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How to Make a Better FAQ Page

February 19, 2019

Is your institution doing a good job of providing the answers to frequently asked questions? Follow these tips for how to make a better FAQ page; in the process of building a more comprehensive FAQ page, you just might save your staff some time spent answering applicant questions.

How to Make a Better FAQ Page

Link to admissions dates and pricing pages

You have hopefully made this information easily accessible through a user experience (UX) audit; however, this information should also be prominent on the FAQ page. Make sure that each of your main pages is hyperlinked appropriately so that students can get more information if needed.

Explain the differences between programs

If your institution has more than one program, then these should be clearly explained. It should be apparent who each program is ideal for; in addition, it should explain the benefits of each program.

Thoroughly explain each fee

Imagine being an applicant to your institution. If you saw a list of fees, wouldn’t you want to know what each is for? Students need this transparency. Explain what each fee is for, when it is due, and how it can be paid. Make clear distinctions between ongoing and one-time fees.

Remember that medical insurance is confusing

Explain medical insurance in detail. Be sure to use simple language and make the following things clear:

  • Who must have health insurance
  • The insurance provider your school uses
  • Fees
  • Due dates
  • What it covers

Consider a separate “FAQ” page for common medical insurance questions, including where the local urgent care and hospitals are located.

Provide a walkthrough for the process of applying

Make sure that each step of the application process is clear. Number them when needed. Add links to each of the forms that need to be filled out (or instructions for which documents need to be provided by the applicant). Make sure the applicant understands what will happen after he or she has submitted their application.

Don’t forget visa info

Who needs a visa, and how do they apply? What documents are needed? This should be clear.

Provide a detailed walkthrough for the process of preparing to arrive (and arriving)

What items and documents are needed in regard to medical insurance, housing, and academics and visas? Provide this information.

What happens once you arrive? Is there an airport transfer? How do you check in to your accommodation? Are there hours in which check-ins are not available? Are there holidays when students might not be able to check in? Make sure they know this information so they can book flights that meet any requirements for arrival.

Consider facilities questions

Does the campus have wifi? Air conditioning? Food services? Vending machines? What can students expect on your campus and in the classrooms? List these to give them a better idea of campus life.

Constantly reevaluate and update

Ask your student services and front desk to keep track of the questions they are often asked. Add these to your FAQ list, and continually update this list throughout the year.

Lastarria Media LLC provides digital marketing solutions for clients who work in international education. For more information about our services, contact us

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Weathering the Storm: Tips for Surviving the U.S. International Education Recession

October 26, 2018
Tips for Surviving the U.S. International Education Recession

The international enrollment numbers are in, and they reflect what those who work in international education know: these have been a troubling few years for the U.S. international education industry. The strong U.S. dollar, disturbing media reports about safety amid gun violence, xenophobia, and the current political climate are all factors contributing to this downtown in enrollment numbers.  

In the middle of this perfect storm, international education administrators and recruiters are left with the challenge of promoting U.S. programs. To weather this storm, Lastarria Media has provided some tips for surviving the U.S. international education recession.

Weathering the Storm: Tips for Surviving the U.S. International Education Recession

1. Reorganize/restructure internally as needed

Numbers are down: use this time to your benefit. Take a look at the administrative structure of your institution and make the changes needed to survive (keeping in mind that you will probably need to implement another restructure when numbers again improve). Plan for these fluxes accordingly: have one structure for assigned duties based on low enrollment, and another based on high enrollment. Utilize this period of low enrollment to prepare for the implementation of each of these plans.

Tips for Surviving the U.S. International Education Recession

2. Complete a website audit

Your website is a marketing and recruiting tool . . . are you using it as such? Take this downtime to review your website and make sure that it has all of the elements it needs. During this audit, ask the following questions:

  • Is all information up to date?
  • Are all programs fully explained?
  • Are the photos fresh?
  • Do all links work?
  • Are all forms updated?
  • Is the privacy policy GDPR compliant?
  • Is it the site easy to navigate?
  • Is it easy for students to sign up for classes?

Consider hiring a consultant to make suggestions regarding user experience (UX) and to edit the site as a whole. The best time to double your online marketing presence is during times of economic slowdown.

