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How to Use Inbound Marketing Strategies to Reach College Students

By collegemktgrp | July 30, 2021 | Brands/Advertisers

Marketing tactics like banners and on-campus promotions used to work wonders to reach college students and parents. Then COVID-19 hit. As campuses across the country closed, brands had to change their marketing approach.

Due to imposed social restrictions and lockdowns, many brands moved online to sell their products to college students.

As the world continues to adjust to the “new normal,” brands need to adopt ultramodern marketing strategies like social media marketing, video marketing, and content marketing to reach college students and their parents.

The latest stats show that 50% of college students in the U.S. shopped online before the pandemic. A year later, the number of online shoppers shot through the roof.

There’s a need now more than ever for your brand to utilize organic marketing channels to acquire and retain customers online. And there’s no better way to achieve this than with inbound marketing.

Discover how inbound marketing can help your brand reach college students to increase brand awareness and earn you more sales and conversions this year.

What Is Inbound Marketing?

Inbound marketing is a fantastic tool you can use to reach and win over more college students and their parents while retaining your existing audiences.

Inbound marketing focuses on building brand awareness with potential new customers through “pull marketing” tactics — keyword-driven blogs, events, social media, and email marketing — to create brand awareness and attract new business.

While outbound marketing focuses on “buying customer attention,” primarily through paid channels, inbound marketing focuses on visibility so potential buyers come to you. This is primarily done through organic marketing channels.

Channels That Promote Inbound Marketing

For an effective and efficient inbound marketing strategy, there are various engaging methods you can use to promote your brand among college students and their parents.

Content Marketing

Content marketing is the art of developing and distributing valuable, relevant, and attractive content to the right audience to promote lead nurturing. There’s nothing like a good read in the form of a blog, article, newsletter, or engaging infographic to promote your brand and reach college students.

According to the Content Marketing Institute, the majority of marketers and leading global brands — like P&G, Microsoft, John Deere, and Cisco Systems — utilize content marketing for lead nurturing, and so should you.

For example, if your brand sells electronics, you can post how-to articles to help your customers find their way around your products more easily. You know how confusing users’ manuals can be — especially to non-tech-savvy customers.

Your relationship with college students doesn’t end after they make a purchase, either. With inbound marketing, that connection continues.

Customers can find your blog content through keyword searches. That means strategic evergreen content can bring in new traffic to your site for years to come.

Email Marketing

Email marketing has the highest ROI of any other marketing channel. When done right, email marketing to college students can successfully nurture leads and continue taking care of your customers after they’ve made their purchases.

Research shows 99% of consumers look at and send emails daily. College students aren’t any different. While college students favor social media, they are highly active email users. Most students check and send emails regularly.

With more than 300 million emails sent daily, you can see why emails are a leading communication channel.

Plain and simple: you can’t achieve successful lead nurturing without an effective email marketing strategy.

To reach more college students and parents, prioritize monthly content newsletters, promotional/sale emails, and setting up browsing/abandoned cart automation.

Segment your email list to send more targeted, effective emails that consider who those customers are and where they are in the buyer journey.

Such a level of personalization will help you promote your brand, and enjoy more CTR and conversions.

Organic Social Marketing

Gen Z spends a lot of time on social media, especially platforms like Instagram and TikTok. And 97% of college students prefer online shopping on social media.

With 85% of Gen Z learning about products and services on social media, your brand can’t overlook your brand’s social media presence and its power to generate business.

Why the affinity for social media? It’s simple: community and solidarity.

Before deciding to engage a brand, college students look for recommendations and reviews from their friends, online community, and brand ambassadors. Armed with this info, students feel they’re making less risky purchases.

Features like Instagram’s “Shop Now” button or Facebook’s direct message feature make shopping even more convenient and accessible.

An organic social media marketing strategy is all about connecting with your audiences without spending any money on ads. Unlike paid social, organic social media marketing shows your existing clients and followers strategic, branded content that will resonate with them at every stage of the buyer journey.

Organic social marketing helps you elevate the personality of your brand by telling a brand story and relating to the college student persona you’re speaking to.

To reach more college students and parents, focus on engaging and educational information rather than selling your products. Only 1 in 4 posts should contain a Call To Action or link to a product. Any more, and you’ll come across as too salesy to marketing-savvy Gen Z.

Video Marketing

Everybody enjoys a captivating video — especially college students killing time between classes.

YouTube enjoys 5 billion video plays daily, while Facebook receives over 100 million video playing hours daily. An engaging video can get you 66% more leads than other content types, resulting in a 54% boost in brand awareness.

Engaging, entertaining, and educational videos — like how-to and instructional videos — build credibility and brand affinity with college students. It shows you’re interested in giving away enriching content that resonates with this persona, without asking for something in return.

Programmatic online video marketing can increase a college student’s engagement by putting a video in front of their eyes. By planting a video ad on YouTube before, during, or after a captivating video, you can quickly promote your brand.

Need Help Promoting Your Brand Through Inbound Marketing?

Inbound marketing can feel overwhelming — especially with demographics (and algorithms) that are constantly changing.

But inbound marketing is a goldmine that today’s brands need to reach college students and their parents.

At College Marketing Group, our team of experts is here to help you strategically execute all inbound marketing tactics — from targeted email marketing to social media, content marketing, and more.

Contact us today for a free quote >

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