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Recruiting Intelligence

Ben Waxman & Kate Mattern

New Open Doors Data: What Does It Really Tell Us?

NPR Marketplace fans may have heard a familiar voice on last Tuesday’s episode. Ben was happy to join the show’s ever-engaging economic reporters as they quickly reviewed the latest numbers from IIE’s Open Doors data and considered the issues at play.

Those of us working in international student enrollment in the U.S. have monitored enrollment data even more carefully than usual over the past few years. In a time of political upheaval in the U.S. and globally, the impact on enrollment has been a nail-biter. How have anti-immigrant rhetoric, changes in visa policies, and rising violence affected enrollment? How will these trends affect us in the future? And how can universities counteract the negative messages and perceptions with positive ones?

This is complicated work, and one that regular readers of our blog engage with vigor. And not for nuthin, but our market research with FPPEDUMedia predicted this turn of events eight months prior to the 2016 election. Our blog subscribers saw the storm clouds coming and had our tips and reports in hand. 

But even those who follow these issues closely would be forgiven for scratching their heads about the latest headlines about the new 2017/2018 Open Doors numbers.

“Number of International Students in United States Reaches New High of 1.09 Million” says IIE’s own announcement. “New International Enrollments Decline Again” says Inside Higher Ed.

Huh?

If you plan to be in Florida for AIRC or ICEF next month, reach out so that we can connect in person. Ben and Patricia will be there presenting workshops, sessions and generally sharing our research and strategic marketing approach with anyone willing to listen ;-)

Now, Let’s break down the latest data... 

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Using Chatbots for Student Recruitment

Before we even had our coffee this morning, members of the Intead team had already texted with spouses about children’s forgotten school lunches, communicated with dog walkers on Facebook messenger, and answered Slack messages from each other. Something tells me your morning didn’t look all that different from ours. We are living in an era of instant communication.

We have come to expect that we’ll be able to reach folks quickly and get the info we need wherever and whenever we want to. So, it’s no wonder that we’re seeing the rise of “conversational marketing”—and that your prospective students expect you to keep up with the times.

Conversational marketing is “feedback driven” marketing that relies on artificial intelligence, or bots, to communicate with consumers—or in our case, students.

Here's the important question: Will your institution be at the forefront? A fast follower? Or trying desperately to catch up?

Upcoming Educational Opportunities

How about a FREE PASS to our next Intead Plus webinar? 

Wed, Nov 7th at 11AM EST we will have an important discussion: "What's a Muslim Student to Think?" with our friend and guest speaker Wajahat Ali whom I was first introduced to at the 2015 AIEA conference when he keynoted the luncheon. As a blog subscriber, we want you to experience the value of subscribing to our newest service. Please join us for the webinar as our guest.

And we would be remiss to not mention the AIRC conference and our full-day workshop on all things international student recruiting. December 5 in Weston, FL. Join veteran recruiters and marketers and hone your marketing plan using our worksheets. Get the scoop here

Chatbot Info, Let's Get Into It...

So about those Chatbots...are they sounding too futuristic or difficult to implement? It’s not as intimidating as it sounds, and it’s changing the marketing game. You can make this happen for your institution. Here's what you need to know...

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A Second Look at Higher Ed Rankings

Rankings can be addictive. Ask any student who has ever clamored for that valedictorian spot, every salesperson who has tried to outgun her colleagues to be the month’s top seller, every parent who beams at their kid’s position on the Little League batting lineup.  

While you’re at it, ask an enrollment professional, too.

University rankings—think U.S. News and World Report, The Times Higher Education (our far and away favorite in the field if we had to choose), QS, or the Shanghai Jiaotong Academic Ranking of World Universities, and now the Wall Street Journal — affect so much. Students place a lot of weight on ranking lists, and so do parents, alumni, research funders, and governments around the world.

A great ranking can be like an institutional lucky charm, nearly guaranteeing ongoing success. Working at such an institution can feel like taking a perpetual victory lap, waving to crowds of adoring fans as applicants and endowment funds come rolling in.

But a poor ranking can feel like an institutional curse, dooming an institution to mediocrity. Working in enrollment at an “average” institution can sometimes feel like an exhausted, uphill scramble for applications and dollars. This shouldn’t be the case—and it doesn’t have to be.

Rankings matter a lot. Should they? And what can you do about it? Read to the end to find out! 

A couple of opportunities to learn more before we dive into today's topic:

  1. Bite-size data points: Intead Insights is re-launching on Twitter! We're sharing quick stats that, in  15-20 seconds, can teach you something new about enrollment marketing. Fun, informative, surprising, and all the cool kids are doing it (as if). Follow us on Twitter: @Intead 
  2. Digital marketing full-day workshop at AIRC: On Dec., 5, 2018, Intead and our talented colleagues, Angel Ahmed, GNET, and Hillary Dostal, Northeastern University, will be giving a full-day workshop as part of the AIRC conference in Westin, FL. If you have not yet registered, now is the perfect time! Register here

Now, what's a mid-ranked or low-ranked institution to do? Let's review the concerns and provide some advice...

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Study Abroad Students = International Ambassadors

How well are you using your study abroad students as ambassadors for your institution? Are they prepped to represent? Or, do they simply have too many other things to think about and you don't want to burden them? You may be missing an opportunity to give them a gift.

For many institutions, getting US students to take the study abroad opportunity is a real challenge. Not enough of them do it and we wring our hands wondering, "Why are you missing out on this amazing opportunity?" What's needed is a bit more customer-centric thinking to understand the needs, motivations and hurdles to studying abroad. That's a future blog post unto itself.

