Quick routes to student sign-ups when marketing Education in China

When you’re marketing your university or HE institution to students in China, it’s vital to understand your target market and their needs. Bear in mind too, that student marketing in the educational sector also needs to appeal to parents, as well as the students themselves. Chinese parents invest heavily in their children’s education and their choice of university is a great source of pride for Chinese families. So the decision about which institution to choose is likely to be a collective one, based on a variety of factors.

What matters to Chinese students and their parents?

To maximise those all-important student signups from the China market, you must know what your audience wants. This varies between families, but there are common factors which are vital across the board. Chinese students and their families want to know that your university has a strong reputation, and is welcoming to them, with an emphasis on safety. This means:

a) That your educational institution has a strong reputation, with high-quality teaching, a good university ranking and relevant courses that can be progressed to the highest qualification levels. In China, many larger employers are now screening graduate job applicants based on which university they graduated from, and its ranking. So look at league tables and your position in it.

b) That your university will offer a welcoming environment to Chinese students and plenty of support. Chinese students want to feel safe and welcome, with access to language support, alumni, campus tours and a warm culture. This includes the experience on campus and the surrounding area. Safety is a key priority here too; Chinese students must feel safe in their new environment. On a practical level, this is likely to include access to high-quality accommodation services, buddy systems and language support. Orientation should include areas such as signing up to the local doctor and access to medical facilities.

What marketers should focus on for Chinese student sign-ups

When it comes to successfully marketing your Western institution to Chinese students, there is no quick route to success. To maximise those signups you must have clear insight (based on sound primary research), a strong marketing and communication strategy and the resources needed to deliver everything in a high-quality, timely fashion, adjusting your approach as you go. These are some of the areas to focus on for the best results:

1. Your Chinese language website

Whether it is a microsite or a full website, ensure you have a locally hosted Chinese-language website for your prospective Chinese students. Invest in targeted, localised content with plenty of case studies, results, ranking information and access to user-generated content, with topics such as campus tours, alumni interviews and graduate destination case studies to show the quality of your offer and the potential outcomes for successful graduates in terms of career choices.

Remember too that a mobile app can be very useful in this country of 1+ billion mobile internet users! HE marketers often use dedicated apps that are built to meet segmented demographics. These can contain prospectus information, key data, student services chat, case studies and so forth.

2. Translate marketing materials into Mandarin

Ensure your prospectus, student guides and supporting content are all fully and accurately translated, with careful localisation to avoid any inadvertent errors with nuance and cultural awareness. The Chinese language is highly contextual so native language skills are key!

3. Build your university presence on the right social media sites

University-branded WeChat and Weibo sites are very helpful and you may find that other social media sites are important to your target audience too, especially for certain geographies and Chinese-tier cities. For example, YouKu can be very useful for promoting branded video content that shows the cultural and pastoral offerings at your university. Chinese social media is also far more advanced than in the West, so it offers plenty of interesting opportunities to marketers if they know how to fully use its features. For example, you can run group conversion campaigns with WeChat, where prospective students in China can engage with existing Chinese students from your university in a private digital space of up to 500 users. This helps to build peer-to-peer interaction opportunities and builds enrolment prospects.

4. Get your Baidu SEO and PPC in place

A well-structured Baidu PPC campaign will bring in those clicks to your digital eco-system and Baidu SEO will build your organic search presence over time. Baidu PPC can be very effective in China, although Baidu can be complex to administer. The platform does offer plenty of options for customised advertising, including the CPT auction BrandZone which can offer up to 80% conversions.

5. Invest in ePR

A good online PR strategy will help to enhance your digital marketing, advertising and engagement tactics by placing your university in the publications that your target audience will read. Look for outlets and channels with a respective, authoritative voice in China, and invest in great content filled with reputational pieces, thought leadership, success data and case studies, designed to appeal to Chinese students and their parents alike.

6. Measure, measure, measure… and then refine!

The success of any integrated digital marketing strategy relies on consistent execution, a quality focus and a commitment to ongoing measurement and adjustment of the work you do. To ensure you are getting a clear flow of student sign-ups, really invest in your campaign data to see what is working and what can be tweaked. Use approaches such as A/B testing to refine your approaches and don’t be afraid to adjust campaigns that aren’t quite working. With this attention to robust marketing management, you will see your enquiries and conversions grow.

Find out more

Market Me China is here to help your academic institution to enjoy success in the China market. We can help you identify your target market, build rich insight data to better target your campaigns and then help you craft an integrated, multi-channel Chinese digital marketing campaign that supports your offline efforts (such as events in China) to achieve the best possible results. Our highly experienced digital marketing professionals have the native language skills and expertise needed to help your university attract this exciting, lucrative market, and we work on a flexible basis with our clients as an extension of their team. Please contact us to find out more and discuss your needs.