Recruiting Intelligence

The Essential Guide to Implementing a University CRM

A customer relationship management (CRM) system helps you manage and analyze customer engagement throughout the customer lifecycle. A marketing automation platform (MAP) helps you manage the digital promotions you are launching and measure their success. 

In international student recruiting, CRMs and MAPs are crucial to keeping your prospective students engaged. Knowing when and where they entered your system (by download, by email, etc.) can inform what types of information they should continue to receive in the future. And of course, you want to nurture your leads all the way through to enrollment. And a good CRM, set up well, is going to help you stay connected beyond graduation.

At Intead, we use Hubspot to manage our marketing automation (including this blog) and our leads. For some academic programs, this platform is great. For others, there are more robust CRM's needed (such as Salesforce) tied to a marketing automation platform (like Hubspot). 

More and more of our clients are finding frustration with their current lead management systems and we have been helping them select and implement something new and powerful. Read on to get your hands on Intead's "7 Steps to a Successful CRM Implemantation."

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Top 5 Tactics for Digital Marketing for International Student Recruiting

We write a lot about digital marketing in the international student recruiting field. And we write in-depth about digital marketing. So while we’re down here in Miami at the AIRC and ICEF conferences sharing what we know in various presentations and workshops, we wanted to share our top 5 tactics for digital marketing for our readers who are still back in the office.

If you happen to be in Miami for the conferences, stop by any of our presentations to say hi and learn more about CRMs, using language programs to recruit, and our favorite topic – data, trends and how to use this information to recruit effectively.

Bottom Line: You need to get to know your audience. What works well for them? What do they respond to? Using segmentation and personalization can go a long way in communicating with a lead. Another good way to reach students online is to optimize–everything! You want to be on as many search results pages on Google, Baidu, Facebook, and WeChat as possible and your content should be shareable. But, make sure the content popping up is good content. How will you know if it’s good or not? Analytics! You should always be tracking your analytics to determine which ad, email and social media campaigns are working for you to reach the students you want to reach. Think about it, if you could only choose five things to add to your digital marketing plan to survive in the digital world, what would they be? Go ahead and make your list. We’ll see if it matches up with ours!

Read on to find out our top 5 list for digital marketing tactics…

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So, How Do We Market US Higher Ed to the World Now?

There is a new political landscape here in the US and in the UK. International student recruiting is facing some new, unexpected challenges.

Brace yourself, this is a long post and an incredibly important topic to all of us. We've tried to give some real food for thought and grist for action. As always, at Intead we try to give you the facts and figures in a concrete way. Strategic thinking that gets you to a tactical plan of action. 

I'm betting there are at least a few other people at your institution you will want to forward this post to if you dive into it. 

So, to get right into it, earlier this year we surveyed more than one million prospective international students thanks to FPPEDUMedia's powerful student database. More than 40,000 students responded immediately - that's some incredible engagement right there.

We asked them how current global, economic and political events are impacting their plans to study abroad. No surprise, our somewhat controversial question around international students' desire to study in the US based on the outcome of the presidential election has suddenly become a hot topic. For a variety of reasons, we didn't really expect to be in this place.

Now that we are, we have some new thinking to do. While the student responses we received were speculative (If someone wins, would you be more or less inclined to...), the responses were dramatically telling, nonetheless.

In case you missed it, 60% of 40,000+ responses said they were less likely to study in the US if Donald Trump were to win the election. That number rises to 80% when you look specifically at responses from Mexico. Now we have your attention, right?

So, how does our messaging to international students’ change now? How can we recruit international students who are wary of US travel and their safety here? How can we make our campuses feel inclusive and welcoming for our current (and future) international students? What about parents?

In the past week, we have discussed these topics with reporters at the New York Times, Chronicle of Higher Education, Hechinger Report, The Pie News, EL Gazette and others. There are many angles to consider.

