It’s no secret that the number of international students attending graduate and undergraduate schools in the U.S. has been on the rise. In fact, the Wall Street Journal recently reported that attendance has grown by 14% in the past year, prompting American universities to reconsider just who their target audience really is. But to what do we attribute this ongoing spike in overseas enrollment?
There are a few factors to take into consideration. Many oil-rich countries like Saudi Arabia and Kuwait are offering generous government-sponsored scholarships for students to study at American schools. Furthermore, Chinese students make up the largest percentage, accounting for nearly 60% of international students, thanks to the expansion of China’s affluent class.
As globalization continues to trend in the higher education space, so does the recruitment process. While some universities are investing in international recruiting specialists, others are getting crafty with their online approach. We’re a fan of the latter, focusing on an inbound marketing strategy that attracts, converts, closes and delights the end-user with content that’s specifically created for each international region.
To draw international leads to your website, you must first identify your personas, or in this case, the specific regions you’re trying to target. From there, you can create specialized blog posts, social media content, email campaigns and more that allow you to directly address your audience’s questions, concerns and challenges. You’ll also want to be sure to implement a strategic SEO campaign, and build individual landing pages that will help to improve your rankings, making it easy for your personas to find you in cyber space.
Attract target users to your website – check. Now, your next step is to convert those visitors into leads by gathering email addresses and contact information. Having this information is crucial to the next step, and in order for your visitors to give that information willingly, you need to offer them something in return – think whitepapers, “best of” lists, event passes or perhaps a virtual tour of your campus! Consider content that’s valuable – and unique – to each region.
Now that you’ve attracted your international visitors to your website, and converted them through the use of engaging, relevant content, it’s time to turn those leads into applications and future alumni. The question is – how? We recommend implementing open-source CRM tools, which enable you to gather analytics to better predict future needs, purchasing processes, application status and more. Because not all of your visitors will be at the same stage in the close process, we recommend crafting email campaigns, or lead scoring strategies so that you’ll be able to hone in on closing the right leads at the right times.
Last but not least, give your visitors a reason to relish. Post engaging content on social media platforms, such as “Top 5 Pho Joints on Main Campus”. Create e-newsletters with the latest student news and alumni highlights. Schedule email blasts with smart call-to-actions that will keep them coming back around. This will help to up sell your customers into promoters of your university, whether by word-of-mouth or click-of-mouse.