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Guarantee that prospective international students concerns are addressed quickly

2015-09-30

How to increase your international student prospect pool by implementing a digital marketing strategy: Part 2


Digital marketing has given universities and colleges across the globe the opportunity to engage with a much larger international student market. However, the process of information gathering isn’t easy for students. They must begin with a lengthy and disorderly search through the huge amount of various countries, institutions and programmes available to them in order to find which one suits their needs best.

Too often, universities overcomplicate the information they make available on their website. In turn this makes the process of filtering through to find answers much more time-consuming and overwhelming for prospective students. What’s more, if someone can’t find the information they are looking for and they can’t find it quickly, they will leave the site in doubt. According to Hubspot[1], 55% of visitors will spend less than 15 seconds on a website before they exit.

With this in mind it is vital for universities and colleges to be completely transparent, and provide digestible and concise information to prospective students looking to study abroad.

 

What can you do?

There are three parts to a successful online international student recruitment strategy:

“First, draw students to your website. Second, provide the information they seek and third, communicate with prospective students.” – Through the Student Eyes, 2014.

According to the report, the importance of each step is weighted at:

  • 30%: Draw students to your website;
  • 40%: Provide information they seek;
  • 30%:Communicate with prospective students.

Therefore, universities and colleges must ensure they’re focusing on all aspects in order to guarantee that prospective international students concerns are addressed quickly.

 

So where should you start?

Begin by simplifying your university or college website into a microsite that is solely focused at international students. What do they want to know most?

In September, we interviewed more than 1,000 international students who are currently researching higher education options through the International Student Admissions Service (ISAS). We wanted to know how they rated the information made available to them on the websites of their top university choices.

Here were the results:

Straight away, the above results flag an action point for higher education establishments. Financial aid is rated as the most difficult piece of information to find on an international university website and the most confusing. Yet according to the 2015 International Expectations Trend Report[2], financial issues are by far the most common concern (77%) for students with ambitions to study abroad.

If a student’s question isn’t answered with a clear answer then the student will make an assumption instead, which could be: “I can’t afford to study here”.

 

Treat each prospective international student as an individual:

While financial requirements were voted as students’ greatest worry, there were still people who voted language barriers or making friends as their biggest (or additional) concern. It may sound obvious but make sure your university has the answers to cover all of these doubts. A good example can be seen on the KAPLAN International Colleges website.

Not only will having these key answers available improve the user’s experience on your website, it will also drive more traffic to it and increase your SEO ranking - essentially bringing prospective students to you rather than going to them.

 

Improve speed of response even further:

As discussed in our previous blog post, responsiveness has a major influence in converting a prospective student into an enrolled international student at your university.

Include an enquiry form on your website that provides prospective students with the opportunity to write a question or concern in a text box and ensure you respond to that student within 24 hours.

Again, the enquiry form should be easy to find and simple to complete.

 

A final point to think about:

Frank Fiore is an acknowledged eBusiness expert and accomplished author of six eBusiness books. He said:

“Customer service starts before the sale.” - Frank Fiore, 2001.

Focus on establishing a relationship from the first point of contact (when they visit your page), then follow up and ensure you maintain that relationship.

 

REFERENCE:

[1] http://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/chartbeat-website-engagement-data-nj

[2] https://www.ruffalonl.com/about-ruffalo-noel-levitz/press-releases/2015-international-e-expectations-report