Importance of International Student Satisfaction in Marketing Communications

IEAA International Education Association of Australia has released a report by Ravichandran Ammigan PhD and Debra Langton looking at four dimensions of the student experience arrival, learning, living and support services; an extract of the report follows below.

In summary, the very useful report finds important to focus upon satisfied students who then spread positive word of mouth to prospective students; this is supported by previous research.

However, the use of the traditional expression ‘marketing materials’ does not seem to match the language of international students who are ‘digital natives’ and would most likely use social media under the umbrella of digital marketing.  Further, related to marketing, and contrary to the report, Australia does have issues in developing diversity outside of PRC and India, for which effective digital marketing system (not a one off strategy) should be a solution.

Nonetheless, it does focus upon the need to have students as central in marketing and one could suggest that in addition to maintaining quality for satisfied students, also involving students in creating customer generated media that can be used in digital marketing.

International student experience in Australia

In today’s increasingly competitive market to recruit and retain international students, it is critical that higher education institutions stay current on student perceptions, preferences and experiences with various aspects of the university environment. Ensuring students have the right level of support and resources can contribute to their academic, social and cultural success. It can also directly influence their overall institutional satisfaction and whether they would recommend their institution to prospective applicants.

This paper investigates the experience of international university students in Australia with respect to arrival, learning, living and support services. It is based on previous research by Ammigan and Jones (2018) and uses data from the International Student Barometer (ISB), to examine the relationship between student satisfaction and institutional recommendation for over 21,000 international students at 34 Australian institutions.

This paper provides guidance for university administrators and support staff on how to adjust and improve resources and services for international students, which can be an important component for enhancing institutional recruitment and retention strategies.

International students in Australia

As with other leading destination countries around the world, the higher education student population in Australia is culturally diverse, which presents opportunities for both international and domestic students to interact with peers from different cultural, social and linguistic backgrounds (Arkoudis et al., 2013).

According to the Australian Government’s Department of Education and Training (2017), more than 600,000 international students chose Australia in 2017. This is a record high and represents a 13 per cent increase since 2016. International students now make up more than a quarter of all students at certain universities.

In 2017, the international student sector generated over AUD30 billion, making it the country’s third-largest export (ICEF Monitor, 2017). It is predicted that Australia will overtake the UK to become the world’s second highest destination for international students in 2019 (Marginson, 2018).

International student satisfaction Improving student satisfaction is a major goal for universities – a satisfied student population can be a source of competitive advantage with outcomes such as student retention, recruitment and alumni relations (Arambewela & Hall, 2009). Student satisfaction, which generally results from an evaluation of a student’s educational experience, occurs when actual performance meets or exceeds expectations (Elliott & Healy, 2001). In recent years, there has been a growing interest from international educators to gather and utilise international student satisfaction data as a way to influence campus change and strengthen support services for this community (Yu, Isensee, & Kappler, 2016).
This is not surprising as the international student experience can be a critical recruitment and retention strategy for providing a high-quality education and remaining competitive in the global student market and world rankings (Shah & Richardson, 2016).

The Australian Government’s National Strategy for International Education 2025 recognises the importance of student experience. Goal 2 outlines a number of actions that expressly address the delivery of supports that:

  • meet or exceed student needs
  • build capacity for employment; and
  • encourage a strong international student voice to inform continuous improvement.

A study on the attitudes, goals and decision-making processes of over 67,000 prospective
international students from 193 different countries found that course offerings was the main driver of student decisions on institution and location, with the expectation that the course of study would lead to career prospects (QS Enrolment Solutions, 2018).  Reviews and marketing materials showcasing the quality of teaching and experience of academic staff was the second most influential factor in choosing their institution.

The same study found that prospective students were most concerned about the cost of living and being able to afford their tuition fees. Having a relative or friend in a destination country and receiving information about local culture and customs can help reduce concerns and worries about going to study abroad and impact students’ choice of a particular location. Campus safety and a welcoming environment were also important factors in international students’ institutional and destination choice…..

Satisfied students are strong advocates

For international students, choosing an institution is based on a number of ‘push’ and ‘pull’ factors, which may influence them to leave their home countries to study abroad (Banjong & Olson, 2016). Such factors include knowledge and awareness of the host country, quality of education, institutional reputation, tuition and living costs, scholarship opportunities, safety and security, university environment, quality of life, visa requirements and post-graduation employment options
(Mazzarol & Soutar, 2002).
Mavondo et al. (2004) suggest that institutional recommendation is closely related to satisfaction, where satisfied students are more likely to recommend their institution to potential or future students.  It is therefore important, especially from a marketing and recruitment perspective, for institutions to understand the factors that impact upon international student satisfaction which in turn drive propensity to recommend.

