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Recruiting Intelligence

Hey Academic Marketers: Did Apple just bite into your audience?

You’ve got to hand it to Apple – everyone’s paying attention to their iOS 14.5 update. At least, those of us in marketing.

This typically benign move (yawn…another update) has Facebook screaming, “Alert: The sky is falling!” In our experience, most marketers have had their Chicken Little moments over the years. Some more than others. Remember when the movie industry thought VCRs were going to decimate their revenue stream? Or how about Y2K?

But what exactly is it that’s got everyone crying foul (er, fowl)? In short, data. Or, lack thereof.

The new update aims to add transparency to user data tracking. All App Store apps are now required to ask users for permission to access the Identifier for Advertisers (IDFA), a unique tracking code for mobile devices. So, each time an iPhone user downloads an app from the Apple Store, they must actively opt-in to be tracked. If they don’t, the policy prohibits certain data collection and sharing. Apple is positioning the move as protecting the consumer.

Early word from Flurry has it that 94% are opting out. That number is a big deal to businesses who’ve come to rely on this data to optimize, target, and report on tracking pixels, the bits of code that detail user behavior. It’s certainly a big deal to Facebook and Google and to those of us who rely on their insights.

Truthfully, prior to this iOS change, iPhone users already had the ability to opt-out of IDFA, but this move by Apple prompts and forces a user decision and almost everyone is opting out.

While the change only affects Apple’s mobile audience (leaving desktop and Android users alone), that’s still 1 billion active iPhones worldwide, one-fifth of which are in the US. (iOS has notable but significantly less presence in key international student recruiting markets with 44% market share in Saudi Arabia, 36% in Vietnam, 27% in South Korea, 22% in China, 13% in Brazil, 8% in Nigeria, and just 3% in India, per Statcounter GlobalStats.)

As this policy takes hold, academic marketers will have much less insight into the iOS users who are clicking on apps. That inhibits the ability to micro-target, which is a problem.

To know for sure the significance of the iOS update on your campaigns, institutions should compare the percent of traffic that engages through mobile, then the percentage of those who use iOS. This is all readily available through your Google Analytics. The higher the number, the greater the impact the iOS update will have on you. Your lead generation efforts will be affected, but we imagine less so than say e-commerce businesses (think Amazon, Etsy, Target, Best Buy, etc.).

Of course, this isn’t just about privacy. It’s also about money. The big tech players are competing with one another for your ad spend. Remember, Google makes over 80% of its money on advertising, as does Facebook. They want to maintain control. Can we blame them? (Yes, of course we can, and do. Nevertheless…).

And that’s the bigger picture. Marketers who feel like the sky is falling feel that way because they are losing some control over the crux of their campaigns: their audience and their ability to define and target them. The risk the Apple update poses to your institution is your diminishing ability to reach desired audiences accurately and affordably through paid digital channels – primarily in the US. 

So, while the sky may not be falling, do read on to learn how your academic marketing team should respond…

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LATAM Recruiting Series: Insights on Mexico

Our 2021 Latin America international student recruiting series has offered insight into the opportunities in Brazil, Colombia, and Ecuador. Now: Mexico.

Mexican student enrollment in US institutions grew significantly over the last 4 decades. A rising middle class has driven this desire and ability to afford education abroad. In 2020 the number studying in the US stood at roughly 14,350. That figure represents about 50% of all Mexican outbound student mobility.

Not so long ago, during the 2016 US presidential election (remember that?), our market research found that a whopping 80% of Mexican students in our survey told us they would be less inclined to study in the US if Trump won the presidency. A stunning number by all counts. However, we noted at the time that we believed this was an expression of distaste, and that 80% of students would not actually act on these feelings. 

Our science and art of market research proved accurate. A drop in US student enrollment from Mexico did follow the Trump presidency but nothing as dramatic as 80%. Still, it hurt many institutions and stifled opportunity for many students. We suggested that the real drop would likely be closer to 10% during the Trump presidency and in fact, the number of Mexican students enrolling in US institutions dropped by 8% in 2017 and then another 3% in 2018. These drops occurred despite an education initiative in Mexico during that time that set a goal of encouraging 100,000 Mexican students to seek a foreign education.

During this period there were notable increases in Mexican student mobility to Canada and Germany. However, the numbers were still relatively small in these countries. Read on for deeper marketing insights as you consider your international student recruitment strategy for Mexico. 

