The John Cook school of Business at Saint Louis University has a multitude of sources that made using a content-marketing strategy a great choice to drive traffic to our website. We had a thriving center of Entrepreneurship that gave millions to the growing startup scene in midtown St. Louis, nationally ranked programs in International Business and Supply Chain Management, and students who’ve volunteered with the Peace Corps and have appeared on Shark Tank.
For this strategy to fully develop, we had to redo the information architecture of the site with analytics in mind. For degree and departmental pages, we were at a disadvantage that our application process went through the university’s site, not our own, so the application process happened off site and we couldn’t track traffic to applications to admission. Conversion tracking was not possible. The most we could track were the bounces / outbound traffic to the application site, so we set all of our “Apply Now” outbound links to the same page, so we’d have some semblance of a metric. Because of this, we made our key stats % new visitors, and time / pages per session:
- We wanted to see around 75% new traffic on this site, mainly because we understood that picking a graduate school was a long process that might take multiple visits. A good mix of new and returning traffic accounted for these visits, and current students looking up class information.
- The time and pages per session was our big metric, and we did a lot to improve the flow of information to make it easier to research our programs. Our page hierarchy gave users the chance to find the key stats that made the difference in their mind, weather that was ranking, faculty, or student live. We improved our average time on site to around 5 mins, and even greater with traffic following our search engine traffic flow (Search Engine – Landing Page – Program Pages).
We programed our AI and created new landing pages customized for traffic sources, which made the flow of traffic a lot easier. We also had to reorganize our blogs and newsroom. Under the old hierarchy, each department had their own blog and newsroom, which really subdivided that traffic and created stagnant content. We put everything into one newsroom and blog, with category pages to replicate the old functionality so that we could still show a custom department focused feed.
Sample Posts:Service Day 2015 (Event Coverage Using Storify) John Cook School of Business named a Top 100 Business School by US News & World Report (Press Release) SLU Undergraduates Spend Spring Break in Hungary (Student Content using Storify) Fortune “100 Best Workplaces for Millennials” Includes 3 St. Louis Companies (Blog Post) Marketing Professors Pick Their Super Bowl 50 Winners
Our stories for the blog tended to be in three main categories: student posts, professor / departmental posts, and event coverage. The student posts were easy to facilitate: we had thriving student organizations that were happy to add to our site, and refreshing the authorship workflow for students allowed them to take full credit for their posts, which made good fodder for their resume and LinkedIn profile. The departments had somewhat of a content strategy in place because they put out newsletters regularly. We just had to flip their thinking of “write a story, save for newsletters” to “write a story, get it online asap, then promote through our newsletters” We assisted the departments with sending their newsletters out with Mailchimp, and in returned we used the content for our blog, tweaking and even assisting professors with ghostwriting to create the right tone and voice for their posts. To give them an idea of when their posts would go live, and for transparency, we published our content calendar school wide for reference. Finally, for a quick turn around with event posts we used Storify to take our live tweeting and turn social interaction into a blog post. The turnaround on this was great, posts only took about 20 min. to go from start to publish, and we even invested in an iPod Touch to give students control of our social feeds, and reuse their content for our blog.