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Recruiting Intelligence

Getting Started With Building an Audience

In the higher education space, your institution is competing with so many options that prospective students have. We know that most students attend a university within 50 miles of their home while large state institutions and the elite options have a stronger draw from coast to coast and beyond.

With these realities in mind, today we consider a foundational marketing goal: building a receptive audience so you can nurture prospective students from the point of awareness and inquiry to enrollment, no matter where they reside.

To state the obvious: virtual tours and informational webinars have taken on a bigger role (fewer campus visits), so a robust and engaging digital presence has never been more important to your recruitment process. Has your team evaluated and adjusted your approach to the student journey? Meeting them where they are in each step of their decision-making process?

We’ve offered a number of educational posts on student journey mapping processes you may want to read (for reference: our recent series Tracing the Student Journey Part 1 and Part 2).

We'll be talking about these enrollment management and student recruiting approaches and so much more at #NAFSA22 in just a few weeks. Let us know if you'd like to schedule a coffee with one of our team. We are leading 4 NAFSA sessions this year and one of them received the honor of being selected for live broadcast. Watch this space for details and we hope you can join us.

For now, read on for our top recommendations on how to build an audience online.

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Text Message Marketing for Universities and High Schools

Surveys from Mongoose (a popular SMS provider) tell us that a full 80% of students want to receive text messages from academic institutions. The caveat: they only want messages that matter. No fluff. We get it. We bet you do, too. And, the return on well-executed texts is more than worth the careful content planning effort.

SMS marketing is proving to be a direct, cost-effective way to recruit and retain students. If your institution hasn’t explored SMS marketing, now is the best time to start. It’s a little like the question, “When is the best time to start exercising?” The answer is always, now!

For those of you in the know, Slate added text messaging in early 2020 as one of their marketing features. There’s a reason for that. Important to note that the feature will not allow you to send messages through WhatsApp at this point.

Read on for the answers to Why do it? How to get started? And, what are the best practices for effective execution? The short answer: spot on content drives results.

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Flying Forward with In-Person Learning: Executive Edition

Let’s get a sneak peek at what the Intead team has in store for our fellow AIRC conference colleagues this year. A powerful group of student enrollment professionals will be gathering in Miami in just a few days. We can’t wait!

At this year’s AIRC conference (Miami, Dec 8-11), I will be sharing what we have learned recently through our work with three outstanding institutions. Our two conference session presentations this year speak to getting students to become aware of, and engaged by, the specific learning opportunities your institution offers. We hope you can join us.

  • Finding and Managing Brand Ambassadors for Recruitment
    • Intead with Northeastern University’s Kirsten Feddersen, Senior Director of International Enrollment Management. This one is truly a cutting edge take on influencer marketing and Gen Z attraction.
  • Innovative Recruiting Approaches for Specialty Grad Programs
    • Intead with Fordham Law School’s Toni Jaeger-Fine, Assistant Dean of International and Non-J.D. Programs and Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences’ Ita Duron, Executive Director of Global Strategies & International Programs. This one looks at a range of creative student recruiting alternatives to digital campaigns.

We are all eager for first-hand experiential learning opportunities and we complement that with the welcome release of the latest data from IIE’s Open Doors, NAFSA’s economic impact analysis, Common App's data, and the National Clearinghouse’s enrollment numbers that help inform the marketing magic that underpins our work here at Intead.

Read on for a bit of pre-conference insight into why these two conference session presentations rose to the top of our list this year.

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Old Swag, New Swag: Do You Need An Update?

Making a statement through promotional swag in 2021 has a more profound impact than in years past. With student ambassadors taking a power position in marketing and influence, your institution’s brand sent out virtually and in real life (#IRL) can provide a unique statement that sets your university apart from the others. And if not apart from others, at least with them.

Tech-savvy students want something they can share online to brag their swag. It’s always been about expressing pride and being cool. The in crowd knows before anyone else. Except that the out crowd often defines what is going to be next. 