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LATAM Recruiting Series: Insights on Ecuador

If you haven’t had an opportunity to read our recent LATAM recruiting series posts, check out Brazil and Colombia. Today in our series, a look at Ecuador. Not the typical place for universities to invest in international student recruiting, but a valuable consideration as you think about diversifying your source countries.

The US and Ecuador maintain consistent and strong economic ties. On July 1, 2021, Ecuador received 1 million COVID-19 vaccines from the US, with another shipment due to arrive three weeks later. With a population of almost 18 million people, Ecuador’s vaccination rate is close to 25% for the first of two COVID-19 doses. 

According to the most recent SEVIS data from March 2021, the US had 3,025 active students from Ecuador. Of these students, 41% are seeking an undergraduate degree. Currently, student visa processing for requests to study in the US are experiencing the same frustrating backlogs and delays as other parts of the world. Getting recruiting processes back to pre-COVID smooth is going to take quite a bit of time.

With that as an introduction, let’s take a look at Ecuador and the top five student influencers for studying in the US.

Read on for our recruiting insights and a handy (and cool) COVID-19 vaccination rate tracking tool from Reuters — you’ll want to check this as you plan your global recruitment travel as funding and travel restrictions permit. 

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LATAM Recruiting Series: Insights on Colombia

Welcome to another installment in our LATAM recruiting series. In part one we shared insights and predictions about Brazilian student mobility. This week, our focus is on Colombia. As you diversify your student sources, Colombia makes for a valuable addition if you are not already active there. COVID creates obstacles for all of our source countries in 2021, but that doesn’t stop us from maintaining important international connections and pursuing the opportunities that endure. 

Let’s get down to business and explore some numbers. According to the SEVIS March 2021 report, Colombia has nearly 10,000 active students in the US, with IIE reporting Colombia 23rd in ranking for sending students to US universities. This same report shows the interest in graduate degrees being the preferred choice with a 34% enrollment rate compared to 25% for a bachelor’s degree and 11% for an associate’s degree.

No surprise, pandemic-fueled personal instability with contributing social and economic turbulence has Colombian students and parents concerned. Taking that into consideration, as well as Colombia having significant income inequality second only to Brazil in Latin America, some Colombian students face seemingly insurmountable challenges when considering tertiary study opportunities.

Overcoming obstacles in this field has so much to do with developing and nurturing the international relationships that turn into pipelines. Consider the conversations your institution already has with prospective students and the channels being used. Faculty connections, alumni connections, agent connections all have value for the intelligence they bring to your planning and the potential for growth. These all play into the digital marketing approach you will deploy to capture greater student awareness and action.

Online Connections Matter

In the latest bulletin (2018) from the Colombian Ministry of Telecommunications, 60% of the Colombian population has Internet access, with more than half of users connecting with mobile phones. Important as you consider your website and landing pages.

Although there is a digital divide leaving countryside dwellers less connected, the larger cities are taking advantage of their 4G services and free wifi hotspots. Facebook and WhatsApp are the most commonly used with We Are Social reporting an increase in social media users in Colombia by 34 million, an 11% increase from April 2019 to January 2020.

Read on for our assessment of opportunities to recruit Colombian students...

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LATAM Recruiting Series: Insights on Brazil

Back in March/April 2020, we talked about the big picture factors that would reduce student enrollment in 2020/2021: job/income loss, restrictive student visa and travel regulations, COVID-19 rates of infection, and limitations on the availability of internships and jobs. Now we need to add to those considerations: vaccination rates. 

Following our publication of enrollment marketing insights about the two largest senders of students to the US (Report Links Available Here: China and India), we find ourselves wanting to know more about LATAM countries and whether there are insights to share with our enrollment colleagues.  

According to SEVIS data, there are more than 23,000 Brazilians studying in the US today. Our friends at WENR predict Brazil will become one of the top five countries worldwide for outbound students seeking degree programs by 2035. A lot can happen between now and then. Nevertheless, we know Brazil will remain an important source of students to academic programs around the world.

Setting the Context

Being proactive in our enrollment marketing initiatives requires data which informs strategy. A few grounding points about overall international student mobility from the past year to put our discussion of Brazil’s opportunities in context:

  • IIE’s widely reported analysis showed a 43% drop in international student enrollment in the US for Fall of 2020. 
  • Not all institutions had the same experience. In general, those that typically do well with enrollment continued to do well.
  • With testing requirements dropped by many institutions, application rates are soaring, though enrollment numbers are struggling. Intention does not equal follow through. 

