Abroad101 Provider Newsletter – August 2015

Abroad101-reviews-logo-webIt’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: mark@abroad101.com

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.

Student Inquiries:

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.

We’re Listening!

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.

Happy Fall!

Mark Shay

CEO

Abroad101

+1-610-357-4648

mark@abroad101.com

http://www.StudyAbroad101.com

 

Follow Abroad101 on Social Media:

Facebook | Twitter |  Pinterest | Instagram | Linkedin

Providers Derby Results from Abroad101 – Summer 2015

ProviderReviews-Aug2015There are so many options for studying abroad, where do you turn? 

One of the most trusted methods for Americans to study abroad comes through third-party provider organizations who manage the entire experience.  At Abroad101 we collect program evaluation/reviews about these providers and publish them on our study abroad review website.  We also compile the ratings that students give the providers which you can use as an indicator of quality.  Review scores are one indicator, the number of reviews is another.

Organizations that encourage or even require their students to complete reviews understand the value of listening to their customers (students) and using that those testimonials to better inform future students as to what to expect in their programs.  Progressive providers also help students promote their own stories and success in education abroad by publishing their first hand accounts through a review.  As the old saying goes, “an educated consumer is the best kind” so we hope that you’ll use the reviews on Abroad101.com to better educate yourself on your options in education abroad.  

Twice a year we produce the Abroad101 Providers Derby – the index of published reviews on Abroad101 to give a sense as to who is making a difference in study abroad.  We encourage you to use this information to help you to make an educated choice for your education abroad.

Providers

  1. IES Abroad
  2. International Studies Abroad/ISA
  3. CIEE
  4. CEA
  5. Arcadia
  6. SIT Study Abroad
  7. IFSA-Butler
  8. DIS – Study Abroad in Scandinavia
  9. USAC
  10. API/Academic Programs International
  11. AIFS
  12. The Education Abroad Network (TEAN)
  13. Boston University
  14. SOL Education Abroad
  15. CAPA The Global Education Network
  16. ISEP Exchange
  17. CET Academic Programs
  18. CISabroad/Center for International Studies
  19. Fairfield University
  20. The School for Field Studies/SFS
  21. AMIDEAST

Abroad101 Provider Newsletter – Early Summer 2015

Abroad101-reviews-logo-webLike many who exhibited at NAFSA, we are energized by the show of support and growth in awareness that comes from the Exhibit Hall spotlight.  We handed out nearly 1,000 T-Shirts and the message of Free Program Evaluation Software rang through to many study abroad advisors and administrators in attendance.  In case you missed the latest news, here’s an update on Abroad101 for those of you who offer education abroad programs to American students.

New Subject of Study Portals

In May we released subject area portals, dedicated directories of study abroad programs in over 400 academic disciplines.  Students and Advisors can now easily find academic focused programs in subjects ranging from Accounting to Zoology.  The subject areas are organized using the US Department of Education’s CIP codes (Classification for Instructional Programming), a first for the study abroad field.  The CIP taxonomy has very specific fields of study rolled up into more general categories.  As a program provider, we encourage you to update your program listings and add the relevant fields of study.  We also suggest you pick carefully as students in this area are looking for specific courses, and in many cases looking to fulfill a course requirement.  Please note these should refer to the subject area taught, not the students’ academic majors.

Please Update/Edit Your Free Listings

Your account dashboard also lets you edit the contents of your program listings on Abroad101. We encourage you to use the friendly format to update your listings this summer and add subjects as well as engaging content.  If you need to have program titles changed, locations edited, or host universities added, our quality control process requires this be made from our end.  Our crew is ready and happy to help you with these; please send those details by email to support@abroad101.com

Add Scholarships to Your Listings

Another item in the providers account dashboard is the “Scholarships Available” tool that allows you to add scholarships to your listings.  You’ll find this on the left side of your dashboard, under “Provider.”  You can list multiple scholarships and link these directly to the scholarships page on your website.  The scholarships you enter will appear under the “Financial Aid” tab of the matching program listing(s) on Abroad101.  Please note that the Scholarships Available option is not part of the account dashboard for foreign universities.  Foreign universities should include mention of any scholarship options in the general description of their listing.

Review Your Reports:

As part of your account dashboard, on the lower left side, you will find a few report options.  “Graphs” tallies the star ratings submitted by students in their reviews and allows for some comparison of your program against all others, as well as by country. These categories include: overall, academics, program administration, housing, food, social integration, heath care, safety and cost of living. The resulting pie charts can be copied and pasted into your management reports and provide some added insight into how students perceive your programs.

