Is Digital Marketing the Key to International Student Recruitment?

In recent years there has been a shift towards using social media and digital technologies as part of student recruitment strategies.

Universities and colleges are learning there is only so much you can do to promote courses with text on a website.

The Role of Digital In Recruiting Students

Digital platforms are perfect for marketing to students, by giving them a sense of what life is like in the classroom – even if they are on the other side of the world.

The University of South Wales launched an app – Unibox USW – which features more than 270 pieces of content, including short videos of lectures, a showreel of past students’ work, photo galleries and application tips.

New content can be pushed out to users all the time, and by using iBeacon technology for open days, the university can locate a person on campus and provide relevant information.

This is another step forward in student marketing from your standard app, which traditionally included news and campus directions.

And it’s particularly useful to those looking to recruit international students, who will be more selective about the universities or colleges they travel to visit – looking for the wow factor to draw them in.

USW stands out in its education marketing by uploading specialist videos, such as one featuring a forensic technician carrying out a blood pattern analysis to determine the source from a crime scene.

But a successful campaign is one which encompasses all key marketing techniques. Digital technology only acts to enhance targeted mailing and poster campaigns, and universities still spend a large amount of their budgets on the prospectus.

Arts University Bournemouth saw a 15% surge in UCAS applications a couple of years ago after the creation of their kscope app - which allowed users to create a kaleidoscopic still image or short video through the lens of a mobile phone, upload to an online gallery and share.

The project aimed to start a conversation with young people and engage them in making something. Social media is a great tool in student marketing campaigns, but needs to be used as a tool to engage, rather than advertise.

Whether marketing to college students, or marketing to university students, a digital strategy is a vital part of an integrated campaign to make sure potential leads are not missed.

A Google Trends research report last year discovered that 40% of global keyword searches for UK universities came from outside the UK – showing that international prospects are taking to the internet to research further.

So it is critical for any institution with international targets to carefully consider its global digital presence.

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