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Finding the right advice

The views and opinions of others have always been an invaluable resource when we make big decisions and word of mouth has played an integral role. Today, ‘word of mouth’ has been digitalised and while this provides boundless opportunities for users to access a range of views from across the globe, making the distinction between reliable and unreliable sources presents its own set of challenges. Despite having unlimited access to the opinions of others online, this does not necessarily mean that accessing the best or most appropriate advice is simple. 

Trusted sources are key in international student recruitment

Choosing where and what to study are hugely significant points on life’s journey and it is precisely at this moment that prospective students often look to the views and opinions of others to help them make the right choice.  

As tech-savvy, digital natives, Gen Z is accustomed to using multiple channels to research and access information. Discerning consumers of the content they see online, they can quickly differentiate between content generated by marketing teams or content generated by more authentic sources, such as their peers.  

Research suggests that students are more inclined to read user-generated content (UGC) as opposed to traditional marketing content and that students’ dwell time on UGC is longer than content generated by other sources. Students may skip over content perceived to be unauthentic or not student generated.

IDP's global reach combined with TAP technology

IDP’s recent acquisition of The Ambassador Platform (TAP) and future integration across IDP sites reinforces our student-first approach. User autonomy is key, and the technology will enable prospective students, both domestic and international, to chat with student ambassadors around the globe at each stage of their research journey.  

From Autumn 2024, IDP websites and IDP Live will provide prospective students with multiple touchpoints so they can connect with current students from the pre-applied stage at the top of the funnel right through to the middle and conversion stages. This will streamline the student’s research journey by reducing the need to cross-reference multiple sources, as everything can be found in one place.

How students benefit

Having TAP ambassadors available will allow prospective students to familiarise themselves with some of the aspects of higher education that may be causing anxiety or stress.  

Connecting with a community of real students in real time allows them to ask practical questions on topics such as halls of residence, renting accommodation privately, food provision and shopping options. It can help them achieve a sense of connection to the university and allow them to ask questions about clubs, societies, sports and social events which might help them adjust, acclimatise and transition to university life. 

The information peers share not only helps to reassure prospective students, but also enables them to make informed choices with long-term-sustainable outcomes for student success and retention. 

Peer-to-peer advice for international students

TAP’s technology is an invaluable resource for international students, of whom many will be unlikely to be able to visit their institution before arrival. Having the opportunity to connect with peers from their own country, speaking their own language, who have experience of the university they are considering can be enormously reassuring and pivotal in the decision-making process. 

How institutions benefit

For institutions, TAP demonstrates full transparency and confidence in your university. It positions you as open and willing to share insights from your own students, which is incredibly powerful when building trust and certainty.  

Peer-to-peer marketing is highly personalised and, from a university’s perspective, there is an intrinsic value in having an ambassador speaking to prospective students on your behalf. For example, having a student who has been at the university for two years telling prospective students about the quality of teaching and services for international students is so much more relatable, and perhaps believable, than reading boilerplate articles on the university website.  

User-generated content is recognised for its authenticity and assists with engagement. TAP’s ambassadors are able upload content such as videos or photos as part of the platform's features. These could be anything from nights out at the Students’ Union to ‘A Day in the Life of….’ – UGC is what prospective students want to see. They want to see up-to-date snippets of what life is like at a particular university and to envisage themselves there.  

Not only is the content free and generated by your best influencers – your students – it increases your institution’s brand awareness. Student recruitment and marketing teams who facilitate peer-to-peer connections are likely to see an increase in conversion rates throughout the funnel; driving applications, seeing more offers accepted, while also achieving higher retention rates. 

A safe space to connect

Safeguarding is a priority and the integration of TAP into IDP’s sites means both parents and students can be reassured that communicating is taking place in a safe environment. Student ambassadors are subject to strict selection criteria and undergo a vigorous vetting process.  

Content is moderated by the university’s admin team through their dashboard, where they can intervene or filter conversations at any time, should they feel the need to. There is even a tool that allows admins to ‘block’ specific words that might cause offense. Customer success managers work closely with universities and admin teams during the onboarding period to ensure the platform is set up properly, offering the best possible outcomes for students and the university. 

Peer to peer to you – added value for our partners

For IDP and TAP integrated products, IDP partners won't need to be a current TAP client nor do they have to purchase a TAP paid licence to use. Engaging with this feature not only enhances an institution’s domestic or global presence but improves recruitment processes at each stage of the funnel.  

TAP currently works with over 150 institutions worldwide and has 7,700 student ambassadors engaging with over 200,000 prospective students globally. The technology has generated more than 2 million messages between peers and created over 160,000 UGC posts. This exposure enhances an institution’s brand identity, while helping students gain real-time answers to some of their most important questions.  

Peer-to-peer engagement should be a key element in institutional marketing strategies. However, keeping it secure and in your best interests is crucial and this is where IDP and TAP enter the picture. For Gen Z, growing up in a world of disinformation, authenticity is everything. Building trusted human-to-human connections will ultimately play a pivotal role in their high-stakes decision making: ‘old school’ values in a ‘new school’ paradigm. 

To learn more about The Ambassador Platform’s peer-to-peer technology, visit their website or schedule a demo with their knowledgeable team. 

Jane Venn
Jane Venn18 January 2024