Tips for Surviving the U.S. International Education Recession

3. Consider revising/updating admissions forms and systems

Now is the time to fix or improve your admissions system. Instruct employees to test your systems and review each step of the online admissions process and PDF application process. Remove unnecessary items and streamline the application to ensure the application process is fluid.

Tips for Surviving the U.S. International Education Recession

4. Review your message and marketing materials

What is your institution’s message? Do your marketing materials reflect this? Do they clearly show what sets your institution apart from your competitors? While looking for the answers to these questions, it is a good idea to take a look at your competition’s websites and marketing materials. This will show you how your school stacks up.

Tips for Surviving the U.S. International Education Recession

5. Update and refresh your branding

Is your logo up to date? Is it used throughout your materials? Now is the time to look at this and decide if your school needs a marketing makeover. These investments will pay off when it comes to recruiting in 2019.

Tips for Surviving the U.S. International Education Recession

6. Focus on your message through social media

Social media costs very little, but the rewards are great. During restructuring, recruit an internal employee to share your school’s message via social media. Have this person do the following:

  • Carefully select your school’s branded hashtag
  • Follow agencies and partners on Instagram
  • Post daily: share school activities, classroom activities, and anything that makes your school special!
  • Run IG contests with small prizes (and have students use the hashtag in order to participate)
  • Promote activities on Instagram and Instagram stories
  • Use Canva to create IG posts (it’s free!)
  • Share all IG posts on Facebook
  • Tips for Surviving the U.S. International Education Recession

7. Pay close attention to Google Analytics and use Analytics for sales plans

Google Analytics provides useful metrics in regard to your website: our article about Using Web Metrics for a Successful Website explains the ways to turn these statistics into effective marketing and sales plans.

Use your Landing Pages and Pages reports to understand user activity and trends over time: these reports will also aid in identifying underperforming pages that need SEO improvement. Use the Location report to identify emerging markets, and consider translating your website’s main pages into other languages based on this data.

What to Look for in Content Marketing Services

8. Blog, blog, blog

A blog is your marketing tool, your way of connecting to current and potential students, and your key to improving SEO (learn all about this in our post, Why IEPs Need Blogs). The most important aspects of blogging are to blog consistently and to integrate keywords into all posts: both will improve your SEO rapidly.

When blogging, follow these ideas:

  • Encourage teachers to host writing contests: publish the winner on the blog
  • Have teachers guest blog
  • Ask your Activities Coordinator to provide photos and updates
  • Have a Student of the Week
  • Share on social media

Tips for Surviving the U.S. International Education Recession

9. Connect with alumni

Word of mouth remains an excellent marketing tool. Connect with your alumni through a newsletter, alumni events, or a LinkedIn group. Offer them specials if they’d like to return, and seek testimonials from them as well. Consider embedding a custom Google Map to illustrate the diversity of your student population: add testimonials and photos to each popup to recycle your testimonials in a unique and engaging way.

Tips for Surviving the U.S. International Education Recession

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How to Use Metrics for a Successful Website

May 29, 2018
How to Use Metrics for a Successful Website

A website’s metrics can provide useful information about an IEPs web presence, allowing administrators to better understand their website’s audience and make educated decisions regarding investments into website updates. Content creation, SEO improvement, marketing ROI, and even recruitment strategies to target specific audiences all rely upon metrics. Is your IEP or institution using them effectively?

How to use metrics for a successful website

Alexa

How to Use Metrics for a Successful Website

Alexa is a website owned by Amazon that provides web traffic data and analytics. The website is best known for Alexa Rank, which categorizes websites into groups and then ranks each website’s popularity (based on site visits).

Alexa is a useful tool for understanding the effectiveness of your IEP’s website, identifying your competitors, and establishing how you rank against your competition. If your IEP hires a third-party marketing and web development team, ask to see their statistics regarding other client’s Alexa rankings. This will provide insight into the effectiveness of their SEO strategies.

Lastarria Media is proud to have developed and continue to manage the website ranked 3rd in the U.S. for language schools. Contact us for information on how to improve your site’s rankings on Alexa.


