Your marketing and communications department is strapped for time and resources. You’re trying to prioritize what content gets written and distributed and are often pulled in many directions: internal communications, advertising planning, event promotion and coverage, etc
With all of these things on your plate, the school’s blog is often very low on the priority list. It can feel like the blog is not as important as many of the other items vying for attention.
Nothing could be further from the truth. Your blog is an invaluable communication resource, both internally and externally. Let’s take a look at six reasons why your school should prioritize its blog in your communications and marketing strategy.
1) It Differentiates Your School from its Competitors
In an ever-increasingly competitive landscape, your school needs to find a way to stand out from its competitors. While it may seem that blogging is a bit “old-school” and that people are no longer reading them, nothing could be further from the truth.
We have found that, compared to the number of schools out there, the percentage of those using their blog effectively is quite low. In fact, many schools don’t even have a blog on their website which means they are missing out on a multitude of story-telling opportunities.
47% of buyers (prospective families) viewed 3-5 pieces of content before engaging with a sales rep (admissions department). Source: Demand Gen Report, 2016
Think about how you do research for a product or service you are considering. Let’s use your next vacation as an example. You’re looking for a family-friendly adventure resort but you don’t have a destination in mind. Your first stop is likely Google (or Bing, Yahoo and Baidu) and your search brings up several blog posts several options in South America.
Which website captures your attention? Obviously the ones that are well-designed. But let’s take it a step further. You find yourself spending the most time on the website of a resort in Brazil that has a series of videos showing families just like theirs enjoying the various adventures they have available for all age levels. By offering you beautiful, useful, generous content that answers your questions and begins to form a relationship with you because of that content.
The same is true for families beginning their search for the best school for their child. By using your blog to offer content that goes beyond the typical academic and admissions information, you are creating a connection that sets you apart from your competitors. You are creating a differentiator.
2) It Communicates Your Mission and Vision
Your mission and vision is the very core of your school and is the driving force of your brand. It is your “why”. It defines who you and what you stand for. It forms the basis of your school’s personality. More importantly, it is the uniting factor that brings every stakeholder together to build a community based on a common perspective.
Building that community only happens when all stakeholders (administration, board members, faculty and support staff as well as current and prospective families) know and understand it. It must be continually woven into your communication strategy for it to achieve its intended result: building a community of families who are aligned in their purpose.
How can you effectively communicate your mission and vision to attract families who are in alignment? It starts from the moment a family is researching your school. And where do they go to do their research? Your website. And where on your website can you most effectively tell the story of your mission and vision? I guarantee it’s not on the page titled “Mission & Vision”.
Your blog is one of the best places to demonstrate your mission, vision and purpose in action. If your mission to raise up global citizens, share stories of how your school is doing just that. Whether your school values integration with the local culture, or is passionate about saving Lemurs, showcase what that looks like in the day-to-day life of students.
However you choose to tell the stories, remember to always tie it back in some way to the “why” behind the experience. Be sure your blog posts, whether directly or indirectly, tell the reader why this experience is important and how it supports your mission and vision.
3) It Builds Your Community
Communicating the mission and vision does not stop once a family is part of your school. People very easily get caught up in their personal wants and needs and can lose sight of why they chose the school in the first place – because they wanted to be part of the culture and community you offer.
Continually sharing stories that reinforce the promise made to families while they were in the admissions process will build community and foster alignment between families, faculty and administration. You’ll likely notice an increase in school pride and overall satisfaction level with life at your school.
4) Blogging Builds Authority and Reputation
You employ world-class faculty and administrators. They’re both knowledgeable and experienced in their field and are often thought leaders on a particular subject, theory, or teaching method.
Tap into their expertise to increase the authority and reputation of your school by encouraging them to contribute to the school’s blog. Publish their recent white papers, research projects and theses.
While these topics may not be of as much interest to current and prospective families, they will build recognition in the education community. Colleagues (and competitors) will take notice of the innovation and insights emerging from your team. Your faculty and administrators will be sought after for speaking engagements and training opportunities – all which increases the reputation of your school.
5) It Helps Your Admissions Department be more Effective and Efficient
We’ve talked about how your blog can attract mission appropriate families by demonstrating the school’s mission and vision in action, but let’s take it a step further and relate it directly to admissions goals. Consider what would happen in your admissions department if the number of applications from mission appropriate families increased.
When the blog is used to express the essence of your school’s culture, it will attract more families that align with your values and school culture and less of those that don’t because the stories offer a glimpse into the community and a taste of its unique personality. Those that can relate will naturally be drawn in.
So, how does this affect efficiency and effectiveness? When your admissions department is working with families who understand and align with your core values, their time (efficiency) is spent with families who want to come for the right reasons. When you’re admitting families who will contribute to the school community rather than fight against it, your are effectively executing the mission and vision.
6) It’s GREAT for SEO (Search Engine Optimization)
Blogging is THE most cost-effective method to increase organic search results. A study conducted by MarketingProfs in 2016 found that 72% of respondents say relevant content is the most effective SEO strategy.
The simple answer is that it creates authority with search engines. The more engaging content you have on your site, the longer viewers will spend time reading, signaling to Google that it is relevant. The more relevant Google feels your site is, the more it will be served up as a search result. See the cycle there?
Frequency matters, though. It’s not enough to just put up a couple of press release style blogs each month and expect them to bring in marketing or sales qualified leads. A Hubspot study in 2015 showed that business to consumer companies that blogged 11+ times per month got more than 4X as many leads as those that blog only 4-5 times per month. That may seem like a lot of content, but it is necessary a manageable with a proper content strategy in place.
And, it’s not just new content that builds your SEO “juice”. In fact, according to another Hubspot study, older, or compounding, blog posts generate 38% of overall traffic and, over its lifetime, a single compounding blog post can generate as much traffic as six decaying posts.
Over time, you would typically expect your blogs to plateau, or even a decline, in traffic. Compounding blog posts are just the opposite: they continue to increase in strength and ranking which generates higher levels of organic traffic – no extra effort needed.
Ultimately, content is king when it comes to SEO. Regardless of whether your blog post is new or wise with age, its presence on your website builds authority, generates traffic and helps attract mission appropriate families.
Now that you have a better understanding of why blogging is important and how it can help your school communication strategy, it’s time to get started. We know that it can be a challenge to come up with topics to write about that take your content beyond “press release”, so we’ve created a list to help you put fingers to keyboard.