SYNOPSIS: To reach and attract international students, educational institutions from North America ought to use wikipedia-type platforms hosting third-party directories online like the ones published in Northeast Asian languages by Japan Advertising Ltd (SchoolsUSA.net and CanadaJournal.com). Schools that list in those directories have learned over the years that the basic challenge and opportunity is to be found early online by unique users. Rather than first focusing on a narrow referral marketing tactic to generate a maximum of applications, a broader strategy of reaching potential registrants requires to be associated with language-primary and geo-specific content that is trustworthy with strong branding and relevant to each student’s intent. This is crucial to schools before they attempt the final challenge of attracting a predictive number of inbound registrations toward the end of a long buying process.
THE COMPLEX SURFING BY NORTHEAST ASIANS PLANNING TO STUDY IN NORTH AMERICA
Unique and largely misunderstood is the online behavior profile of millions of Northeast Asians each year who browse with the intent to study oversea, among the most sought after by American and Canadian educational institutions. See the article by the author For a better Understanding of Student Prospects’ Journey in Japanese/Chinese/Korean Beyond Search Engine Analytics published on LinkedIn Pulse.
A wide array of sophisticated digital tools available in Japanese, Chinese and Korean make it possible for potential students to go through a prolonged time frame, often beyond one year, planning their future studies in North America. However, they usually have to tackle a more complex process than those of anglo-saxon origin or closer culturally and linguistically to european traditions. The latter search in Western languages like Spanish, German, French, etc. that use the Roman (Latin) alphabet, effortlessly accessing online content with characters and symbols similar to English (often their second language already) and most importantly that originates or is curated in English. Not so for Northeast Asians as they choose to surf the web 87% to 92% of the time in a language other than English.
THE EARLY PREDICTIVE MODEL APPLIED TO JAPAN ADVERTISING LTD’S DIRECTORIES
Applied for unique users* of the directory, indicating projected leads** is a method for choosing predictable metrics meaningful in marketing to future international students early on their search online. Such forecast can drive performance by comparing it to the marketing goals of new international student intakes. Made available to each school hosted on the directory, the data allows to “project a metric that comes earlier in the purchase cycle (before the desire to register has been raised), such as web traffic (unique users) (and) customer engagement (click-through**therefore)“forecasting sales opportunities before applying the “funnel” metrics that occur (at the later stage of the adoption process)… (It can then be combined by each school with) “…using historical conversion rates and predictive lead scoring to develop forecasting models”. (Italics are by the author Mr. Bonin; quotes are from 3 Steps to Successfully Forecast Marketing Metrics By Jim Lenskold).
School directories optimized and published by Japan Advertising Ltd provide choices to student prospects with a variety of needs. It uses a well proven listing and advertising method currently favored by over 175 North American schools (many hosted since first created in 1999 in Canada and since 2006 in the United States). Annual fees range from $399 to $720 (for listing under one school category) and from $920 to $2,560 to host a display banner***, a fixed-cost variation of the ‘Pay-per-‘000s Impressions’ model, avoiding the ‘Pay-per-Click’ (PPC) cost model often overbid when not abused particularly in Northeast Asia. See by the author Sponsored links ineffective in China/Japan/South Korea.
The strategy of anticipating future leads (ie. “projected leads**” as defined and applied into the Japan Advertising Ltd’s model) looks at enrollment results including KPI through a broader definition of the lead generation funnel. Lead Attribution Models, Last-Click Measurement and Multi-Channel Funnels reporting through Search Analytics play less of a role here in predicting success (like driving conversions toward a school) when engaging with prospects traced digitally through a complex conversion path. Of course, this should not prevent the same schools to generate immediately retrievable leads at a more advanced stage of the buying process; that is when more targeted groups of prospects have already indicated a Desire and are now willing to take Action). That is in reference to the A.I.D.A. adoption process.
For further context applicable to international student recruitment, see this article published on LinkedIn Pulse by Mr. Michel Bonin, a Global Digital Marketing Researcher specialized in Northeast Asian markets: 10 Tips for Better Performance Metrics of US Schools in Northeast Asian Languages. How to be found early through optimized hosted school landing pages
UNIQUE SELLING PROPOSITION OF SchoolsUSA.net
The SchoolsUSA.net directory specializes in being found early in Northeast Asian languages while performing like a wikipedia-type of resource. That is before and while students and their families start to engage with anywhere between dozens and over a hundred digital sources until some of them are finally able to register and arrive at their destination to attend a particular educational institution located in the United States.