Bring Advisors on Board

Advisors are a key component in Abroad101’s marketing and are responsible for bringing the vast majority of reviews to Abroad101.  As a provider, you can help this process by generating student reviews at the colleges in which you have a strong following. Here are a couple of ways to see how a university performs for you:

  • University Name in Review Summary: For Provider organizations, find your program summary listing all your programs.  Under the tab that says “Study Abroad Reviews” you will see a summary of all your reviews.  There you will also see the home university of the reviewer identified.  For Foreign Universities, find your “Direct Enrollment and Exchange” listing and you’ll see the university name in the review summaries. 
  • University Pages on Abroad101: Each home university also has a summary page.  Use the search box at the top right of the site to find universities where you think you should be well represented.
  • Pre-Approvals List: In your account dashboard (log into Abroad101), at the bottom left is a report called “University Approvals” which will indicate which universities using Abroad101 have selected which of your programs in their pre-approved programs list.

Once you know how well your key universities engage with Abroad101, please contact us about engaging them further.  Together we can bring Abroad101 into their process and help them use the tools to help draw more reviews, more visibility, and ultimately more students to study abroad.

Utilize the Program Widget

For programs that look especially appealing on Abroad101’s website, we recommend that you use the Abroad101 program widget to share your results. The Program Widget creates a badge-like graphic for your website that includes a star-rating icon and a link to the reviews.  There is no cost to use the Program Widget and it is easy to install as a photo.  Add the widget it to your website and directories and encourage staff to add it to their blog sites.  Hopefully you’ll get your partner universities to install it on their websites too!  Create your widget by adding your program name and the width of the resulting graphic, click here to start  Then follow the instructions to add it to the websites of your choice.  There’s no limit to the number of sites/pages that can display that code, so add this to your list of summer projects!

Targeted Advertising

As you have hopefully seen, the strength of Abroad101 is in its detail.  Most site visitors are in the middle of their selection process, and use the wealth of content to research and set the expectations of the students and their families that support them. We estimate that 20-25% of our traffic comes from parents who often use the search term “reviews” along with program/provider/city names.  Reaching students, parents, and advisors deeper in the process means inquiries that come from Abroad101 are much more likely to enroll.  Advertising on Abroad101 can influence the final decision, as the impressions that come through in the research phase of program selection may well be the ones that trigger the decision to apply.  Remember: when you see “App” in the inquiry type, this means a student has checked the box that says “I want to apply to this program.”  This may not only be a strong lead, but may also be a conversion of a student you already know.

As you enter into your new budgets and marketing plans for the upcoming year, think of using Abroad101 by program.  If you have programs that need a boost, consider advertising them above the others.  Small and special focus programs, for example, often do well on Abroad101. With the new subject portals included at no added cost, you have even more reasons to include more of Abroad101 in your advertising budget.  We can customize a campaign to meet any budget; please download our ad guide and contact sales@abroad101.com to get started.

Alumni Job Board and Abroad101’s career initiatives

Abroad101 enthusiastically supports efforts to raise the number of students studying abroad and we believe strongly that a well-written, thoughtful, and insightful review can also help students jump-start their career.  Many of you are aware of the Linkedin Group we manage called The Study Abroad Advantage. If you haven’t done so yet, please direct your alumni and alumni relations contacts to this group.  As another step to help ensure that study abroad will be an advantage for students during their career search, we created the first job board dedicated to study abroad alumni. In addition to a range of jobs that may interest these students, the Study Abroad Alumni Job Board highlights positions that REQUIRE a study abroad experience.  We hope that when you are looking to hire, you’ll post your positions on the site: http://Jobs.StudyAbroad101.com

Happy Summer!

 

Mark Shay / CEO

Abroad101

+1-610-357-4648

mark@abroad101.com

http://www.StudyAbroad101.com

 

Follow Abroad101 on Social Media:

Facebook | Twitter |  Pinterest | Instagram | Linkedin

 

 

Abroad101 Providers Newsletter – Spring 2015

Abroad101-reviews-logo-web

It’s been 16 months since Abroad101 has been under new management, and as witnessed by the strong show of support at the recent Forum conference, we are happy to report that Abroad101 is back in full swing, with the best yet to come.  Here’s just a little bit of what’s been happening at the first and largest study abroad review website:

Study Abroad Rankings Released 

Abroad101 released its fourth annual Study Abroad Rankings in late March, designed to highlight the thousands of program evaluations and reviews that we collect each year.  The rankings are compiled from rating scores in the student reviews, which we use to recognize top study abroad semester programs, top summer programs, and top providers.  Also highlighted are top non-traditional destinations, budget-friendly countries, most livable cities, and top food cities (remember, these are college students!).

