Creating your own international student recruitment strategy doesn’t have to be a daunting task. However, understanding the moving pieces involved in the process of creating a successful one, will bulletproof yours against failure. The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) estimates that by the year 2025 the number of international students worldwide will be around 8 million. This trend demonstrates that student mobility has experienced a steady growth over the past years and appears it will continue to do so.
As a result of this phenomenon, colleges and universities are now engaging in intense competition hoping to reap the benefits of international student acquisition. Domestic enrollment can be slow and affected by federal cuts putting the internationalization and diversification on the radar of educational institutions looking to achieve enrollment goals and boost efficiency.
Routine travel to distant countries, sometimes with uncertain results, has become a common practice of many professionals in the academic world. Many on the other hand, understand and have embraced the emerging digital marketing strategies that deliver effective results for significantly less. The latter also understands that by doing so they can gain brand equity, fast-track communications, and customize admission processes while downsizing and cutting dependency from foreign agents.
Continuous advances in modern technology require shifting engagement expectations and a certain disposition to explore and utilize new powerful but daunting enrollment tools and strategies.
This is certainly not easy.
An official website with “one-size-fits-all” approach to design and messaging along with some passive Social engagements are not enough to appeal to international students in the midst of a global revolution. This may still work for brands with huge Brand equity catapulted by Hollywood movies translated into dozens of languages, but probably not for you looking to increase active recruitment.
CULTURE DRIVES LATAM INTERNATIONAL STUDENT RECRUITMENT
Internationalization has come to define (education) recruitment strategies for many institutions looking to enhance their role in the global market.
For many, future success comes in the form of strategic plans and high-level documents aiming to longer term goals and their faculty to see the “big picture”
Example: The Tandon School of Engineering is one of many institutions constantly marketing themselves to international prospects. Their international admissions pages in native languages such as in Spanish demonstrates the clear understanding of “Global Perspective” they clearly share.
Promoting internationalization means providing resources that can trigger “empathy” while showcasing the school’s educational capabilities and opportunities. These propagate reputation through inevitable word-of-mouth dynamics and better retention tactics. All of the above are all long-term methodologies requiring visionary leadership but: Are there any tactics that can be implemented to achieve more immediate results?
DIGITAL MARKETING CAMPAIGN FOR LATAM STUDENT RECRUITMENT
Developing realistic targets, leveraging historical data and communicating clear goals, are at the center of a solid international student recruitment campaign. By choosing markets with leading numbers such as China and the Middle East seems a typical or safe approach, however, understanding the international landscape could offer unprecedented benefits.
Did you know Brazil offers governmental financial aid for students wanting to pursue STEM programs in the United States?
A Per-Pay-Click (PPC) advertising campaign is an exceptional cost-effective formula for revealing insights into potential markets and programs to promote since you only spend money when interested prospects click your name.
- What programs should you sponsor?
- What keywords are driving the most traffic?
- What combinations are generating the most interest?
Unique language barriers add an extra level of complexity when aiming globally and choosing the correct terms is not a matter of regular translation.
Keyword planners and tools to build your own ad groups are always a good start. Also, launching a good campaign requires some serious prepping in order to fit copy requirements.
All pages should possess their unique analytics code for proper tracking and reporting and microsites need to meet expectations in terms of conversions with properly set up forms and necessary integrations with your CRM system.
This may sound complicated or way out of your comfort zone but a good Digital Agency with roots in the Latin American market and with a native outlook will certainly provide best results when trying to break into the Latin market.
Example: The University of San Francisco has a custom Spanish and Brazilian Microsite showcasing programs known, thanks to Google research, to increase the likelihood of generating inquiries from prospective students from Latin America.
MOBILE OPTIMIZATION FOR LATAM STUDENT RECRUITMENT
In a modern world with profound digital and mobile inclinations, Google has shown us how search inquiries for education related topics and institutions have moved to the online realm. With a high level of uncertainty, students rely on Non-Branded search queries to drive their decision-making process. Unaware of the options, the rate at which prospects seem to be pursuing these queries have been increasing dramatically.
The good news is, Google’s internal algorithms are able to track geographically click-through conversions providing us with valuable insight that could translate into putting your Brand first in front of qualified students. Increasing visibility of certain programs or degrees in recommended locations boosts results.
Top selling points of your institution, degree information videos, and collateral resources are among the most popular content to include in your mobile driven strategy. A bad experience navigating your site on mobile devices can account for almost a 35% abandon rate, moving your prospects interest to the next potential alternative on their list.
