Articles from John Wilford

How can inbound marketing revolutionise student recruitment?

Inbound marketing is the new technique that could radically improve student recruitment. Inbound marketing builds upon content marketing by adding lead tracking and nurturing. A lead is someone who interacts with you website.A survey of newly enrolled students across four different colleges found that websites are the number one source of information about a college during the research stage of the decision making process. Therefore it is crucial that your college is found quickly when people search using Google, Bing and other search engines. Recent changes to search algorithms by the leading players, most notably the Hummingbird update by Google, is biasing search results towards those sites that have high quality, regularly updated content.Essentially content marketing helps you be seen by your audience and helps you to engage with them. For colleges, that means increased awareness of your offering and greater enrolment rates.Inbound marketing takes content marketing one step further by using processes and techniques to gather information about visitors to your website and turn them from just site visitors into engaged contacts through to brand advocates.Creating meaningful content can be a challenge for in-house marketing teams, which is why many outsource the creation of content from specialist agencies. Content needs to be relevant and well written and many search engines value good quality English. College's are not short of content, there is a wealth of high quality content, but it needs sifting, prioritising and writing in a way that search engines will find.So let's assume we have content, or a plan to get the content, how do we publish this content?Marketing automation platformsThere are many channels to get content seen by your target audience, including blogs, website pages, emails and social media platforms. However this is fraught with problems. Each communication channel has historically required different systems, such as a website content management system (CMS), a social media platform and an email broadcast tool. This proliferation of systems complicates the process and adds time and inefficiency.In recent years marketing automation platforms have emerged which bring together every aspect of digital marketing, giving marketers great control in publishing content. Examples include the market leader, Hubspot, and other solutions providers including Marketo and Pardot.Essentially, in one cloud-based system, you can rapidly publish content and measure the impact that this content has. In a matter of minutes it is possible to create a campaign, build an email and send it to only relevant people, create a landing page with a smart data capture form and populate social media.

The scourge of school protectionism and strategies to combat it

Schools are failing their students. According to OFSTED, in its report "Going in the Right Direction", published in September 2013, the majority of schools are failing to provide students with impartial advice about their options post 16. Despite a legal obligation since September 2012 for schools to secure independent and impartial careers guidance for all Year 9 to 11 students, there is evidence to suggest that not only is this advice not being delivered, but students are being misled.

Student advocacy and social media

Advocacy is speaking up for, or acting on behalf of, yourself, a company or a brand. In a college context, advocacy is when your existing students become your best sales people.

A critique of government policy on the college sector

The further education sector is facing a period of change as the coalition Government’s policies start to take effect.  During many visits to colleges up and down the country, I started to get a feel for the mood of the sector, which I think could be summed up as nervous, if not anxious.

The demise of the EMA: Not such a NEET idea - but what can marketing do?

Official figures released recently show that the number of young people not in education, employment or training has risen to a record high of 1.16 million. One in five 16- to 24-year-olds in England are "NEET". The dramatic growth in economic activity is due to a number of factors including economic and social factors.

Strategies for colleges to engage with employers

So many colleges simply don't comprehend the discipline needed to sell to employers.

