A college or university’s website is one of the most effective and cost-efficient tools that can enhance international recruitment efforts. If set up properly, your website can do a lot of the work for you and help increase the number of international leads. It’s just a matter of knowing what the necessary elements are and how to implement them.
Great web content is an art in itself, but in order for it to become an asset it needs to be written, structured, placed, and optimized in absolute top form.
1) Make the International section visible
Don’t hide information! Position the International section on your website in a way that users have an easy time finding the pages they are looking for. Although this seems like an obvious tip, we are always surprised when we see the International Admissions section buried underneath many layers of the navigation menu. Arrange your primary pages on the homepage or in the main navigation menu so that users can find them easily.
Example: University of Glasgow positions their International Admissions page directly on the homepage by clustering it with the other main “Study” options. This allows prospective students to find the page within seconds of landing on the Glasgow website.
2) Simplify the page structure
Because the International section typically has many different types of information (admission requirements, credit transfer policies, visa info, health insurance, etc.) it is really important to lay out the information with clear headers so that users can zone in and find what they are looking for without getting confused or lost.
Rather than putting all of the informative content on one long page, you should create dedicated pages for each level of information. Every college and university is different, so the program options and types of information will definitely vary from one to the next. But no matter the volume or type, content should always be structured in a way that caters to the target audience, in this case, prospective international students.
Example: York University organizes their international recruitment section by students’ country of origin. Users click on a country through an interactive map and are then redirected to a page that has all of the admissions information. In most cases, York also offers prospective students the option of reading the York International Admissions brochure in their native language.
3) Increase your web presence in targeted countries
Your college or university may have top ranking in a local Google search engine, but is your website also visible in other countries? Google hosts search engine sites in hundreds of countries and the results for any given search will be different in each of them.
In order to increase your web presence in the countries where you are targeting student recruitment, you need to optimize your website or specific program page. Digital marketing strategies like SEO, Pay Per Click, and Social Media Marketing are just a few ways to optimize content to target international user search behaviour, and can be integrated into your current marketing initiatives.
See for yourself: To get an idea of how different the search results across different Google pages really are, search for the keyword “business college Canada” in the following Google search engines:
Notice how the results are different in each one? And this is just a small sample!
4) Showcase the international student experience
Video testimonials and photos will solidify the international culture at your school and will also add a visual component for prospective students to tap into as they discover the overall learning experience offered at your school. One option is to host a video chronicle on your website by having students submit short reels of their experiences while they are enrolled in a program.
Example: The international student experience at Mount Holyoke College is captured through video testimonials and storytelling. Each video includes two or three students from the same region but who are studying in different disciplines. The students describe their experiences in their native language, effectively allowing the video campaign to reach out to other prospective students from the same region.
5) Publish international student-driven web content
Your website is the prime place for international students to speak about how the programs, services, faculty and staff helped them integrate and flourish in a new city or country. The main difference between student-driven content and testimonials is that the former grants students the opportunity to express themselves on an ongoing basis. Offering international students a dedicated platform will help your college or university build a stronger web presence on an international scale.
Example: Durham College welcomes international students to contribute to the International Blog that is hosted directly on their website. The stories that the students share include everything from funny anecdotes to intimate details of their journey away from home. The International Student Blog as a whole really helps Durham form a community within the student body.
International student enrolment rates are growing steadily in North America, and setting up your website properly is an effective way for your college or university to take part in education lead generation opportunities. The time and resources required to build an international recruitment-friendly website will quickly prove to be among the most cost-efficient methods your school puts into play.
How does your team reach out to current and prospective international students?