Higher Jobless Rate Among Private Varsity Graduates In Malaysia A Rising Concern

Hire me

(Source: nickgrantham.com)

The Penang Institute analyzed the latest data from 2013 by Malaysia’s Ministry of Education and it shows a very worrying trend: Almost a third (27%) of private sector graduates remain unemployed six months after graduation – compared to 24% among their public sector counterparts. The latest unemployment rates from the Department of Statistics Malaysia for 2015 was a solid 3.1% showing full employment. So, what’s happening? More importantly, why are Malaysian graduates, in general, not able to gain full employment?

The Institute raised this issue following the release of the Education Blueprint by Malaysia’s Ministry of Education, which seemed to focus largely only on public higher education institutions. Penang Institute General Manager & Serdang MP, Ong Kian Ming said that the lack of focus on private institutions by the government is worrisome. He added:

“The fact that the private higher education sector was largely ignored is a serious omission given that almost half of the total enrollment in post-secondary education is in private universities.”

The Institute also found other publicly-available data which spells a dismal outlook: Private universities only have 13.3# of academics with PhD qualifications versus 33.4% in public varsities – that is more than 2.5 times more academically-qualified faculty in public institutions. For private universities, close to 77% had only a Bachelor’s and Master’s while 10.5% had shockingly lower than a Bachelor’s qualification.

Based on the latest SETARA ratings – rating exercise conducted by Malaysia’s Ministry of Education – public varsities outperformed private universities with 81% of its universities rated “Excellent” as compared to only 51% of private universities. Furthermore, a third of private universities received no ratings at all.

Private institutions in Malaysia need to take a long and serious look at what this study means – the implications and worrying trends – in terms of having a mismatch of how its students are being educated versus what is needed in the real-world market. The study seems to show a growing disparity highlighting the lack of employability of graduates from private HEIs.

It is clear that this problem cannot be fixed overnight and would require concerted effort by private universities to study and assess its quality of education to bridge this widening gap. This would include not only looking at the qualifications and quality of its faculty, but taking on an eagle-overview of its entire process – talent, standards, processes, system, etc. Failure to do this alongside taking real, practical and serious steps to improve its quality of education may prove to hurt these private HEIs in the mid to long term as potential students become more savvy and wary to consider studying at a private institution.

Malaysia’s Tertiary Education Promising: Up The Ranks On Universitas 21 Tertiary Rankings

University students

(Source: www.huffingtonpost.com)

According to the latest Universitas 21 tertiary rankings, Malaysia’s higher education rankings increased year-on-year, ranking 27th out of 50 countries surveyed, a marginal jump from 28th in 2014.

Malaysia’s Minister of Education II, Dato’ Seri Idris Jusoh announced recently Malaysia’s increase in the Universitas 21 rankings. Produced by researchers from the University of Melbourne, the U21 Ranking of National Higher Education Systems rank countries according to contributions to its respective environments to student experience and tertiary growth.

The overall ranking measures the following:

1) Resources – Government & private expenditure towards higher education

2) Environment – Diversity

3) Connectivity – Flow of information between higher education sector & society

4) Output – Research output and impact & employability of graduates

Not surprisingly, United States, Switzerland and Denmark took the top-3 spots, followed by United Kingdom (8), Singapore (9) and Australia (10). Over the last few years, Singapore’s HEIs has made a serious mark and climbed up the tertiary rankings. Just recently, a Singaporean university, National University of Singapore (NUS) took the No.1 spot in the QS University Rankings 2015: Asia and globally on the QS World University Rankings 2014/2015, placed 22nd spot, above highly renowned universities like University of California, Berkeley, Duke University, New York University and University of Melbourne.

Further down the list, Hong Kong and New Zealand share 15th spot, with Korea coming in 22nd and Serbia at 32nd. India disappointingly was at 50th position.

A separate ranking was also done adjusted to the levels of economic development of each participating country.

After adjustment, Malaysia’s ranking jumped up three spots to sit at 23rd rank overall, ranking 3rd for Resources, 32nd for Connectivity, 14th for Environment and 34th for Output. The rankings showed Malaysia also ranked 8th based on tertiary expenditure by the government as a percentage of the country’s GDP and 12th on annual expenditure per student.

Top spots for the adjusted ranking placed Serbia, United Kingdom and Denmark at the top followed by Australia (13), United States (15), India (18) and Singapore (23).

