International student recruitment is a significant part of every university’s overall marketing strategy; often incorporating content marketing as a way of achieving this. However as our latest 2015 report, Students Online: Global Trends shows, not every region can be treated the same when it comes to student recruitment.
In order to make your recruitment strategy its most effective, identifying your target markets and taking note of how they use online resources is crucial. Each region has preferences as to which resources they favor and which channels they preferred to communicate through.
Consistent reliance on online resources
Our Students Online: Global Trends report has shown that there is a continued reliance on online resources found internationally and across all regions. However, different regions place a different level of importance on these resources.
While the majority of respondents said that they regarded online and offline resources as being equally important, respondents from Africa tended to place a slightly greater reliance on online resources – although there was a distinct decline to 33% from 48% last year. In contrast, as much as 16% of respondents from Asia favored offline resources when researching higher education.
As both Africa and Asia are both huge markets for international student recruitment, these variations on the global trend of an equal split between online and offline resources shouldn’t be ignored.
Tip to boost international student recruitment:
If you’re targeting new marketing entry into Africa then it will be vital to have your online resources comprehensive enough for international students to make their decisions based entirely on what they can find online. Start with an engaging and up-to-date university website that students can use to access all the information they need.
If you’re targeting Asia, then a great university website won’t be enough. Graduate tours and university fairs are the most effective way to provide prospective students with offline resources and involving your alumni as brand ambassadors will help to strengthen your presence at these events in addition to your online reach to new students.
Differences in preferred online resources
Overall it was found that university websites were the most important online resource that student preferred to access, followed by university ranking websites and other specialized web resources that cover higher education. Again it was Asian and African respondents that stood out, with an above average percentage regarding rankings websites and student forums as essential.
With prospective students from these regions drawing on a complete range of online resources – possibly due to limited access to offline resources such as open days and university fairs – it is therefore increasingly important not to ignore any of them.
Tip to boost international student recruitment:
Ensuring your university has a high profile on websites that include university rankings, student forums, and resources – such as Top Universities and Top MBA – will ensure that prospective students from regions such as Asia and Africa can engage more fully with your online presence and get the information they need.
Social media growing at different speeds
The importance of social media as a method for accessing information is growing every year, so much so that a third of our survey respondents now regard social media as essential or very important when researching universities. Surprisingly enough, our latest report revealed that the US and Canada have the largest proportion of non-adopters of social media (48%) and Latin
America the lowest (25%). Meanwhile, Asia and Africa report a high percentage of social media adopters with 44% and 43% respectively.
The popularity of each social network also tends to vary across regions, with LinkedIn most widely used in the US and Canada (32%), falling to just 15% in Asia. Similarly, YouTube is used by 17% of respondents in the US and Canada but only 11% in Africa.
Tips to boost international student recruitment:
Social media is an important way to connect with your prospective students, especially with those students applying those from overseas. The differentiation of preference across regions makes social media an ideal tool for segmented campaigns, with the potential to effectively target prospective students of specific demographics.
39 % of prospective students surveyed admitted to using social media as a source of inspiration and ideas and 19% use it to compare higher education institutions; suggesting that they can gain insight from peers and current students to complement official information. Social media channels can be most effective when used to share information and insights not available in other official sources, so having accounts that focus on student life and the more sociable side of university life will help increase your reach and influence.
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