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Recruiting Intelligence

Ben Waxman

The Power of List Segmentation Part III: So You Want More Student Applications, Right?

Audience segmentation and digital marketing, this is our third post of our three-part series. Our faithful readers dug into Part I (segmentation and parameters) and Part II (audience motivations) with relish. Today: messengers and lead scoring. Hold onto your hats, right?

This stuff is important— so while our blog series on the topic may end today, we hope you'll keep digging into the topic of audience segmentation. We're here to help. Drop us a line at info@intead.com, or connect with us in-person at the TABS Global Symposium on April 28-30 in Newport, RI.  We'd love to talk with you about how you can use segmentation to up your enrollment game.

One other near-term, valuable opportunity to learn with us: Artificial Intelligence for Higher Ed Explained. An Intead Plus exclusive webinar with Ashish Fernando, CEO of iSchoolConnect. 

This is a great opportunity. We will help you navigate the complex waters of AI and help you stay focused on your long-term goals. We're Intead, so we'll have some really cool data to share about online behavior, tech trends, case studies and the many faces of AI that can improve your student recruitment and engagement.

Register for the Webinar HERE

Here's the bottom line on audience segmentation. Yes, the process can feel daunting. You have a lot to consider: Which regions do you want to reach? What motivations drive your prospective students? Which messages will be most compelling, and to whom?

There is a ton of strategy to consider and content to develop. Nevertheless, this process is how you get more applications and boost your student yield. We imagine there is some internal pressure to achieve these goals, yes?

Different markets require different approaches. Ignore this reality at your own peril. For example, many institutions simply dump all prospective “international students” into a marketing bucket called “INTERNATIONAL.” We hear it all the time (“Let us show you our ‘international’ recruitment brochure!”) and it still makes us wince.

In today's competitive market, a one-size-fits-all approach simply doesn't cut it. Take the time to segment your audience and implement a marketing plan (message, content, dissemination channel) to each group you are targeting, and success will follow.

Part of doing audience segmentation well is choosing the best messenger at the best time. And another part is having your system set up to indicate or elevate the best leads - AKA lead scoring (those most engaged) so you know where to focus your valuable time and resources.

So without further ado, let's get to it.

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The Power of List Segmentation Part II: What's Motivation Got To Do With It?

Last week’s blog post kicked off our mini-series on audience segmentation with a discussion on segmentation by demographics, geography and interests. This week we will delve into models for identifying underlying student motivations and how to make use of this data for your international student recruiting.

Psychographic segmentation identifies unique groups of students with shared motivations and desires in order to help you, as a recruiter, discover what drives them to enroll at your institution. Student's don't just show up on your doorstep. They must be motivated to seek out your institution, out of all your competition. 

Here's an interesting audience segment: 50% of Nafsan's think that Artificial Intelligence (AI) will change Higher Education but they don't know how. We aim to fix that! Intead Plus Members will have access to an exclusive webinar about AI and Higher Ed on Thursday, March 28, 2019 at 1 pm. Not an Intead Plus Member and still want in? We might know some people at the door! Drop us an email.

The market segments we discuss below are common to most student groups no matter their geographic origins. Yet, each segment will respond more or less to different influencers, based on what part of the globe they come from.

There are so many ways to parse the data. No wonder so few institutions take the time to implement this granular approach to marketing. You know other industries, including clothing retailers, are doing this stuff with their digital marketing. it's not that hard to do. But it takes time.

Retailers use CRM platforms and employ small teams of people to write copy and develop marketing approaches for each clothing line based on audience segmentation. They commit the resources to meet each audience segment with the right information, at the right time, to help them make an informed decision about a purchase. Although the service your institution provides differs wildly from the offerings of any retailer, the granular level of segmentation is relevant and applicable to your specific academic programs and the audience segments you are approaching for each one. 

Bottom Line: We certainly see parallels with how retailers and universities can communicate their offerings to audience segments and cross sell (students interested in this program also pursued interests in these areas...). What we don’t see is a parallel commitment of resources. Academics are so often strained by budgets and limited resources, but the reality is that those committed to growth and success commit funds to reaching the right audience with the right information.

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The Power of List Segmentation Part I: Are you already doing this?

Creativity is essential in our field, and today we talk about how to apply that creativity to the right leads. In fact, we are going to give you plenty of details over the next few weeks on the power of segmentation as you recruit international students. (ProTip: you may want to share this 3-part series with a few key colleagues responsible for your recruiting - domestic and international.) 

When we talk about segmenting your audience, it is critical that you understand your institution's differentiators. Our recent blog post on getting creative about differentiation really resonated with our readers. Did you catch that one? (Read it here).

Bottom Line: by segmenting your international student leads based on geography, academic interest, TOEFL scores and other demographic information, your creative content will engage in a way that stands out from the competitive crowd.

