Ideas, insights and inspirations.

The primary goal of digital content marketing is to earn attention and grow brand reputation by providing valuable content – that informs, persuades, engages and delights prospects and customers. However, delivering on this goal has turned into an all-out arms race, with three distinct generations of content marketing.   First Generation: Core Content In the beginning, marketers equated content with website copy and photography. Copywriters and storytellers elevated the website copy – presenting the facts and persuading the prospects with engaging content; professional photographers were hired to lift the website experience with beautiful imagery that told visual stories. Core Content = Copy + Stories + Photographs + Press Releases.   Second Generation: Enhanced Content Once parity was achieved in basic content, marketers expanded the concept of content to include blogs and juiced up the copy, photographs and blog posts with keywords to secure page 1 rankings on Google. Enhanced Content = Core Content + Blog Posts + Social Media Posts … Continue reading

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The title of this blog, “Find Meaning in Your Social Media Analytics” is kind of broad and could probably be interpreted in many ways. Upon coming across the blog title, one might think it was about discovering a secret way of distilling all that unruly social media web traffic into coherent and meaningful data reports. Others may think it is a blog about some new age digital strategy that will help you find your inner social media analytics chi that simplifies the way you look at clicks, likes and impressions. Although these ideas sound great and might be topics for future AHA blog posts, this one is simply about how to help you locate and find meaning in the social media analytics tools provided in your Facebook and Twitter accounts.  So let’s get started with this simple road map and light overview of the Facebook and Twitter analytics platforms that may help you make more sense of why you are … Continue reading

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Does anyone feel that the current crop of social media apps and tools resembles the produce section at your local supermarket? There are so many social media channels to choose from and just like fruit and vegetables, you need to choose the right ones for a delicious dish. Core social media platforms Facebook, Twitter and Google+ are the standard bearers and like the lettuce in a good salad. Some social media tools such as Instagram and Pinterest share the same premise but function with a different flavor and heat like all of those colorful peppers in a green grocer’s case. Have you ever noticed those weird shaped alien looking fruits and vegetables like Buddha’s Hand or Romanesco? They look really cool but you just can’t find a good use for them yet… sort of like the social media tool Chirp. Then there are various types of hybrid fruits like the the pluot (plum and apricot) and tangelo (tangerine and pomelo) … Continue reading

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One of the best gifts that I ever received was a copy of the book How to Take the Fog Out of Writing by Robert Gunning. At the time, I was just two years out of college with a tendency for verbosity, $10 dollar words and copy that often well exceeded my allotted word count, much to the dismay of our graphic designers. My writing lacked precision; I was indulging my whims as a writer at the expense of my readers. Two decades later, I’m still a work in progress, but that book transformed the way I wrote and made me a more effective copywriter in far fewer words than I ever thought possible. Sometimes less really is more. Today, writing clear, concise copy is more critical than ever, thanks to character limits, short attention spans and the limited screen size of our pervasive digital devices. Fortunately, there are tools to determine if your writing is clear of fog, readable … Continue reading

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Most people draw a clear line between conventional marketing of products and services, and social marketing, which broadly defined applies marketing principles to change human behavior in order to improve health or benefit society. But what happens when you bring a social issue forward that almost nobody knows even exists — one that goes to the very heart of an American ideal as old as the Declaration of Independence. We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal. True in countless respects, but not when it comes to gauging a child’s future academic success. Some children simply are born “gifted” or “talented” — and that wealth of talent spreads equally across all segments of the American population, regardless of race, religion, geography or family income. Researchers count about 3.4 million academically gifted American school children in grades K-12 who happen also to be poor. Here is where the story gets interesting. Year after year, grade after … Continue reading

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With much excitement, we are launching the first inbound marketing web resource for higher education marketers and enrollment marketing teams. It’s free and comprehensive. As the old era of traditional college search comes to an end, inbound marketing heralds the new era of authentic, high-quality, content marketing that deepens brand trust, secures SEO rankings, and fosters social sharing with the spirit of attracting more of right-fit prospects. Colleges are not only recruiting students to meet their enrollment goals, they are also recruiting future brand ambassadors and life-long donors. The Inbound Marketing For Colleges Flashcards website includes five sections: audiences, strategies, tactics, tools and ROI, so those working in higher education marketing can understand how inbound marketing works. Inbound marketing is magical because it’ll impact the shape of the admissions funnel and student life cycle in four different ways: Because prospective students will discover the college using Google search, it’ll bring seekers and right-fit prospective students to your website. These prospective … Continue reading

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With the holiday season in full swing and 2014 right around the corner, many of our clients and prospective clients are thinking about enrollment for the coming fall. Although your incoming students for 2014 may (and should!) be a top priority, I’m going to suggest that you look a little bit further. It’s not too soon to start thinking about your incoming students for 2015. I’m sure you already know that paid marketing techniques can be activated quickly and to great effect. But the combination of inbound and paid marketing is even more powerful. Inbound techniques help build strong relationships and support organic search engine rankings. And our information shows that four times as many visitors click when search results appear in both organic and paid results. But that magical combination of paid and inbound marketing takes time. Unlike paid marketing, inbound is a process that must be created and nurtured over time, slowly helping you build credibility, trust, and … Continue reading

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Search is one of the most frequently used online tools among US adults. A 2012 Pew Internet Survey found that 91% of adults use search engines to find information on the Web. This survey also revealed that younger and more educated people, meaning current or prospective college students, are most likely to use search engines. So for these young people, when they make one of the biggest decisions of their life — where to go to college — search is one of the top few resources they use to narrow down their choice. This was confirmed by another Noel Levitz survey of 2,000 college bound students which found that search engines are the second most used resource by prospective students for researching colleges. The popularity of search engines in this user group has led to a huge increase in search engine marketing – both PPC and SEO – in the higher education marketing space. An interesting story recently aired on … Continue reading

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Unfortunately for higher education marketers, there is only so much program-specific information a University can espouse before its branding message becomes just another noisy, unrecognizable foghorn on the mist-cloaked, higher-ed seas. To differentiate your school’s programs, brand and message, consider marketing sideways. “Use a peripheral but more human and interesting component of your brand to tell a story that compels your customers and prospects more so than any product feature or benefit,” writes Marketing Keynote Speaker and Best-Selling Author Jay Baer. Baer’s article cites The King of Sideways” – Subway’s Jared Fogle. Subway’s campaign positioned Jared’s weight-loss story in front of customers who would hopefully relate and identify with Jared. The story appears to have worked. Jared is in his fifteenth year as a Subway spokesman with a net worth of $15 million. Sideways marketing is nothing new and certainly doesn’t begin or end with Jared. This marketing technique has been used by an uncountable number of brands – think … Continue reading

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With a rapid change in technology, digital marketing channels have evolved quickly over the past few years. As a result, there has been an increase in investment in digital channels by higher education marketers. We’ve worked with many higher education clients who struggle to find the right balance between investing in the appropriate digital marketing channel. For the purposes of this post, let’s look at paid and inbound marketing channels to understand why a higher education institution should invest in one or the other or both. Why Paid? Paid advertising, which now includes paid social and remarketing ads, is very tightly tied in to the investment that you make. As long as you’re bidding high enough, your ads will appear in the top spots which are most visible to searchers.  Paid advertising works well in situations where there is a sense of urgency. If a college or university is faced with a tight deadline for enrollments, for example, paid advertising … Continue reading

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