Gerrit Bruno Blöss on marketing via study-choice platforms
Gerrit Bruno Blöss is the Founder and CEO of Study.eu https://www.study.eu/ , the most-visited study choice platform with a focus on universities in Europe (including, as Gerrit is quick to point out, the United Kingdom).
Monsuni: Hallo Gerrit, and welcome to Monsuni. Let’s start from here: when and why you had the idea to found Study.eu?
Gerrit: Molte grazie, it’s my pleasure to share my experience! After my Computer Science Bachelor from TU Munich, I wanted to switch subjects and do a Master in Finance; but back then, no German university would admit you without relevant Business or Finance course credits.
So I explored study-abroad options, and ultimately went to the UK to study at the University of Aberdeen – and it was easily one of the best decisions of my life! As I’m sure most people will agree, studying abroad is a transformative experience unlike any other. After a few years working in Berlin and Stockholm, I decided to help others study abroad, and thus the idea for Study.eu was born.
Monsuni: It looks that one of Study.eu’s main claims is its destination focus, i.e. Europe. In an era of worldwide opportunities for students, why you decided to direct your efforts to the Old Continent “only”?
We chose this focus for the benefit of both the global audience of students that use our website (70% are from outside Europe!) – and the universities we work with.
Thanks to the Bologna reform, higher education is highly comparable across the European Higher Education Area (EHEA). That means that our content and information can be more focused with better in-depth information. The high quality of our content is how we distinguish it from other platforms out there.
Second, because users of Study.eu are specifically interested in Europe, they are more likely to convert and apply to the universities that advertise with us. On our platform, universities don’t need to fight for attention against American, Canadian or Australian institutions – they are in the spotlight, in front of exactly the audience of students that they want to reach.
Monsuni: And how’ the Italian market for you, today? How many Italian HEIs do you work with? In general, what is your experience with our country, and far as international students recruitment is concerned?
Gerrit: Italy was traditionally mostly an exchange destination (who wouldn’t want that extended vacation?), but Italian universities have done an impressive job to expand the offering of English-taught programmes and attract a wider, more global mix of students.
We work with a handful of different institutions from very small to very large, public and private, and we definitely see growing interest in Italy from degree-seeking students. In that sense, one could say that Italy’s brand perception in the eyes of prospective students is growing from a fun short-term destination too, also, a serious high-quality, yet affordable degree destination.
Monsuni: What are your thoughts on how the sector has been adapting to the challenges brought by the coronavirus pandemic?
Clearly, the pandemic has accelerated the shift to digital marketing and recruitment. Who knows, in a few years it may even seem odd to students to go to physical fairs.
In any case, I continue to be amazed by the resilience and speed with which our sector adapted – in marketing and recruitment, but even more so when it came to teaching and student support.
That said, we certainly miss the in-person conversations we used to have at conferences. That’s why, now that small-scale events can be done safely, we’re happy to be organising the very first Study.eu Digital Marketing Day https://digitalmarketingday.study.eu/ in Berlin, with speakers and attendees from all over Europe. It’s going to be a real treat to see old colleagues again, meet new ones, and share experiences and insights.
Monsuni: If you could list, today, the top 10 ways international students actively search for a study destination, in which position would study choice portals be, and why?
Gerrit: I fear that my answer to this is biased. But our own growth supports the assumption that Study.eu and similar platforms are highly valuable channels for universities. It makes sense, because, through Study.eu, universities reach students who are interested, determined, and also when they’re actively looking. On average, when we send a click or lead to a university, that student has already spent 12 to 15 minutes on our site.
Some other channels offer that quality, but many do not. And it can be difficult to judge. For example, we often hear that marketers believe social media are a great way to attract students. But in reality, that belief is rarely backed by tangible enrolment results or reasonable ROIs, making them a dangerous money pit.
Ultimately, each university needs its own healthy mix of various recruitment marketing channels – and a setup to analyse and compare them. What works for one institution doesn’t have to work for another. We always encourage our partners, and often actively help them, in establishing analytics and the necessary processes. Only by being able to compare ROIs across channels, you are able to assess what works and what doesn’t and make smart marketing decisions to increase recruitment success.
Monsuni: This was great! Thanks a lot, Gerrit, and see you in Berlin at https://digitalmarketingday.study.eu/
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