Lately, the numbers thrown around the international student recruiting world can feel disconcerting – even frightening. We look to the Open Doors Data from IIE released this week and we see that the average number of international students studying in the U.S. this fall has declined by 7% among 500 universities, with as many as 45% of institutions reporting a drop in new international student enrollment. That figure is usually about 33% of institutions reporting a drop based on IIE year to year comparisons over the past decade.
We are all seeing more and more alarming numbers and hearing anecdotal evidence emerging as the year progresses. This, while Canada's international student numbers have grown by more than 18%. It can be easy to feel overwhelmed and discouraged here in the US, and we're sure many of our readers are feeling on-edge this week as they formulate plans and reports to their senior administrators.
Let's all take a deep breath and step back. Remember: no matter the national figures, your unique institutional numbers represent strength, resilience and potential. Your intake numbers and data on the overall performance of your marketing efforts is the foundation upon which you will build all future efforts.
Without data, you have nothing. You are operating on guesswork and flying blind.
Based on past surveys, we know that most institutions' international recruitment leaders/staff do not actually check their Google Analytics stats at all, much less at regular intervals to compare performance. We're sure that's not you, but just in case... now is the time to start!
Remind yourself and your colleagues: don't hide from the numbers because they are unfavorable, complicated or intimidating. Look for ways to make the numbers accessible, useful and easy to communicate. (That's where we come in!)
This month, we invite you to join us for a webinar on the value of your data, Stop Dreading Data: Wielding the Power of Data to Strengthen Your International Student Recruitment Strategy on November 29, 2017 at 2:00 PM EST. This webinar will offer perspective and tools you need to harness the power of your data. We will provide simple guidelines and best practices you can begin implementing at your institution – right now.
Learn how to use data you already have to:
- Inform your recruitment strategy
- Evaluate relative ROI
- Focus your budget on high value activities (which programs, which countries, which marketing channels)
- Tailor your messaging
Read on to register to attend our complimentary webinar and explore the value of your institutional data and simple, effective ways that you can examine your numbers to increase long term performance...
In our travels, we have met with many institutions that are not utilizing data effectively – if at all. In the world of international recruiting, there is an abundance of valuable data at your fingertips that you may not even realize you can access.
Analysis of complex numbers for your institution can seem time consuming and impractical, but once you know what to look for and how to use it to your advantage, regular data analysis will become THE way you will increase both long- and short-term yield and enrollment. It does take investment of staff time, no two ways around that. There's a solution to that too...got graduate students?
Once the systems, dashboards and excel spreadsheets are set up, use data to find practical solutions to immediate problems – increase your social media engagement using the messaging that resonates most (draws the most clicks and conversions). Increase your email engagement by weeding out inaccessible links and refining your workflows based on email open and click-through rates. Use Google Analytics to inform your recruitment travel plans and increase your return on the investment in college fairs.
There’s already too much doubt and uncertainty out there. Don't let data bring you down. By monitoring key data points on a consistent basis, you can chart your future with confidence.
Register for our webinar and learn which data is most useful to your international recruiting efforts, and how to use it.
International Digital Audit
Earlier this summer, we wrote a post about the value of performing a digital audit for your institution. This can be one of the most effective ways to view your content the way that your prospective international student audience is experiencing it.
There are four key elements to any effective digital audit, all of which are performed as part of the Intead Digital Audit. The key in our industry however, is to perform all of these essential tasks from an international perspective.
Here at Intead, we believe that a good digital audit for international recruitment should show you exactly what your international students are seeing, give you a sense of how they are responding and give concrete recommendations for how you can improve. Trust us, we have a plan.
1. Website Audit
Your website is the online personification of your school and your brand. For most international applicants, your website is the closest they will get to visiting campus before choosing whether to apply or attend.
- Does your website appear on international search engines?
- What does your website look like when viewed through other countries’ Internet Service Providers (ISPs)?
2. Email Audit
An e-mail is often the first direct contact that potential students receive from your institution. A good e-mail catches their attention in the subject line, headline, and first few lines of text (but mostly the subject line).
- Is all of your e-mail content relevant and engaging to your target markets? A Korean student is not going to respond the same way a Colombian student will. Tailor your content; consider your student personas.
- Do all links lead to platforms that are accessible to the audience? All social media does not work in every country.
3. Social Media Audit
Approaching international social media platforms can be a daunting challenge for even the most well-equipped institution.
- Do you understand the use and tone of social media platforms in your target markets (how, when, where, and most importantly why those particular channels are used)?
- How often do you receive engagement with your accounts? Daily? Weekly? Monthly? What is the nature of the communication? Are you tracking this? Are you capable of timely responses?
4. Google Analytics
Most institutions have Google Analytics installed. You can use Google Analytics to track your website traffic from any country in the world. You can actually track it by city. So for instance, if you travel to Mumbai for a student fair, you can check your website traffic on specific international student pages from Mumbai in the week before the fair, during and after. That data is key to assessing the effectiveness of your travel expense.
Have you conducted a digital audit of your institution? Are you interested in doing so? We'd love to give you more details on how the Intead Digital Audit can benefit your international student recruitment plans.