To be considered for the rankings, programs must be listed in the Abroad101 directories and must have received a sufficient number of student reviews.  From the 1,424 programs that received reviews, our analyst crunched numbers, set thresholds, and used Bayesian Analysis with a Standard Deviation adjustment to generate the scores that determined the students’ choice winners.  We were quite pleased at the diversity of the programs that were recognized in this process and hope that the publicity this generates draws more students and their families to look at the breadth of what study abroad has to offer.

student-UniverseWe’d like to thank StudentUniverse, our sponsor this year.  In addition to saving students money on individual flights, they offer academic group travel and have some nice administration tools for program managers.  Click here to learn more 

Update Your Free Listings, Add Videos:

There are 9,400 programs in the Abroad101 directory; over 1,500 of these are foreign university direct enroll and exchange programs, and more than 3,000 are defined as faculty-led programs.  Our team is constantly updating, adding, and revising listings, and we hope you will help us by visiting Abroad101 to review your listings and then send us updates.  Each listing can be updated through your provider’s account where you can revise descriptions, add academic subject areas, and upload photos.  If you forgot your login, please let us know at support@abroad101.com

To make your listings more attractive, please add videos.  You can embed YouTube-style videos in your Free Listings by adding the “iframe” text to the video field in your listing.  You can find the iframe text on YouTube by clicking the share icon, then embed, then copy that text and paste it into the edit screen in your Abroad101 account dashboard.  If that seems too daunting, feel free to email us the link to the desired video and our staff will take care of that for you.

If you need to have program titles changed, locations edited, or host universities added, our crew would also be happy to help.  Please send those details by email to support@abroad101.com 

Rich Snippets and Review Star Search

No, Rich Snippets is not a B-movie actor. Rich Snippets are extensions to site tags for search engines.  Abroad101 has added them to our site so you can now see review counts, a rating score, and an eye-catching star graphic by your Abroad101 listing on the major search engines. Type your program name and the word “review” into your favorite search engine to see Rich Snippets at work.  

Abroad101 joins Generation Study Abroad

Abroad101 has joined IIE’s Generation Study Abroad and our pledge to help double study abroad comes in the form of doubling our support for Crowd Funding and our “Abroad101 Student of the Week” project.  Each week we take a deserving student, contribute cash toward their fundraising and boost their efforts with publicity and recognition.  In addition, the referenced program reviews can help students in their fundraising by highlighting the experience of earlier students and helping friends and family become comfortable with the student’s goal.

Reviews are Social Media:

A well-crafted student review is a beautiful thing.  With photos, constructive criticism, and reflective and forward thinking writing samples, reviews from Abroad101 can be points of pride with which students can highlight and share their experiences. Abroad101 syndicates the best of the reviews of our advertisers through Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram; we also highlight the best photos through Pinterest.  Our Social Media Editor takes a highlight or a quote from each review and shares it, along with matching hashtags and tagged accounts, into our feeds to further extend the power of each review.  When you see one, give it a boost: like it, retweet it, tag it as a favorite.  If you haven’t caught the Social Media wave, start now with these Abroad101 networks:

How Long Can You Avoid Reviews?

According to the influential research firm Forrester, almost everybody reads reviews. Seventy-two percent of customers trust online opinions as much as they trust their own friends and family.

Nielsen, the famous information and measurement company, reports in their 2012 “Global Trust in Advertising Survey” that 70% of consumers trust online reviews from people they don’t know, which is up 15% from four years earlier. Ninety-two percent of consumers around the world say they trust word-of-mouth recommendations, whether from strangers or from friends and family, above all other forms of advertising. 

If you are still not convinced that reviews are the among the most important force in marketing today, please read this article from Forbes

Direct your returning students submitting reviews to your program listings and click the “Write a Review” button or http://www.StudyAbroad101.com/reviews/new

Year-End Advertising

As the fiscal year for most begins to wrap up, consider using any remaining funds to boost your presence on Abroad101 through advertising.  We can customize a campaign to meet any budget.  Advertising on Abroad101 not only generates more student inquiries, it boosts your conversion rates by adding exposure when students and parents are using the site to research and compare programs.  Contact sales@abroad101.com for more details.