In an effort to help this thinking, this conversation, move forward with all of our colleagues in academia, we are hosting a webinar later today (Wed., November 16) at 3pm Eastern Time to consider the angles in our new, post-election landscape. We will discuss what all this means for your recruitment and marketing plans. The webinar is complimentary, but limited to 75 seats. By the time you read this, we are likely already full to capacity, so we are looking into hosting another one. Register here to be put on our waiting list.

Dive into this topic in a more substantial way: Meet Us in Miami or San Diego

We will be sharing our global digital marketing insights and discussing ways to move forward in our new political landscape at some upcoming conferences. In December, we will be presenting at the ICEF and AIRC conferences in Miami. In January, we will be hosting the first annual International Student Recruitment Bootcamp (2016 theme: What Works Where) presented in partnership with CGACC. Let us know if you’ll be at any of these conferences–we’d love to chat.

Read on for perspective on how we do that global recruitment thing given the new political landscape…

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Intead’s Top 10 International Student Recruiting Podcasts

Podcasts can be an invaluable tool for international student recruiting professionals. They inspire new ideas, motivate us to try new things, and teach us industry secrets. And, you can listen to them just about anywhere, from your morning commute, to the coach seat as you fly to your next student fair, or just at your desk as you carve out a few minutes for lunch between all the demands of the day. Listening to leaders and experts in the field of international student recruiting discuss the same topics you struggle with can shed light on new solutions.

These are all of the reasons Intead started sharing podcasts a few years ago, and since then we’ve shared insights into everything from hiring admissions staff to innovative education models, to marketing to diverse audiences. This week, we’ve compiled a list of our top 10 most listened to podcasts. Here’s what your peers found most valuable.

In all, Intead has produced 46 podcasts with international student recruiting leaders covering all the topics you grapple with all the time. At the end of our top 10 list you will find a link to Intead’s full library of podcasts. Find the insights that are most important to you. Special nod to our co-founder, Michael Waxman-Lenz, for all his work producing these industry-leading resources.

Meet Us in Miami or San Diego!

When temperatures get cold here in New England, we seek out warmer weather ;) Join us at the AIRC and ICEF conferences in Miami in December as we share our latest global digital marketing insights at workshops and other presentations. In January, meet us in San Diego at our First Annual International Student Recruitment Bootcamp (2016 theme: What Works Where), presented in partnership with CGACC. Let us know if you’ll be at any of these venues–we’d love to catch up over a cup of coffee!

Read on to find links to our top 10 podcasts, plus one bonus podcast you won’t want to miss. Read on...

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International Student Recruiting in Egypt

It won’t come as a surprise to you that education is important in Egypt, the home of one of the oldest continuous running universities in the world, Al-Azhar University (photo above). But, after the political unrest of the past few years, you might be surprised to know that slowly and steadily Egypt is seeing growth in two essential areas.

Economic growth hasn’t been startling but it has been stable. In addition, increasing internet usage is linking young Egyptians to the global community more than ever before. This might be your signal to look past the Egypt of the Arab Spring and start looking toward the future of its young population. Students are interested in finding education abroad, especially if your institution has competitively low tuition rates and provides financial aid or scholarship opportunities to international students. A subset of our readers, for sure, but that is what marketing differentiation is all about. Promote your strengths where there is less competition.

Bottom Line: Interest in study abroad for Egyptian students is high but low government support makes financing these studies an issue. While the number of students from Egypt studying in the U.S. may be modest, the desire and the growth are not. The US saw a 5% increase in Egyptian students between the 2013/14 school year and the 2014/15 school year according to 2015 IIE Open Doors data. Tackling issues of finance will be key, but there won’t be a shortage of effort on the part of Egyptian students. Many young Egyptians have a good grasp on the English language and programs that help students hone these skills are essential in the region. And, if economic predictions for the future come true, starting in Egypt now will be a pay off in the future.

Meet Us in Miami or San Diego!