Copyscape

How to Use Metrics for a Successful Website

Since duplicate content can negatively affect Google rankings, it is important to have unique content on your site. Copyscape is a plagiarism detector that checks if your site contains content that is also on another website. Simply insert your website’s URL into Copyscape and it will detect any duplicate content on the internet.

 

Google Analytics

How to Use Metrics for a Successful Website

Google Analytics remains a critical tool for understanding a site’s traffic and user behavior. This information is useful in formulating marketing campaigns, understanding industry trends, and analyzing and improving your website.

Through customized Analytics reports, users can track:

  • The total number of visitors to a site (and a site’s individual pages)
  • The location of these visitors (broken down by country or city)
  • On which page visitors enter the site (called a “Landing Page”)
  • The languages used to access your site
  • The number of pages users visit when on the site
  • The length of time users spend on each page
  • The device used to visit the site (for example, mobile devices)
  • The referral source that drives users to the site (for example, Facebook, Facebook mobile, Instagram, or links from another page)

Google Analytics also allows user to compare this data with data from other years, which provides useful information regarding traffic trends.

 

PageSpeed Insights

How to Use Metrics for a Successful Website

Another useful tool from Google is PageSpeed Insights, which reports on the performance on a page and provides suggestions for how page load speed can easily be improved. By plugging any page into PageSpeed, users can see a site’s Speed Score and Optimization Score. The report also provides optimization suggestions, such as its uses of images (which could be sized smaller for quicker load time), its redirects of URLs, its use of JavaScript and CSS, and more.

 

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What to Look for in Content Marketing Services

April 30, 2018
What to Look for in Content Marketing Services

Once an institution has decided to hire a content marketing service to provide quality content,  many administrators find themselves faced with questions regarding pricing, qualifications, and services. What should you look for in content marketing services? Follow these guidelines to be sure your institution is receiving the right services when it comes to content creation and publishing.

A content marketing service should provide the following:

  • Keyword analysis
  • Editorial content calendar
  • Quality blogs that include well-incorporated SEO through content, images, and

What to Look for in Content Marketing Services

Relevant keyword analysis

To attract the right customers or clients, content development agencies begin with a relevant keyword analysis. This analysis is based on many factors, including the client’s current rankings for relevant keywords and rankings in comparison to competitors.

These keywords should be organically incorporated into the website content, including the content itself, URLs, title tags, meta tags, meta descriptors, and images.

What to Look for in Content Marketing Services

A clearly defined editorial calendar

A client should have the final say in an editorial calendar and at all times know what has been published and what is scheduled to be. Make sure that your web content/digital marketing agency provides you with a clearly defined, well organized editorial calendar (and that you are given plenty of time to request changes before the scheduled posts are published).

What to Look for in Content Marketing Services

Well designed, quality blogs

Quality blogs will have the following:

Correctly formatted URLs

A correctly formatted URL should be keyword rich to improve its visibility with search engines and its readability: URLs are shown in search results and are one of the key factors when readers determine whether or not to click on your article. Other factors determine a URLs strength, such as the use of characters (or spaces, which are converted to “%” symbols by search engines and which are impossibly confusing).

A URL should also:

  • Avoid “stop” words (such as prepositions)
  • Have roughly 50-60 characters
  • Be carefully organized with the site’s folders

Digital marketing companies will often run checks of your present site to test URL lengths and viability (and will make suggestions for URL rewrites and web organization based upon this analysis).

Keyword-rich titles

The titles of articles, blog posts, and web pages must be highly optimized for search engines by naturally using the carefully selected target keywords. Keywords should be placed at the beginning of the title to further improve optimization; for example:

  • [YOUR SCHOOL] Named School with the Highest UC Berkeley Transfer Rate
  • Highest UC Berkeley Transfer Rate Award Given to [YOUR SCHOOL]

Assuming the words “Highest UC Berkeley Transfer Rate” are the keywords, the second option is the most viable for a post title.

A professional digital marketing company will take the time to incorporate your school’s keywords into the title in a natural and effective way.