See You at NAFSA:

For those of you who missed us at Forum, please make a point to stop by and see us at NAFSA (booth #1203) to collect this year’s collectable T-Shirt and discuss how you can turn those once static program evaluations into a dynamic user voice that is in such great demand from students, parents, and advisors alike. 

Of course, you don’t have to wait.  Please feel free to contact us at Abroad101 whenever we can be of service.

Happy Spring!

Mark Shay

CEO

Abroad101

+1-610-357-4648

mark@abroad101.com

http://www.StudyAbroad101.com

 

Abroad101 Providers Newsletter Winter 2015

Abroad101-reviews-logo-web

Abroad101 Providers Newsletter Winter 2015

As J-Term ends and spring semester begins, our best wishes to you and your organization through this busy season.  While many of you are now focusing on summer and fall recruitment, we hope you’ll take a few minutes to review your presence on Abroad101 and explore ways to incorporate the many tools we offer into your marketing plans.

Check and Update your Free Listings:

Free Listings are the core of Abroad101’s directories, one per program.  Listings provide an opportunity to showcase a program with photos, descriptions, videos; listings are also the home for student reviews.  Each organization is provided an account to edit and manage their listings to help recruit future students as well as to help interested students and parents better understand a program and set their expectations. 

We encourage you to visit Abroad101 and try the search box at the top of the page to find your program(s) and see what the students, parents and academic advisors see.  Type your organization name in the search box and see the provider list that summarizes all the Free Listings for your organization; then login and edit your listings.  Contact service@abroad101.com with any questions about your Free Listings.

Use the Abroad101 Program Widget:

The Abroad101 Program Widget creates a badge-like graphic for use on your web site.  Using as much space as a small picture, the badge shows a tally of reviews, overall review score and a star-ratings graphic in an image designed to look like an award that also links back to the reviews.  There is no charge to use this, no forms to complete.  Pick one or pick all of your programs.  Simply copy the code generated from the widget maker and enter it on your web page where you might otherwise have a photo.  The code is dynamic and your badge will constantly refresh and stay current.

The badge is also great for your university partner websites.  If they have a webpage about your program then help them get the badge on their website to give you a competitive edge.  Click here for the Abroad101 Program Widget

More Benefits of Reviews:

In any directory on Abroad101, Free Listings are displayed based on a formula that favors recent reviews.  Since people come to Abroad101 for the reviews, the programs with the most reviews move toward the top.  Most reviewed and best-rated programs will be seen more often and have the greatest chance to generate new student inquiries for you.  As a reminder, those inquiries go to you, and only you, and are not repurposed in any way.

Programs with reviews are also more popular with Internet search engines, another benefit of drawing reviews through Abroad101.  Microsoft’s Bing has recently included Abroad101 star rating icons in their search results, so you not only get SEO with added reviews, you get an eye catching graphic on your Bing listing.  Here’s a star-rated search example

Still using Paper Evaluations?

A number of organizations use paper-based evaluations, but that shouldn’t stop you from getting those reviews online.  We understand that paper data collection generates high participation results, so if you’re not yet ready to jump to a completely online system, we suggest you consider a hybrid, two part process where paper is done first, then scanned and loaded into a database and that database integrated with the Abroad101 system.  The Abroad101 system would then send the student a confirmation and prompt them to complete some additional questions, add photos and then publish the review on Abroad101 to share their experience with the world.  We estimate the cost (with modest volume) to be $5 per paper review for the conversion.  If you are interested in engineering a 2-step process for your evaluations (paper or online), please contact mark@abroad101.com

Include Abroad101 in your Advertising Budgets:

In addition to your Free Listings, advertising on Abroad101 is designed to raise the visibility to your programs and increase the volume of student inquiries you receive.  Advertising comes in the form of Featured Listings in our city and country directories plus advanced search.  Cost is $500/year/program with volume discounts for multiple program purchases.

There are two run-of-site display ad options, banners on the city and country portals, plus our high visibility Global Rotation Ads, a group of six featured programs that appear at the top right of just about every page on the site.  We have lots of creative ways to mix-and-match ad to build an effective campaign to meet any budget. 

