5  Elements of a Successful Student Recruitment Content Strategy

4 min read
June 21, 2018

student recruitment content strategy

Photo by Nathan Dumlao


Content is indeed king.  Its even become more valuable than currency.  Money comes and it goes but once you create and publish a dynamic piece of content, on the internet it builds equity.  If delivers on a promise of providing value to visitors, it will generate organic and sustainable traffic for your website.  If structured appropriately, it will also enable you to convert that traffic into leads.  Content doesn't have a marketplace with value that can depreciate by the will of its investors.  Its immortal.  Those that have the most content usually do well.  Those who create the most unique, and engaging content always do well.  

Recruiting students isn't easy especially in this competitive climate.  Like content, education is immortal.  The knowledge and experienced gained can't be taken away from the student and that's why the decision as to where that knowledge is acquired is so important.  A strong content plan is essential today to any recruitment strategy.  Here are 5 essential elements for a successful student recruitment content strategy

A Defined Student Persona

At some point your school may have developed a profile or "target market" for the students that they would like to attend their school.  It probably made reference to test scores, grades, maybe even extracurricular activities.  These are just KPIs, or as more accurately, student performance indicators.  It commoditizes the student into bite size chunks, with which we can qualify or disqualify them for admission.  The challenge with this is, we need something more substantive when recruiting, we need a full student persona.  


A student persona makes sure your content strategy is attracting the right students at the right time in their decision making process.  These personas are a semi-fictional representation of your ideal student based on market research and real data about your existing student body. It should account for best student demographics, behavior patterns, motivations, and goals.  The more detailed the better.  Naming him or her, only brings their presence to life. I know many recruiters shy away from personas as they feel its profiling, however if you can create content with that best student in mind, you'll be more successful in attracting more students like them.  


If you fail to plan, you plan to fail. In order to be successful you have to have some measurement stick to determine what that looks like.  It’s impossible to measure a recruitment campaign, if you don’t have goals.  Activity can be counterproductive if its not pushing you towards the results you desire. It's not only important to set goals, but to set SMART goals.  SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Timely goals. 

  • Specific - Your goal should be unambiguous and communicate what is expected, why it is important, who's involved, where it is going to happen and which constraints are in place
  • Measurable - Your goal should have concrete criteria for measuring progress and reaching the goal
  • Attainable - Your goal should be realistic and possible for your team to reach
  • Relevant - Your goal should matter to your business and address a core initiative
  • Timely - You should have an expected date that you will reach the goal

You might have goals for visitors, contacts, and applicants, yield for the year, quarter, or month.  These numbers are closely related to each other. Focusing on one of these specific segments gives the clearest vision of success.

Problem Solving/ Value Driven Content

Now that you've established a student persona and SMART goals you need to map our the content that will help you attain them.  Work your way backwards.  Thinking about your persona, focus on the action you want them to take... the conversion.  Its important to keep in mind what stage in the decision making process they're in and develop content that offers value during each stage of that journey.  Your content should solve a problem they may be having and provide simple solutions.  Remember you can't solve all their problems with one piece of content.  Focus on a single problem, and provide answers that won't overwhelm the reader.  

Automation & Workflows

If your school hasn't invested in a CRM yet, you should lobby for them to do so.  We've discussed the benefits of a CRM in a previous post, so I won't get into it here.  A CRM is an incredible tool for nurturing your leads, increasing yield, staying organized and measuring performance.  Automation and workflows can bring your lead funnel to life.  If you're like most recruiters we work with, its hard to keep up with and nurture existing leads, especially with new ones coming in every day.  Consider automating some of that process. 


A workflow will map out the various recruitment actions that execute based on a starting condition. You can use workflows to automate your lead nurturing tasks, complete internal functions, and much more.  Highly intuitive platforms will allow you to execute multiple actions at desired intervals and use branching logic to perform specific actions based on how a student has interacted with your content or website.  For more on automation and workflows for student recruitment, contact us or schedule a free assessment.  

Content Calendar

Planning out your content is essential and keeps you focused on your goals.  You should be developing a cue of evergreen content or content that can be posted and relevant at any time.  This way when current events occur that you need your content to speak to, you can bump out evergreen content for another time.  Ideally you should be working with at least a month's worth of topics in the bank.  Using a calendar jot down what content you'll be posting and when.  This way, as your team begins developing the content they won't be left scrambling at the last minute to decide what topics to write about. 


Your posts should have a flow.  Regular readers will appreciate you rewarding their loyalty.  Each post should be mutually exclusive of the previous but can reference topics discussed earlier and always make sure to link back to them for added value to the reader. 


People always ask how much content is enough.  The answer isn't numerical but rather, as much as you can be consistent with.  If you can reliably post once a week, that's your number.  Don't overextend your team.  Its better to be consistent then to be erratic.  



Non-Traditional Student Recruitment & Grassroots Marketing Case Study


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