At the risk of sounding cliché, we are arguably in a ‘golden age for Chinese international study abroad. China, with a staggering 350 million middle-class consumers is undergoing a seismic shift in terms of its values, tastes, and expectations, especially when it comes to standards of education. The number of Chinese students going abroad to study keeps increasing. In 2018, around 662,100 Chinese students left China to pursue overseas studies. The number increased by 11.74 percent compared to the previous year and makes China the largest country of origin for international students in the world.
How to Recruit Chinese Students?
As levels of wealth grow so does the prioritization of high-quality education. In evolving societies, this is always a key indicator of progress. The Chinese, particularly as a result of the one-child policy, invest heavily in their Children’s future with an ‘international education’ highly prized. The question is how do you grow the visibility and reputation of your institution in China to attract students in the most cost-effective way?
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Chinese student’s online recruitment
With over 900 million Chinese now online this is the largest and most active internet sphere in the world. The average online user spends 1.5 hours per day browsing online, it cannot be stressed enough that in China the solution is digital.
Understanding where and how students & parents are searching online for information is the key to targeted marketing of your schools & courses to the most qualified and relevant prospective students.
Universities and colleges are looking to drive leads directly to their admissions team and build the brand of the school in the minds of students & their parents.
With the right strategy, institutions will have more control over how they are presented online in the largest student market in the world.
the need for a local partner
If you are new to doing business in China you will find a host of cultural, language, and administrative barriers in your way. You need a local partner to guide you, develop your communications and tailor your strategy to this unique student market.
the most important methods for attracting prospective students
Website Content (in Mandarin)
A quality Chinese landing page and version of the site is a necessity. This should be optimized for search engines and hosted on a local server in China for faster loading. All sites in China need to be optimized for mobile as the vast majority of online users browse on their smartphones, there are now 550 million smartphones. Mobile content can also be optimized for ‘WeChat’ China’s largest social network (more on this later..)
Content on the site needs to be created in Mandarin with the Chinese reader in mind.
Ask some key questions;
- How do you cater to the Chinese student?
- What sets you apart as an institution that involves and integrates international students?
- How will the Chinese boost their opportunities by studying with you internationally and also back in China?
Search Engine optimization with Baidu
Search engine optimization is the bedrock of any comprehensive student drive in China. Most of all online research is conducted via Baidu, China’s largest engine. Search Engine Marketing is one of the best tools to Recruit Chinese students.
Baidu can be seen as ‘China’s Google’ and over time you need to rank highly in the natural search results, this is where the most qualified students & parents are searching for information.
Your site and content need to be:
- Optimized to drive leads.
- Keywords & search terms are closely monitored.
- Precise and in line with an intelligent search advertising campaign.
Using Social Media as a Launchpad to attract Chinese Students
Coverage on China’s top social media platforms is vital for attracting students. There are over 850 million users on WeChat (the Facebook of China) and over 300 million on Weibo (akin to Twitter).
Social Media in China is arguably the most active in the world with an average user spending 50 minutes per day browsing.
Your institution needs to be present on social media with an ‘official account’ set up that can be linked to a ‘micro site’. A lot of traffic can be driven to a WeChat page, particularly when you embed QR links in Weibo posts.
WeChat is fondly called the ‘WeChat Times’ because so much information is sourced via this app whilst Weibo is the most ‘open network’ in China and great for high visibility posts, users can see content posted by anyone, they do not have to be connected first.
The key with social networks is to have daily interaction with prospective students and parents, share content, and grow your following. Ad campaigns drive growth and quality content results in prospective students contacting you. The demographics of WeChat are generally older so more of the parents (i.e the Decision Makers) are active here.
- Create quality, informative content for WeChat & Weibo posts.
- Open an official account to act as a ‘micro site’ for your services.
- Engage with prospective parents & students through the messenger & WeChat groups.
‘Branding your School – Reputation is Everything’
‘Branding’ is not a word typically associated with education but in China, branding is everything, the Chinese need to buy into your courses and education offering, in short.. they are looking for a prestigious reputation.
Placing a school on wikis and other such trustworthy platforms is a good way to build your status. Also ensure you feature positive, accurate, and ample information that is highly visible for Mandarin keyword searches.
There are also many education forums to consider with specific threads dedicated to discussing different schools and courses abroad. It is important to create positive conversations between Chinese users as this is 5 times more effective for student lead generation.
- Build your reputation on Forums and Wikis by creating positive conversations.
- Ensure your content is optimized to be highly visible in Mandarin keyword searches.
- Chinese user testimonials are a powerful way to generate interest.
Accademia Del Lusso: A huge success in China
Accademia Del Lusso wanted to recruit Chinese students and was largely invisible in China before launching an intelligent campaign to grow its reputation and visibility on Baidu.
The reputable school of fashion and design in Milan wanted to attract students to their Italian location and increase awareness of a new branch launch in Mainland China.
Their reputation globally is very strong after winning both the ‘Lifetime Achievement’ and ‘Leading Fashion School’ awards in 2007. Having said this, because of China’s distinct online environment, they had little presence in the Chinese market.
To recruit Chinese students, the institution’s goal was to increase their e-reputation through Baidu search engine promotion to rank highly in the natural search results whilst running PPC banner ads and links.
Accademia Del Lusso drove 50 students ‘ leads per month to their administration team on top of 10 000 visitors per month to their Chinese site. This is indicative of the potential growth in China with even a niche academic offering generating so much interest.
Do you want to know more about How to market your brand on the Bilibili Chinese platform? Contact GMA a digital marketing agency, that specialized in the Chinese digital market.
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