Higher Education Marketing for International Student Recruitment

Pete Schauer

Marketing Director

Having international students attending your school may look good on paper, but the benefits that unfold on campus are even better. Students’ lives are greatly enhanced by interacting with peers from other countries. They tend to be more open-minded, allowing them to take a second look at their religious and political viewpoints. Students exposed to other cultures are also more likely to read or speak a foreign language and appreciate art, music and literature from other regions.

As beneficial as it is to have international students on campus, you’re probably thinking that you already have enough trouble reaching American students. How are you supposed to reach prospects halfway around the world? Thanks to various online marketing approaches, you can connect with international students and grow their curiosity in your institution. Let’s look at how this is done.

Build a community that appreciates international students.

Before you start promoting your higher institution to international students, make sure your school has the resources to serve these individuals. This can include welcome bags, student mentors, day trips, airport pickups and campus resources.

In order for your current students to appreciate a global environment, consider how internationalization will benefit your school. Do you want to fill research teams with top talent? Offer diverse study abroad programs? Expand international partnerships? Once you identify your main goals, you can discover ways to support them.

Use PPC to target students in other countries.

Choose the markets with the best potential for your higher institution. American colleges get their international students primarily from China and India. During the 2015-16 school year, 328,547 Chinese students and 165,918 Indian students studied at an American college. Other markets to consider include Saudi Arabia and South Korea.

When choosing keywords to use in your paid campaigns, don’t rely on direct translation alone. Be certain that the words you’re using sound natural. Follow the same PPC standards that you do for your traditional campaigns such as testing the ads to see which ones are most effective. As you learn what works for your international audience, you can adjust your ads accordingly.

Optimize your website for an international audience.

Your website is a touch point, so it should appeal to a wide range of markets. There are different ways to do this. One option is to create a top-level folder using the same domain as your other content. You can also build subdomains for specific languages or make microsites for each country. There are pros and cons to each, so work with your teams to determine the best platform.

Create international-specific content.

Create content for your international prospects to nurture them through the funnel. You can address common questions and concerns that international students have when considering schools in America, such as financial aid packages and campus resources.

When creating this content, be sure that you are writing it in the target market’s local language. This will take you longer, as you’ll need to test the content using translators and student assistants. But, the effort will be worth it. The content will sound authentic and original, building authority and trust in your institution.

No matter how you choose to approach international student recruitment, remember that students will be getting a feel for your school by your online activity. Be sure to have a consistent presence on your website and social channels so that international prospects can consider you as a viable option.

 
About the Author: Pete Schauer

Born and raised at the Jersey Shore, Pete Schauer is the Marketing Director at SEMGeeks. He holds a M.A. in Digital Communications from William Paterson University and has 8+ years in the digital space with companies such as Bleacher Report and Social Media Today in addition to SEMGeeks. His background includes creative and professional writing as well as strategic digital marketing communications and management.

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