Speaking Their Language: International Recruiting with Transcreated Campaigns

A small liberal arts institution with limited resources in a competitive market, Marywood University wanted to expand its international recruitment efforts. But where to begin engaging prospective students from Russia, China, Mexico, India, and Saudi Arabia to Scranton, Pennsylvania? Focused goals were developed and a comprehensive, but achievable, strategy was soon launched – from email campaigns to publications to EducationUSA collaboration, and much more. The best enrollment marketing investment for this international recruitment effort? That Swiss Army knife of enrollment tools…the microsite.

In just a few short years, Marywood’s international student population grew from 36 to 182 students, but like many schools, international enrollment has recently receded.

The microsite initially customized for each international audience, however continues to generate global leads for the admissions team, including strong recent interest from Bangladesh and Nigeria.

What are some lessons learned in recruiting internationally, while keeping pace with the demands of stateside prospects?

Working with marketing partner Paskill Stapleton & Lord, Marywood has reached its original international campaign goals through a diverse mix of marketing resources that have evolved to address the obstacles that arise when recruiting around the globe. Like navigating Chinese filters and troubleshooting Google servers’ tendency to warp certain foreign characters (Cyrillic, for example). While all marketing components – email series, webinars, social advertising – play their part in the campaign, it’s the microsite that unearthed in-depth opportunities for Marywood’s recruitment efforts.

What were other key decisions that made the most impact?

  • Leveraging email series, and deviating from the series for specific audiences
  • Student communicators, serving as brand ambassadors
  • Facebook advertising, using a microsite as a vehicle
  • Constant monitoring of Google Analytics for prompt response time
  • Microsite testing and enhancing based on new findings
  • Increasing the speed to respond to inquiries, faster for international students

An international recruitment effort must sync with ongoing enrollment strategies, but what works for American students, doesn’t always work abroad. With volatile world events, shrinking travel budgets, and higher expectations from prospects and institutional leadership, talk to us about how we can support your international enrollment efforts.



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Cathy Donovan,

A higher education professional with more than a decade serving in various communications roles at a Big 10 university. At PS&L, Cathy is busy implementing a marketing plan to promote the company’s visibility and various offerings, from training workshops to assessment services to our annual conference, through trade shows, email marketing, and digital strategy. Cathy also manages psandl.com, social media efforts, and agency publications. She can be reached at [email protected]