Well hidden “advertising”

Any online content from your institution is a possible marketing and advertising tool: Facebook posts, blog posts, brochures, newsletters . . . everything should be branded and used as an opportunity to attract clients and agents. However, this must be executed subtly, and without the glare of flashy advertising. An experienced digital marketing company will use all online content to your school’s advantage while also creating engaging, useful content for the reader.

What to Look for in Content Marketing Services

Rich snippets

This catchy (yet odd) phrase is best remembered as “the little things” that improve SEO. Examples of rich snippets include how the images are labeled and titled, the words selected for the page/post/article description (which appears underneath the title in search engine results), and Google reviews.

One rich snippet that is well known is schema markup. Schema markup is basically coding placed in a website that “talks” to search engines: it tells the search engine what is on the site and what to display in the search results.

A knowledgeable digital marketing company will take care of all “behind the scenes” rich snippets (such as correctly labeling all images) and schema markup and will advise you on ways that your school can improve SEO through these snippets (such as encouraging Google reviews, one of the growing factors in SEO results).

Lengthy content

A common misconception is that articles should be roughly 300 words. Today, search engines are placing more focus on finding results that are the “authority” on the subject a reader searched for. One of the factors that establishes authority is post length: several SEO studies have proved that longer content tends to rank higher in search results; in fact, posts of approximately 2,000 words are now considered ideal in many markets.

The international education sector, however, is unique: readers are language learners, and 2,000 word articles can actually deter a reader or potential agent. An effective digital marketing agency will produce content of varying lengths, with some posts written to “go viral” and other (shorter) articles published to attract potential students and entertain current students.

Detailed analytics reports

How well is the content you paid for performing? A content marketing service should provide detailed Q1, Q2, Q3, and yearly reports on the following:

  • Overall traffic by country
  • Audience behavior
  • Pages visited (top performing pages)

The digital marketing agency should also provide customized, detailed reports when requested.

To learn more about the services of a quality digital marketing agency with content writing services, contact Lastarria Media, LLC.

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10 Reasons IEPs Need Blogs

March 7, 2017
10 Reasons IEPs Need Blogs

With IEPs working hard to place emphasis on academic excellence, effective curriculum, and student success, administrators are often left wondering: what is the value of a having a blog? In addition to showcasing content and visuals that don’t have a “home” on traditional college webpages, blogs provide a direct line of communication between the institution and its current (and potential) students, and play a key role in Search Engine Optimization. Here are 10 of the reasons universities need blogs for both current and potential students.

#1: Direct communication with potential and current students

In a world where brochures, PDF flyers, and websites seem to repeat the same, tired content, universities need blogs to provide students a “live” aspect to the school: an online platform where the institution can communicate directly with their current and potential student base and highlight research advancements, academics, student life, and university successes. Blogs provide a direct line of communication between the academic institution and the current and potential student and breathe life into the materials that are seen as stagnant by younger generations.

10 Reasons IEPs Need Blogs

#2: High (and easily tracked) ROI

Blog content can be produced and published quickly and–with the implementation of carefully selected keywords and content written for high search engine optimization–can result in higher ROI than traditional paper campaigns. Tracking the blog’s success is also a simple process: Google Analytics reports make it easy for clients to track their readership, including the regions/countries most often searching for the blog’s content.
10 Reasons IEPs Need Blogs

#3: Universities need blogs for PR

Scientific breakthrough? New research grants? Press releases are rarely read by current or potential students. Blogs provide a fresh platform for promoting the university’s academic achievements.

Blogs allow the school to highlight activities, students, and programs that are not always given proper attention in brochures and on websites, and allow this content to be shared “in real time” when a content specialist is on-hand to produce the necessary materials. Furthermore, blogs allow for expansion of PR materials: newsletters, brochures, and web pages are limited in space, and these restraints require selectivity which leads to vital information not being shared with the public.

#4: Contact with potential students

Blogs are a vital resource for potential students and provide students with honest insight into life at the school. What better way to provide potential students with a look into their future as a student than to highlight the campus events, social activities, and regional tourist draws?  Universities need blogs as another form of advertisement. (Remember: potential students do not read press releases!)

