There has been an increase in the number of Chinese students choosing to study abroad in recent years, as more and more Chinese families become able to afford the costs of sending their children to overseas universities.
According to the Chinese Ministry of Education, 608,400 Chinese students went to study at foreign universities in 2017, an increase of 11.74% compared to the previous year.
With this number only set to rise, what can universities do to try to attract these bright young minds and get them to choose their university over others?
We’ve put together a guide on how higher education institutions can go about targeting Chinese students, and this blog post pulls out some of the key points. Without further ado, let’s delve into our five top tips.
1. Localise your website
Make sure that your most important landing pages have been translated and localised into Chinese. This is especially important for the webpages that the parents are most likely to read, as they are the key decision-makers. Take a look at this checklist of things you need to translate into Chinese: your programmes, student life, departments, institutes, alumni, staff and research. It is advisable to host these localised webpages on a local server in China to ensure fast page loading times.
2. Optimise for search
Make sure you are following SEO best practices. Be aware that you will want to optimise your website not for Google, but Baidu. Baidu is the most popular search engine in China, with a 74% share of the search engine market. To rank well on Baidu, you need to ensure that all your headlines, descriptions and meta tags use the most relevant and popular Mandarin keywords. Use a native speaker to conduct this keyword research and make sure that you regularly monitor keywords and search terms so that you notice any changes straight away.
3. Use social media
Social media is very important in China. However, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube are all banned in the country, so don’t waste your time and resources on these platforms. Instead, focus on Weibo and WeChat, which are China’s most popular social networks. Many universities aren’t currently on these platforms; a wasted opportunity for them and a chance for your university to be ahead of the curve. Make sure your posts are in Chinese, post regularly and try to tap into trending topics if they are relevant. Consider supporting your organic efforts with paid posts.
4. Develop a content marketing strategy
Both Chinese prospective students and their parents want more in-depth written content available to them in Mandarin. Here are some content ideas to get your started: your specific requirements for Chinese students, the benefits of studying at your university (e.g. your prestige/reputation/rankings, better employment prospects etc.), how international students are treated, testimonials from current Chinese students etc.
5. Focus on engagement
Chinese people value and appreciate engagement. One way universities can do this is by organising events such as pre-departure or alumni meetings. Another way to engage with Chinese users is by taking part in relevant discussions online, such as on messaging apps or question-and-answer forums such as Zhihu.
I hope this has given you a useful introduction to how universities can best target Chinese students online. For more in-depth information, you can read the full guide here. It’s free!
Anna Giulia Novero
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