Karine Joly No Comments

David AndersonDavid Anderson, Director of Strategic Digital Communications at UB School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, is one of the 12 higher ed professionals presenting at the 2015 Higher Ed Content Conference (April 15).

In this 3-question interview, David discusses the state of content at his institution, how he measures content performance and shares some advice to create content for higher ed.

1) Digital content has been an afterthought in higher ed for a long time. Would you say that content has now the place it deserves at your institution?

Digital content is all we do in our school. We don’t produce any paper. A lot of that has to do with strong support from leadership, backed by data and research.

However, we are still working on culture change every day, convincing faculty and staff to embrace the web as their main marketing tool. It’s a constant struggle getting them to grasp that prospective students expect the web to be the “go to place”.

It usually takes a transformative “event” for faculty to see the value of the web. When we build a new website for their department or write an article about them, they usually see some result soon after and become allies.

2) How do you measure the performance and/or the impact of your content at your school? How does this help you with the content creation process?

Our content creation process is informed by research we did with our prospective audiences, using Indi Young’s mental models method. We know what our prospectives want to see and read, so that’s what we produce. We use the same data to turn away requests for content that prospectives have not expressed an interest in, like the ‘history of the department’.

On the outcomes side, we look at time on the page and, to a lesser degree, bounce rates as evidence of success. We know our process works, however, because prospectives at all levels tell the admissions staff, unprompted, about how useful the website was for them.

3) Can you share the best piece of advice or lesson you learned about creating content for higher ed?

You have to know your audience and address their needs. Find and interview the people you want to attract. Learn what their needs are. Document that and use it as your guide for all content.

If you can afford it, hire professional writers. Relying on department staff to write marketing content is an exercise in futility.

Higher Ed Content Conference Line-Up