International student recruitment has evolved over the course of the past year, ushering in a new set of tools and strategies to choose from. Between staple marketing strategies and less commonly known tricks, here are 9 of the best tips and tools you can use for international recruitment today:
1. Optimize your website
Websites are where students spend much of their time researching and applying to schools. Creating a website that is accessible, informational, and provides a call to action will give you the bare necessities to be successful.
There is no one-size-fits-all solution for every batch of students who visit your website — that’s where tracking comes in. Having your website optimized to gather tidbits of information at various touch-points:
These, and many more, are what build your student personas. Student personas can be used to better cater your website toward the people who are visiting it.
2. Focus on specific regions
Attracting international students isn’t as simple as addressing an entire country's population in one generalized way. Many countries around the world have individual subcultures within their larger demographic. Understanding and addressing the unique needs of each of these region-specific groups is the key to marketing towards them. For example (from a survey by engage2serve):
As you can see, although each of these countries are neighboring nations, their preferences for studying abroad are each vastly different. These differences can be attributed to cultural, economic, or even religious factors that establish different values within the people of each nation. Researching and developing region-specific strategies is necessary to establish a presence in international countries.
3. Use email nurturing
Email nurturing is a way for universities and other institutions to keep a steady stream of information in the eyes of students until they’re ready to take action. Oftentimes, a student may not be ready to take the leap toward applying to school abroad. However, by maintaining steady communication, you might be able to catch them when they are.
The time you take between an inquiry and your first communication is also a major factor in students taking action. According to an article posted by InternationalStudent.com:
The key takeaways here are:
4. Provide virtual tours
If international students aren’t able to come visit your university during COVID, the next best thing is to bring your university to them. Virtual tours have seen a boom during the pandemic, with schools creating meetings with prospective students and parents to maintain the tangible feel of attending their university. There’s no substitute for the real thing, but providing virtual tours is as close to it as you can get.
5. Get visual with infographics
Infographics check a lot of boxes. Visual element? Check. Digestible information? Check. Shareable? Check. Infographics can turn even the most boring blurb into a visual treat. They can turn complex ideas into understandable statistics, stories, processes, and more. With Gen Z having a relatively lower attention span, infographics are the perfect way to get their attention. Some examples of how to utilize them could be:
6. Engage your alumni network
Alumni aren’t the first people who come to mind when you’re looking for ways to market, but in reality, they are your biggest advocates. Particularly during the COVID-era when budgets are tight, engaging your alumni network can prove to be a cost-effective way to create meaningful traction amongst international students.
Alumni can help your university in a multitude of ways including:
That last one in particular is where your biggest benefit from engaging your alumni will come. One of the largest deciding factors for international students during 2021 has been the opportunity for work after graduation. Having something to hold onto in these uncertain times gives students confidence to pursue education at your university knowing their future is set. Alumni offer such opportunities to students. Seeing an alumni having reached the heights they're striving for can be the catalyst that drives them to your university, and to follow in their footsteps.
7. Know your communication strategy
Your integrated marketing communications (IMC) strategy is your strategy to develop a cohesive message across platforms that adds to the student experience.
[ Instagram/Facebook ---> Website ---> WhatsApp ]
This is what an IMC would look like at a basic level. Your social media channels will drive a message that leads students to visit your website, your website offers advising services that are carried out on WhatsApp. In reality, there are plenty more steps and intricacies that build an IMC, but at its heart, your goal is to create one cohesive message that adds more to your students’ experience.
8. Create a content release schedule
There is no perfect formula for how often you should post on social media — the only rule to follow is to post frequently enough that you stay fresh in your audience’s mind. This can be anywhere from multiple times per day to a handful of times per week. If you don’t have something of value to share, it’s best to wait until you do — being able to churn out meaningful content frequently, however, is a huge strength.
Buffer is a tool that lets you post on multiple platforms simultaneously, and even schedule your posts days, weeks, and months in advance. It can save you the time it would take to go back and forth between platforms, as well as the ability to see the progress you’re making in scheduling content.
9. Utilize video content
When it comes to grabbing someone’s attention there are few things more convincing than a good video. Videos have the power to be informational, entertaining, and personable. There are three commonly used forms of video that each serve a different purpose. These are:
Within each of these types of videos, you can tell stories, explain processes, answer questions, etc. The options are endless. Long-form videos provide the most bang for your buck — they hold value and an in-depth look into a given topic. Short-form videos are more likely to draw engagement — they build conversation and can be spread like wildfire. Lastly, live videos offer the audience a unique opportunity at interacting with primary decision-makers at universities and institutions.
There are any number of ways to reach prospective students — finding the right mix for your university will enable you to expand your reach and gradually build a stronger international presence.