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In an age when email, messaging and social apps are such a saturated market, it’s more challenging than ever before to determine which channels will actually be effective for communicating with prospective international students. It can be even harder to synthesize knowledge of the proper channels with an understanding of each student’s cultural norms in order to speak with them in a comfortable but professional manner that builds interest in your university.
Delivering high-performing multichannel communications is one of UniQuest’s many specialties. From a long background of international student recruitment, we’ve learned which channels are most effective for which countries and how to create outreach strategies that provide a wide scope of touchpoints for students to respond to. These are just a few of the findings we use to communicate with students throughout the enrollment cycle.
UniQuest uses a wide variety of messaging apps to communicate with students as part of our international student recruitment strategy. While the most popular messenger app in the United States is Facebook Messenger, other key markets for international recruitment, like India and South Africa, use WhatsApp. With more than 1.5 billion users, the WhatsApp messenger is popular worldwide for its end-to-end encryption that makes messaging highly secure.
On the other hand, Chinese students overwhelmingly favor WeChat, the communication app that’s dominating the Chinese market as a whole. WeChat is a multi-faceted app that can be used for messaging, making digital payments, job-hunting, dating and a wide range of other social interactions. Because it has so many capabilities, international student recruitment teams can use WeChat for one-on-one private messaging and widespread advertising campaigns, such as virtual tours and adding “Moments,” which are akin to Instagram Stories, to show students that your school is an active online presence.
Knowing which apps students frequently use to communicate isn’t enough. When reaching out to students in key markets, it’s crucial to understand the cultural expectations they’ll bring to the conversation. For example, we wrote a piece about understanding culture differences in communication when reaching out to Chinese students that details some key approaches for starting and maintaining conversations. Some include introducing yourself in English, either over the phone or over messaging, and switching to Mandarin later if the student establishes that it would be more comfortable for them. Chinese students also have great respect for hierarchy, so if questions about majors or financing come up, there are great opportunities to connect them with faculty and staff members that are authorities on the subject. Intuition about what a student will ask and expect in terms of communication can go a long way toward creating a highly personal student journey that ends with enrollment in your university.
Email and phone still yield excellent results in the modern age of international student recruitment, so UniQuest works with college and university partners to effectively incorporate these traditional one-to-one communications within the broader engagement journey. It isn’t easy to stand out from the crowd, but there are still many ways to capture attention and foster communication with student prospects. For example, we analyze email open and click rate performance across time of day and day of the week according to student segments like major of interest. This allows us to time emails so they reach students in particular markets with interest in particular courses at the times when they’re most likely to engage.
While we continue to experience a lot of demand for online channels like live chat, phone calls remain a critical conversion tool. Having a real conversation with a student builds trust and rapport. Students feels appreciated when they know that you take the time to personally reach out to them and they get an authentic feel for the university community by speaking with someone representing it. We often hear feedback like this after we call students:
“The phone call you gave me made me very happy and quite elated. It is nice to know that behind all those emails stand real people. This was a great personal touch and frankly, it put me at ease.”
– Prospective student from Bulgaria
There’s a lot more that goes into UniQuest’s international student recruitment strategies than outreach, and we’re eager to help our college and university partners create high-converting, personalized campaigns using our breadth of expertise. Contact our team of experts today or subscribe to our Insights newsletter to hear more of the latest insights from UniQuest.