But wait, there's more!

This post is going to take you into an important set of segmentation processes and parameters. A very important one, lead scoring, will be addressed later in this 3-part series on audience segmentation. You and your team won't want to miss any of these posts.

Come see us present at the TABS Global Symposium on April 28-30 in Newport, RI, and we can talk all about the digital marketing we love so much!

Here's the thing: You are going to need some help to do this kind of work. You need the tools and the skills to make it work effectively. Don't shy away from that. In a competitive market, your enrollment numbers are going to fall if you are not keeping pace or pulling ahead of your peer institutions. You know this. The headlines have been screaming about enrollment declines for the past three years (and then some).

So fire up the CRM platform that gives you the ability to design flexible landing pages quickly and easily. Pull in that person on your team who knows how to write great content to your different segments. And get ready to recognize the person who knows how to manage lists and track results. You'll need them (or us) to make this process hum.

Read on...

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Competition In Edtech Is Off the Charts

Every time we turn around there is another set of edtech companies showing off their wares. At NACAC, NAFSA and the American Marketing Association’s Higher Ed Group, everyone has a tech solution.

We’ve been watching the rise of edtech and loving the growth and the disruption. From offering new ways of delivering educational content to how we confirm that students are absorbing that content, there are beautiful things happening. And the data being collected is going to help us all improve our education outcomes.


There are more than 15,000 companies in some form of edtech position. And by some estimates more than $50B (likely more) has been invested in making them grow. Some of the names are familiar to you and some are new to all of us.

But everything is not rosy here. All too often, the marketing for these companies shout out “Artificial Intelligence” and “Predictive Modeling,” when they are anything but “intelligent” or “predictive.” If you scratch the surface when you meet them at a conference, you’ll find that their “predictive modeling” is simply filtering their list purchases in sophisticated ways. We're thinking their marketing pitch might be better termed “Artificial Modeling.” To wit, they are selling stuff with no substance.

Intead will be doing a series of posts and webinars with industry leaders addressing edtech in the coming year. We’re excited to shine a light on those that are doing incredible things. As always, our Intead Plus members will get the best stuff from us.

Please read on for a nice summary of the wonderful ways edtech will transform the classroom, our employees, and our lives in the years to come.

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How much to pay commission-based student recruiters?

The agent debate ended a number of years ago for most of us. Sure, there are a few stragglers complaining about the unethical practices out there.

Our view: Every industry has unethical characters. Commission-based recruiters, as a group, have more than their fair share. Basic buyer beware precautions are the rule. Careful vetting and management of your recruiters will keep you from getting burned more than once.

Rather than being asked whether commission-based agents are a valid recruitment channel, we are now consistently asked, “What is the going rate?” And the market is shifting.

Intead and AIRC set out to understand as much as we could from both universities and agents in the current market. We published our report late last year and offered up a well-attended webinar.

Want to learn more about what others are paying their agents and how they are managing those relationships? Our most recent research findings and the webinar recording are just a click away.

Read on…

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3 Essential Budget Questions: A Framework for Planning

Is it moving forward? At the pace you want? Are you getting where you need to go?

If you are like most institutions, the answer is, “no.”

Or at least, the answer is, “Not as fast and at the level of quality I need and want.” So, here’s the most important question: Why not?

Budgeting for Student Recruitment

The season is upon us and whether you are submitting your budget for approval or evaluating the budget requests others submit to you, we thought we might offer some insight for your process.

Business school professors love to apply the latest 4 square analysis that simplifies complex industry quandaries. The marketing texts (Kotler anyone?) are full of flowcharts and other grids to help you make sense of the 4 Ps (Product, Price, Placement and Promotion). And then there is the ever-elusive ROI analysis.

And the best line of all that sums up our most cynical fears: We will beat the excel spreadsheet into submission until it tells us what we want to hear.

Oh, those budgeting meetings and the spreadsheet assumptions. How often do we go back at the end of the year and take a look at what we projected and what we actually achieved before we approve the next project budget?

Not often enough and usually not with enough of a critical eye.

Sometimes, having outside expertise performing an analysis or assessment of your processes and capacity against your strategic goals can really help move an institution forward. Send us a quick email to learn more about what Intead can do to help.

Download Intead’s 3 Essential Budget Questions – a 1-pager that offers a simplified approach to considering any budget request/evaluation. With this framework for evaluating your plans and whether they merit additional investment, you’ll take those complex quandaries down to a basic starting point to help identify where the opportunities for growth really are. We think you’ll want to share this one widely.

Read on to access the downloadable chart...