Confused? We get it. You’re not in the demo.

To help all of us in the “wrong” generation try (desperately) to get with it, the Intead team recently took a deeper look into student ambassadors and the potential for success. You can revisit those insights here. And while you are considering who your institution’s greatest ambassadors are, know that they are totally gonna wanna sport that beautiful half-zip hoodie with the phone pocket.

As you prepare for the Fall 2021 re-entry into the classrooms and virtual Zoom rooms, let’s take a look at what is topping the list of popular swag items for the university set. Read on. 

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Harnessing the Influence of Your Brand Ambassadors

Let’s start with a cool stat: Google searches for “Influencer marketing" grew 1500% in the last three years. In 2019, the term "Marketing influencer" was searched 70,000 times a month! This according to Savica Dimitrieska and Tanja Efremova in their article, “The Effectiveness of the Influencer Marketing” published through Southwest University in Bulgaria.

Think YouTubers and TikTokers – content creators who are generating significant followings and translating that work into cash as they promote various products.

The question is: can this concept work for academia?

Our answer: yes, IF you can achieve true authenticity. If not, no. Full stop.

Academic administrators around the globe may be leaving a gap in their marketing strategy: the power of an influencer, but in the case of education, we are really talking about brand ambassadors who have influence with your target audience. In our view, true influencer marketing, which is growing globally, is a risky bet for the education market. But the concept, if adapted, has merit.

What we are saying is, recognize that you are not marketing alcohol, luxury vacations, apparel, or cosmetics and adjust the concept of “influencer marketing” accordingly. If that is unclear, give us a call.

When it comes to advertising and building trust, gone are the days of faceless testimonials and promotional brochures promising the ultimate educational experience. Generation Z values the opinions of social media influencers and bases their decisions on whether people they can relate to on YouTube give it a thumbs up or down.

A note of caution: marketing today is lightning fast and fickle. Your campus can be in the limelight one second, and culture canceled the next. 

Read on for a few more relevant stats and perspective on how to make brand ambassador marketing part of your approach to student recruitment.

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Quick Hit Digital Campaigns: Performance Benchmarks (3)

We can’t dive into our digital marketing insights this week without first acknowledging where we are right now here in the US. As human beings, we share an acute craving for security. Such a strong desire for a return to “normal”.

This desire for safety cannot stand in the way of our need for change. We, as a community, stand for diversity of thought, culture, and expression. We stand for academic exploration and shared knowledge.

Our team brings the fortitude and commitment to stand day after day and stare straight ahead. We will continue to embrace opportunities to be in this community together, with each other and for each other.

Remember where to look when you need support and encouragement. Courage grows with numbers. We will be here, standing up for our shared ideals for as long as we are able.

And with that weighty and heartfelt commitment to all of you, we will turn to the business of the day with a much lighter tone—

We don’t usually endorse cheating off your neighbor’s paper, but today, we’re making an exception in the spirit of moving us all forward.

We’re excited to share this work with you: actual digital marketing campaign results from a campaign we recently ran for a US institution targeting international student prospects in Colombia and South Africa. We’re offering you a case study with real, granular detail straight from our marketing dashboards to help you answer digital marketing’s most common questions:

  • Am I doing this right?
  • What should I measure?
  • What does success look like?

Read on for a case study snapshot and to download the full version for yourself. We’re talking real performance data here, including top performing creative assets, actual CPC, CPM, and conversion data, and more.

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The More Things Change…The More We Need to Figure Out

So, ICE tells all the online international students in the U.S. to go home and Harvard tells all students to go online for Fall 2020 (without lowering tuition). That’s quite a news day.

From day to day, the landscape continues to shift, sometimes dramatically.

If you’ve missed the past few months of Recruiting Intelligence posts because you’ve had other pressing priorities (we get it), then you may want to take a scroll through it all.

Read on for a quick summary of all the things we all need to figure out. (Spoiler alert: we've already figured out a lot of them).