Critical information such as financial information and study permit details are paramount if you want to have all your mobile strategy geared toward success.
OPTIMIZE YOUR WEBSITE FOR LATAM STUDENT RECRUITMENT
One of many challenges, if not the most important, is to develop an official page that can appeal and talk to different markets. The auto translation itself does not work for SEO purposes and your page may be underutilized if relying on this method alone. Many institutions develop specific pages for specific regions or languages.
Many utilize a big array of designs with tabs and subdomain folders as a tactic aimed to close the geographical gap. Ask us about the different alternatives you school can explore in order to drive international traffic.
Although providing content in multiple languages may seem difficult, it really goes a long way and it will certainly benefit your brand in the long run. Providing messaging in Spanish to Latam students increases your potential of communicating effectively and perhaps even more so, allows you to target better-qualified prospects.
Remember, parents make part of the decision-making process and they also need to be informed. Displaying prominent colored flags with Mexican, Colombian or Brazilian flags at the top of the page. A good Digital Agency with roots in the Latin American market can tackle these enhancements in no time.
SOCIAL MEDIA FOR LATAM STUDENT RECRUITMENT
Do you understand the language in the way students actually speak? A clear messaging based on cultural patterns reflect your understanding of your market in question. Using an actual student or individual involved in the educational culture may help to craft and attune messaging aimed to various groups present in Social Media.
Social nodes can be valuable when used as a tool for discovery. What are my prospects talking about? What kind of content is being shared and what kind of interaction are the students having with your posts? Filtering unqualified prospects based on language proficiency and brand perception present an opportunity to reinforce your marketing strategy with strong candidates.
CONVERTING LATAM STUDENT LEADS
The Latin culture has developed a unique sympathetic dynamic among individuals in their domestic day to day interactions and they expect nothing less from any internationally. They expect a fast but thorough response accompanied with helpful links and a warmth conversation.
Take longer that the competition and you would loose a perfectly qualified prospect in a matter of minutes. Literally.
Some of the best practices are always to address the student by name, answer questions promptly in a personal and formal tone and in great detail. (They will laugh, make jokes and invite you for a coffee next time you visit the country.) Provide helpful information and include relevant links and URLs to Social Media channels.
Email drips campaigns with Marketing Automation (Autoresponders) can also tilt the balance towards an effective conversion when used in tandem with personal interactions. Handling and tracking large quantities of information and inquiries during a normal decision-making cycles can easily get out of hand.
Making sure your brand is always present and top of mind is achieved can really help to push for that enrollment. Email campaigns excel at this sole purpose. Just make sure you don’t gamble on templated responses to drive your conversations or you will be disappointed. The fuzzy and warm interaction really is appreciated among Latinos.
Webinars and Hangouts for Latam Recruitment is a big part of a solid strategy. Providing the medium to enable them to envision their future can really help the decision process. Rarely the students have the opportunity to visit the campus beforehand and have a taste of their next 4 years of life.
Bridging the GAP with digital alternatives like Webinars and hangouts emphasizing in the school’s strongest features provide a glimpse of the campus life that they wouldn’t get otherwise. Google Map Street View and virtual tours can be leveraged using the power of NEW Oculus and VR gadgets to enhance the experience.
Digital Tools like these clarify questions, provide scenarios for discussion and can also support replay options for future engagements. They also provide insight with quick polls, surveys and analytics helping you qualify further your attendees. To make the most from these powerful gizmos admissions personnel should craft a script to work from and test continuously beforehand.
Digital Marketing is always evolving providing tools for schools seeking a competitive edge in engaging students in Latin America. Below, is a list of creative and powerful ideas currently used by Schools like yours looking to tap into the Latam Market.
- List their School in Specialized Directories in Latin America. Ex: www.USAUniversidades.com
- Develop apps featuring lectures, courses, recipes, videos and more.
- English language training (online Modules)
- Join LinkedIn groups such as International Recruitment: Student Diversification to be up to date with latest news and tactics for International Recruitment.
Regardless of the initiatives you decide to pursue, improving your International outreach in Latin America can be best accomplished when you have a clear idea of your web and digital capabilities, your media outlets and advertising channels.
Developing a system to monitor your current progress is crucial for success.
Software and tools can help if you have the bandwidth for this sort of daily chores or you can rely on Digital Experts in Latam Recruitment to make it all happen for you.