In addition to the added exposure that Featured Listings and Display Advertising offer, advertisers on Abroad101 get the following extras:

  • Ability to receive leads and reviews through automated API downloads directly into your CRM/database
  • Receive extra student leads, hand-matched from the general student inquiries Abroad101 receives.
  • Twitter posts of student review highlights that include a student quote, the home university and provider Twitter address, a link back to the review and relevant hash tags where possible
  • Facebook posts of the best of the Twitter stream, plus periodic boosted posts of Featured Listings
  • General favor for advertisers in professional references, student, advisor and media communication

For more details on advertising on Abroad101, please contact Sales@Abroad101.com or call +1-212-321-0928

Nominate an Advisor

In addition to Free Listings or providers, Abroad101 offers free accounts for universities to manage and control the review process. Abroad101 also produces an Advisors Newsletter for university staff and we are always looking to expand our advisor contact list.  If you have advisors who might be interested in using Abroad101, please direct them to us. They can also subscribe to our Advisors Newsletter 

Call, Meet or Just Say Hi!

As Abroad101’s CEO, I will be attending the upcoming AIEA conference in Washington.  Abroad101 will not have a booth in the exhibit hall, so if you’d like to arrange a meeting, please email mark@abroad101.com  I will also be attending re-entry conferences in Boston and Philadelphia in February.

Abroad101 will have a booth at the Forum conference in March.  If you are attending, please stop by and say hello.

If you have any questions about Abroad101 or would like a web demo of the system, please don’t hesitate to contact me to schedule an appointment, or just give me a call at +1-212-321-0928

Thanks for taking the time to read this and for your interest in Abroad101.

Regards,

Mark Shay, CEO

Abroad101

mark@abroad101.com

+1-212-321-0928

Abroad101 Newsletter – For Providers – Late Fall 2014

Abroad101-reviews-logo-webGreetings from Abroad101,

The first anniversary of the new management team at Abroad101 is upon us, a sincere thank you for your confidence and support.  For our audience of American clients, warm Thanksgiving wishes.  In this update we want to highlight the role of a review in today’s market and also highlight some creative ways to utilize them in your work with students.  Reviews not only in draw interest in your programs, they also get students engaged, enrolled, and better prepared.  In the full-circle view, reviews ultimately turn today’s prospects into successful advocates upon their return.

Reviews Are Social Media:
Perhaps you associate Social Media with websites like Facebook or Twitter, but Social Media is much broader and farther reaching than a few web sites.  Social Media is the modern phenomenon of “social interaction among people in which they create, share or exchange information, ideas, and pictures/videos in virtual communities and networks”  according to Wikipedia, which is a social media site; Abroad101 is a social media site too.

In today’s consumer market, having volumes of information online is not enough; the trend is to engage with your users publicly.  Successful engagement and loyalty comes from building a sense of community that is fueled by an ongoing interactive dialog. Anonymous testimonials have lost their effectiveness. To be effective in reaching the young and tech savvy crowd, you need to be open, share and receive commentary and offer lots of interaction.

Like other forms of Social Media, Abroad101 is designed to share.  Reviews on Abroad101 are given a unique and permanent web address, provide comment sections and are distributed through a number of outlets.  On the site, reviews are summarized by program, by provider, by home institution and by host institution (if applicable).  Reviews are streamed to third parties through electronic feeds, software widgets and our associated community pages on Facebook and Twitter.  Universities and providers are encouraged to share these reviews with their communities, adding power to the sharing concept.

Reviews Are Not Only For Marketing:
Reviews have a number of uses beyond building a first impression, which is why a number of universities incorporate reviews in all aspects of the study abroad process.  Reviews help in:

  • Measuring the “fit” – Each program has its own identity, not only in the stated objectives, but also in the personality of the students.  By seeing where students come from and reading their comments, future students can get a sense of how they might (or might not) fit.
  • Assuring the Choice with Family and Friends – Reviews and their first hand accounts can help anxious parents and concerned friends understand and grow comfortable with the student’s choice.
  • Setting Expectations – Often overlooked, but nothing will help communicate the reality of a program more than a review.  Brochures can’t highlight safety concerns, but reviews can.  Web sites won’t discuss the realities of the setting or economic conditions of the local community, but reviews do.  As the saying goes, “an educated consumer is the best kind.”
  • Gathering Support for the Student – In addition to assurance, students share reviews with others to gain support, sometimes literally through the recent phenomenon of crowd funding.
  • Pre-Departure Orientation – Nothing can better prepare a student than the first hand accounts of previous students, especially if the former students came from the same home institution.  If you create a Facebook Group for new students, start the dialog off with links to reviews to get discussions going.
  • Helping Students Jump Start their Careers – Using the review as a showcase of their time abroad, the published reviews should be included in Linkedin profiles, cover letters and other career building self-promotion.