Measuring advertising effectiveness

As the summer campaigning season comes to an end and enrolments are being counted, marketing campaigns are coming under scrutiny. Did we spend enough? Did we use the right media? What would have happened if we had spent differently?The biggest challenge for marketers and the holders of the purse strings is proving the correlation between advertising spend and number of students recruited. There is no fool-proof way of proving a link unless you decide one year to do something radically different, like spend nothing or spend big on summer advertising, but even then the campaign effectiveness can be impacted by prevailing market conditions. However there are many ways to measure the impact of campaigns.Traditional media, such as newspapers, outdoor and radio, should be measured in terms of their target audience impressions and benchmarking the cost per thousand impressions. Remember to include the production costs as well as the media cost in calculating the cost per thousand. A good advertising agency should be able to also provide reach and frequency data. Reach is the percentage of your target audience that is exposed to your message (i.e. the percentage of 15-19 year olds) and frequency is the estimated number of times individuals will see your message. Frequency is vitally important and this figure should exceed 3 times. Advertising only seen once or twice is rarely effective.Historically Rave has used different telephone numbers on different media to establish the cost per call generated. Some channels perform much better due to the nature of the media. People are more likely to call from a piece of direct mail delivered to their home than from a 48 sheet poster which is only seen for 3 or 4 seconds. Over the last two years there has been a noticeable decline in telephone calls generated from advertising, primarily due to websites being the preferred method of contact and information search. Discrete landing pages can be created for different media and tracked using Google analytics, but this is not fool proof as many people will simple perform and organic search and go straight to the home page.Digital marketing wins hands down in the battle with traditional media in terms of impact and measurability. Running Facebook campaigns or other digital advertising is highly measureable and accountable. The statistics available include the number of impressions, click-throughs (to your website) and the cost per click through. Digital marketing is contextual, namely we can target specific audiences. For example, a million impressions for outdoor advertising is a million impressions of the entire adult population, whereas a million impressions on Facebook will be just of your bulls-eye target audience.The effectiveness of your PR elements of the summer campaign should also be measured. The best method is to use equivalent advertising spend, but remember to include online and traditional media in coverage and all agency or staff costs. Equivalent advertising expenditure is simple yet time consuming to calculate. If you get half a page of editorial in the local newspaper, you simply apply the advertising value to it; hence you can calculate the advertising value of PR for each £1 of cost. Rave has a system that will create these metrics for you and can even be broken down by faculty or division, and individual news story.Social media deployment is becoming an integral part of summer student recruitment campaigns. Social media measurement is possible but can be quite expensive. Rave runs systems to measure the volume of social media activity for you and your competitors and will also give your share of voice compared with other colleges. These systems also provide audience sentiment towards your brand and how this sentiment changes over time.Finally, it is very important to survey existing and new students on the impact of advertising. Include a few questions as part of the application and/or enrolment process as this will help inform next year's campaign.John Wilford is a business graduate, an MBA, a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Marketing and a Liveryman of the Worshipful Company of Marketors. He is managing director of one of the UK's leading education marketing agencies. He is also a co-founder of the Campaign for Enterprise, a director of the Small Business Bureau, former parliamentary candidate and a college governor. He can be contacted anytime for an informal chat on 07748 114444 Read other FE News articles by John Wilford:New models for marketingStrategies for engaging with employersMarketing Further Education on a budget 

Turning applications into enrolments

It is a marketer's dream to have all the contact details of potential customers who have expressed an interest in a product or service. This is precisely what student application data is. It is one of the most valuable assets that a college has. Therefore it is paramount that a campaign is devised to maximise final enrolments.

New models for marketing

The need to do more for less has never been greater in further education, and a college's marketing is not an exception to this. Pressure to hit student recruitment targets from ever squeezed budgets is a challenge facing every principalship in the country. It is time to think of alternative paradigms for marketing.There are four broad approaches:

Marketing Further Education on a budget

Around the country college leadership teams are faced with huge budgetary challenges. As the YPLA delivers a challenging funding regime for the FE sector, competition is intensifying for an ever reducing pool of young adults. College leaders will look at austerity measures in every department and faculty, and marketing is an easy target – with big chunks of un-contracted expenditure.With sixth forms starting to encroach on FE college vocational territory, colleges need to communicate that they are truly 'best in class' to deliver first rate education. This message should be directed at those people discouraged by increasing fees from pursuing the A level and university route.If marketing budgets have to be restrained or even cut, how can colleges ensure the reduction on future student numbers is minimised?Rule Number One – Be EfficientA college should ensure that at least 50% of its marketing budget is spent on communicating its message to the outside world. So staff costs, (including payroll costs like NI and pension) must be less than half of the total marketing budget. Some colleges spend too much on people and forget about engaging with the outside world. Sufficient budget has to be assigned to the media.

Sponsored Video


Upcoming FE Events

Advertiser Skyscrapers

Newsroom Activity

Sharon Walpole added a new event yesterday

CareermapLive: An Introduction to WorldSkills UK...

During this live webinar, you'll have the opportunity to learn about our skills competition development programme which provides colleges,...

  • Wednesday, 28 April 2021 03:30 PM
  • Online Event, UK

Latest Education News

Further Education News

The FE News Channel gives you the latest education news and updates on emerging education strategies and the #FutureofEducation and the #FutureofWork.

Providing trustworthy and positive Further Education news and views since 2003, we are a digital news channel with a mixture of written word articles, podcasts and videos. Our specialisation is providing you with a mixture of the latest education news, our stance is always positive, sector building and sharing different perspectives and views from thought leaders, to provide you with a think tank of new ideas and solutions to bring the education sector together and come up with new innovative solutions and ideas.

