It’s the exciting back to school time. For Abroad101 we start to see a surge in traffic and program inquires as students return to campus. Thanks to the providers who have updated and fine-tuned your listings. For the others, there’s still time for those last minute updates. The following is an update as to what’s new with Abroad101 for Fall 2015.
It’s All About the Reviews:
Abroad101 is known as the Trip Advisor for Study Abroad because we were the first study abroad review website. Today we host the largest collection of program reviews, in part because a number of colleges and universities use Abroad101 as their program evaluation software. Abroad101’s software gives university administrators a nice set of tools including:
- ability to manage the publishing of reviews
- capacity to add custom questions
- measure their students’ results against other universities
- generate performance reports
- export reviews for further analysis
There are also new tools to encourage integration of the reviews into enrollment management software, making the Abroad101 platform an integral part of study abroad.
We have started expanding the utility of Abroad101 as the program evaluation tool for providers of programs as well. Providers have always been encouraged to invite reviews and that has generated a sampling of student responses. With the added provider access to the tools, we hope to see more organizations embrace the Abroad101 system and standard set of review questions. Students have long complained that they are over-surveyed, however by combining the university and advisor process, you can help reduce the survey fatigue that exists today. If you are interested in exploring how your organization can utilize Abroad101 for its “Re-entry in a Box” please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
What is the Perfect Review?
This is the million-dollar question that contains components of marketing, outcomes assessment, customer satisfaction, alumni relations and student success. Add the issues around transparency and shifts in technology and you get the dilemma that exists today. Students today, who are less responsive to email than they were before, instead communicate with their mobile devices and social media. The interest in “being heard” through a survey is fading as just about every transaction that occurs for a student today is followed by a survey prompt, often with promises of reward (sweepstakes, reward points, etc.)
At Abroad101, we have found that the best reviews are when the review is more about the student than the program. “Reviews are good for the student” is a theme we push to advisors, emphasizing that the Abroad101 is simply a template for the student to build a showcase for their discoveries and successes while abroad, their place to shine. When reviews like this come through, they reflect well on the program and give future students and parents what they want, a glimpse into what to expect from study abroad, and a particular program. That becomes a powerful statement about the program and when combined with similar sentiments, can reassure folks who are skeptical at the one-sided picture painted by promotional brochures, websites and presentations.
This means that the reviews with the most impact aren’t perfect. In fact, we see that reviews that aren’t perfect draw the most clicks. Since people come to a review website to move toward a decision, it is the candor that can move a family toward final approval. We suggest alumni ambassadors and other advocating participants read “why imperfection is ideal.”
Revisions to the Display Algorithm:
To deal with older reviews and to recognize the importance of new review volume, we have adjusted the algorithm that drives the display order of our Free Listings. You will notice that in the program listings, reviews older than 2012 have had the date removed and simply say “Past Review” We have revised the sort order so that these reviews no longer impact page positioning. We have also given added weight to the count of recent reviews to encourage the submission of more candid reviews and decreased the impact of a 5.0 overall review score.
As a reminder, the primary mechanism for prospective students to interact with providers is through Abroad101’s inquiry form. When you get an inquiry from Abroad101, you will notice a “lead type” in the message. These are:
- Favorite – student tags your listing as one to consider later, not a formal inquiry
- RMI – the standard Request More Information inquiry
- Apply – student states they want to apply for the program listed.
Often people will visit review sites to do further research, so when you get an inquiry marked Apply there is a reasonable chance that that student is already known to you and has come to a decision to apply to the program while on Abroad101. Please don’t view these as duplicate leads, instead think of them as conversions.
For those of you who advertise, expect to see a further increase in inquiry volume as Abroad101 implements its new LeadMatch process. LeadMatch is a new feature that gives students three additional programs to consider after they have sent an inquiry to a non-advertised program. These additional programs are drawn from our pool of advertised programs, matching on city, country and/or subject. It’s modeled after the popular recommendation feature on sites like Amazon.com. There is nothing you need to do to implement this, but please do make sure that your listings are updated to include the academic subject areas so that your programs can match as often as possible.
Added Benefits of Advertising:
Advertising on Abroad101 is designed to bring you more inquiries, improve your conversions and raise the brand and visibility of your programs, all at a price that won’t blow your budget. Featured Listings start at $500/year and we offer generous volume discounts for multiple programs and display advertising.
For directories with more than 10 ads, we recently adjusted the Featured Listing display so that ads now appear in groups of 5 instead of 3, separated by blocks of 12 Free Listings. For Featured Listings yet to receive a review, we removed the resulting “0 star” icon to help improve click through rates. Some advertisers are choosing to have their new programs also link to their website when no reviews are present, an option for our advertisers.
Abroad101’s Social Media channels are a hit with students and their followers, as a solid stream of review highlights and program boosts flow through these channels. The reviews highlighted in Abroad101’s Twitter, Facebook and Instagram channels are those of advertisers. Our Social Media editor uses attention-grabbing comments from reviews of our advertisers and turns them into click-drawing posts 6-10 times a day. We encourage you to re-tweet, like and tag these as favorites to help add impact to this bonus.
Also for advertisers, Abroad101 has API’s that push inquiries and reviews directly into your CRM or student data systems. This means no data entry errors and fast “speed to lead” response time, which is why you should explore pushing leads directly into your CRM with the Lead API. Viewing the review as a program evaluation adds a nice dimension to your CRM or student records platform.
Download our Ad Guide for more details.
As Seen on Abroad101:
As you visit with students and campus partners in the upcoming year we hope you will incorporate Abroad101 in your marketing. Whether it’s awards from the rankings, badges from the Abroad101 program widget or simply links to the program pages, references to content about your programs on Abroad101 can help provide reassurance to prospective students and advisors. We estimate that 20-25% of our traffic comes from parents and reviews can go a long way to win their endorsement. Like the iconic “As Seen on TV” logo brings credibility to retail products, we hope you will recognize that references to being seen on Abroad101 will help bring added recognition to your education abroad program.
Much of the development and progress on Abroad101 has come from your suggestions and feedback. If we’re not doing something you want, let us know. If we’re exceeding your expectations, please let us know as well. We’re ready and eager to help.
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