A Little Motivation

We can emerge from this turbulent and unstable environment with knowledge, insight, and better planning that incorporates recent experience and current data. 

Those who win embrace change! Those who embrace change are incorporating the latest tools to segment audiences and target those prospective students most likely to want what their institution offers.

With that, let’s take a look at Brazil’s opportunities. Read on...

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Recruiting Intel Digest: The Most Useful Stuff from Q2 2021

Ambiguity continues as we head into summer 2021. Will international students obtain visas for this fall in time for August orientation? 

We know the US Embassy in New Delhi and the four Consulates in Mumbai, Chennai, Hyderabad and Kolkata are working it double time to process the same visa volume they had in 2019 but in just 2 months. Go team!

And we know that Chinese student visas are facing a time crunch and additional challenges around the approval rules, especially students admitted to STEM graduate programs. 

While optimism is an important element of any future-focused initiative, facing reality and ensuring your plan can adapt to those realities is more than prudent. It is required. The reality here is that there are significant headwinds that appear insurmountable. Highly unlikely that the enrollment numbers will bear out this fall for many US institutions. Application volume is creating unsupported optimism in this case.

We’ve reported on these topics, collected and interpreted data from multiple sources, and released analyses during this past quarter. From presenting two sessions in partnership with our esteemed academic leaders and global partners at the 2021 NAFSA, to publishing a market research report on the new Indian mindset on US schools, this has been an important quarter for shared insights.

So, grab a cup of coffee and before you finish it, we know you’ll be sharing links from this Q2 2021 wrap up with your enrollment team and colleagues with the power to make positive change for students around the world.

Read on for our quarterly recap of Intead resources available to you — all in one place. Plus, a preview of what’s coming next…

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Is There a New Indian Mindset on U.S. Institutions?

You’ve likely been wondering, and we have too.

We completed our latest market research to answer the question: Are Indian students still interested in pursuing a U.S. education?  The results are compelling and advantageous as you move forward to meet enrollment goals. There is so much ambiguity around student mobility right now; this kind of market research has real value.

Below you'll find the download button to access our latest report on Indian student interests.

With India being such an important market to U.S. academic institutions, Intead and iSchoolConnect conducted a 13-question survey of 19,924 Indian residents that had expressed interest in international education. We had a 3.7% response rate.

This market research about recruiting students from India follows our highly downloaded market research released in March 2021 about recruiting students from China. That report has drawn a lot of attention. If you’ve not already grabbed that one, well...

In this Indian student market report you will value the insights around attitudes towards agents, among other findings. With responses broken down by high school, undergraduate, and graduate cohorts, the report is designed to help you find the information you need, choose recruitment channels, and develop relevant and strong messaging.

Want a sneak peek into our findings (and the download button)? Read on...

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Are You Ready to Think Big? NAFSA 2021

At the very least, we bet you have some great stories to share.

That’s not much of a silver lining from this past unnerving year. But it’s a start.

Let’s talk about opportunities to learn from each other and think bigger.

In the past year, our education community has collectively navigated some uncharted and very choppy waters. You may have emerged better for it, with new processes and contingency plans in place, cross-functional partnerships strengthened, remote work and learning infrastructure upgraded, and a renewed outlook on your institution’s long-term strategy.

Given this year of rapid activity and transformational growth, we’re more excited than ever to gather (virtually) with leaders and change-makers from over 100 countries at this year’s NAFSA conference from June 1-4th. 

Intead has been attending and presenting at NAFSA for more than a decade, and every year we are energized by the idea-sharing that takes place and inspired by the power of our global community.

This year’s NAFSA is all about thinking big about the future of international education — the latest innovations, strategies, and best practices shared from your peers across the field as we build for the next generation. Intead is honored to be presenting two sessions this year in partnership with our esteemed colleagues from leading academic institutions and global partners on forward-looking global strategies:

  • Achieving Global Agility: The Flexibility of Global Campus Options
    A discussion on the challenges and opportunities of delivering your academic programs at turnkey remote campuses around the world. First-hand experiences will be shared by Ita Duron, Executive Director of Global Strategies and International Programs at Massachusetts College of Health and Pharmacy Sciences, an institution that has already put this global approach into practice (and reaped the benefits).