Educational institutions listed or placing their display banner on its directory pages published since 2006 by Japan Advertising Ltd benefit in being found first online through a search association of keywords with higher scores that recognize for instance listed Ivy league institutions on the East Coast like Yale, Hartford and others or the network of institutions like the University of California on the West Coast. A presence on the SchoolsUSA.net directory helps all the educational institutions as a group (including language schools, large and small) in their broader digital marketing strategy geared at maximizing projected leads** through a very large funnel for which any individual school alone can have very little control, never mind managing the click-through** early on the buying process.
Other complementary models espouse an inbound digital marketing strategy that help refer pre-qualified and sometimes even ‘hot leads’. They can be best generated later through third-party directories and SEO-oriented service providers offering a fee-for-referral, closer to the “Pay-Per-Click” cost model used on platforms like Baidu in Chinese, Yahoo Japan and Google in Japanese, Daum in Korean etc.)
Rather than tracking qualified leads for a school (or school agent) in-house sales team to close, SchoolsUSA.net’s predictive model generates:
- in 2016 an estimated 25,000 projected leads** from over 500,000 annual unique visits* through 1.3 million page views (or page impressions) from prospects that search using “Schools”, “USA” and “America” as primary keywords on the top seven search engines used in Japanese, Chinese and/or Korean. Just over half of this annual traffic goes on all the alphabetical directory listing pages (Rolodex) and on the individually hosted schools’ Mini-Web (landing) Pages, with the rest going on the three Home Pages that reproduce the US States Map respectively in Japanese, in Simplified Chinese and in Korean;
- further online browsing content about specific schools listed, usually on dozens (and increasingly over a hundred in many cases) of digital platforms including those now nested on the “cloud”;
- bookmarking of the listed schools’ Mini-Web (landing) Pages for future reference during the long buying process;
- while delivering competitive equivalent “cost-per-thousand” unique visits* using an organically optimized platform accessed through a fixed annual fee whose efficiency can be measured in terms of the “thousand unique visits” that the platform attracts each year.
* Unique users are tracked/reported as an actual aggregate from year to year of each of the over 400 pages of the North American school directories published by Japan Advertising Ltd in Japanese, and Chinese as well as in Korean through partner sites. Unique visits for each educational institution hosted are an estimate. Unique visits are totalled from all of the two and up to nine different alphabetical directory listing pages (Rolodex url) that a school can choose to be listed plus from its individually hosted Mini-Web (landing) Page. More specifically to arrive at an estimate of each school’s directory listing,
- Unique visits are tallied for pages by specific State (or Province) section and by Category (“Universities & Colleges”, “Language Schools”, “Vocational Schools” and “High Schools”) as well as of each of the three language versions an individual school is listed.
- The total unique visits (traffic figures) of the (Rolodex url) pages are then each divided by the number of actual schools whose listing appears on those pages.
- Then is added the number of unique visits also tallied on an individual school’s Mini-Web (landing) Page that is hosted in any of the three language versions.
For display banners***, unique visits are totalled from all the alphabetical directory listing pages (Rolodex url) and also from the (most coveted) Home Page in the language(s) the school chooses its banner to be hosted. Total is then divided by the number of schools whose banner is hosted on each of those pages.
Note: If a visitor views the same url page more than once in any given month, visit counts as only ONE unique visit for that month.
** Projected leads are derived from tracking click-through. Using historical data gathered from the North American web publications of Japan Advertising Ltd since 1999, click-through on the posted links (websites and email addresses) of the schools listed on its American and Canadian directories are aggregated (but not tracked/reported for individual schools). When totalling allclick-through divided by the number of active listings posted on each given url page of the directory in any given year, the aggregate data shows about five percent of unique visits recorded on an average listing and its hosted Mini-Web (landing) Page generate click-through. This is how projected leads are assigned to each specific establishment hosted on a directory.
*** Each display banner is clicked on average by 0.2% of the annual unique visitors. In the case of the pages of SchoolsUSA.net, it generates in 2016 for an advertiser over 1,000 projected leads from an annual banner presence in all three languages (Japanese, Chinese and Korean).
- Moreover because of its unique visual impact on each page viewed, it is estimated a display banner generates awareness on average between twice(for a regular-size banner) and three times (for a panoramic-size banner)greater than a directory listing.