Scott Jeffe: Hello, my name is Scott Jeffe, and I’m director of Aslanian Market Research here at Education Dynamics. I’d like to thank you for joining us for another spotlight session, where I introduce you to speakers for The Conference on Adult Learner Enrollment Management, our CALEM conference, which will happen in April 2017. Joining me from Denver—this year’s CALEM location—is Victoria O’Malley, the director of marketing and communications at the University of Denver, University College. Victoria’s session titled, “Lessons Learned from an Ad Launch,” will explore how the University of Denver’s University College use data to inform the development of a new ad campaign. Thank you so much for joining me today, Victoria. Let’s jump right in and talk about your session. First, in your experience, how important is content in impacting enrollment rates?
Victoria O’Malley: Sure, well, first of all, thanks for having me today. I really appreciate it and I’m excited to talk about content a little bit. So, in terms of how content can influence your enrollment rates and how that works… Think about it from the user’s perspective. Content is what shapes opinion, it’s what shapes the story and your reputation and your perception out there in the market. So, I think it’s really important that your content tells the right story, a relevant story. From the first time somebody hears about you, maybe it’s an ad that they see and they jump over to a landing page. You want to make sure that content resonates with folks. And then making sure you have really good organic content that drives new traffic to your website. So maybe you’re not even reaching them through your marketing or advertising efforts. You’re going to reach them through that organic content, so making sure, when people land on your site, the content resonates with them. This term I’ve been hearing lately, even though it’s been around forever, context marketing, right? So the right content at the right time for the right people, you want to make sure that your content is telling your story, but also meeting the user where they are. So that can really impact your enrollment, mostly because you want to make sure people are having a positive experience, a seamless and cohesive experience. Your content helps shape that whole story, whether it’s your photos or your copy or your videos, whatever that content is, it’s really important to make sure it all flows together.
Scott Jeffe: Very good. Well, being the content is so important, what is the process for creating content that stands out from the competition?
Victoria O’Malley: Sure. Well, I think first of all, what’s important is to know your competition, right? You need to know what they’re talking about and their content looks like in order to differentiate yourself from it, right? So, that’s my first tip, which is to be looking at what your competitors are doing and making sure you have a handle on that, whether it’s through their email campaigns, maybe you have to do some secret shopping and get on board with their email drip campaigns, or just going to their website or their social media and seeing what content they have. And then, I think what’s really important and what [cuts out] your own content and the effectiveness of it, so understanding the data and making decisions based on that data. Everybody’s audience is different, and everybody’s message is a little different, even though we’re all kind of going for the same target customers or prospects, everyone’s slightly different and you want to find the kind of people who are right for your program, so I think the way you can differentiate your content is to make sure you know your audience and test it. Test your subject lines, test your calls to action, and visuals that go along with your content, whether it’s an ad or your website, making sure you’re using data to drive all of your decisions and making actionable insights out of that data.
Scott Jeffe: That’s great. That’s music to my ears as a data guy. What are some of the ways that you can measure—what are the best ways you can measure the effectiveness of your campaign?
Victoria O’Malley: Sure. Great question. I think that lines up really well. First of all, know your goals for your content. I think we all understand our organizational objectives and what those overarching business objectives are for our institutions, but knowing what those overall content goals are—are you trying to drive more traffic? Are you trying to bring in more applications? Are you trying to get more inquiries? What is it that you’re striving for? And every channel’s going to be a little different. You know, our organic social media has a different goal than our social media advertising. So, establishing your goals, first and foremost, I think is important. Then, just knowing the tools that are available to you to measure your content. You might have a lot of internal tools that you have to use, whether it’s Banner or Slate or a CRM system maybe, understanding how those work and what queries work there. Using Google Analytics, using the built-in insights or analytics for YouTube and Facebook and marrying those. You can’t just look at one in isolation. I think that’s often a mistake that we look at. We celebrate those small successes of “Oh we got a thousand clicks on an ad,” but what did they do once they got to your website, right? So we want to make sure that we’re marrying those and looking at Google Analytics and understanding if people are actually converting from that content. I think the number one thing is just to test that content. Test, like I said, headlines, all the visuals, especially in advertising, it’s really easy to test those and say, Facebook ads, really easy to test those visuals. And go against your intuitions sometimes. Data can trump that intuition.
Scott Jeffe: Absolutely. We’ve come a long way from the days when Carol and I would be at an institution, and there would literally be no data about anything that they were doing. And Carol would say, “Could you at least just get a shoebox and occasionally put a note in that something worked?” I love it. I’m sorry. So here’s my last question. What are your tips, you know, without giving away your whole session? What are your tips for someone that is new to content marketing that could help them get started?
Victoria O’Malley: Sure. Reading, reading other content, reading all of the blogs about content marketing or, as I said before, reading your competition and knowing what’s out there in the industry, and being really well-versed in how other people are positioning themselves and what are their calls to action, and how could you maybe tweak your information a little bit? Relying on some benchmark industry reports, and really understanding how people are communicating or how people want to communicate, that’s important. Following folks who are industry leaders on Twitter. You know, getting a list together, maybe you’re looking at the Content & Marketing Institute or you’re looking at Contently or Copyblogger. There are a lot of different resources out there where people are talking about content marketing constantly, like it’s an area of expertise for folks. It’s a different way to write, writing for the web. I think sometimes people think they can just kind of copy what they do in print or in email and make it work for the website, but there’s a very specialized way of how we communicate on a website, especially with mobile. I think it’s really important to keep in mind how people are consuming that content. So, knowing your audience and maybe trying to do some surveys, trying to figure out how they want to consume that media and that content, and then trying to speak directly to them. So, if they’re new to content marketing, I think it’s important to read, do a little research, and test your audience and understand what the industry is saying. It changes all the time. There’s always something new to learn.
Scott Jeffe: I ought to be writing this stuff down myself. It’s fantastic. What I really love is that not only are you talking about gathering all your internal data, but what I was really impressed with is the idea of knowing your competition. It seems 101, but institutions often don’t have the time to go out there, but boy, is it worth it. Wow. Anyway, thank you very much for joining me today, Victoria. I’m looking forward to the presentation at CALEM, and for everyone that’s watching, be sure to know that CALEM is in Denver, Victoria’s hometown, April 5th through 7th. And check out our website, www.calemconference.org to see all of our 28 speakers. We’re building these spotlight sessions for more and more of them. And one last thing, register by January 31st to get a $400 discount off your registration fee. Again, thank you for joining me, Victoria.
Victoria O’Malley: Thank you so much. I appreciate it.