How to Promote Your Study Programs On A Budget

By Joanna Hughes

shutterstock_1909088935 [Converted]International students make college campuses more dynamic and vibrant communities while simultaneously enriching the classroom environment. In order to capture their interest, you first have to catch their attention. This can be challenging in a crowded marketplace; especially if funding is tight. The good news is there are many things you can do to promote your international study programs with limited resources. Here’s a closer look at some cost-effective international student recruitment strategies and solutions.

Utilize Social Media

Social media marketing is incredibly effective, especially with your target audience of millennials and Generation Z. While Facebook and Instagram posts are useful, they’re just the beginning when it comes to international student recruitment. Innovative features like Instagram Stories and Instagram Guides are always emerging, bringing new and exciting ways to reach prospective students. Social media marketing isn’t just effective, it’s also budget-friendly. 

The best social media marketing to international student audiences prioritizes  showcasing  relevant information, such as what life’s like in your city and on your campus, or what resources are available for securing work upon completion of the program. 

While COVID-19 has presented some unique challenges, social media marketing can help mitigate them. SUNY New Paltz manager of international recruitment Amanda Stevens told The Pie News, “We’ve always done a lot of armchair recruitment to utilise out resources as much as possible, so we’ve used things like Unibuddy student ambassadors, Whatsapp business, WeChat, things which I think students prefer over email...I think especially right now we are seeing how effective armchair recruitment can be.”

Engage in Conversations

Today’s students are looking for more ways to have personal interactions. Messaging apps like WhatsApp, Messenger, and Snapchat are a perfect fit for carrying on personal conversations with prospective students all over the world. Admissions reps, student recruiters, as well as prospective students can easily interact with each other via messaging apps without needing a significant investment. This relationship building boosts trusts, fosters goodwill, and ultimately spurs enrollments. 

Keep the Focus on ROI with Online Marketing & Digital Student Recruitment

While budgets may be shrinking, the need to enroll students hasn’t changed. While investing more upfront in an uncertain climate can be a daunting prospect, it’s important to keep the focus on ROI. In many cases, spending more from the onset leads to bigger payoffs in the long run in the form of increased enrollments and tuition fees, especially if you understand the landscape and how to make the most of it. Conversely, if you lack understanding of your recruitment needs and ideal recruitment strategies, you can end up throwing money into the void. 

Enter Keystone Academic Solutions. Offering specialized higher ed marketing and student recruitment solutions to help you optimize your international student recruitment efforts, Keystone can be a priceless partner when it comes to the sustainable success of your program and institution with cost effective solutions tailored to fit all different types of budgets. In connecting you with the right students, Keystone can help you raise your profile and engage prospective students through proven strategies which ultimately pay for themselves in the form of increased enrollments. 

Boost Your Brand Profile

If you’re a name-brand university like Harvard or Oxford, your school is already a household name all over the world.  With quality and value more imperative now than ever, positioning your school as reputable is critically important. In addition to social media marketing, strategically targeted bilingual paid advertising campaigns can also help raise awareness about your university, and its programming. 

Make Information Accessible On Your Platforms

Your university already has a website, but is it telling the story you want it to tell? An updated, optimized website makes it easy for information seekers to find what they’re looking for, such as program specifications, scholarships, financial aid, visa application information, and key contact details for international admissions counselors.

In making prospective students have access to the information they want, you reduce the risk they’ll go looking for information elsewhere. 

Turn Participants into Ambassadors

Your international study program is full of engaged participants. In addition to having first-hand experience with your programming, they’ve also got talents that make them a perfect fit for university marketers as content creators and brand ambassadors.

While students majoring in journalism, communication, film production, and related fields are ideal candidates for representing your brand on social media, experience isn’t actually necessary. So, what is necessary for a great social media account? Authenticity. Peer accounts are incredibly powerful. In enlisting your program participants to do social media takeovers, blog articles, and “day in the life” accounts of their time abroad, you transform students into brand ambassadors. Testimonials can also have a major impact in the form of social proof. 

Chad Schempp, senior director of recruitment, business development and international programs at San Diego State University, underscores the power of the peer. “When a student starts talking it’s a shared experience. I’ll put up a picture of our beautiful library, they’ll put up a picture of them and their friends at Taco Tuesday. Guess which one gets more traction,” he says. The best part of using your past and present students as marketers is that  it’s free. 

User-generated content can have a similar impact. For the broadest reach, encourage participants to tag your program, share your content, and help get the word out. 

There’s no more suitable people to take on social media marketing than the current generation of students. After all, this is their wheelhouse. No one knows social media better than these digital natives. Many also have significant followers which are amplified across all of their connections. 

The world of overseas student recruitment is not only intensely competitive, but ever-changing. While failure to get the word out can cause you to lose ground to your competitors, casting a strategic net ,even on a budget, can give your university an invaluable inside edge.

Topics: Higher Education Marketing

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