Making the decision to study abroad is a rite of passage for many, and rarely a decision taken lightly. Stepping into unknown territory can be overwhelming and students can often feel understandably anxious about starting out on that path.
With this in mind, is it enough for universities to offer prospective students information and reassurance via purely electronic and virtual communication? Is it enough for students to read online reviews and try to find the answers to their questions this way? Many students have doubts and need reassurance, and this is why they seek help in the local areas they live. Both parents and students are not likely to get all the answers about schools overseas, and certainly the information they find on websites and social media is not enough. For such a pivotal decision, talking face to face with a professional that represents a certain institution can be an invaluable source of support.
An education agent represents someone students can trust and can go to and get the assistance they need. This is why at NEO Academy we believe in the value of having a network of professional agents that can work directly with students and parents to facilitate communication between them and the school, in addition to having a person they can rely on and go for advice anytime they want.
With even the most traditional education institutions using more technological learning approaches, we see schools implement CRM software, increase their presence on social media, do paid media campaigns, and much more. Recruiting international students is becoming important for institutions worldwide and therefore they are taking action to adapt to such disruptive scenarios. Unfortunately, schools don’t often know the key markets they want to promote in and what they offer, they don’t know how to interact with local people and don’t have the right tools to do so. This is why they look to expand their network of agents so that they can implement their internationalization plan in areas of the world they never thought of before.
Are you an agent? Do you think you’re ready to keep up with the digital transformation we are currently experiencing? Are your clients satisfied with your service? Do you feel like you need help in navigating the new digital tools that can simplify your work? NEO Academy is here to help you along the way!
In the next article we will be looking at all of this in deeper detail, but for now, here are NEO's 5 essential steps to remaining competitive as an education agent:
Learning to spot trends as they emerge will keep you one step ahead. Focusing on targets is motivating, but it can sometimes blind us to the big picture which is developing around us. Make some time to read up on the latest insight and analysis. With weekly content, the NEO Academy Blog is a good place to start, as is the Times Education Supplement and Linkedin groups such as education marketing and higher education marketing professionals often post some good content that’s worth keeping an eye on too. More focused professional content can be found in the ICEF Monitor and PIE News sites too.
2. Define your targets as personas.
What backgrounds do they come from, and what social media channels do they use? Depending on whether you are recruiting for bachelors or masters, language schools, summer courses, or sports scholarships, think about who is generally making the decisions. Should you be targeting the parents as well? Getting a crystal clear picture of who you are talking to will help you prioritize key information and get the right tone in the right place.
3. Be available.
Today’s students have grown up with Whatsapp patience thresholds and they really do look for quick answers. Chatbots, auto-replies and quick follow-ups are essential, as is your accessibility via social media. Be on hand, and be ready to support.
4. Connect and engage.
We all know that teenagers and young adults love social media and spend a lot of time on it, and they want to see content on your channels. Engaging content says that you go beyond the traditional sales pitch, and that you really have a passion for the world of education. The standard website information may satisfy the need to see an image of credibility, but this is an emotional decision the students are making. Post weekly: articles, news and updates from partners schools, helpful facts on destinations, images and testimonials of past students who have gone on to have a great experience, and of course video content. NEO Academy can support you to implement and improve your paid media strategy, so that you can reach prospective clients on any channel and device.
5. Automate tasks.
Use CRM software to automate activities and save time. A large number of leads can be difficult to manage, but having a tailor-made CRM will make the process more efficient. Say goodbye to dusty papers laying around in your office, let us customize Salesforce or HubSpot to better store and manage leads and campaigns’ performance. A well-designed CRM can also improve the communication you have with the institutions you are showcasing: share information with them, remember follow-ups, and set reminders. All of this frees up time to step back and have some thinking time for business development; something we often forget to prioritize.
In conclusion, NEO Academy can help you better recruit students and better communicate with the education institutions you represent. More students mean more commissions it's true, but beyond the short term we can help you provide more sustainable service to generations of students to come; ensuring they receive the experience that serves them best. NEO can implement a series of techniques, including CRM and paid media campaigns, to acquire new leads that can become your new clients. Expand the areas where you operate and keep everything stored and managed neatly. Be a better communicator with schools, stay in touch with them, get updates on any changes, and always be informed on what’s happening in the world around you. Are you ready to reorganize and transform your way of working? We’re here for you!