If these latest numbers are any indication, Malaysia’s government seem to be going on the right track towards its vision to make Malaysia a leading education destination within the region. Jusoh remains positive with the release of the Universitas 21 tertiary rankings believing that the numbers exemplifies the country’s commitment and focus on higher education sector through increasing its expenditure for the growth and development of HEIs in the country.

Jusoh continued to add, “[this] improvement in Malaysia’s ranking is encouraging and promising.”

All Eyes On ASEAN To Usher New Wave Of Regional Student Mobility

ASEAN

(Source: www.sourcingjournalonline.com)

Educators would be pleased to know that one of the most exciting trends in international student mobility is a rise in intra-region mobility – the increasing tendency of international students leaving their home country to study in a neighboring country within their home region.

We believe that the increases in regional student mobility are being charged by several factors: 1) overall improved quality and capacity of regional education hubs 2) boost by government with better policies and infrastructure 3) greater affordability of regional study destinations and 4) student preference to be closer to home.

A good example of regional mobility programs that understand this shifting demand patterns is the Erasmus programme in Europe. Now known as Erasmus+, this new programme for education, training, youth and sport will provide funding for 4 million people to study, train, or volunteer abroad till 2020. The programme greatly exemplifies how regional mobility patterns can be accelerated with the support of broader economic and political cooperation within the region. And with indications showing similar systems being established among ASEAN states, this is certainly positive and worth noting. Read more

Education The Gateway For Growth For Indonesia

A recent World Bank report highlighted that Indonesia is currently facing a developmental crossroad. It has now grown to one the world’s 20 largest economies in the world and aims to be the top 10 largest economies globally by 2030; certainly bold and bodacious goals. Looking at growing major trends and developments not only in Indonesia but also the region – particularly a growing middle class, rapid urbanization, strong growth in the region and an opening up of regional markets in Southeast Asia with the Asian Economic Corridor (AEC) – this has resulted in new challenges as well as strong opportunities for Indonesia, especially in the country’s education sector.

Critical to be competitive

Indonesian female students

The World Bank believes that having a skilled labor force would be crucial to leverage on the country’s existing opportunities. The World Bank further adds,

“Without the right skills, opening up to ASEAN may pose a problem more than an opportunity [whereby] without the right skills or urban migrants, urbanization will not bring about the benefits of scale. [If youths don’t possess the right skills,] the growing demand for higher quality products and services may be met by importing them rather than increasing the value added of Indonesian firms.”

It is clear that for Indonesia future’s success, the country will need to have a serious look at improving its state of education – simplifying access to all levels of education and improved parity of graduate skills to its future labor requirements.

While general unemployment rates in Indonesia has been on a downward trend in recent years (ranging from 6-9& over recent years, and 5.9% in 2014), it is increasingly worrying to note that unemployment rate is highest among high school and higher education graduates (aged between 12 – 24 years old). In fact, the unemployment rate for those aged between 15 – 24 is alarmingly far above the national average. Fresh graduates from high schools, colleges and vocational schools are finding it difficult to secure a job in the national workforce. Read more

New Insights On How To Engage Millennials

The YMS 2015 (Youth Marketing Strategy) recently hosted its conference in London and released a compelling report. Organized by youth research firm, Voxburner, the report themed Youth Trends 2015, gave essential insights for educators marketing to their most valuable audience: millennials.

The report follows a recent online survey that Voxburner conducted to 1,156 English 16-24 year olds between December 2014 – February 2105 followed up with interviews with some of the respondents. While the survey was specific to British youths, the findings nonetheless shed interesting light on this very connected and younger, tech-savvy demographic in both developed and emerging economies.

Judging from the presentations at YMS 2015 by some 30 speakers from today’s largest brands like Facebook, Airbnb, Twitter and Spotify, the commentaries and shared opinions proport the report’s findings of the experience of these global brands and organisations.

Specifically for educators, the most interesting and pertinent insights from Youth Trends 2015 are:

Millennials are a more serious lot that you think when it comes to their career choice and making a positive and meaningful contribution on the world than all other generations. They view both travel and work coming as coming together to bring them a successful life.
Millennials seek guidance to reach their goals – from mentors, YouTube or other resources.
They are extremely discerning with brands, believing brands must be ethical and do good things in the world to deserve their time and loyalty.
They see themselves as busy people – very busy in fact – with their lives sped up further by multiple content channels within a space of hours or even minutes. Brands have very little time to make their brand matter to them.

