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Recruiting Intelligence

Improving Student Yield: A Big 10 Campaign Case Study

Day One of #NAFSA2022 and it just feels so good to be back together. Optimism is in the air. The social media chatter among our colleagues here is exuberant.

Even if you’re not in Denver this week, we bet your office is feeling the energy of an industry that is projected to grow by as many as 1 million students globally next year. Sure, that growth is more of a rebound, but it’s welcome news nonetheless.

As the tsunami of NAFSA conversations washes over us, the buzz is all about diversifying source countries and everyone is wondering about the best way to go about it.

You, too? Right, because China.

We’re always happy to help lend insight into these international student recruitment conversations based on our global market research and recent client experiences. Often that’s best done through real-world case studies that speak directly to the need to diversify enrollment and improve yield. Today we release our most recent case study diving into a really successful international digital campaign we recently ran for a US Midwest Big 10 research institution.

Let’s meet in person!

If you’re at NAFSA this week, be in touch. We will absolutely do our best to fit in another meeting while in Denver. You’ll see Ben, Patricia, and Iliana racing from our presentations to a bunch of IEM sessions and all those networking events and 1:1 meetings.

Our 2022 can’t miss sessions:

In the meantime, read on to download our latest Big 10 case study all about improving undergraduate yield.

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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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Quick Hit Regional Insights for Student Recruitment

You won’t reach students in China using the same tactics you use to reach students in Brazil. Or Nigeria. Seems obvious to those recruiting students internationally, but you’d be surprised by what some marketers out there are pushing. It takes more than a tweak in ad copy to woo prospects from different countries. It requires a good deal of nuanced cultural insight.

Yes, you have Google Analytics and enrollment data to tell you which sending countries show interest in your institution (you’re using those, right?). But it’s deeper than this, as you well know. That’s why we’ve updated one of our most popular tools: the Country Comparison Cheat Sheet.

This easy-to-read spreadsheet breaks down key stats on the top 16 countries sending students to US institutions. We sourced the latest data from IIE, IBISWorld, InterNations, WorldAtlas, XE, and more to offer insights into each country.

The numbers we share represent data you could gather on your own, but we did the work for you. And we are connecting dots that don’t often get connected - though they should be.

Read on to download this free tool for you and your team.

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The Long and Winding Road Tracing the Student Journey: Part 2

Last week we began tracing the evolving international student journey, with a look at what might help or hinder your relationship with prospects along the way. In short, it’s all about engaging content and great follow-up. But that’s just part of the story.

When marketing to students, we often focus on the information we want to give them, but it’s equally important to consider what information a prospect needs to give you and what steps you need that prospect to take. So let’s explore a few ways to entice students to click that CTA and follow your channels, register for an event, download that guide… You get the idea.

Read on for our next installment reviewing the student journey elements that are so important to the phase we are in right now as application deadlines approach.

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The Long and Winding Road Tracing the Student Journey: Part 1

As we settle into 2022, we can't help but think about journeys – those we've been on and the ones we're embarking on now. Two important processes are staring us in the face right now. One for our prospective students and one for us. In reality, both are for us:

  • Application season
  • Budget planning

As enrollment management professionals, we know the elements of the student journey – from evaluation of the options, to defining the shortlist, applying, and then making the final selection – and all the small stops along the way that influence the student’s ultimate enrollment decision.

When we talk about the student journey, we think about everything we can do from a marketing and communications point of view to put the right information in front of prospective students at just the right time. What is our team doing well? What tools do we have in place? What are we missing? Our answers to these questions speak to both the application season and budget planning process.

If you’ve not yet downloaded our framework for budget planning (1-page chart), you’ll find some helpful insight there. Simple, straightforward steps to clarify your rationale for funding one recruitment project over another.

If you are attending the 2022 AIEA conference in New Orleans (Feb 20-23), be in touch and we’ll find time for a coffee and an exchange of ideas.

Read on for a helpful review of what the student journey is all about given the new twists and turns that the past two years have forced upon all of us.

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5 Lead Nurturing Best Practices for Universities and High Schools

For enrollment management professionals, the next few months are all about watching the applications come in and then pouring everything into nurturing them toward enrollment.

In an ideal world you would personally guide each lead from application to enrollment, but that’s just not feasible for most academic institutions. Instead, you need a strong and efficient lead nurturing strategy to engage your prospects and boost enrollment. (You do have one, right?)

Strong lead nurturing strategies take into account each stage of prospective students’ decision process and gives them relevant information along the way.

In fact, the best strategies anticipate student questions before the student (or parent) even knows they are going to ask them. When you’ve done this work for a long time, you tend to know the general flow of the journey of most consumers.