Ranking, Ratings and SEO:
Abroad101 also uses reviews to determine positioning in our directories.  The Free Listings in Abroad101 are displayed based on a formula that favors recent reviews and review score.  More reviews means better positioning which means more inquiries.

In addition to the overall score, Abroad101 also displays the average ratings for six other aspects.  We compile those into our annual rankings, which we will promote early in 2015.  To have your program considered for the rankings, we need reviews, so please get those invitations to recent students out before the end of the year.

Five years ago, typing “Plumber in Kansas City” into your favorite search engine would have directed you to online phone directories and electronic yellow pages.  Today, it gets you to Angie’s List, Yelp and the yellow pages that now syndicate reviews.  Search Engines are increasingly using reviews and other Social Media scoring (likes, favorites) as a factor in their rankings; keeping or improving your position with them is yet another reason to incorporate reviews in your online marketing plan.

Follow us:
Facebook.com/Abroad101
Twitter.com/StudyAbroad101
Pinterest.com/StudyAbroad101
Instagram.com/StudyAbroad101
The Study Abroad Advantage on Linkedin

Check Out Our sessions:
Abroad101’s CEO, Mark Shay presented sessions that outline these topics in further depth.  You can download the session slides from our blog:

ISEP Conference: “Social Media & Web Marketing Tools for Marketing and Advising” –
http://blog.studyabroad101.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/ISEP-Session-Social-Media.pdf

NAFSA Region X/XI: “Why Require Student Reviews” –
http://blog.studyabroad101.com/2014/10/why-require-student-reviews-ten-ways-program-evaluations-can-advance-study-abroad-on-your-campus/

Work Closer with Abroad101:
More than 90% of the reviews on Abroad101 are the result of an invitation, and the most effective way to generate reviews on Abroad101 is to use the “Invite Tool” in your account dashboard.  Our system is configured so that duplicate requests won’t get sent, so use the tool to invite recent students – it works!

Double-check your listings.  Type your provider name in the search box at the top of each page and click to see your provider summary page.  As with all of the listings on Abroad101, the display formula applies here too.  If you see the Abroad101 graphic (thumbnail) in the listing, that program needs a listing photo.  Make note of the programs needing reviews and put special emphasis on getting reviews for those.  If you need program titles changed or programs added, send an email to support@Abroad101.com with the program name and a web link, we’ll update them for you.

Advertise with Abroad101.  We continue to create added benefits for those that financially support Abroad101 through advertising.  2-3 times daily we highlight advertiser programs on our Facebook, Twitter and other Social Media outlets.  Reviews from advertiser programs are also distributed through Twitter with the advertiser name and related hash tags included.  Advertisers also receive screened general student inquiries that come through the site.  This comes in addition to the high visibility, cost-effective advertising positions across Abroad101.  Now’s a great time to boost your presence on Abroad101, contact mark@Abroad101.com for details and a price quote.

If you are interested in using Abroad101 as your official program evaluation management system, we’d love to talk to you about how Abroad101 can replace your paper or other legacy application.

As a reminder, reviews collected in 2014 or the result of an invitation issued from Abroad101 in 2014 will be considered for our annual rankings.  Log-into your dashboard and use the Invite Tool to get your former students to submit reviews by December 31 and you’ll that review will automatically be entered into the rankings process.

And, as always, your comments, questions and feedback are welcome.  Thanks for a great year; the best is yet to come!

Mark Shay
CEO, Abroad101
+1-212-321-0928
mark@Abroad101
http://www.StudyAbroad101.com

Abroad101 Newsletter for Program Providers – Fall 2014

Abroad101-reviews-logo-web

 

Welcome back!

