Abroad101 begins its 10th year of serving the American study abroad market and we’re pleased to give you this latest guide to getting more out of THE Study Abroad Review website.
It’s All About the Reviews
Reviews, it’s what we do. We just surpassed 30,000 published reviews on Abroad101.
We congratulate other web sites for their community spirit, journalistic flair and general promotion of going abroad, that’s not us. We’re a niche within our niche, we just do reviews. Since 2007, nobody does it better. Google agrees; put the word “reviews” and any relevant keywords in the search engine and you’ll see where we get most of our traffic.
Reviews are About the Students
Our survey isn’t 5 questions, like Yelp, or a place to “like” and “thumbs-up” a program. Each review on Abroad101 is a sincere effort to tell one individual story. Each review answers 38 core questions, designed to walk a student through their whole experience. Questions include star ratings and narrative sections to describe who they were before they went, how they grew and where their world view is now. On average, a good review takes a student 15-20 minutes to complete. Each review becomes its own webpage that students can share and link to as a point-of pride. Students add photos, and some even include them in cover letters and CV’s as a career-focused writing sample and showcase.
This student-center approach is why a number of colleges use Abroad101 as their official program evaluation tool and why the reviews keep coming. Home colleges even get to add extra questions to help in their data collection and reporting about study abroad. Providers and host institutions can also add extra questions.
Reviews Engage Parents
Among those searching for insight on study abroad are parents. Based on Google Analytics data, we estimate that 20-25% of the visitors to Abroad101 are parents. Most parents aren’t looking to discover a program, they are looking to validate their child’s choice, or an advisor’s recommendation. Parents look at reviews in a different way and may be exploring cost, safety or program administration while the student looks at academics, housing, social integration or food.
We recommend you use reviews in discussions with students and parents as a well-informed student makes for a more successful student. Reading reviews will help parents become more comfortable with study abroad and help them set expectations for what lies ahead. A number of program providers will actually link their website to matching program pages on Abroad101. You can also link using the Program Widget or Provider Widget that add a badge-like graphic to the link.
Reviews Draw Quality Inquiries
Our traffic and user profile has stayed consistent over the years: vast majority American, nearly half of all coming from colleges and universities. For students, coming to Abroad101 is a part of their research and we serve as a resource in their decision making. The site is set-up as a place to compare programs and become well-informed. We are not a lead generation site and only a small percentage of our visitors actually use our site to inquire about a program; however, those that inquire are very likely to study abroad. The providers and foreign universities that actively engage with Abroad101 find that the inquiries they get from Abroad101 are significantly higher in quality and are more likely to turn into participants than leads that come from lead generation sites.
Reviews Bring Conversions
If you follow the logic so far, you will understand that visitors to Abroad101 may well be known to you and may already be in your CRM system. Students start searching elsewhere for general information, form initial impressions and then come to Abroad101 to do further research. Parents weight in, advisors endorse and this can all come while they are on our review website. To capture this sentiment, the inquiry form on your Abroad101 program listing has a check box that says “I want to apply to this program.” These inquiries come to you with the label = “app.” When you get these, believe it! They are ready to apply. If the student is known to you, even better, as in the ad business we call this a “lead conversion”
The Secret to Success on Abroad101
THE number one thing you can do to raise the volume and the quality of inquiries from Abroad101 is to have plenty of reviews on Abroad101. As we have said, people come to Abroad101 looking for reviews and to honor that, we display programs in our directory based on a formula that favors recent reviews. Every time you see a listing of programs on Abroad101, the order of display is driven by this algorithm. This includes the directories (city, country and study subject), your provider summary and even home school’s preferred provider lists.
To get to the top of these lists takes review volume. There are other adjustments to recognize
review quality, but recent review volume is the biggest factor by far. Being on top means visibility and visibility means results. We display the number of recent reviews on the program summary, and the total number of reviews on the program listing. As an example, the most popular program on Abroad101 is DIS’s Copenhagen Semester with 392 recent reviews and 799 total reviews. You can see this reflected in one of our most popular subject directories and in this university’s approved program list.
The secret to being on top with Abroad101 is volume, not high score.
The Not-So-Secret Path to Success
Abroad101 is supported by advertising and sponsorship from the people who run study abroad programs. Ads are placed in key locations and will increase exposure, inquiry volume and overall awareness of your program. It is no magic wand, but advertising works and you will see results for your investment. You can improve the results of your advertising with more reviews as the two work well in tandem. Contact us to learn more about this option.
Here’s to the Next 10!
A special thanks goes to those who have helped Abroad101 reach the 10 year milestone. Our commitment to the field remains strong, our software and systems are reliable and there is good value for those that invest in Abroad101 as their review platform and part of their advertising mix. As your partner, we look forward to the next 10 years of study abroad reviews.