 

Eager, inspired and hopeful

(Source: http://i.huffpost.com)

While we’ve read about or even experienced the differences between millennials (born between early 1980s & early 2000s) compared to other generations (Boomers & Gen Xers), the Youth Trends 2015 noticed that millennials are looking forward even as they live in the present. They plan their next steps carefully considering who they want to be, from what brands to engage with to which college to attend. On the flip side, boomers and Gen Xers spent less time worrying about their place in the world and their actions and were focused more in the present. Read more

Study Reveals Most Popular Online Recruiting Strategies Of US Colleges

The always-insightful consulting and research firm Noel-Levitz is out this year with two new studies that nicely add to the current research on online recruiting practices and the motivations and concerns of prospective international students.

[Originally published on ICEF at http://monitor.icef.com/2014/11/study-reveals-popular-online-recruiting-strategies-us-colleges/ ]

The first, 2014 E-Recruiting Practices Report for Four-Year and Two-Year Institutions, draws on a survey of 258 US colleges and universities to provide a summary of the online recruiting strategies most commonly used among US institutions. A second study, 2014 International E-Expectations Report, surveyed more than 2,400 prospective international students (from 164 countries) in order to map the major preferences, concerns, and requirements of students planning to study in the US.

The two papers, while not explicitly companions of one another, nevertheless make interesting reading when placed side by side. They are both heavily oriented to the US market but many of the insights they provide will be useful to those recruiting or referring students outside of the US as well.

Top recruiting practices

Noel-Levitz asked institutional respondents to indicate which of 28 common e-recruiting practices – other than social media – that they used most frequently. The following table summarises the ten top-ranked options, broken down by type of institution.

Most popular e-recruiting practices by institution type. Source: Noel-Levitz Read more

Five Tips For University Marketers As Student Applications Decline

As University applications across the UK decline by 12% according to reports in the media, Nigel Pipkin, director for Birmingham marketing agency Seal, which has experience of working within the education sector, offers some advice for University marketers on how they can attempt to arrest the downturn.

What marketers within Universities should be doing to turn around the decline in applications for higher education?

It wasn’t so long ago stories abounded that there were too many students chasing too few places at university.

With fees trebling it’s provided a massive shock to the system but what’s happening is likely to be a jolt not a knock-out blow. When the dust settles, it wouldn’t be a surprise to find that most universities have sufficient students for the number of places available.

With any price increase you expect a backlash and factor that into your pricing strategy. Universities will surely have done that, so we shouldn’t feel too sorry for them.

With money tight people are inevitably asking more questions and taking more time to make what is a key decision. So the first piece of advice is don’t panic. Expect a wave of late applications, a sort of lastminute-uni.com.

The second is get your customer services right. My experience is universities aren’t the most accessible when you want quick answers to questions. It’s easy to fall into complacency when you’ve people clamouring to join. So be available at weekends when families are together. Respond quickly and you’ll win the day.

Debt is the big, big issue. Don’t shy away from it. University open days are good at flogging courses but a poll of graduates here at Seal showed money advice was nil. At the next open day set up a dayglow tepee on the campus lawn and get Big Chief Calculator to spell out in simple terms that the long term financial benefits are there.

Number four. As a nation, we’re quick to laud entrepreneurs like Richard Branson who have turned themselves into a leading brand without a degree. Rightly so. But what about the successful people who graduated? Get them championing the cause. Stop being embarrassed about it.

And finally, sell yourselves abroad. So many markets these days are global – finance, technology, automotive, aerospace, oil – so why not British universities, which are widely acknowledged as some of the best in the world?”

Using Student Analytics To Improve The University Student Experience & Success

Dr Paul Dowland, Senior Lecturer at Plymouth University and the architect of the S3 data system, discusses how data collected by systems such as Cengage Learning’s MindTap on the online activity of students, is being used effectively to identify top resources, improve the student experience and underpin success at university.

“Presented in a manageable way, data can be used to predict attainment, readily identify issues and implement the appropriate early intervention strategies”

Student data in the form of exam results has been used in the past to evaluate the performance of individual departments within universities and student outcomes. Today universities are taking this one step further, using real-time data on student attendance, frequency of access to the university’s virtual learning environment (VLE) and level of contact with tutors. This is helping to improve student retention and results, as well as ensuring courses are better run.

