- Higher Education
High-level content is complex and geared towards a smaller, more specialized audience. The audience expects high value content in return for their time spent browsing your website. This means providing easy-to-find, relevant, and educational content. Easier said then done. The following 4 guidelines will help you create high level content that will drive traffic to your website and engage your audience.
"Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication," once said Leonardo da Vinci. For marketers, this translates to simpler design and shorter messages. But if high-level content requires depth and expertise, it can be a challenge to develop bite-size, shareable content that will easily engage. One simple solution may be writing broken sentences. Broken sentences— even shorter sentences— may break grammar rules or sound less professional but they are excellent attention grabbers.
You can also use sub-headings to simplify blog posts. Not only are sub-headings great for SEO, they're also useful for busy professionals who may not have the time to read your entire blog post but will consider scanning, based on sub-headings. If the content is organized with catchy and descriptive subheadings, then they may consider delving deeper and reading the entire post.
Simplifying your content may also be as easy as shortening paragraphs. For blog posts that are over 1,500 words it's better to split up the content into multiple posts, with a link for the following post at the bottom of the page. Inviting visitors to finish a series of blog posts is another way of keeping them engaged.
2) Captivating Visuals
In the education world, researchers have grown comfortable conducting studies and writing research papers. They are experts with Excel and pivot tables. But when it comes to visualizing concepts that will appeal to a broader audience, they are quick to delegate the task to graphic designers and marketing teams. The challenge is finding the middle ground: visuals that will engage but still honor the efforts of university research.
Infographics are excellent visuals that blend written content with creative graphics. They are also easily shareable and generate tremendous brand awareness when driven by a strong PR strategy. At Circa Interactive, we have recognized the opportunity to create infographics summarizing faculty members' complex research that can then be used to redirect individuals to a program's website from digital magazines, blogs, and social media accounts.
According to Contently, "Infographics reach 54 percent more readers than blog posts." And according to HubSpot, a user's willingness to read content is increased by up to 80 percent with a colored visual. So why use lengthy blog posts or research papers to reach your audience if an infographic can do the trick?
3) Social Media
How do you get visitors to come back to your website? Strategically place social media buttons on blog post pages and encourage visitors to engage with your brand on social media. One study found that users read web pages in an F-shaped pattern. This would suggest that social media icons placed near the top left corner will capture more attention then social media icons placed near the bottom right.
The prominence of the social media buttons is more important than the placement. Additionally, shareable inline content will help call out valuable insight and once shared, will draw social media users to your blog. One study looked at the value of social sharing buttons and found that Tweet buttons drove 20 percent of a news organization's Twitter traffic. Could this also be true for your website?
4) Above all, empathy.
If we decided to spend the majority of our time "dotting our i's" and "crossing our t's", then we would lose sight of our visitors' needs. The previous 3 guidelines were—and should be— all compelled by empathy. If the goal is drawing people to a website, then the content should be something visitors should want to read.
Empathy is simply putting yourself in the shoes of another. Cognitive empathy — also known empathic accuracy— requires perspective taking. Empathy will help marketers understand which trends to follow and how to follow them. Simple content that is captured in colorful visuals and easily shared on social media requires a deep understanding of your website visitor's needs. Furthermore, empathy will help marketers identify the unspoken needs of website traffic.
In the quest to create high-level content, it is easy to lose sight of the end user. Focusing too much on depth can overcomplicate your content and distance the reader. Empathy every step of the way is crucial.
It's a fine line between your goals and the needs of your website visitors.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Clayton Dean is the co-founder of Circa Interactive, a digital agency that specializes in higher education, and has over 10 years experience helping non-profit institutions increase marketing budget efficiency, expand brand awareness, generate inquiries and exceed enrollment goals.
- Content Marketing
- Social Media