Reference:

Ammigan, R. & Langton, D (2018). The International student experience in Australia: Implications for administrators and student support staff. International Education Association of Australia (IEAA). Retrieved from www.ieaa.org.au

See original report via https://www.ieaa.org.au/research/student-experience IEAA Student Experience for full list of references.

For further articles and blogs on international education marketing, international students, information seeking journey, WOM word of mouth, student satisfaction and digital marketing click through.

 

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Negative Issues of Digital Marketing

Digital marketing is featured in Mumbrella regarding results of survey on digital marketing, presumably using external agencies, firstly focused round metrics or analytics, brand reputation and fraud.

Digital marketing delivered with dodgy analytics

Importance of Analytics in Digital Marketing (Image copyright Pexels)

Most marketers have had negative experiences in their digital marketing, AMAA survey suggests

September 11, 2018 8:13 by ZOE SAMIOS

Most marketing and agency professionals say they experienced a negative event with their digital marketing, a new survey by the Audited Media Association of Australia (AMAA) indicates.

According to the AMAA, around 60% of the 407 surveyed said they had experienced some sort of bad outcome with their digital marketing. A total of 36% said they were impacted by misreporting of measurement metrics, while 32% were affected by “brand safety compromises”, and 13% said they were affected by ad fraud.

The new data comes from AMAA’s annual Trust Matters Research which aims to provide insights into ad trading decisions. The research was completed by agency The Insights Grill through an online survey between April and May this year.

Of those who said they had had a negative impact, 70% said it had led to wasted advertising dollars.

Concerns about non-human traffic have increased, with 53% of professionals arguing it was an issue to tackle in the next 12 months, compared to 39% last year. More than 50% of marketers also saw ad fraud as an issue, compared to 44% the year prior.

However, one of the biggest issues to tackle in the next 12 months, according to marketing and agencies, is proof of performance measurement.’

 

What are the solutions for any business or organisation to avoid such issues?

 

  • View any digital or marketing strategy as an ongoing system, not a campaign.
  • Do your digital marketing in-house for greater validity and control.
  • Consult and leverage with your customers and stakeholders, both internal and external.
  • If compelled to use external agencies, use CPD or training to learn about digital marketing, become involved, and take an interest in what is being done, not just as a budgetary item for ROI analysis, later.
  • Have your own metrics i.e. ensure valid data points are linked to analytics for feedback, that can be accessed while demanding any agency is transparent in the metrics they use, observe or report.
  • Use mystery shoppers to gauge the UX user or CX customer experience (still stalked by banner ads after purchase?).

 

For more articles and blogs about digital marketing services click through.

 

 

 

 

Trends in Digital Marketing and Business Strategy

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Technology, data and design are key to successful organisations, supported by the right culture, what are the latest trends?

Curiously, while speaking of customer experience CX and their ‘journey’, there is little focus upon customer driven strategies or CGM customer generated media content that is informed, logical, authentic and economic?

‘From Prateek Vatash of Econsultancy via AMI Australian Marketing Institute – Digital Intelligence Briefing – Executive Summary

Econsultancy’s 2018 Digital Trends report, published in association with Adobe, is based on a global survey of 12,795 marketing, creative and technology professionals in the digital industry across EMEA, North America and Asia Pacific.

Now in its eighth year, the research looks at the most significant trends that will impact companies in the short to medium term. As part of this year’s study, we have also identified a number of top-performing companies in order to identify how they are focusing their activities and investments differently compared to their peers.

High-performing companies are those organisations that exceeded their top 2017 business goal by a significant margin, and who have also significantly outperformed their competitors.  Key insights from the research include:

 

Companies continue to focus on the customer experience (CX), as well as the content required to facilitate this. Organisations committed to CX are shown to outperform their peers.
– Asked about the single most exciting opportunity for the year ahead, optimising customer experience (19%) again comes out on top, ahead of data-driven marketing that
focuses on the individual (16%) and creating compelling content for digital experiences (14%).
– Organisations with a ‘cross-team approach with the customer at the heart of all initiatives’ are nearly twice as likely to have exceeded their top 2017 business goal by a significant margin (20% vs. 11%).
– Just under two-thirds (62%) of companies agree they have ‘a cohesive plan, long-term view and executive support for the future of [their] customer’.
– The top strategic priority for organisations in 2018 is content and experience management. Almost half (45%) of companies surveyed rank this as one of their three most important priority areas for the year ahead, with a fifth (20%) stating that this is their primary focus.

