How to Use Digital Marketing for International Student Recruitment Post-Pandemic

The “traditional” (ie, 18-24 year old) prospective student has long-defined college enrollment strategies, but considering that traditional students are outnumbered by the much more elusive nontraditional college students, it’s about time that changed. Nontraditional students are an incredible asset to your school, but they require a more nuanced and strategic marketing strategy than traditional students. 

Luckily, we’ve been researching and working with nontraditional students for over 30 years, and we’re beyond equipped to help you crush your nontraditional student enrollment goals. 

International Student Recruitment: Where We Are Now

The good news about international student recruitment is that the desire to study abroad has never gone away. The question is simply when international students will be able to do that again safely, and how well students are able to navigate the new roadblocks and requirements that came as a result of the pandemic.

In fact, the pandemic has only elevated your prospective students’ desire to travel, explore, and expand their horizons. After being stuck indoors with plans cancelled or deferred, these students are more than ready to explore.

The key for your higher education marketing team is to accurately understand their motivations, tailor your international student recruitment strategies to the current climate, and stand out from your competition.

All of which is easier said than done. So how can you create a relevant, strategic, and winning international student recruitment strategy for the coming semester and year? We’ll show you.

Read next: How Has COVID-19 Affected Interest in Higher Education? Three Trends to Watch

Focus on building your brand reputation

In a digital age, having a positive and healthy brand reputation online is nothing short of currency, and should be a priority for schools looking to attract any kind of student—but especially international students. The goal for your school’s brand reputation is to have your website, social media presence, and digital marketing channels accurately reflect who you are, what you value, and what you have to offer. After all, your online presence is most-often the first impression prospective students get from you—and we all know that first impressions matter.

In particular, social media is a great way for prospective students to get a true glimpse at what your culture, students, programs, campus, and school overall are all about. And truly, the sky’s the limit with what you can achieve with your social media presence. From recruitment videos, current student takeovers, enrollment timelines, informational resources, live videos, user-generated content—the options for building a winning online brand reputation are endless. And that’s very good news for your school.

Enlist the power of video marketing + storytelling

In today’s short attention span world, engaging your prospective students quickly and effectively has never been more crucial – and challenging. That’s where U-SOCIAL™ comes in. U-SOCIAL™ delivers your university’s custom messages to future students in bite-sized, episodic video segments right where they already are—on social media. Thinking Cap’s precision targeting capabilities delivers engaging video content directly to your prospective students. 

The U-SOCIAL™ platform delivers videos that impact all phases of the enrollment funnel. Each video is designed to both make an impact standing alone, and to fit into a big-picture story arc that influences enrollment decisions. From production to execution, U-SOCIAL™ utilizes the best storytellers, producers, directors, editors, creative, and copywriters to illustrate the value of your institution. Our approach effectively and quickly builds awareness and guides prospective students through each decision—all the way up through a completed application. 

Read next: Video Is The Future of Enrollment Marketing

Fine-tune your virtual events for recruitment

The pandemic truly highlighted the importance of being able to pivot your strategy on a dime and communicate your higher education institution’s value without being constrained to in-person events. And this is an important learning that directly and positively translates to your international student recruitment efforts.

Since your international students aren’t able to drive a few hours to visit your campus (or even make a direct phone call to your school), creating robust virtual events and ample resources for international students is crucial. These virtual offerings serve the dual purpose of influencing your international students to enroll, as well as showing them the ways that you care for your students. You can use events to show students around your campus, interview current international students, and answer any questions your prospective students may have.

Are you ready to increase your qualified student inquiries? Thinking Cap Agency is here to help. We leverage our 30 years of experience, data-driven omnichannel solutions, proprietary research, and team of specialized experts to drive exceptional campaign results. Contact us today to get started.

Christina OToole

Christina is a data-driven, full stack marketer with over 20 years success leading marketing in higher education, tech and publishing industries. She lead enrollment marketing programs for the both the University of California, Santa Barbara and UC San Diego continuing education divisions. Christina has developed hundreds of marketing campaigns and built all facets of programs including lifecycle journeys, creative direction and lead generation.