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Insights from AIRC & ICEF 2018

This week, we are just returning from the whirlwind Florida adventure that is the annual AIRC and ICEF conferences. This is our 9th year taking this trip, connecting with colleagues, sharing ideas, presenting new data and working together to drive innovation.

There was much discussion around emerging digial marketing techniques, assessment of our current global political situation and the students who are at the heart of it all. As with all higher ed conferences, we find ourselves loving the swirl of new ideas, invigorated, encouraged and looking to share our experience with all of you. 

I invite you to have a quick read through some of the insights from the two conferences and scroll down to enjoy a brief video we produced with several industry friends and colleagues who each have a deep and unique expertise in areas including: launching global brands, innovating, connecting people around the world and crunching data.

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Higher Education is Changing. Are You Keeping Up?

Today on the Recruiting Intelligence blog, we’re excited to broaden the enrollment conversation.

You may have read our guest post a few weeks ago from Dr. David Di Maria about the commonalities between international and non-traditional students.

Most Wednesdays, we cover topics related to international student recruitment. As our readers know, effective international student outreach requires an understanding of two fundamental concepts:

  • The first idea is cheesy, but true: no matter where we’re from, we’re all people with common core desires, fears, and drives. The desire for a safe and enriching environment, fear of isolation or failure, and the drive to succeed in our chosen field are pretty universal.
  • The second concept is the hard part: While we all share the same broad needs, our background does shape the best ways to capture our attention, meet our desires, assuage our anxieties, and encourage our dreams.

Understanding that duality is the key to effectively reaching international students and prompting them to take action (read that as "prompting them to apply"). It’s also the key to reaching another, increasingly important group of students. We’ve been thinking about these learners a lot lately, and we’re jazzed about discussing them here today: “non-traditional students.”

Non-traditional students are the future of education—both international and domestic. This is a group of students that clients are asking about more and more, and a market segment none of us can afford to ignore it.

We’re so certain of this, in fact, that we wrote a whole book about the subject. 

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Selecting a Marketing Agency: What Makes an Effective Team?

You know your organization needs to do a better job of recruiting in key markets, but how do you find the "right" marketing team? This is a complex question, but from our experience, there is one clear answer. 

Exploring an array of works by strategic thought-leaders including Brene Brown, Jocko Willink, Reid Hoffman, Robert Kegan and Lisa Laskow Lahey, comparing and contrasting a range of theories and approaches, strategic and tactical advice about creating effective teams – a pattern begins to emerge.

The answer: When you are evaluating vendors, consider team culture carefully. With global marketing, there’s a lot that can go sideways quickly, and you want the right group of people by your side to launch effectively and adjust when needed.

Will your agency adapt to change with grace and thoughtful expertise, and still deliver results given the new reality on the ground? Will they have the global network that identifies the need to change and share it with you on the spot? Or will it become apparent later, after the campaign funds are long gone?

The "right" team is hard to find. We know that truth from experience. Read on for a bit of wisdom from one of our clients about choosing the team that will move your institution forward. 

But before you click on: Last Chance for a free pass to today's Intead Plus webinar, "What's A Muslim Student to Think?" with my guest, Wajahat Ali, Journalist, CNN Talking Head, NYT Op Ed Contributor and all around thoughtful, analytical, humorous guy. Starts at 11AM DST. You won't be disappointed.

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Leading Enrollment Planning, Leading Change

How’s enrollment going these days? Are your numbers where they should be? Is the trend on the right track?

For so many enrollment administrators, these questions prompt a level of anxiety because the trend is down and the storm clouds on the horizon bode more of the same.

There are steps you can take. And it is time to stand tall and act. Our advice: Never waste a good crisis.

Regardless of the field you work in as a leader, there is the perpetual challenge of launching new initiatives. The ideas and business plans are one thing – coming up with them is actually quite manageable. The world is full of opportunities that absolutely can and will succeed with the right team and resources behind them.

So here’s the question: Are you doing the assessments necessary to find the best path forward?

Market research looking outward can tell you where the opportunities are. Couple that with a deep internal assessment that identifies what is working well and where your investment of staff time and resources is doing the greatest good (and where it is not).

Learning Opportunities

One common element of this work is typically our digital audit to understand your online presence, web traffic and email performance. The results of this audit provide both market receptivity metrics as well as internal performance metrics.

You can access our experience and chart your path forward. At the AIRC annual conference this December, we will deliver a full-day workshop on global digital marketing and enrollment planning. This could be the low-cost opportunity that helps you jump start your enrollment plan overhaul. We hope you’ll take advantage of this opportunity.

Of course there is also our deep recruitment research and instructional library available to Intead Plus members (have you signed up for our can’t miss Intead Plus Webinar with Wajahat Ali: What’s a Muslim Student to Think?)

Read on to learn a bit more about what we look for as we develop customized enrollment plans for our clients…

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