You see how the family starts with a few obvious questions, learns a few things, and then realizes the next questions that need asking. Not unlike the way students progress in the classroom as they come to understand a subject. Learning is an iterative process of inquiry that builds on itself.

In nurturing students selecting an institution or degree program, you are looking for a meaningful alternative to the one-on-one conversations you wish you could have over the course of the admissions journey. Rather than literally holding each lead’s hand, your role is to champion a rock-solid lead nurturing strategy for your institution.

If you’ll be attending the 2022 AIEA conference in New Orleans (Feb 20-23), be in touch and we’ll find time for a coffee and an exchange of ideas.

To learn the 5 key tactics that will help your team create a lead nurturing strategy that works, read on. This post is a great primer for any recruitment team interested in strengthening enrollment yield.

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Reverse Enrollment Declines: Use Marketing Tech Better

So many dashboards. So little time.

Where is success hiding? How much investment will it take to achieve our targets?

With student mobility still in a state of flux, all bets are off for your predictive models. Or are they?

Today, we are talking to those with a CRM and marketing automation tools already in place.

Is this you? Your system works well enough and you can see some obvious gaps in functionality and interconnectedness. But you have what you have and there is no immediate opportunity to upgrade or change what you have. So…it is all about using the tools you have, better.

How do we get there? How do we know which features have real value to our operations? How can we use what we know to achieve better results?

We are heading into four wonderful days of interacting with our peers at the AIRC conference in Miami this week. The Intead team will be presenting on innovative ways to use the rising tide of influencer marketing for academia (it’s not going to be what you might think), and we will be presenting on innovative approaches to grad student marketing.

We can’t give enough thanks to our colleagues Toni Jaeger-Fine from Fordham Law School, Ita Duron from Massachusetts College of Health Sciences, and Kirsten Feddersen from Northeastern University all joining us on the dais to share our experiences and ideas. SO many ideas. Testing and confirming marketing approaches that are unique to each institution’s strengths.

Reach out if you would like to share a cup of coffee in Miami!

Read on for our two concrete recommendations for using your marketing tech better.

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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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Step-by-Step Digital Marketing with Intead Plus

Today we’re taking you behind the scenes of some of our most valuable Intead Plus tools.

Our Digital Marketing Worksheets.

Yep, you read that correctly. Good, old-fashioned pen-to-paper worksheets. Although if you decide to fill them out on your computer, we promise we won’t tell. After all, learning is moving online these days, haven’t ya heard?

Looking to engage a new market? Develop a new content strategy and dissemination plan? Get your new hires thinking through the international student recruitment process?


Last Chance: For our colleagues leading private high schools we are offering a free webinar today at 3pm (Eastern) with TABS (The Association of Boarding Schools) all about how student recruiting must be reimagined given the loss of recruitment travel. Register Here.


It’s all about the framework.

The Intead Digital Marketing Worksheets will guide you every step of the way forward — and ask the difficult questions. These are the worksheets we take folks through when we run our full-day global marketing workshops at AIRC and our International Student Recruitment Bootcamps. So, really helpful during those new recruitment season kickoff meetings.

All of the worksheets mentioned in today’s post are available to Intead Plus members and are tried and tested. Intead Plus members receive full access to an extensive (and exclusive) library of marketing intelligence materials (including our seminal eBook, 88 Ways to Recruit International Students, now an industry standard in its second edition), podcasts, webinars, and more, with new market research being released each year.

Read on for a sneak peek at these valuable resources to kickstart your global approach and your digital marketing strategy. Whether you’re just in the early stages of a new initiative or in the process of developing a digital campaign this content is going to be helpful. And if you want these tools at your fingertips 24/7, you know what to do.

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Do You Speak Gen Z? Part 1

TikTok. Microinfluencers. Memes. Welcome to Gen Z.

There are now an estimated 1.2 billion Gen Z teenagers and young adults globally. So, yeah, they’re kind of a big deal, even if there’s no consensus on when exactly they were born (likely between 1996 and 2010) or what exactly to call them (iGen, Plurals, and Founders are among the other monikers that have been thrown at this diverse, tech-savvy bunch.)

But one thing’s for sure — Gen Zers are very different than the Millennials who came before them. And now they’re your student recruitment target audience.

You’ve heard the Gen Z generalizations: they’re inclusive and politically active. They’re anxious about their future, about the environment, about the economy. About, well, everything (cue melodramatic music).

But what exactly does all of this mean for your institution’s efforts to recruit and retain Gen Z students? 

In this two-part series, we'll be sharing the A-Z on Gen Z,  including the key traits of this new audience and how to tailor your institution's enrollment management and specifically, your digital marketing strategy to their 21st Century tastes.

Plus, if you want to learn even more from us at the AIRC Conference, read on for the scoop. 

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