Student analytics is defined by the Society for Learning Analytics Research (SoLAR) as the measurement, collection, analysis and reporting of data about learners and their contexts, for the purposes of understanding and optimising learning and the environments in which it occurs.

All universities have access to student data through their record systems and learning environments. Presented in a manageable way, this data can be used to predict attainment, to readily identify issues and to implement the appropriate early intervention strategies.

“It is important to remember that while data can be very useful, human skills are still required to interpret and apply the information in a useful way”

Data vs. Human

It is important to remember that while data can be very useful, human skills are still required to interpret and apply the information in a useful way. One-to-one meetings between a lecturer and a student can uncover details that data analysis alone would be unable to provide.

A clear institution-wide policy on the role of data drawn from student analytics should be agreed at the onset. Data typically draws on information that is easy to measure, for example, it can confirm that a student has taken a book, but not if they have read it.

Data Protection

Universities should ensure that students understand exactly why their personal data is being collected, processed and stored. It is also important that universities resist collecting too much data, irrespective of its relevance – the motivation for any system should be to facilitate information sharing for the benefit of the students.

“Universities should ensure that students understand exactly why their personal data is being collected, processed and stored”

Technology

At Plymouth University, we use the Student Support System (S3) to collect assessment submissions, monitor academic attainment, tutoring and attendance records. This helps lecturers to better manage and support over 15,000 students.

Commercial companies that store and analyse data include Oracle, SAS, Newton and Cengage Learning’s MindTap. MindTap is a new personal learning experience that combines all of the university’s digital assets – readings, multimedia, activities, and assessments,integrates with the university’s VLE and allows tutors to set mock exams using the assessment feature to track student progress and to identify areas where further tuition is required.

The Future

Student analytic is an important development in higher education as, in an increasingly competitive market, the potential for using data to improve services, student retention and student success is clearly evident.

The Higher Ed Guide To Irresistible Email Subject Lines

When you log into email each morning, how many of those waiting messages do you actually open and read? How many get moved immediately to the trash – or worse, marked as spam?

If you’re habitually trashing the bulk of your inbox, you’re not alone. After years of being inundated with spam, we’ve all become increasingly untrusting of unsolicited mail. Here’s a snapshot of last years’ spam rates from a Kaspersky Lab report:

With well over half of our mail indexed as spam, it’s no wonder we’ve taken to auto-trashing! And although the numbers have decreased a bit in 2014 – down to about 66% – we’re no more eager to open mail we haven’t explicitly asked for.

Extra Hurdles for Higher-Ed Emailers

And for higher ed marketers hoping to reach prospective and current students, the challenge may well be even greater. Post-secondary hopefuls are more social media connected than ever – so your college recruitment team will have to work extra hard to be heard over a chorus of social media notifications, commercial messages, and competing email marketing campaigns. If you can convince leads to click on your school’s message, half the battle is won. So, crafting trash-proof subject lines is an essential component of your overall student recruitment strategy. Is there a simple recipe for success?

Contrary to what a Google search on the subject will tell you, there are few hard and fast rules for creating click-worthy subject lines. Rather than relying on a one-size-fits-all approach, we know that ALL good content begins with consulting your college’s target student personas – which are of course unique and diverse. Once you’ve pinned down precisely who you’re writing to, there are a few fundamentals to consider when launching your next email marketing campaign:

Enticement + Clarity = Higher Student Open Rates

It’s a tricky balancing act – creating enticing emails that are also clear enough in their intent to actually get opened. Many how-to’s focus on the power of “mysterious” subject lines to get more clicks, claiming that merely wanting to know more will compel recipients to open the message. They might suggest a subject line like this for your school’s campaign:

There’s a question to elicit further interest, a bit of mystery surrounding the offer… seems pretty enticing right? Well, not exactly. According to Brad Bortone’s Marketing Experiments blog, mysterious subject lines like these fail to capture clicks because they don’t address the three questions every recipient wants to know before opening an email:

  • Who is this from?
  • Why are they emailing me?
  • What is this all about anyway??

