One of the most common misconceptions of content marketing is that schools must create new content every day to ensure that their message is being communicated to prospective students and families.
Sure, new content is essential to the success of any marketing campaign.
But what most schools don't realize is that they are already sitting on an untapped gold mine of amazing content like news stories, photos, testimonials, alumni spotlight, blog posts, and more. And, it is all about getting the right content in front of the right people at just the right time.
The trick is to categorize this content and determine:
- Who each piece of content appeals to by using personas
- Where in the journey the content is relevant
- Which mediums will best distribute this content
The most efficient and effective way to do this is a practice called content mapping.
What is Content Mapping?
Content mapping is a key concept to master in order to carry out an effective inbound marketing campaign. Content mapping, in its simplest form, means taking an inventory of your school's current content and matching (or, ahem, mapping) it to the personas and stage in the journey where it best fits. For example, you may take a student testimonial about their experience on the dance team, and map that to "prospective students" or even more specifically, "prospective students interested in dance who have inquired, but not applied."
Content mapping helps you to two do very important things:
- It allows you to organize your content for specific messages and audiences, improving your marketing
- It helps you to determine the gaps in your content, and therefore, content that will need to be produced in the future
Get Started on Your Content Mapping:
1. Identify your applicant personas
In order for content mapping to be effective, it is important that your school has first identified its applicant personas. The objective of content mapping is to track the amount of content your school has produced for each persona as they approach each stage in their journey: prospect, inquirer, applicant, accepted student, enrolled student, and alumni. Content mapping should also include your parents, alumni, faculty, and any other personas you have worked to identify.
Further Reading: How to Form Applicant Personas for Your Independent School Campaign
2. Organize your content into a document that highlights important criteria
The simplest way to begin the content mapping process is to set up an excel spreadsheet (or Google Doc) that each member of your team can access. This document will become your "map" that identifies the following:
- Title of Content
- Date Published
- Type of content (ex. blog post, testimonial, video, etc.)
- The persona that the content is targeting
- Their stage in the journey (ex. Prospect, applicant, accepted student, enrolled student)
Work with your team to enter all pieces of content created thus far into this document to have a clear understanding of where your content marketing strategy stands.
3. Identify content areas that are weak
Once all your pieces of content are entered ask yourself the following questions:
- Does our content target each applicant persona for our school?
- For each persona, is each piece of content that is up-to-date and well-thought-out?
- Are there topics and resources that aren't being communicated?
By focusing on where your gaps are, you can channel your efforts, resources, and energies to the areas that really need some attention, rather by continuing to create content where there is a surplus.
For example, once you complete your content map, you may realize that you have a shortage of content that would be engaging for parents of accepted students, but have a ton of content that targets alumni. At this point, rather than focusing on another blog about homecoming, you would focus on content for parents of accepted students.
4. Brainstorm new content ideas to strengthen all personas
Finally, once you have identified the areas on your "map" that need some attention, work with your team to brainstorm ideas on what content would work. Remember that content can be created in many different forms for your personas! It can be as simple as a "5 tips" blog post, or as complex as a video series. Always take into consideration what is feasible with the people and resource you have in place.
Content mapping is a key component of inbound marketing that aids in presenting a strong and cohesive message to all prospective students and their families.
By using content mapping, you can identify areas of strength, weakness, surplus and shortage within your content, and craft new, targeted message that improve the way you communicate with those in your admissions funnel, and those at your school.