Abroad101 continues to make strides toward our goal to become a core component of the international education experience.  We enter the important fall recruiting season with great optimism and lots of positive news:

  • Our web traffic is up and continues to be on target, with over 70% coming from the United States and over 40% from universities
  • The number of universities requiring their students to use Abroad101 is once again growing
  • Review volume is on pace to exceed last year’s thanks to increasing numbers of review invitations coming from advisors
  • Social Media syndication is going strong as student reviews, photos and program news draws followers, likes and clicks which in turn generate inquiries
  • Our internal “Best Data” initiative has led to nice growth in search engine positioning, page views per visitor and time spent on site

 As a program provider, we hope you will make Abroad101 a component in your marketing and promotion.  Below are some suggestions on how to get the most out of Abroad101:

Get Listed in Abroad101’s new “Search by Subject”

Abroad101 is pleased to announce that the ability to search for programs by academic subject area is now been added to the site.  Students and advisors can now “search by subject” using our Advanced Search option: http://www.studyabroad101.com/programs  As we continue to expand this new capability, look for subject area portals to come next.  Subject portals will join countries and cities as our major content gateways.  Subject focused directories and content will help us draw students and advisors who are less interested in a particular destination and more focused on a specific area of study.

As a provider we strongly encouraged you to take advantage of this new opportunity by updating your listings on the site.  The 238 subjects “roll-up” in a listing structure (taxonomy) provided by the US Department of Education.  Each program on Abroad101 is limited to 10 fields of study, which for large programs means you may need to choose more general categories or select the most popular academic areas for your US students.

For Abroad101’s existing advertisers, the good news is that there is no extra charge to advertise in subject directories.  Featured Listings, our base-level advertising, will match on subject keywords in the same manner as city and country meaning you’ll get more exposure for the same cost.  For programs whose main selling feature is subject area, these new positions will be a place for them to stand out.  If you are considering advertising with Abroad101, we hope this is what you’ve been waiting for!

More Reviews will Boost your Directory Position

In any of our directories, programs are displayed based on our listing algorithm that favors those with recent reviews.  Since reviews are what draw people to Abroad101, having your programs better positioned in the directories should generate more inquiries.

Over 90% of the reviews on Abroad101 are the result of an invite, 20% of those come from providers.  The “Invite Tool” on your account dashboard makes the invitation process easy.  Simply paste in a list or recent student email addresses and a few steps later, the process is underway.  We recommend you use our Invite Tool as it includes a link back to find the program, sends timely reminders and won’t send a duplicate reminder if the home university advisor already sent an invitation.

Other incentives for you to draw reviews include Cool Program of the Week, which is drawn from new reviews and promoted on our blog and in our Social Media.  The annual Abroad101 Rankings are another reason to draw reviews.  In February, Abroad101 will again release our rankings whose results are compiled from review data.  We expect that the threshold for a program’s consideration will be at least 20 reviews, so drawing reviews will help your programs qualify for the ranking and the subsequent publicity and recognition.

It’s still not too late to invite spring and summer students to submit reviews.  Some have found that waiting a while allows time to be more reflective writing their review.  Letting some time pass may help them generate a well-rounded, thoughtful and complete review.  It’s never too late to invite reviews!

Put the Abroad101 Ratings Badge on YOUR website

One great way to leverage the reviews in your marketing is to put a ratings badge on your program web pages.  Our Program Widget is a small block of computer code that pulls the latest ratings score in an attractive badge graphic on your web site.

This same logic applies to your university partners who may have their own directories of pre-approved programs.  Encourage them to put the Abroad101 Ratings Badge on their pages so that their students can see your results and click to read the reviews.

Installing the badge on a website is not much more difficult than adding a photo.  Simply visit the Program Widget page on Abroad101, ender the size of the badge you want, the name of your program and copy the resulting block of code for your website.  The badge refreshes constantly, so once the code is in, you don’t have to worry about updating it.  Get the code here

Give Your Students “The Study Abroad Advantage”

Abroad101 has launched an initiative called “The Study Abroad Advantage.”  Designed to help study abroad alumni gain an edge in the job market, the project aims to connect students and employers.  Students start their advantage with a capstone summary of their education abroad published on Abroad101 (aka review), which will then be shared with prospective employers who have indicated a bias toward those with an international education experience.

The core of the project is a group on Linkedin called “The Study Abroad Advantage.”  The group was created at the beginning of September and was joined by over 250 students in the first 5 days.  Students in the group link their study abroad review from their Linkedin profile.  Employers and job recruiters are invited to join the group and to network with these globally minded students.  Discussions and announcements further help students with their search and showcase their talents and abilities.

