How students consume content when researching schools for a course abroad
As we have described in previous articles, it is very important to be as present as possible, online. This raises the potential for students to find your brand and even book a course immediately. In today’s digital world, potential students do a lot of research and compare schools, even if your school has initially been recommended by someone they know and trust. As a result, whether you want to convince a potential student that your school is their best option, or you want to promote a previous student’s recommendation, it is always important to have engaging content on all of your existing channels.
The first step in the student journey we described the process where individuals become aware of your brand and familiarises him/herself with it. This could happen in the following ways:
Search engine results
The student types in a term like ‘schools in *country*’ or ‘English language courses in *city*’. Depending on how good your SEO strategy is, your school will come up in the search engine results. Consumers tend to look at a maximum of 3 pages of results. Therefore, you really need to try your best to be towards the top of the list.
After arriving on your site, first impressions are essential. User experience: How easy/difficult it is for students to find the information they want, whether your site has other added value, if it has interactive and realistic images or videos (for more thoughts on video marketing see here), and so on. Your website should be the ultimate selling tool as no matter where the student finds you, this is where they will end up consolidating all the information they gather. Your website is your best sales person, never sick and never on holiday!
Whether you are using just 1 or multiple channels, you need to remember 4 important things:
a. Which social media? – Students are not only on Facebook, other channels are as important
b. Social media accessibility – You need to have visible links to your social media pages, on your website which open in a new page (rather than taking visitors away from your site)
c. Content – Once students find your social channels, you need to show them why they should choose you. Posting irregularly, using stock photos and constantly sharing the word of the day/week or repetitive social programme calendars doesn’t show the character of your business. In a digital world, that lacks personalisation, humans want authenticity. Such content may also come from influencers. How can I use an influencer? you ask. Check out this article to find out more!
d. Visual media – Good quality video is essential. More and more students want to see comments from real people who have used your services. Student experiential video does not have to be long (20-30 seconds) or expensive.
e. Student engagement – Are your FB followers dominated by alumni who may not return for a second course of study? Try to consider options for engaging with students who have yet to travel and who have real aspirations for language travel
Following on from influencer marketing, YouTube is another place where people can help your school increase in popularity. Students want to see classroom activity, local area they will experience around your school and the overall environment that will greet them when they arrive. The better this content is, the more likely they are to feel safe in choosing your school. Research done in June 2018 says that “when it comes to being visible online, video content is increasingly proving its worth as a way to grab attention and – crucially – to engage meaningfully with internet users. Currently, one third of all time spent online is accounted for by watching video and it is predicted that 80% of all internet traffic will come from video in 2019.” (L. Richards – June, 2018)
What we want you to take away is the fact that content is necessary because it is what convinces potential students to choose your school against many other options. It is very important to have a strong online presence because students hop from one channel to another and expect to find you easily and available. The overall online user experience is now stronger than the simple recommendations from a peer…are you ready to provide this?