So, the ultimate email subject line is one that captures interest, but doesn’t fall short on clarifying its purpose and intent.Unbounce agrees that setting your recipient’s expectations and stating clearly what’s in the message dramatically boosts its likelihood of avoiding the trash. With this in mind, here’s how we would re-work that first subject line:

There’s no need to “tempt” leads with a full-blown mystery. It will serve to confuse, rather than attract, which translates quickly into trashed.With option number two, the recipient understands who the message is from, and what it will contain – but there’s a nice balance of enticement with regard to the special deal on tuition. The questions raised here are of the good variety; the sort that prompt readers to click for more information. Here’s another “before and after” from U of Admissions Marketing:

Again, this is simply too mysterious to warrant a click. Prospective students will not be swayed by clichéd messaging. They need more reason than vague allusions to click on your school’s message. This would work better:

Enticement lies in discovering what those thousands of reasons are, and the sender is very good about identifying both the school and the program. When it comes to education lead generation, don’t let the mystery muddle the meaning. Use your marketing team’s creative muscle to genuinely address the concerns and interests of your target personas.

Shorter Isn’t Always Sweeter

Conventional marketing wisdom bows down to the “60 characters-or-less” rule for crafting trash-resistant subject lines. But a finer look at the details reveals that shorter is indeed not always sweeter when it comes to whetting the recipient’s appetite. An in-depth study by MailChimp reveals no statistical connection between open-rates and length alone. They analyzed 12 billion email sends in order to de-bunk the 60 characters or less rule. MailChimp found cases where yes, shorter subject lines got more clicks:

Subject character count vs Open rate graphs from MailChimp

But they also found examples where shorter subject lines fell flat, and longer descriptions scored the greatest number of opens:

And here’s another analysis where subject line length made little or no difference at all!

What can higher ed marketers learn from this data? That simply restricting characters will not guarantee an email open. According to SendGrid, relevancy is far more important than length when it comes to grabbing reader attention. If you’re focused solely on paring down line length, your admissions team could end up sacrificing on clarity or on truly targeting the needs of your most prevalent personas. You may end up with disappointing generic subjects, like:

VERSUS

Character-count never trumps content that your lead personas actually want to see, and need to know. The second subject is longer, yes, but it’s far more relevant and compelling than the first. Of course, getting to the point is best practice for crafting subject lines- particularly when optimizing for a mobile browser – but brevity alone shouldn’t be the guiding force behind your email marketing campaign.

Borrow From Blog Titles

You don’t need to re-invent the wheel. One way to quickly conceptualize everything we’ve discussed so far about email subject lines, is to think of them as effective blog titles. A lot of the same rules apply. Tried and tested techniques like the “How To” guide or “Top Ten” list work very well for higher ed subject lines – and they typically capture all of the elements we’ve touched on here: clarity, relevance, and concision. Consider these comparisons:

Your prospective student is more likely to open the second email for the same reason he or she would scan through a blog by the same title – because you’ve quantified the amount of reading the task entails, established clear expectations for what’s to come, AND you’ve used persona knowledge to create a message relevant to healthcare-oriented prospects. Perfect. Your recipient is primed to click and learn more about your program. Here’s another example for personas concerned about balancing work and study:

The second subject line tells recipients you’ve taken the time to put together a “How To” list that is pertinent to an issue that concerns them. This is inbound marketing 101 – offer thoughtful content that genuinely helps your leads succeed. So while we caution against following just one or two “rules” of thumb for crafting excellent subject lines, taking a lesson from blog titles can definitely offer a comprehensive go-to solution for busy admissions departments. Lines like these are relevant, to-the-point, and persona-driven. Which leads us to our next and final suggestion…

Use Student Persona-Powered Language

Much research has been compiled on the persuasive power of certain marketing words, such as BufferApp’s Words That Convert by Kevan Lee. Lee reminds his readers that regardless of objectives, industry, or target audience, the words we choose directly impact our marketing outcomes. Why? Because:

And when it comes to email subject lines, language choice has never been more important. It determines whether or not your message gets opened, which in turn determines the success of your school’s entire marketing initiative.

MailChimp urges marketers to “tell it, not sell it,” when crafting email subject lines. This is especially true for colleges who want to be known as institutions of learning, not profits-driven businesses. And the advice is in line with what we’ve discussed here already in terms of persona-worthy email subject lines. But one could (and should) push the concept of language power a step further by identifying the keywords most likely to resonate with specific student personas. What are your school’s main target audiences? Which keywords should you incorporate into your subject lines to help boost open rates?

