How to increase your international student prospect pool through digital marketing
How to increase your international student prospect pool through digital marketing: part 8
If we operate with one certainty as international student recruitment professionals, it’s that change is constant.
Keeping on top of change requires continuous evaluation of your micro and macro environments. For example, within our immediate environment, universities must ensure they are:
a) Establishing and maintaining relationships with prospective and current students
b) Establishing and maintaining relationships with partners
c) Monitoring competing establishments and alternative education options.
On top of this are our macro environments, where questions should be asked such as:
“How are new technologies changing and should we be changing the way we are communicating with prospective students and parents too?”
To answer this question, in September 2015 we interviewed more than 1,000 international students who are currently researching higher education options through the International Student Admissions Service. Based on these findings, we published a blog post every two weeks to share our new insights and offer our prospective on the findings.
In February, we’re planning on releasing the full set of findings in a report. However, if you’ve only got five minutes to catch up or need a refresher, here is our breakdown to sum up what we’ve established so far:
1. Ensure you give prospective students the chance to connect with campus representatives online as well as in-person
Universities and colleges should aim to allocate their resources to one or two online communication channels, as well as one in-person communication method.
Combine these selected channels with a strong customer service, and you’re likely to be much more successful in your international student recruitment strategy than if you attempt to manage all communication methods. This could lead to not being able to maintain relationships successfully and being needlessly expensive.
2. Guarantee that prospective international students concerns are addressed quickly
Speed of response to enquiries should be a key focus for your international student admissions team. Reducing response times to international enquiries has a positive impact on student perception of your institution which will improve conversion rates.
Include an enquiry form on your website that allows prospective students to write a question or concern in a text box. Then ensure you respond to that student within 24 hours.
3. Implement a wide variety of communication methods and understand your international students preferred method of contact
Social media has become an increasingly important communication tool for international universities and colleges to engage with prospective students. However, email marketing was still established in our research as the most preferred method for students to be contacted by universities and colleges to start an initial conversation.
4. Value the parents influence in an international student's enrolment decision
Our research brought to light a lack of reliance on faculty members when it comes to students getting advice about studying abroad. A large factor of this is due to a shortage of substantial support and information being provided to teachers and careers advisors to pass on. Many students are then understandably turning to parents to help make sense of the studying overseas enrolment process.
With this in mind, it is important for universities to target parents separately, using an entirely different marketing strategy.
5. Connect earlier with prospective international students and make sure you stay connected
The majority of universities tend to focus on the candidates who are set to enrol at a university or college in the upcoming year. However, this overlooks a significant proportion of their demographic as 64% of international students think about studying abroad earlier than this.
Addressing such a large, untapped demographic is an exciting opportunity for institutions looking to improve prospective student engagement and should be seen as a priority.
6. How universities can use content marketing to recruit international students
Content marketing is about creating relevant, valuable content that will educate prospective students and position your institution as a known and respected source of information – in a nutshell, it’s an opportunity to build trust with your prospects.
Establishing a content marketing strategy is vital as it allows your institution to reach prospective international students during their exploration, inspire them as they begin making decisions and convert them into enrolled students.
7. Strengthen the effectiveness of your international SEO campaign
A key tactic in targeting prospective students is through a search engine optimisation strategy. Having one in place will increase the volume of web traffic to your university website and improve the quality of the prospect that finds you.
This requires that you think carefully about keywords, consider URLs and tagging with equal importance and ensure your content marketing strategy is relevant to your target reader.
We hope you found the blog series useful in planning out your 2016 international student recruitment strategy. If you have any questions on any of the blog posts, disagree, or just want to chat through some of your ideas, do get in touch.
Our innovative International Student Admissions Service, known as ISAS, gives universities and colleges the complete solution to attract, filter and enrol high-quality international student applicants.
Visit the website here: http://www.isasonline.org/