtly branded, and persuasive in tone—digital analogues of print marketing materials. Messaging focused on what the institution wanted to say, not what site visitors wanted to know.
Today, content marketing prioritizes storytelling that is helpful, engaging, and creative. Multifaceted content can reach diverse audiences—from the prospect just learning about your school to the alumnus who returns for every homecoming—and meet them where they’re at.
This evolution stems, in part, from the development of content management systems that make sites faster and easier to update, repurpose and target content, and integrate with social media and other channels. A robust web content management system (CMS) helps you get the right content in front of the right people.
Realizing this potential requires careful planning. An annual review of your marketing goals should inform overall content strategy and dictate how you use your CMS.
Big-picture goals might include hitting specific enrollment targets, building institutional
awareness, positioning your school as an academic leader, highlighting distinctive
programs, attracting faculty talent, or boosting alumni engagement. Once you’ve prioritized
goals, you’re ready to develop a content plan that meets them.
Turn Marketing Goals into Best Web Practices
Syncing content strategy with marketing objectives takes time and thought, but ultimately provides a content playbook that everyone who contributes to your site can follow.
For example, here are a dozen ways you can celebrate your institution’s distinctive character, engage audiences, and connect your school with something bigger:
- Develop key messages that champion academic opportunity, and weave them through your content
- Highlight examples of innovation in the classroom, such as creative teaching methods and unique student projects
- Let students talk about the college experience in their own words using shareable content—short videos, social media posts, and blogs
- Capture concrete examples of students building professional experience through internships, job shadowing, student employment, etc.
- Update your news feed frequently with eye-catching stories that can trigger earned media coverage
- Celebrate accomplishments of recent alumni
- Post thought-leadership pieces from faculty such as scholarly perspectives, insight into current issues, or actionable advice for students
- Promote research initiatives, particularly those involving students
- Focus on unique campus traditions
- Spotlight faculty and student contributions in the arts
- Share achievements in sustainability, efficiency, and business processes
- Craft in-depth profiles of student organizations and clubs
Contemporary content strategy is about telling a story that shows what an institution
is all about. Instead of simply telling audiences, “we’re great,” provide authentic,
relatable examples that let them come to that conclusion on their own.
Amplify Marketing with a CMS
Again, a CMS helps make this possible. It lets you recruit more content contributors, provide consistent parameters for their work, and distribute great content across channels.
A clunky or inefficient CMS—including early systems built when the web was a relatively static, one-way medium—can undermine your efforts even if you’ve effectively articulated marketing objectives and proposed creative content directions. You need a system that contributors can and will use, one that effectively links all your channels.
Our OU Campus CMS was designed to meet the specific needs of higher education and support goal-driven, multi-channel campaigns. For example, social media integration helps you promote content as soon as you publish it, while built-in analytics gadgets show when and where you’re connecting with audiences.
OU Campus is a reliable, flexible, and future-proof tool to orient your web content strategy, publishing routines, and assessment program around your institution’s marketing goals. It can modernize both your web infrastructure and the philosophy that drives your site.
Visit our Product page to see some OU Campus features in action.