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Quick Hit Digital Campaigns: Performance Benchmarks (2)

Listening to a radio interview this past weekend, I heard a fantastic analogy from a recording artist describing why she collaborated with others on her most recent album:

When you go to the playground and bounce the ball off the wall by yourself, you know how it will bounce back to you.

Collaborating with other talented people produces more than you can produce by yourself. And it often produces the unexpected bounce that takes your project to the next level. Today we will look at a digital marketing case study for a campaign we ran in India, Brazil, and the U.S.

This is our second post in our enrollment management series addressing the question of how much of a media budget do you need to succeed with your digital student recruitment campaigns?

The answer: Benchmarks are the signposts to improvement and success. When you run campaigns, you capture the data that tells you how to improve. Collaborate with us and we will help you get the desired campaign bounce (not bounce rate – that’s something entirely different ; -)

We are providing our community with case studies offering a level of detail you simply do not find out there. We look at case studies offered up on other websites and often we are perplexed by what their definition of “case study” is. What we are providing: actual campaign results to help you know if you are doing things right.

Our recent enrollment marketing campaigns for a range of institutions have targeted student audiences in Kenya, South Africa, Ecuador, Colombia, Brazil, Italy, France, India, and of course, the US. Campaigns on the horizon will target recruitment stalwarts: China, India, and South Korea as well as Australia and Canada.

Pro tip: you’ll want to share these posts with your team. Better yet, get them to subscribe to our blog.

And here is a link to last week’s Intead Blog and Case Study about Kenya and Ecuador in case you missed it.

Read on for perspective on the talent and budget needed to make your next digital student recruitment campaign even more successful.

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Quick Hit Digital Campaigns: Performance Benchmarks (1)

How much of a media budget do you need to succeed with your digital student recruitment campaigns?

The answer: Benchmarks are the signposts to improvement and success. When you run campaigns, you capture the data that tells you how to improve.

For the next few weeks in this enrollment management series, the Intead team will share what marketing agencies rarely, if ever, share publicly: real campaign results to help you know if you are doing things right.

Just looking at some of our recent enrollment marketing campaigns for a range of institutions, we have targeted student audiences in Kenya, South Africa, Ecuador, Colombia, Brazil, Italy, France, India, and of course, the U.S. More campaigns on the horizon will target recruitment stalwarts: China, India, and South Korea as well as Australia and Canada.

Do you see any of your target audiences in this set? Thought so.

Pro tip: you’ll want to share these posts with your team. Better yet, get them to subscribe to our blog.

Read on for perspective on setting leadership’s expectations for future success, what to throw into a campaign (talent and budgets), and the real, detailed benchmarks to measure your performance. Yes, all of that (but you have to read to the end to get it ; -)

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Online and on LINE: Japanese Social Media Platforms

There are a lot of things at Intead that excite us: new developments in EdTech, tracking the latest student mobility trends, watching our marketing predictions come to fruition, or better yet, watching our digital campaigns for our clients convert leads into enrolled students … And, one of our absolute favorite things is hearing from you, our blog readers.

Back in 2014, we wrote a piece about Japanese social media platforms to help with your international student recruitment. Remember 2014? (sigh).  Well, recently a reader, who is a digital marketing specialist in Japan, got in touch with us about updated insights that may change how you target potential Japanese students.

Why does it matter? According to Open Doors data, Japan was the eighth leading sender of international students to the U.S. with over 18,100 students in the 2018/2019 school year. Despite a 3.5% drop from 2017/2018 year figures, the country’s appetite for study abroad experiences overall remained steady, especially for short and long-term English language studies.

The Japanese Association of Overseas Studies attributed this increased interest in language studies to the growing English proficiency requirements of Japanese companies looking to expand globally.

With appetites for English language studies on the rise, there's no time like the present to re-evaluate your Japan recruitment plans.

Read on to find out what is new in the Land of the Rising Sun and where you should be focusing your enrollment marketing efforts. Hmmm, do you think it might be digital/social?

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