We would like to share our (10+ years of) experience on bringing students through the famous ´AIDA´ process (Awareness – Interest- Desire and Action), i.e. in simple Student Recruitment terms that the Right students find you, qualifying them, get those matching to apply and actually enroll :). As we helped hundreds of universities and business schools from more than 50 different countries recruit new international students, we can boil it down to 4 steps:
The 4 unique steps to bring student conversations to conversions:
1. IP-GeoTargeting: all Marketing starts with defining your Strategy and your goal, i.e. besides Channels you need to know your audience. Only when connecting the right student to the right program you ensure everybody is happy This starts with targeting the right markets. IP-GeoTargeting is a good way to do this (amongst other tactics). We do this via an actual website-filter (similar to Netflix, who decides what you see in which country), so our large traffic of students through >230k followers in Social media as well as organic/ blogs and partners gets routed to the right information for them. So that brings me to the next point of actually driving quality traffic:
2. Quality-content: perhaps one of the most important but time-consuming steps in Student Recruitment is creating content. From website- and program information to insights, blogs and videos, student-testimonials and webinars etc. Where do you start? Well, although all of the above are key, you might not have the budget to do everything yourself. Here is where outsourcing could actually give a better ROI. Nevertheless, the content needs to still be authentic, resonate with your audience and have CTAs (Call-To-Actions). You can check out what some Universities are doing here. www.webinars4you.com/blog
To give you already some more insights here are some of our tips when creating content:
- GIFs: although a pictures says more than a thousand words, a video does even more. However these can be either too large, not fit for your purpose or too long for your (short attention-span) student. In our experience a GIF i.e. moving image, can be a great option providing the best of both worlds.
- Student-led: instead of spending hours of your staff and budget, get to the source of the real student-experience: your own students! They are often on Instagram/ YouTube etc. spitting out content every day. Get them involved and that way get actual first-hand, authentic content from social media to blogs and webinars.
- Webinars: as mentioned before, we would like to highlight this unique channel as webinars offer a unique mix between being live, interactive & engaging as well as on-demand video-like content. Important is to follow some simple rules: not too long, interactive (polling/ CTAs), engaging (videos/ stories/ students) and easy to use (no plug-ins to download, unlike Zoom(!), clear interface and focus on On-demand functionality).
3. Qualification: a key step in the process is to qualify the students who show an interest. Once you have created good quality content and have traffic driving to your program-pages, you need to qualify and ensure the right students end up in the right programs for them. We identified basically 2 ways to do this: first to ensure you have detailed registration-pages where students leave their details (can be to request more info, brochures, webinars etc.). This is the moment to get good data i.e. as much insight as realistically possible, without becoming annoying, as it allows you to qualify the students. We ask questions such as: When do you want to start your study, what is your background, why do you want to study this or that, English-level, can you financially support this program etc. As you see many questions, which are however key and of course which ones depends on your channel and goals.
Secondly, we actually call students in person to qualify and check the quality of the students in terms of their background, interest-, English-level etc. and verify if they match the webinar i.e. program they are looking to apply for.
4. Conversion: As we like to say `conversations lead to conversions´, we mean this in all ways, i.e. from your website-/ social media- and other communication ´conversations´ towards getting in touch with the students. This last step we do via both technology, emails, bots, especially webinars (incl. polling) but also actual personal calls to especially students who are ready to apply. This last one is definitely far under-utilized in most Universities, which we understand as it takes a lot of time and people-resources. Therefore, again, outsourcing could be an option, whilst still collaborating to ensure a quality-control.
Whether it is Targeting and filtering the right students, creating the right quality content or qualifying and converting the students to apply, and ultimately enroll, make sure to have technology help you. We give you just a brief list of useful tools that can make your life easier, as we know it does ours, but do let us know any comments below on your tools, tactics and experience in this – as sharing is caring!
Here are some of our insider tips to qualifying and converting students in Student Recruitment:
- A good CRM: key to monitor your leads and traffic. We like Hubspot.
- Canva: a great, easy tool to create quality content. Their library has lots of pìctures/ videos, but just as easy mix and upload your own with great templates to work from. Also converts easily to GIFs!
- Facebook/ IG advertising: a no-brainer to use, but are you filtering enough by background/ interest of your target-audience? Do you meet new iOS and Privacy criteria? Is your reach sufficent to attract enough qualified leads and optimize your budget?
- Linkedin-groups: although advertising on Linkedin can definitely work for especially Master/ MBA programs, we established partnership with huge interest-groups (of often up to 100k) who can promote on our behalf.
- Webinars: although already mentioned before, live/ on-demand webinars offer a unique mix between interactive, engaging content through CTAs, videos, personal (student) stories and its on-demand benefits, as long as you pick the right platform with preferably no plug-ins to download (unlike Zoom(!) for optimal mobile-friendliness and a clear interface with On-demand benefits: just get in touch and we can advise 🙂
- Partnerships: don´t try to do everything yourself. Just as you likely have partner-universities you work with, and can use to share/ co-create content etc., we do so by using local partner-websites. Not only we then find the students where they look for information, we also save hugely on time and cost and in turn improve your ROI! 🙂
We hope you found this useful, contact us if you would like to know more or do let us know your feedback in the comment-section.