Thought Leadership

Key Strategies to Reach International Adult Learners

A lecture hall filled with students and a professor speaking on stage.

According to the Institute of International Education “Open Doors” survey, the rate of international graduate student enrollment rose during the 2021-2022 school year by 17%. At this moment, higher education institutions have an opportunity, and a responsibility, to develop accessible marketing and communications towards a global audience – but, with such a large audience parameter, where does one begin? We’ve compiled our top considerations for enrollment marketing towards international adult learners. 

Who is Your Target Audience?

As a first step to define your audience, we suggest looking into current and historical program or course student data. It’s worth diving into student testimonials or interviewing current international students to get first-hand insight into what drew them specifically to your school. This information will be key to include in audience targeting pools, keyword development, and creative asset development. Reach out to academic directors, faculty, or admissions counselors to get data on the current student population, as well.

This background knowledge and investigating will pay off in helping you to narrow down audience parameters. Starting your international targeting pool too broadly will overwhelm your team with data, as well as too many leads (yes, this is a real problem!). Perhaps you can focus on one country or region at a time as a stepping stone. This beginning phase is an investment. Although you may not get a ton of qualified leads all at once who all go down the funnel and enroll immediately (actually, you definitely won’t!), you will be investing in your audience learnings, which will pay off tenfold. This is essential to build the targeting pools who most accurately reflect the type of potential student at your institution. 

Creative Asset Development

What is the message you are conveying to international adult learners? What imagery, messaging and themes are you going to use to attract your ideal potential learners? 

Learner testimonials from other international adult learners who are currently enrolled or recently graduated are a worthwhile angle to test out. Testimonials are always useful for retargeting purposes to move a lead down the funnel. Learner testimonials display representation, an important factor in marketing products or services that are high cost and high value. Highlighting impressive alumni accomplishments allows a potential learner to see themselves reaching a similar level of success following graduation and your school is what will get them there.

The level of prestige your US institution is known for, as well as the investment payoff of the program, are two other angles that may appeal more towards international adult learners. 

Your assets or copy messaging should also showcase the services your school offers to support the retention and growth of your international adult learner population. Highlighting international student offices, offices of global learning, and english language learner services, may make students feel more secure in their decision knowing they’re not alone and their success in the program is nurtured by faculty. Prove to your audience how your school breaks down barriers and opens doors of opportunity.

Website Accessibility and Design

How is your website showcasing the welcoming and accessible learning environment that your school or program offers? Your landing page may be a potential applicant’s first impression, and if the landing page isn’t accessible with a clear call to action, like a RFI form, then it may deter potential enrollees. It’s even worth considering developing landing pages specifically for international student audiences. If you have a high click through rate on your social assets, but there is a drop-off once users are led to your website, then it may be time to consider filling that lower funnel by redesigning your landing page. 

The website itself should be accessible, but don’t forget to consider how the site content and messaging is promoting the accessibility, diversity, and learning support services that your school has to offer.

We must also take international advertising laws and regulations into account. Various countries have different rules around tracking and tagging, such as restricted use of website cookies. Just last July the EU, for example, adopted the Digital Services Act, expanding protections for website users for increased transparency and accountability (Inside Privacy, 2022). This is another reason you should start small with audiences and what countries you are advertising in. 

The Town Hall team is always eager to engage in strategic conversations about international adult learner enrollment. We have experience developing media strategies and engaging creative assets, and designing dynamic landing pages aligned with our clients goals. Helping schools spread the word about how their impactful programs can provide unmatched career advancement opportunities is our passion. We’d love to connect with you to dig deeper into digital marketing strategies that reach your school’s international enrollment goals.

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