Today, we focus on setting up your current study abroad students for success and helping your institution brand get a boost as part of the deal.

More than 325,000 US students studied abroad in 2015/2016 academic year with NYU leading the pack according to IIE data (link below). These students fan out across the globe for adventure, cross-cultural experiences and academic connections. For many students, this becomes the real highlight of their college experience. Their time away from their home institution is a chance to learn at a foreign institution, dive into a new culture, gain language skills, and form lasting memories. Huh, sounds a lot like your international students!

Let's explore how you can help your study abroad students help you as they become ambassadors for your institution.

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Understanding Your Global Landscape With SEVIS Data ...and Our NAFSA Slides!

Isn’t it nice when someone just makes things easy?

At home, we love it when our partners empty the dishwasher, the kids trot off to bed without a fuss, the cable guy shows up when he’s supposed to, or the DVR remembers to record our favorite show even when we mere humans have forgotten. Everybody loves it when someone takes care of the work, leaving you to sit back and relax!

At Intead, we get that same sense of “wow, thanks!” when someone serves us up quality data that is organized clearly. It’s nerdy, we know—but if you’re reading this blog, we bet you share the same appreciation for easy-to-interpret info.

So we want to share one of our favorite datasets with you: Mapping SEVIS by the Numbers, provided by the Department of Homeland Security. And yes, we are actually saying “thank you” to SEVIS. We’re as surprised by this as you are ;-)

Read on to learn about how available SEVIS data can provide some great insights into your global recruiting efforts. This stuff can tell you a whole lot about which countries might work best for your recruiting for specific programs. It can also give you insight into your efforts to attract transfer students – international students already studying here in the US.

Below, you also will find a link to our NAFSA presentation slides about aligning your internal stakeholders and gaining the support you need to recruit. The stories shared by Jon Stauff (Monmouth University) and Martyn Miller (Temple University) gave some real world, in the trenches perspective. The slides really don’t capture all that was shared.

Please be in touch if you’d like to learn more (info@intead.com). Better yet, sign up for our new Intead Plus membership and get a continuous stream of helpful data, tools, and a Google Analytics review that can put you in a great position to strengthen your recruiting game.

Read on…

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List Purchase vs. Lead Generation

So many international student lead generators….so few real conversions. The challenging truth is that there are no simple fixes to global marketing, though many companies pitch them.

List providers and university search sites offer an understandable allure to over-worked and under-resourced student recruitment professionals: thousands of leads, obtained with the swipe of an institutional credit card. But like everything else that sounds too good to be true, there’s a catch. Kind of a big one.

Give this week's post a read and consider the value of unique lead generation campaigns – and then attend our session at NAFSA to learn how you can pitch the idea and build internal support for all of your international recruitment efforts. Join us at our session: "Who's Got Your Back? Building Internal Support for International Recruitment" on Wed, May 30 at 1 pm with  Dr. Martyn Miller, Assistant Vice President for International Programs at Temple University and Dr. Jon Stauff, Vice Provost for Global Education at Monmouth University. 

Valuable information follows. Read on...

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It's the Little Things...

Choosing to study at an international university is a BIG decision for students and parents. So it makes sense that they care a lot about big-picture issues: Is tuition affordable? Will a degree from this school set the student up for a good career? How strong is the institution in my academic area? Is the campus safe?

But “little” things matter, too—more than universities or even students themselves often realize. This stuff comes into play a little later in the student decision making process, or as marketers call it: further down the recruitment funnel.

Prospective students and their families will judge your university not just on the practicalities, but on their emotional response to the institution and the overall perception of the campus environment. Understanding your unique audience segments will give you valuable insights into small improvements in your processes that will make a major impact.

Creating the welcoming environment at your institution has a lot to do with getting broader stakeholder buy-in. Translated, that means when an international student interacts with or arrives on campus, the overall experience is one of warmth and welcome at a very uncertain and anxious time. You've been there yourself: entering an unfamiliar place where you feel just a bit unsteady, not your usual confident self. 

At those times, the one or two smiling, welcoming faces brought back that feeling of, "Oh, this is going to be ok." Better yet is conveying the sense that this will be GREAT!

We will be discussing these very common university challenges at NAFSA this year on Wed, May 30 at 1 pm along with Dr. Martyn Miller, Assistant Vice President for International Programs at Temple University and Dr. Jon Stauff, Vice Provost for Global Education at Monmouth University. It will be a lively and valuable discussion. We hope you can join us: "Who's Got Your Back? Building Internal Support for International Recruitment." 

You can email Elaine to schedule a meeting with us at Nafsa.

So, what little things may not be so little after all? Read on...

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Streamline Your Global Partnerships

How many cooks are in your international-marketing-kitchen? Many universities work with a dizzying array of partners in their efforts to reach international prospects—an endless stream of specialized contractors all working in separate silos and in different regions.

We’ve seen universities that have hired many vendors under separate contracts:

  • A partner to build their international microsites
  • A freelancer to write the blog copy on that microsite
  • A partner to run a Facebook ad campaign in India
  • A partner to run a Weibo account in China
  • A partner to run webinars in Vietnam
  • A videographer to shoot student testimonials
  • A graphic design firm to design brochures
  • A social media manager to run their WeChat account
  • A market research company to provide yearly research reports
  • An SEO specialist to help with paid search

    Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz…sorry, we dozed off there. It makes us tired just to write out this list. And we didn't even include the many agent contracts most universities sign in their primary target countries.

Does international student recruitment have to be this distracting and exhausting ?

Read on for our advice on streamlining and helping you get back to your real job...

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Global Alumni Management for U.S. Institutions