For example, many colleges focus on affordability content to convert cost-conscious students. This is substantial proof about how your institution helps save students money on tuition, thereby lowering the amount of their post-school debt. If this issue is particularly important to your lead personas, why not incorporate affordability keywords into some of your email subject lines? These could include:

  • Lower tuition
  • Debtless degrees
  • Affordable training
  • Work-study program
  • Job placement success

Using Kevin Lee’s list as a reference point is great – but schools shouldn’t sound like they’re hawking a product:

College marketers should make a list of appropriate keywords that apply to their target audiences, and craft compelling, clear, relevant email subject lines around those ideas:

Just be prepared to back up your claims in the body of your email and wherever its links may lead! But that’s a subject for another blog post…

How are your school’s email open rates? Do your subject lines truly reach out to and engage prospective students?

Secrets to A Successful Content Marketing Strategy

Initially published on http://monitor.icef.com. “The goal of a successful content marketing strategy is to have a disproportionate share of the conversation going on in your industry.” This was an often heard quote at the second annual Content Marketing World event held recently in Sydney, Australia by the Content Marketing Institute (CMI), which helps brands attract and retain customers through compelling, multi-channel storytelling.

There are various definitions of content marketing floating around the web, and perhaps even around your office.

“Our website is full of content. So, that’s content marketing, right?”

“We have a blog. That’s all content marketing is, isn’t it?”

“What about our Facebook page? Does that count?”

As the go-to authority on content marketing, we’ll turn to CMI for a handy, universal definition:

“Content marketing is the strategic marketing approach of creating and distributing valuable, relevant and consistent content to attract, engage, and acquire a clearly defined audience – with the objective of driving profitable customer action.”

Content marketing is not a direct sell, rather, its purpose is to change or enhance consumer behaviour. To do this, your brand needs to be seen as a credible and knowledgeable expert on a given subject matter. And one of the most effective ways to earn this reputation is for others to share this message, not you.

In other words, you need endorsements, not a megaphone

In essence, content marketing has been around for eons, it just hasn’t been formally recognised as a clear process and strategic element within an organisation’s marketing plans until recently. But rest assured, this is not just a buzz word, and as each marketer’s toolkit gets ever bigger and each customer’s attention span gets ever shorter, the power of content marketing has intensified.

And it’s not just marketing gurus who have taken note. Some of the biggest brands in the world and the most powerful CEOs have gotten behind a content marketing approach, and the others… well, they’re just trying to keep up.

To make sure your brand falls into the former category, let’s dive in with several tips and best practices shared at the recent CM World to ensure you create and distribute content effectively.

Do a content audit

Chances are, the longer your brand has been around, the more content you have. Before you start to think about how each piece of content will align with your brand’s goals, you might first find it helpful to conduct a content audit and create an all encompassing inventory of the content you already own.

Types of content. Source: Kevin Cain

As you list each piece of content, be sure to note its location, how often it gets updated, and the purpose it currently serves. What is the reason for having this content, and why does it sit where it does?

In one Content Marketing World seminar, Robert Rose, Chief Strategist at CMI, outlined the various roles that content can play. For example, an industry blog or magazine might exist to educate consumers and win their trust, whereas your corporate website or sales materials serve to facilitate the sale of your products or services, they drive a call to action.

Keep in mind that content is not restricted to words. Images and videos are essential forms of content that, according to Mr Rose, “can drive emotion and bind a brand to an audience’s belief system.”

You’ll also want to indicate how effective each piece of content is at the moment. Consider certain content characteristics, such as its usefulness to your current and potential customers, how accessible it is (both to people as well as search engines), and how influential it is towards driving engagement and ultimately, sales.

This content quality checklist is a useful guide to help you along the way, however, we recommend that rather than answering “yes” or “no” to each question, you rank your answers on a scale of 1-5. This way, when you review the results later, you can quickly identify the biggest problem areas.

Later in this article, we’ll show you how to map each piece of content to a matrix to identify content gaps in the buyer process. But before we dive into that, let’s talk strategy.

Crafting a content marketing strategy

Once your audit is complete, it’s time to do some critical thinking about where you stand right now, and where you want to be in the future.

In the plenary speech that kicked off Content Marketing World, Joe Pulizzi, founder of CMI, stressed: “The number one thing that makes content marketing effective is to have a strategy, a plan for success.”