We encourage providers to participate and to engage your alumni in this effort.  If you have an active alumni group, please bring “The Study Abroad Advantage” to their attention and invite them to join.  Your alumni leaders are also welcome to join the group and may be helpful in creating discussions around topics related to using education abroad to get ahead a career.

Abroad101 for University Advisors

Abroad101 is promoted publicly as the first and largest study abroad review website; but behind the scenes more than 30 colleges and universities require their students to complete evaluations in order to receive credit for their education abroad experience.  A growing number of universities think of Abroad101 as software and a way to manage all their international program evaluation needs, an add-on to their enrollment management system and a gateway to their university course evaluation system.  In your account dashboard is a report called “University Approvals” which will show which advisors have selected which of your programs for use in their pre-approved programs list.  While this is far from comprehensive, it is a nice place to look to see who is endorsing you.  It will also give you a chance to get some insight on the university as each university has a portal on Abroad101 from where you can see their full pre-approved program list.  Type the desired university in the free form search at the top of Abroad101, select ones with the university icon/designation and you’ll land on their review summary page.  Click the pre-approved programs tab to see more.

For more on our advisors outreach, you are welcome to read our recent advisors newsletter

The Benefits of Advertising and Abroad101’s Social Media

Abroad101 is a free service to students, their parents, academic advisors and administrators.  To serve these constituencies, we also make our directories open to all providers and foreign universities.  Free Listings are the foundation of our website and allow anyone who offers programs to American college students a chance to reach the target audience of Abroad101.  Our business is funded by advertising revenue designed to provide extra visibility and better results to those who give financial support to Abroad101.  We pledge to give advertisers good value to their investment in Abroad101 and are working to extend the reach of our platform in many ways.

Featured Positions Abroad101 directories provide extra exposure for your programs and eye catching run-of site display ads can highlight other aspects of your offerings and build your brand.  Advertising on Abroad101 is results driven – ads drive traffic to your program page that acts as a landing page, further filtering inquiries and sending you qualified candidates.   Overall, our advertisers report 5% conversion on their Abroad101 generated inquiries and a cost per lead that has built some very loyal partnerships.

We also know that searching the web for programs is not the business it once was and that to succeed today, you need to spread your message to reach students, so Abroad101 is syndicating content through Social Media now more than ever.  4-8 times per day we are feeding program, review, or editorial content into our social media networks and using our leverage in these outlets to highlight our advertisers.  We kick off any new advertiser relationship with program postings in Facebook including a boost based on related keywords.  We push recent reviews and program highlights from advertised programs in very opportunistic and spontaneous ways.  Recent examples included celebrating advertiser programs in Korea for the Chuseok holiday and promoting our clients with programs at sea for International Talk Like a Pirate Day.

If you’re not part of this, see what you might be missing at:

https://www.Facebook.com/abroad101

https://twitter.com/studyabroad101

http://www.pinterest.com/studyabroad101/

http://instagram.com/studyabroad101

Advertising is per program, per year and we have a variety of ways to work within your budget.  We can take credit cards, invoice you quarterly or pro-rate your first order to match your fiscal year.  If you are interested in a price quote, please contact sales@abroad101.com or download a copy of our advertising guide

Abroad101 on the Road

Abroad101 will attend, exhibit and present sessions at a number of conferences this fall.  We hope to see you at:

  • NAFSA X-XI in Albany, NY
  • NAFSA III in Fort Worth, TX
  • NAFSA VI in Lexington, KY
  • ISEP Conference in Arlington VA
  • CIEE Conference in Baltimore, MD.

 Don’t Forget the Abroad101 Blog

Lastly, if you hadn’t noticed, the Abroad101 blog has come back to life.  There you will see guest postings from professionals in the field, our crowd funding initiative called “the Abroad101 Student of the Week” plus additional news and numbers from Abroad101.  Where else can you find news like this?

  • Emily is the most common first name of students who study abroad
  • University College London is the 2nd most popular direct enrollment institution
  • CEA is the 4th most popular provider.

With 2-3 postings in an average week, it’s worth a periodic visit to blog.studyabroad101.com for some engaging reading and lighter side of the news.

We thank you for taking the time to catch-up on the activities of Abroad101 and for your support.  Please don’t hesitate to contact us with your comments, suggestions and overall feedback as we work to help everyone get more from education abroad.

Mark Shay, CEO
Abroad101
mark@abroad101.com
+1-212-321-0928