What is best practice in student recruitment?

The emergence of a large, globally mobile body of students willing to cross national boundaries in search of the best education has profoundly affected the higher education market in every country according to a new report from international student recruitment firm Hobsons Solutions. Some twenty years ago there were only four countries in which more than half of the student-age population attended university. Currently students are actively seeking a university education in 54 countries including Australia, the UK, Canada, New Zealand, Germany and the United States.

International students make a vital contribution to the culture, vitality and sustainability of universities and societies around the world.  The report points out that international higher education has become a crucial export income generator for some of the world’s largest economies, generating more income than tourism for Australia or coal for Canada. And yet success is not guaranteed to continue as the institutions are facing many disruptions due to rapid technological development, evolving models of learning, increased competition with foreign schools, and budget pressure.

In general, education institutions are advised to utilise data and insight as the foundation of a best-practice student recruitment and to :

• diversifiy away from a ‘key market’ recruitment strategy to a truly global student recruitment strategy

• invest in collecting deep data on customers — student intelligence — using it to understand what motivates them and how to best serve them

• become truly customer-centric and engage with prospective students on their terms, using the channels, content and communications they are most comfortable and familiar with

• use digital and social channels to reach new audiences and attract the right students, utilise student intelligence to identify and attract prospects who fit the ideal profile

• become more agile and responsive to student needs and explore markets that were previously not accessible through traditional recruitment strategies

• combine student stories, insights and experiences gleaned through personal interactions with students to provide actionable insight to support marketing practices

• integrate technologies, bring digital asset and platform management, customer relationship management, application processing systems and performance reporting together

 Understand student worries

The most pressing concern for prospective international students is cost, with 80% prospects citing cost of course fees as a concern when considering the total cost of studying overseas.

  • 81% of prospects agree that university study is the best way to prepare for their careers
  • 25% of them say they would consider not attending university if there was a better way of getting a qualification

Although the cost of higher education in many seasoned universities around the world is considered expensive, international students make an educated guess that the heavy financial costs of attaining an international qualification will generate a return on investment that makes the cost worthwhile. Universities need to continue to develop curriculum to meet the demands of future employers, and resist the desire to get too creative with the names of their degrees, says the report.

Search engines reign supreme for college and career school research

Education related search volumes have continued to rise. As 9 in 10 students have not formed an intention of where they want to study at the outset of their research (Google with Ipsos OTX 2012) it is vitaly important to create a strong online presence for marketing success. Recent study by Godigital underlines how absolutely critical it is to optimise study programmes for search.

The major findings from the research conducted in January&February 2016 confirm that:

  • 53% prospective students went to search engines to research colleges and career schools. Having a strong search presence based in quality content is key for schools to appear in those crucial searches. 43% were most influenced to click on search results that included information that was most relevant to them.  24% of students actually used Youtube or other social media sites (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram) and followed schools that they were interested in, mainly on Facebook.
  • A school’s website and online ratings mean a lot to prospective students – 42% of students found that school’s website influenced their decision when picking a college or career.
  • Although a lot of great marketing can be pinned down to excellent timing it does not appear to as crucial in the educations sector. 21% of students took more than 12 months to make a decision.
  • The quality of the programme often seals the deal for a student to select a school (colleges and career schools should make programme information prominent and easily navigable (ease of website use is critical! 32% students say poor navigation on a college or career schools website turned them away from that school). The second most important item prospective students look for on a school website is tuition and financial aid.
  • The most effective way to reach out to prospective students after initial contact is an email. According to 75% of students – they preferred to receive communication via email over any other medium (including social media  or direct phone and text messages)
  • Interestingly, on campus visits are often the deciding factor for prospective students. Students can do all the online research in the world but actually visiting the school makes all the difference.

Digital Marketing Essentials – UK biggest SEO conference

I had a pleasure to attend a few sessions at Brighton SEO last Friday and here are the main take aways for all my readers:

-       Bing’s market share on the rise! These guys work hard to catch up with the rest of the world (GOOGLE) and currently 45% of internet users search on Bing every month! Windows 10 has been a catalyst for this growth

-       Its all about connecting the user with brand experience and to allowing them to express themselves in a natural intuitive way, not just punching keywords!. Its all about delivering the RIGHT message, on the RIGHT platform at the RIGHT time

-       Content: catchy titles to increase CTR becoming more important than keywords. Quality content is key.

-       Ranking factors differ from industry to industry, what works for E commerce and Finance does not necessary work across Health (or Education)

-       The future of Google – machine learning, deep learning and artificial intelligence

-       Site speed for content marketers: in order to increase web speed we should be looking at the following web elements: Images, Fonts, Scripts and stylesheets, Video size

-       Build SEO campaigns and links based on people’s emotions: decisions are made emotionally and then backed up by logic!  An agency shared their successful campaign (generated a lot of attention and links) about commemorating the 75th Anniversary of the battles of Narvik. See the example: https://blogg.expedia.no/slaget-om-narvik/en

And finally, let me share a massive Epic PR fail with you – a must know for social and content marketers!  Waitrose supermarket asked Twitter why people go there using the hashtag #Waitrosereasons but got some answers it did not like…such as: I shop at Waitrose because it makes me feel important and I absolutely detest being surrounded by poor people (retweeted 127 times) (ups..).  SEE more http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/twitter/9553232/Twitter-jokers-ruin-Why-I-shop-at-Waitrose…-promotion.html