We will be sharing all our global digital marketing experience at workshops and other presentations at the AIRC conference, the ICEF Workshop and our latest effort to share knowledge: The First Annual International Student Recruitment Bootcamp (2016 theme: What Works Where) presented in partnership with CGACC. Let us know if we can schedule a coffee date at any of these venues. 

Read on for more insights into recruiting students from Egypt.

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Global Student Recruiting vs. Government Policies

Moving is such a drag! We’ve all been there. Packing up all our belongings. Having to make hundreds of rapid fire decisions. Should I bring this? Do I need that?

Intead has recently moved our offices (we are still in the Boston area; just 2 blocks from our old location). Our experience has been exciting and exhausting.

Still, our experience moving is insignificant compared to what your international students do to move half way around the world to reach your campus. With moving, it is the sheer number of big and small decisions that require and consume such energy.

We need to do all we can to make those decisions as easy as possible for our students. We need to control all those things we can control to make our international students confident and comfortable.

And yet, there are plenty of things that are well beyond our control. Today’s blog post addresses government policies and how we, as international student recruiters, must adjust how we do things as those unwieldy governments make our jobs difficult from year to year. We have some specific examples about policy changes in Vietnam, Saudi Arabia, Brazil, UK, Canada, and the US that are instructive for all of us.

Bottom Line: As government policies come and go, we need reliable international student recruitment systems in place to stay on track and adapt to the student mobility motivations and trends. The best and most creative among us use social media marketing to address the topics of the day in our marketing messaging. We adjust our marketing to meet the specific concerns and aspirations our prospective international students are experiencing. Want to know how your team can take advantage of the political turbulence to help your prospective students make good decisions? Read on...

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WhatsApp and Facebook Rule When Connecting with Kuwait

Can you imagine a country where the number of expatriates outnumbers the total number of nationals?

In Kuwait around 69% of the population is made up of expats and English-speaking schools are widespread. There are many opportunities for recruiting here; both international students and Kuwaiti nationals. And with the 6th largest oil reserves in the world, Kuwait is also among the top 5 wealthiest countries in the world by GDP per capita–meaning families have the funds to finance an education abroad.

Bottom Line: Kuwait is a small, oil-rich country with a diverse and interesting population. International education is a norm for the many wealthy families. Students and families in Kuwait are accustomed to international education systems and have financial support.

To account for the expanding expat population, the number of English-speaking schools is impressive. ExpatArrivals lists 11 international schools in this small country, and they are a great place to focus your recruiting efforts (see link below). There is also considerable governmental support for Kuwait nationals to study outside the country. Against this backdrop 9,034 students studied in the United States in the 2014/2015 school year, according to IIE Open Doors Data. In terms of digital marketing channels, WhatsApp and Facebook are where it is at in Kuwait.

Meet Us in Newport & Miami: We are at NAFSA Region XI in Newport, RI today! Our presentation at 1:30PM in the Vanderbilt Room is all about de-mystifying global digital marketing–stop by and say hello! (Slides available next week). We'll also be in Miami this December at the AIRC and ICEF conferences with global digital marketing presentations and workshops. Please be in touch if you'll be at any of these events.

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Do You Chat with WeChat? International Student Recruiting in China

This year marked the 5th birthday of WeChat. Trust us, they had a lot to celebrate!

In April of 2015, it was reported that WeChat’s monthly users were second only to WhatsApp and far ahead of similar apps like Viber, Line or SnapChat. We should also mention (in case you don’t already know) that WeChat is almost exclusively used in China. Social media marketing staff take note!

If you look only to the usage rates of their Chinese users, WeChat beats other messaging apps by a wide margin. In 2015, WeChat was ahead of competitors by 25%. And most of their users? The young audiences, the prospective students, we are all trying to reach! If you haven’t been on WeChat in the past, it is no longer something you can ignore.