 

We are entering a ‘design and creativity renaissance’, with top-performing companies recognising the importance of these capabilities to complement data and technology excellence.
– The survey has found that just under three-quarters (73%) of respondents say their companies are investing in design to differentiate their brands.
– Organisations describing themselves as ‘design-driven’ are 69% more likely than their peers to have exceeded their 2017 business goals by a significant margin (22% vs. 13%). – – Similarly, organisations where creativity is highly valued are 46% more likely to have exceeded their 2017 business goals by a significant margin (19% vs. 13%).
– Organisations that ‘have well-designed user journeys that facilitate clear communication and a seamless transaction’ are 57% more likely to have significantly surpassed their 2017 business goals (22% vs. 14%).

 

Investment in technology and related skills is paying dividends, with integrated platforms fast-becoming a prerequisite for success.
– A lack of integrated marketing technology reduces the chances of providing a seamless customer experience and can also be frustrating for marketers and other employees who want to go about their jobs without unnecessary restrictions in their ability to acquire, retain and delight customers.
– In terms of their tech setup, 43% of organisations report a fragmented approach with inconsistent integration between technologies. Top-performing companies are almost three times as likely as their mainstream peers to have invested in a highly-integrated, cloud-based technology stack (25% vs. 9%).
– Digital skills are vital for a range of marketing tools and platforms. Almost three-quarters (73%) of respondents agree that their companies are ‘combining digital marketing skills with technology’. Companies doing this are nearly twice as likely to have surpassed their 2017 business goals by a significant margin (20% vs. 11%), according to our analysis.

 

AI set to play a growing role in helping marketers to deliver more compelling real-time experiences.
– When asked about the themes and technologies they are most excited about over a three-year time frame, ‘delivering personalised experiences in real time’ is by far the most popular choice across all regions, with more than a third (36%) of company respondents, and 40% of their
agency counterparts, selecting this option.
– Top-performing companies are more than twice as likely as their peers to be using AI for marketing (28% vs. 12%). Only 15% of companies are already using AI, but a further 31% are planning to do so in the next 12 months. Looking only at respondents with annual revenues of more than £150m, the proportion of organisations using AI increases to 24%.
– Analysis of data is a key AI focus for businesses, with companies keen to create insight out of the vast quantities of often unstructured data being generated by customers’ activity. On-site personalisation is the second most-commonly cited use case for AI.’

For more article about digital marketing and consumer behaviour click through

Website Design for Digital Marketing and SEO

Websites are often viewed in simple functional terms and only for the IT or web team to tinker with, however this view is misguided and wrong.  Interesting article about how web design has progressed from online brochures into something more sophisticated:

 

A nostalgic journey through the evolution of web design. September 4, 2018 4.35pm AEST

The World Wide Web was invented almost 30 years ago by Tim Berners Lee to help people easily share information around the world. Over the following decades, it has changed significantly – both in terms of design and functionality, as well its deeper role in modern society.

Just as the architectural style of a building reflects the society from which it emerges, so the evolution of web design reflects the changing fashions, beliefs and technologies of the time.

Web design styles have changed with remarkable speed compared with their bricks and mortar cousins. The first website contained only text with hyperlinks explaining what the web was, how to use it, and basic set-up instructions. From those early days to the present, web design has taken a long and winding journey.’

 

Further, it is not just about design by an IT person nor appearance by a graphic designer but also digital or ICT, architecture and purpose, with the latter making the web and related central to organisational product or purpose, and visible presence.

This is exemplified by websites becoming both shopfronts and resource repositories which can be visible globally, often precluding a physical presence.  Functions of websites impacting design, include: digital marketing or SEO, social media junction, intranet, HR systems, training resources, e-commerce, finance or accounting including inventory, billing etc., media and communications.

Nowadays websites and digital need to be viewed as dynamic and living systems informed by internal and external stakeholders according to the SDLC systems or software development life cycle, for ongoing management and review of all organisational aspects.

For a related article on how to develop a website for digital marketing and SEO click through.

 

Digital vs. Traditional Marketing – Kotler

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Digital vs. Traditional Marketing – Kotler

Digital marketing facilitates WOM word of mouth and horizontal communication within any target market with the customers being central in strategy and outcomes, complemented by more detailed ROI, and requiring more analysis of digital or e-consumer behaviour.  The digital marketing strategy should be viewed as the system or software development lifecycle is, along the customer journey, based upon user or customer input making the system live, dynamic and relevant.

What are the differences and similarities between traditional and digital?