And that plan wont be realised overnight; it takes time, persistence, and consistency. But Mr Pulizzi believes that you’re on the right track if your content marketing strategy can achieve at least one of these goals: drive sales, save costs, or make your customers happier.

Some questions Mr Pulizzi suggests you consider at the outset of your content marketing planning phase include:

  • What is our objective?
  • What are we trying to achieve and who are we trying to reach?
  • Who do we want to talk to?
  • What do we want them to understand?
  • What is in place already?
  • How do we scale up?

To these, Jesse Desjardins, Social Media and Advocacy Manager with Tourism Australia, would add:

  • Can we build a content platform that can grow over time?
  • Is our strategy repeatable and scalable?
  • Does it lead a customer on a path to purchase?
  • Who can we partner with?
  • Can we make our audience the hero?
  • How much value are we capturing?
  • Are we sharing our work?

Mr Pulizzi also emphasised quality over quantity: “You must develop best-in-class content. Your content must be more valuable than what your competitors are doing. You can’t just tell a story better. To stand out, you have to tell a different story.”

To do so, lean on your strengths and focus on your unique selling points.

But be careful not to put sales at the front of the process. Emma Rugge-Price, Vice President of Branding and Communications at GE Australia and New Zealand, said things changed for them as soon as they “started to think like a publisher.”

Indeed, this mindset shift is taking place in major corporations around the world. Mr Pulizzi elaborates: “Content marketing has now become a critical component in all organisations. Right now, enterprises are adding content marketing, editor and journalism-based roles to their companies.

We see this evolving into a situation where content marketing is becoming less of a department and more of an approach, where there is a content centre of excellence in the organisation that works within all product silos. It’s tough to say for sure what the best solutions will be, but it’s clear that the marketing department as a whole is looking and feeling more like a publishing group.”

One inspiring example of this approach that was shared throughout the conference was that ofJyskeBank.tv, a television station run by the second largest independent bank in Denmark, or is it a bank with its very own TV station? The lines are blurred but the picture is clear: this radical approach has enabled Jyske to build brand awareness, solidify their reputation, and retain customer loyalty – all on their own platform and through their own voice.

Not every brand can own their own film studio, but a successful content marketing strategy doesn’t need to be so elaborate. Another high profile speaker at CM World was Mark Schaefer, author and marketing consultant. He believes that content marketing success is achieved when you strike a balance between three key elements:

  • Relevant audience
  • Meaningful content
  • Consistent engagement

Key elements of content marketing success. Source: Mark Schaefer

When all three work together, you are able to generate what he calls “return on influence,” and this is how you create content that moves across the web and ignites action.

Using content effectively

So, you’ve got your content audit and your strategy. The next step is marrying the two.

Industry expert Kevin Cain offered up a highly practical content matrix that could be used when plotting your content against your strategy. As the visual below shows, you’ll need to ensure that each piece of content is reaching your audience at the right stage in the buying process.

Pick content that makes sense at each stage of the buyer journey. Source Kevin Cain

And there’s more. Not all content is created equally. What is valuable for one customer might be irrelevant for another. So you’ll need to make sure the right person sees the right content on the right platform at the right time. Piece of cake, right?

Mr Cain suggests that you begin with what matters most: your customers.

He recommends you create several different buyer personas outlining their needs, motivators, pain points, concerns, role in the buying process, influencers, and demographics. Identify which factors matter most to a buyer in making the purchase decision, as well as where the buyer is getting stuck in the buying process and why. Once you know this, you’ll know where to step in to help. Or rather, where to appear.

CMI also refers to content marketing as “non-interruption marketing,” which implies that the information needs to appear in the right place at the right time without looking like an obvious sales pitch.

As you can probably imagine, each type of buyer needs a different content strategy, a different message, and a different channel. Your goal in content marketing, as with all effective types of marketing, is to tailor your topic, messaging, and delivery to each of your target audiences’ needs.

And, not only must your content match the person, it also needs to match your brands’ goals and ultimately, increase profits. To achieve this, it’s essential to create multiple opportunities for each type of consumer to engage with your brand as often as possible. From a simple tweet to a brochure request to an enrolment application, driving conversions must remain at the heart of your strategy.

Finally, be sure to set clear goals and KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) for your content marketing strategy so that you can measure results along the way and adapt your plans accordingly.