    Also joining the conversation will be Seamus Harreys, Vice President of Global Enrollment at CIEE sharing how CIEE’s global campus models in Shanghai, Seoul, Legon, and many other cities around the world have helped institutions navigate student mobility challenges. Lots of info about how to adopt the global campus approach at your own institution. Tune in: June 4th at 9am EDT
  • Going from 0-60: Internationalization
    We’ll be talking all things internationalization with David DiMaria, Associate Vice Provost, International Education at University of Maryland, Baltimore County, focusing on how to build leadership buy-in and navigate typically slow-moving internal processes for rapid results.

    You’ll learn valuable team management and partnership strategies as well as how to establish global recruitment marketing programs that produce measurable enrollment results. This topic is a frequent discussion area on the NAFSA Enrollment and Leadership listserv forums. Join us for this as a Tune In Anytime event.

Read on to for a few preview tips on how these sessions can help move your global strategy forward.

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Buying Names Better: How to Optimize Your Student Lists

Lead generation is more critical, and more complex, than ever. If you don’t get the top of the funnel right, it’s difficult to fix it further down the enrollment stream.

Likely your institution is already licensing significant numbers of student names through lists from vendors like College Board, ACT, Education Testing Service (ETS), Hobsons, Niche, EduCo, among others. These lists have value. However, your institution may not be leveraging the full benefit. 

There is tremendous upheaval impacting the lists: dramatically shifting demographics, changing patterns of student behavior, severely reduced participation in testing programs, and changing policies related to student privacy.

Accumulating the names is the easy part. But with a bewildering array of names and filters available for searching, the challenge is to identify, target, and – ultimately – convert prospective students that are the right match for your institution.

How can you best navigate these platforms to license and leverage the leads for right-match prospective students?  

Intead can help: 

We’re talking a fresh, more focused strategy to your list approach, both internationally and domestically, that can transform your lead generation process for the next recruiting cycle.

Tailoring and refining your outreach is as important as acquiring the lists. And, in this particularly challenging and dynamic year for student decision-making, the need for an innovative approach is even more urgent.

What you can achieve:

  • Increased conversions
  • Lower CPAs
  • Greater diversity in your application pool

We spoke with someone who knows these platforms inside and out: Clay Hensley, former Senior Director of International Strategy & Outreach at the College Board (and Intead Research Advisory Board member). Having represented the College Board and its programs to international constituents for more than 20 years, Clay’s deep product and market knowledge is an invaluable resource for your institution as you take a fresh look at how you acquire and nurture leads.

Pair that expertise with Intead’s capacity to analyze your institution’s enrollment and paid social media data, website traffic, and census and other demographic data – and the results you can achieve will raise eyebrows and produce smiles.

Read on to learn how your institution can avoid common pitfalls, boost the utility of those licensed names, and make the data work for you. Spoiler: The expertise you need is just an email away.

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3 Tactics to Refresh Your Student Marketing Approach, Right Now

You don’t need to be a CMO to know that there’s more to attracting students than coming up with a pithy headline for your Instagram ads and postcard mailers.

And yet, what we often see are institutions full of creative minds doing the same marketing initiatives year after year, not really realizing how they appear to their target audiences.

At the end of the day you want your institution to stand out in a field of sameness, ubiquitous blather, and endless repeats of campus images and smiling students with backpacks and laptops. You want to highlight your institution’s differentiators and deliver the right message to a targeted audience at the right time.

But we get it — whether it’s lack of budget, time, or most likely, both, swapping out last year’s campaign photos, shuffling around your headlines, and hitting a few buttons in Facebook Ads Manager are sometimes the only levers that are in scope. And establishing a feedback loop of performance analysis for continuous campaign iteration and optimization? An even more distant goal state.

So, before you reach for that updated “smiling student with backpack” image to juice your Fall 2021 recruitment campaigns, turn your attention to today’s post: 3 recruitment marketing ideas to help you reach students where they are right now.

We’re talking specifics on topics, audience, tone, and dissemination channels for campaigns that can set your institution apart and attract and nurture those high-quality leads you’re looking for. And what would an Intead blog post be without an insight on  how to use your data better?

Throw these ideas to your creative team and see if something valuable emerges from the brainstorm session. Something that truly fits your institution. 

Read on.

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