Philip Kotler – Traditional to Digital Marketing (Image copyright Marketing insider Group)

Following is a summary of Philip Kotler’s Marketing 4.0 from The Marketing Journal (Kotler, Kartajaya & Setiawan 2018)

‘Marketing 4.0 is the sequel to our widely-recognized concept of Marketing 3.0, which calls for brands to touch the human spirit.

Digital technology is increasingly moving at the heart of most modern businesses today. As OECD states, digital economy is fast percolating a wide range of industries, from bank­ing, energy and transportation to media and health. No wonder thus how often we hear of the word ‘dis­ruption’ in the context of business.

Moving towards marketing 4.0 requires balancing our use of machines and devices with human contact to strengthen customer engagement.

 

From Traditional to Digital Marketing

As we move from traditional to digital, market­ing has undergone fundamental transformation in the way its various elements are incorporated. Let’s take a look at the four most critical shifts:

From ‘Segmentation and Targeting’ to ‘Customer Community Confirmation’

For brands to be able to penetrate these com­ munities and get their messages across effectively, they need to fit in naturally – acting as friends, showing care and genuine concern to address cus­tomers’ needs and wants. In essence, the process of segmentation, targeting and positioning is made more transparent.

 

From ‘Brand Positioning and Differentiation’ to ‘Brand Characters and Codes’

In this age of digital marketing, a brand needs to be dynamic and versatile in what messages it delivers and how. But what should remain consis­tent is the brand’s character and codes, regardless of the content of the messages that it delivers. The brand’s character – its raison d’être- is what defines its personality, it is what makes the brand stand true to its core, even if the outer imagery is flexible – think Google (with its ever-changing Doodles) or MTV – how they remain flexible with their varying designs, yet solid as brands.

 

From ‘Selling the 4P’s’to ‘Commercializing the 4C’s’

In view of greater connectivity in the digital economy, armed with increased customer partic­ipation, we reckon the emergence of a new set of marketing mix, the 4C’s – co-creation, currency, communal activation, and conversation.

Traditional customer service revolves around treating customers as kings, but in the collabora­tive customer care approach, they are viewed as equals. While customer service would focus solely on addressing their concerns while still attempting to stick to strict guidelines and standard operating procedures, collaborative care would put genuine effort into listening and responding to the cus­tomer, consistently following through, on terms agreed upon by both company and customer. In the connected world, this collaborative process is more relevant to customer care wherein customers are invited to participate in the process by using self-service facilities.

 

Integrating Traditional and Digital Marketing

Industry observers have been debating for a while whether traditional marketing is dead, in view of the rising influence of, and marketing spend in, digital marketing. What we believe however is that digital is not supposed to replace traditional marketing. Both are meant to co-exist and have their own roles to play across the customer journey.

Traditional marketing is still quite effective in building awareness and interest in brands, but digital marketing plays a more prominent role as customers go on to build closer relationships with brands. The goal of digital should be to drive action and advocacy, and in view of greater accountability, the focus should be on driving results, as opposed to traditional marketing where the focus should be on initiating customer interaction. In essence, Marketing 4.0 aims to help marketers identify and prepare for the shifting roles of traditional and dig­ital marketing in building customer engagement and advocacy.’

 

What does this all mean?

  • Digital marketing should not be viewed simply as a technical channel for budget allocation, while it includes community, word of mouth or horizontal communication with social media channels.
  • Underlying brand character remains the same but with constant customer participation and collaboration as per the 4C’s customer generated content, authenticity, horizontal communication via word of mouth, and reinforcement of the message.
  • Digital should complement traditional marketing’s building awareness and interest with customer interaction, also analysis of customer engagement, decision and action to inform ROI well.
  • Marketing strategy (development) should be viewed as a dynamic system, not unlike the systems or software development lifecycle (SDLC) for the duration of the customer journey.
  • Any system must to be based upon the needs of all stakeholders including customers, personnel, and users by continuous feedback for analysis (of outcomes) to inform improvements (including ROI).

 

For more blog articles about digital marketing and consumer behaviour click through to blog Education, Training and Society.

References & Bibliography:

Kotler, P, Kartajaya, H & Setiawan, I 2016, Marketing 4.0: Moving from Traditional to Digital, Wiley, New Jersey.

Kotler, P, Kartajaya, H & Setiawan, I 2018, ‘Marketing 4.0: When Online Meets Offline, Style Meets Substance, and Machine-to-Machine Meets Human-to-Human’, The Marketing Journal, viewed 6 August 2018, <http://www.marketingjournal.org/marketing-4-0-when-online-meets-offline-style-meets-substance-and-machine-to-machine-meets-human-to-human-philip-kotler-hermawan-kartajaya-iwan-setiawan/&gt;