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Recruiting Intelligence

Required: Cultural Nuance in Edu Marketing - 3 Helpful Examples



Cultural nuance is no “nice to have.” It’s a must. Does your current marketing team understand this? Do they have the deep consumer insights needed to attract, recruit, and convert different cultural cohorts? Let’s get into it.  

When we talk about audience segmentation – the customization of content by region or country or academic interest AND country/region – what we’re talking about is the language and metaphors, images, and offers that resonate. We’re talking about deep consumer insight research that enables marketing efforts to move the needle in a competitive marketplace. Without these insights, your colorful examples, imagery, phrases, and language can only take a campaign so far.  

Non-marketers you can roll your eyes if you like. We suggest you take a look at our 3 examples below for a quick look under the hood at how deep market research informs the creative process and produces stronger results. 

Opportunities to Meet In Person 

The Intead team is gearing up for some amazing presentations and we hope you can join us. 

  • The Forum on Education Abroad in Boston, March 21, 2024
  • AIRC Spring Symposium and ICEF North America in Niagara, Canada, April 30 - May 3, 2024
  • NAFSA 2024 Annual Conference and Expo in New Orleans, May 28-31, 2024

Let us know if you’ll share a cup of coffee and a conversation about all things global and digital (info@intead.com) 

As we develop approaches to attract and recruit students to institutions, we carefully consider what they will find relatable and help them make wise decisions. What will capture their attention among the many ads and posts they see online? What phrases will resonate with them as they consider their options – at each point in the decision process (the marketing funnel)?

Essentially, we are trying to figure out what will pause their scroll and prompt the smart click.

Prospects can only follow up with so many offers. In the end, they will apply to somewhere between 5 and 20 institutions. Most will receive 3 to 7 acceptance letters, sometimes more. What will help them make a wise decision for their particular situation? Will the content you create and disseminate influence them to apply and then enroll? 

So many institutions believe their own marketing and put out the most generic messaging because they think the great pool of prospective students will simply find them and connect with them. Some faculty and administrative leaders still believe that "marketing" is unnecessary (or worse) because their institutions are clearly excellent and students will simply find and select them. This point of view persists within the academic community -- marketing as snake oil sales. And hey, there are plenty of marketers out here lacking integrity in their approach, so, we understand the disdain for the marketing field.

To be clear, effective marketing is communication with integrity. Effective marketing helps consumers make wise decisions. Full stop.

Read on to explore the use of motivational language, colorful metaphors, and local language to create marketing campaigns that will attract attention, resonate, inform, and recruit. 

Audience segmentation is foundational to any campaign we work on. If you’re a client, then you already know our market research is the compass that points your content in the right direction for each student segment, domestic or international.

A few simple examples of how consumer insights play out in campaign creatives that resonate. And yeah, we have the data to back that up.

Example #1: Motivational Language

Data Insight: “Honoring My Family”

Summary: In one large-scale market research project we undertook (35,000+ student survey responses), we asked what motivated students around the world to travel so far for their studies. With one question, we asked about the concept of “honoring your family” and the investment their families were making in this self-development and career-focused opportunity. Roughly 1 in 2 students in Indonesia identified “honor their family” as a primary motivation for their desire to study abroad. In Brazil, that figure was less than 1 in 30 students. Relatable messaging matters. Does your team consider this kind of message customization as you approach your audience segments?

Oh, and if you want that Know Your Neighborhood report with the 35,000+ student data insights, you can get it as an Intead Plus member.

Example #2: Colorful Metaphors

Data Insight: “Basement Study Spaces”

Summary: When the pandemic hit, students across the US and around the world shifted to online learning. University leaders in speeches, blogs, and other student-facing communications referenced this shift. Reasonably so. Our US-based Google search for “at home basement study space” produced 2.4M results between May 2020 and January 2023.

We have this image of students creating make-shift study spaces in their basements as they took on this new approach to learning, this new challenge. A nice visual that many here in the US can relate to. Even in New York City, where fewer students have basements because: apartments, they can still relate (cue images of the SNL Wayne’s World basement – or are we dating ourselves?)

students creating make-shift study spaces in their basements

So, conjuring the image of students relegated to the basement to continue their studies was absolutely relatable here in the US during the pandemic, even for apartment dwellers without a basement. They get it.

Not so much in China, India, Australia, and many others living in Southeast Asia where basements are a far less common part of construction. Not so relatable an image.

The lesson here: conjuring a colorful image such as "basement study spaces" may be wonderfully relatable in some places (US). Not so much in others (China). Customized messaging per student audience segment makes a difference.

Case Study #3: Local Language Ads

Data Insight: “Tu estudias aqui!”

Summary: We advocate for local language ads and content in many regions around the world. There are a variety of well documented reasons including making content accessible to parents who often do not have English language skills.

However, we also test our ads to be sure that the specific study options (academic programs, institutional value) we are offering actually reach our target audiences and prompt a response. Recent tests we ran for one university client demonstrated that in Colombia, our Spanish ads did not perform as well as our English ads. In this case, local language was not the best route. In other countries, our local language ads perform better than English ads.

When your marketing team has a long history of researching consumer insights and applying those insights to the creative process, you perform better. You achieve stronger results. You attract the type of student that thrives on your campus.

So many institutions create the single ad set with the single message and blast it out to all audience segments. Understanding niche audiences domestically and internationally, requires a level of curiosity and creativity rarely found. 

We are here when you are ready to take your game to this level. Be in touch: info@intead.com.

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