Just in case you haven’t heard of it (because you’ve been living in Antarctica or something), and you’ll want to hear about it if you want to recruit in China, WeChat is a messaging app. Back in 2014, we featured a two-part blog series on WeChat (Part 1 and Part 2). We hope you are using those resources. In June, eMarketer released a report on WeChat’s Chinese user base and how these users engage with the app. So, today we have more. 

Bottom Line: Get on WeChat. Chinese users make up nearly 93% (~700 million) of all WeChat users and its popularity surpasses any other similar Chinese messaging app. The app is becoming more and more integrated into daily life as WeChaters link their bank accounts to use the app for online shopping. Marketing on WeChat only promises to get more effective as time goes on. Pro tip: the stats in this post may help you justify increasing your international student recruiting budget if China is a primary target recruiting source for your institution. 

Meet Us In Newport & Miami: Heading to the NAFSA Region XI conference in Newport, RI (Oct. 18-20)?  We’ll be presenting our latest recruiting insights. And in December we will be in Miami at the AIRC and ICEF conferences with digital marketing presentations and workshops. We’d love to meet you and discuss the challenges you face in your work. Please be in touch if you'll be at any of these events.

Back to WeChat; read on...

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5 Ways Your Current International Students Can Help You Recruit

Did you know that, even in the digital age, the most effective marketing strategies for universities involve direct interaction with prospective students? In 2014, Hanover Research released results of a survey that showed just that. This is big news! Why? Because even with all the online and print promotion that you are doing, one-on-one connections still drive recruitment! And not only that, they really work.

Now you’re probably thinking--that one-on-one contact is really a lot of work and hard to scale! We get that. Reaching out to students one by one can take a lot of time and effort. But remember all of those international students you worked so hard to recruit and admit to your school? Hanover Research suggests “mobilizing alumni networks and current students to become your brand ambassadors.” This is just one approach to maximizing your student recruitment opportunities.

Bottom Line

You have a wealth of knowledge about and great connections with your target populations right at your fingertips. Are you wondering how you can start utilizing your resources? We’re going to introduce you to 5 ways you can use your new institutional ambassadors to spread the word about your institution, get their network talking and keep prospective international students engaged. We're certain there is someone on your staff who would value this post, so share away!

Special note: Intead is once again honored to present our latest insights at the NAFSA Region XI Conference (Newport, RI, October 18-20). Our session, A Mystery No More: Successfully Engaging Students in China and Beyond, will reveal the results of our international student mystery shopping experiments of your peer institutions. Best practices, with a focus on digital marketing, will be explained for prospective international students from initial contact through enrollment. We'll place special emphasis on social media factors that affect student recruitment in China. We would love to meet you and see if our experience can help you address the challenges you’re currently facing. 

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Promote Your University’s Micro-Strengths!

In international student recruiting, reputation means a lot. Reputation often influences where students across the globe want to apply and study. But there are reputations, and then there are reputations.

Are you making the most of your academic micro-strengths?

Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) Top Universities just released its annualQS World University Rankings by Subject and you should really be paying attention because students read them and use them. These rankings carry weight. QS even mentions in this particular ranking that the list is developed each year because of “high demand for subject-level comparisons.” (And the search tool they have online is really kind of fun to play with ... #datanerds ;-)

This is an opportunity for your institution to shine in the eyes of these prospective students--especially if your institution has a lower overall rank, but really strong academic programs in particular areas of study. These program or subject level rankings are your micro-strengths! And QS helps you promote them.

Bottom Line: Students don’t just look at the reputation of the university as a whole; they are also looking into the reputation of the specific programs they are interested in. Your opportunity: market your strongest programs. While QS university rankings may have their flaws, they are widely used by international students. Examining the criteria of these rankings can help determine what kind of data your prospective international students will find attractive. [read on...]

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Know Your Neighborhood

35,000 International Students responded to our survey in 2 DAYS! That’s engagement!

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88 Ways to Recruit
International Students

A compendium of the many ways your peers are innovating to increase and improve their international student recruiting.


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