Back in November 2003, we published an article about international student recruitment, inspired by Harvard Business Review's declaration, It's messier than you think as one of their Breakthrough Ideas for Tomorrow's Business Agenda for 2003.
It's still messy, but in different ways: We're now able to more clearly define what's messy. Two years ago, the entire industry was rather untidy -- largely because no matter how well we executed our promotional strategies, the campaign's ultimate Return on Investment (ROI) was dictated by the randomness of student visa denials or approvals at the consular level.
Thankfully, the pendulum of visa-related legislation seems to be settling into a more balanced swing. It'll take some time to repair the damage done in late 2001 and most of 2002, but at least it seems like we're heading in the right direction.
Calculating ROI is still not as clear as most enrollment managers would like, even though there are more automated tracking mechanisms than ever. It may seem counter-intuitive, but online marketing -- on the user end -- is fueling the messiness... because the Internet was not designed to be contained or restricted.
For example: usjournal.com is distinctly designed to appeal to non-U.S. students exploring U.S. academic options. We don't invest in specific domestic promotions, but often, students find advertiser Profile Pages with us before they find the campus' own .edu domain. Prospective students who live within about 50 miles of an advertiser's campus consistently represent between 15 and 20 percent of all prospective inquiries generated by usjournal.com. Some of those students are U.S. citizens, while others are not.
Regardless, I see those results as quite positive, because those inquiries are certainly targeted, and it's far easier to enroll a student in close proximity. (We will continue to cater to the 80 to 85 percent of our traffic that lives outside of the United States.)
Fortunately, we're seeing more cooperation (i.e., sharing budgets) among domestic and international recruiters on the same campus. This trend will likely gain momentum, as Education = Shopping (IIE's Atlas of Student Mobility, p. 57), whether today's tech-savvy students are in Tampa or Taipei.
usjournal.com's style of Internet marketing extends well beyond spick-and-span, black-and-white strategies. We've implemented a number of initiatives that boost student user friendliness -- which outweigh our need to track our efforts precisely. As you know, students gravitate toward the path of least resistance; if you don't keep it simple, students will simply click away.
For instance, we've been including direct telephone numbers, fax numbers and other contact information on advertisers' Profile Pages with us, so students can contact the campus directly. Those students do not show up on our advertiser's Excel Reports, and we do not clandestinely capture information that the students don't volunteer. Also, in our Automated Responses, we encourage students to forward our advertiser's information to friends who would also like to learn more about studying in the States. Those forwarded messages do not show up on our Excel Reports, either.
We at usjournal.com see ourselves as one part of the sum of your international student recruitment efforts. I love brainstorming about innovative approaches to serve our advertisers better by reaching students in fresh, new ways. Recent initiatives include our production of MP3 audio files and RSS / XML feeds: news.usjournal.com.
For more information about our Sponsorship Opportunities: usjournal.com/en/educators/sponsor.html.
More on Multi-lingual Campaigns: At the request of current and prospective advertisers, we will launch two additional non-English sister sites in the next few months, in Turkish and Thai. Let us know if you would like to participate in the initiative by adding one or both of those translations to your portfolio.
Both markets are increasingly significant: In the 2003/04 U.S. academic year, Turkey ranked number eight in terms of international students studying in U.S. universities and colleges. More students from Turkey were in the United States than from any other European or predominantly Muslim country. Last year, almost two million students took the Student Selection Exam for this academic year. However, given the shortage of space in Turkish universities, only one-tenth of those students will be able to enroll in Turkish universities. Opportunities abound for U.S. campuses. Learn more.
Students from Thailand ranked number nine last year, according to the latest figures from IIE's Open Doors. Thailand's 8,937 students in 2003/04 represented a decrease of 10.5 percent from the 2002/03 academic year -- presenting both challenges and opportunities for the U.S. market. IIE's Atlas notes that Australia and the United Kingdom each hosted about 14 percent of the 19,232 Thai students that recently studied abroad.
Reminder: All usjournal.com advertisers with multi-lingual campaigns are most welcome to cut and paste our professional translations to their own .edu domains. You are also strongly encouraged to link from your .edu domains to your translation(s) with us. For assistance, please contact Cheryl directly.
Minor Modification to our Funding Criteria: We recently tweaked our Simple Student Selection Page. In the past, students who chose not to complete the column Amount you or your sponsor can pay were presented with results from all of our advertisers. We recently re-set the default so that now the results display only advertisers that specify Less than US $5,000. If you have questions about this modification, please let me know.