FE News publish exclusive peer to peer thought leadership articles from our feature writers, as well as user generated content across our network of over 3000 Newsrooms, offering multiple sources of the latest education news across the Education and Employability sectors.

FE News also broadcast live events, podcasts with leading experts and thought leaders, webinars, video interviews and Further Education news bulletins so you receive the latest developments in Skills News and across the Apprenticeship, Further Education and Employability sectors.

Every week FE News has over 200 articles and new pieces of content per week. We are a news channel providing the latest Further Education News, giving insight from multiple sources on the latest education policy developments, latest strategies, through to our thought leaders who provide blue sky thinking strategy, best practice and innovation to help look into the future developments for education and the future of work.

In May 2020, FE News had over 120,000 unique visitors according to Google Analytics and over 200 new pieces of news content every week, from thought leadership articles, to the latest education news via written word, podcasts, video to press releases from across the sector.

We thought it would be helpful to explain how we tier our latest education news content and how you can get involved and understand how you can read the latest daily Further Education news and how we structure our FE Week of content:

Main Features

Our main features are exclusive and are thought leadership articles and blue sky thinking with experts writing peer to peer news articles about the future of education and the future of work. The focus is solution led thought leadership, sharing best practice, innovation and emerging strategy. These are often articles about the future of education and the future of work, they often then create future education news articles. We limit our main features to a maximum of 20 per week, as they are often about new concepts and new thought processes. Our main features are also exclusive articles responding to the latest education news, maybe an insight from an expert into a policy announcement or response to an education think tank report or a white paper.

FE Voices

FE Voices was originally set up as a section on FE News to give a voice back to the sector. As we now have over 3,000 newsrooms and contributors, FE Voices are usually thought leadership articles, they don’t necessarily have to be exclusive, but usually are, they are slightly shorter than Main Features. FE Voices can include more mixed media with the Further Education News articles, such as embedded podcasts and videos. Our sector response articles asking for different comments and opinions to education policy announcements or responding to a report of white paper are usually held in the FE Voices section. If we have a live podcast in an evening or a radio show such as SkillsWorldLive radio show, the next morning we place the FE podcast recording in the FE Voices section.

Sector News

In sector news we have a blend of content from Press Releases, education resources, reports, education research, white papers from a range of contributors. We have a lot of positive education news articles from colleges, awarding organisations and Apprenticeship Training Providers, press releases from DfE to Think Tanks giving the overview of a report, through to helpful resources to help you with delivering education strategies to your learners and students.


We have a range of education podcasts on FE News, from hour long full production FE podcasts such as SkillsWorldLive in conjunction with the Federation of Awarding Bodies, to weekly podcasts from experts and thought leaders, providing advice and guidance to leaders. FE News also record podcasts at conferences and events, giving you one on one podcasts with education and skills experts on the latest strategies and developments.

We have over 150 education podcasts on FE News, ranging from EdTech podcasts with experts discussing Education 4.0 and how technology is complimenting and transforming education, to podcasts with experts discussing education research, the future of work, how to develop skills systems for jobs of the future to interviews with the Apprenticeship and Skills Minister.

We record our own exclusive FE News podcasts, work in conjunction with sector partners such as FAB to create weekly podcasts and daily education podcasts, through to working with sector leaders creating exclusive education news podcasts.

Education Video Interviews

FE News have over 700 FE Video interviews and have been recording education video interviews with experts for over 12 years. These are usually vox pop video interviews with experts across education and work, discussing blue sky thinking ideas and views about the future of education and work.


FE News has a free events calendar to check out the latest conferences, webinars and events to keep up to date with the latest education news and strategies.

FE Newsrooms

The FE Newsroom is home to your content if you are a FE News contributor. It also help the audience develop relationship with either you as an individual or your organisation as they can click through and ‘box set’ consume all of your previous thought leadership articles, latest education news press releases, videos and education podcasts.

Do you want to contribute, share your ideas or vision or share a press release?

If you want to write a thought leadership article, share your ideas and vision for the future of education or the future of work, write a press release sharing the latest education news or contribute to a podcast, first of all you need to set up a FE Newsroom login (which is free): once the team have approved your newsroom (all content, newsrooms are all approved by a member of the FE News team- no robots are used in this process!), you can then start adding content (again all articles, videos and podcasts are all approved by the FE News editorial team before they go live on FE News). As all newsrooms and content are approved by the FE News team, there will be a slight delay on the team being able to review and approve content.

 RSS IconRSS Feed Selection Page