Marketing to the point when a prospective international student is made an offer is relatively straight- forward for experienced practitioners. This is because an offer from a university marks a prestigious milestone in a person’s life. As we point out in HECG’s new digital marketing guide – How empathy + digital marketing wins over international students – it is a special event. It is something to be proud of, to celebrate and, importantly, to share with family and friends. The would-be student is emotionally committed and highly desires the offer.
Typically, what happens next is that a sedate letter or email is sent informing the prospective student that their application has been successful. There is no fanfare, no frills or thrills. In the best case the student is congratulated. In the worst case the student is handed an offer with an expiry date with no other explanation or clarification. It seems to imply – act now, or else …
With no reason to act otherwise the student files the offer letter among others in an inbox or desk pile. The courtship leading up to the offer fizzles out. The recruitment team waits to hear from the student. The student responds as and when it suits them.
This is all wrong. Offer time is crucial – it is exactly when the marketing and recruitment teams should be exerting themselves to nurture the relationship with the prospective student.
The phase needs to be seen in a new light – as the peak of a student recruitment campaign. It is the ideal time to differentiate the brand and to secure the relationships the institution has worked so hard to acquire.
Real-world examples illustrate how on-the-ball universities have prospered because they understand the importance of the offer phase.
For instance, the University of Florida invites students to respond live to their offer via social media. A couple years ago during the seconds, minutes and hours after students received offers they used #UF17 on Twitter and Instagram to interact directly with the university, share their joy and broadcast their news.
Closer to home an Australian university that has made the marketing shift personalises a URL. The web page congratulates the student and showcases personalised information they may need prior to acceptance. This information is far from flat; it is personalised and interactive. Video content by student name, Facebook and Twitter integration and tailored Social Content Feeds make the Personalised URL, or “PURL,” a vibrant introduction to university life.
HECG can testify personally for its success: the campaign boasts a 70% open rate across all recipient categories with 32 of 1200 offers accepted directly out of the email.
In both cases the institution is perfectly positioned to engage with students’ first reactions to their offer. The hard-won relationship is kept alive as the institution responds to the good and sometimes bad in a personalised manner in real time. The student is less likely to file away the offer. They are more likely to differentiate it from the pack and place it at the top of their pile of options.
For more information or for assistance with your digital marketing needs contact us here.