10 Reasons IEPs Need Blogs

#5: Visual AND content marketing

Blogs allow an appealing visual aspect, allowing for visual marketing in addition to content marketing. Brochures, pamphlets, webpages, and other materials are limited in their ability to share the professional images taken by hired photographers; blogs allow a “recycling” of this expense. Blogs allow for further use of professional videos and photos, ensuring that these materials are seen by a broader audience. 

#6: Blogs provide an additional (and vital) student service

By working together with staff, faculty, and students, it is possible to create a blog that serves all parties. Blogs can be used as an additional resource for teachers, a method for staff to provide extra information to current students, and an excellent reference for agents. Consider recycling content into a newsletter for students or agents: this is a cost-effective way to get more mileage out of blog content. 

10 Reasons IEPs Need Blogs

#7: Ease of integration into marketing plans

Blogs easily work into larger-scale marketing campaigns for the school, including events, newsletters, Facebook or email campaigns, or more for any programs the school would like to promote. A competent Blog Editor will work closely with the school’s internal marketing to stay informed of–and prepare content related to–upcoming events or important concepts the school would like to showcase.

10 Reasons IEPs Need Blogs

#8: Platform for testimonials

What better way to showcase your school than through the experiences of happy and successful current and former students? Blogs allow this in an uninhibited manner and allow for constant updates, rather than waiting for brochures to undergo copy editing, proofing, and publishing. In this way, blogs serve as an immeasurably important marketing tool for universities.

#9: Blogs significantly improve SEO

Proper site indexing, incorporation of keywords into posts, and SEO integration ensures that the blog will attract students via Google searches. In fact, in many cases, Blogs provide the majority of the web traffic for schools. 

As blogs are more adaptable, the keywords implemented are more flexible and can change with time. Additionally, the more casual language often used in blogs make it easier to organically implement long-form keywords, which are quickly becoming an important factor in publishing and in SEO.

#10: Blogs reflect a school’s “personality”

The widespread acceptance of varying blog content allows the school to design a blog that reflects the school’s needs and the institution’s personality.

 

Lastarria Media produces viral blog content for IEPs. For more information on how to create a blog for your IEP, contact Lastarria Media

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How IEPs Can Use a Website to Attract International Students

March 7, 2017
10 Reasons IEPs Need Blogs

With the international student market increasing for U.S. colleges and universities each year, institutions are finding it more difficult to differentiate their programs from their competitors. Most schools are unaware of how to attract students on the web, but copy writing geared for international students is an effective way to establish a program as different from–and better than–the others in the eyes of an international student or potential agency. Read on to learn more about how to use copy writing with the aim of attracting international students.

Copy writing for international students: how to attract students on the web

Quality web content should include the following:

A well constructed, easy-to-read website. Design and simplicity are key, especially in the case of web pages aimed at non-native speakers.

A blog that breathes life into the school. Standard web pages provide the basic information necessary for the customer to make an informed decision on his or her academic future, but these pages lack the vivacity needed to attract and retain students.

Active social media posts to share blog posts and reflect the atmosphere of the school. Make the most of your investment into a blog and be sure that all posts are shared on social media. Each post provides an opportunity to market the ideal student life and academic atmosphere to a potential student.

Suggested post content

When creating a blog aimed at attracting international students, consider the following:

SEO. Written content is of no worth if it is not read. Be sure that your webpage, blog, and all posts are highly optimized to receive the best ROI. Furthermore, to establish an online presence and a stable readership (while improving SEO), it is vital that posts are published on a regular basis.

Readership/Attraction. Ultimately, all content should be centered on things students want to read!The content should always been reader-driven and focus on topics that are of use to the current or potential students.

Honesty. Content should always honestly portray the school, its programs, its staff and faculty, and student life. Additionally, content should not be veiled advertisements, but rather an opportunity to showcase programs and the school using a fresh approach.

An emphasis on education. The reader is either a potential student, agent, or current student; therefore, emphasis on the school’s ultimate goal–education–is key. Make sure to incorporate an aspect of learning into each post, so that each article is both informative and educational.

Potential for social media success. Will this post translate to an engaging Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram post? Consider the viability of each post on social media before approving content to be written.

For more information on blog success for the international education sector, contact Lastarria Media.