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The VIVA CITY Guide to PBSA Marketing For The Chinese Student Market

May 31, 2023

In today's global education landscape, attracting Chinese students who plan to study abroad has become a top priority for owners and managers of Western Purpose Built Student Accommodation (PBSA). This guide aims to provide valuable insights and effective strategies to help you successfully target and capture this thriving market.

PBSA (Purpose Built Student Accommodation) refers to housing specifically designed and built to cater to the needs of students. It plays a significant role in the student housing industry by providing purpose-built facilities, amenities, and services to create a conducive environment for students' academic and social development. Increasingly, it is sought after by students choosing to study abroad, seeking stability, high standards of living and convenience.

In this guide, we will explore the importance of specifically targeting the Chinese student market when it comes to PBSA sales. With a growing number of Chinese students pursuing education abroad, catering to their specific needs and preferences has become essential for maintaining high occupancy rates and fostering a diverse student community.

Lastly, this guide will equip you with practical tips, proven techniques, and cultural considerations to effectively market your PBSA to Chinese students. From digital marketing strategies to creating a welcoming environment, we will cover a wide range of topics to help you attract and accommodate Chinese students studying abroad.

Whether you are an experienced owner or a new manager in the PBSA industry, this guide will provide you with the tools and knowledge necessary to navigate the Chinese student market successfully.

Let's dive in and discover how you can position your PBSA as the preferred choice for Chinese students seeking a comfortable and enriching study abroad experience.

Understanding the Chinese student market 

The Chinese student market for overseas study is a significant force in the global education landscape. According to statistics, China consistently ranks as the largest source of international students worldwide. In 2019, there were 703,500 Chinese students studying abroad, accounting for approximately one-third of all international students. This trend continues to grow, demonstrating the immense potential and importance of targeting Chinese students in your PBSA marketing efforts.

The "Bounce Back" of Chinese Students Choosing to Study Abroad Post-Pandemic

While the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted international education in 2020, there is a notable "bounce back" in Chinese students choosing to study abroad. As travel restrictions ease and confidence in international education is restored, Chinese students are eager to pursue educational opportunities overseas once again. This rebound highlights the resilience and determination of Chinese students to experience a global education and the need to tailor marketing strategies to capture their attention and interest.

Chinese Student Preferences for PBSA - What Are They Looking For?

When it comes to Purpose Built Student Accommodation (PBSA), Chinese students have specific preferences and expectations. Proximity to universities or educational institutions is, naturally, crucial, as convenience and accessibility play a significant role in their decision-making process.

Furthermore, safety and security are paramount concerns for Chinese students and their parents, making it essential to highlight robust security measures in your marketing efforts. Additionally, Chinese students often prioritise well-equipped study spaces, high-speed internet access, and communal areas that foster social interactions and a sense of community.

Cultural Factors to Consider When Marketing Your PBSA to Chinese Students

Understanding cultural factors is essential when marketing your PBSA to Chinese students, as it can significantly influence their decision-making process. One crucial aspect to consider is the involvement of parents in the decision-making process. In Chinese culture, parents play a significant role in their child's education and well-being. Therefore, your marketing strategy should address parental concerns, emphasising safety, academic support, and a nurturing environment.

Moreover, cultural nuances and traditions should be respected and integrated into your marketing materials. Highlighting amenities that cater to Chinese students' specific needs, such as Chinese cuisine options, language support services and cultural exchange programs, can create a sense of familiarity and comfort.

Developing a PBSA marketing strategy for the Chinese student market 

To effectively target the Chinese student market and maximise your PBSA's appeal, it's essential to develop a solid marketing strategy. Here are the main steps to consider:

Setting Marketing Objectives

Start by defining your marketing objectives. These could include increasing occupancy rates, attracting a specific number of Chinese students, or establishing your PBSA as the top choice for Chinese students studying abroad within your region or city. Clearly outlining your goals will guide your overall strategy.

Identifying Target Audience and Creating Buyer Personas

Understand your target audience within the Chinese student market by conducting research and gathering insights. Create buyer personas to represent different segments of Chinese students based on factors such as study preferences, interests, and demographics. This will help tailor your messaging and marketing efforts to resonate with specific groups.

Developing a Unique Value Proposition

Differentiate your PBSA from university-owned accommodation by highlighting appealing factors to Chinese students. Focus on offering enhanced security measures, the ability to retain rooms during holidays, and the opportunity for Chinese students to form a close-knit community—a "home away from home" environment. Emphasise the advantages your accommodation provides in terms of safety, support, and a sense of belonging.

Determining Marketing Channels and Tactics

Identify the most effective marketing channels to reach your target audience. In the case of the Chinese student market, WeChat is a vital platform. Expand on this by dedicating a subsection of your strategy to WeChat, elaborating on its features, audience reach, and how it can be leveraged to promote your PBSA effectively. Link to existing content or resources that provide in-depth guidance on utilising WeChat for marketing purposes.

Creating a Content Marketing Plan

Content marketing is crucial for engaging Chinese students and fostering a strong online presence. Develop a content marketing plan that aligns with your objectives and targets Chinese students' interests and needs. Leverage WeChat's capabilities to share informative articles, videos, and engaging visuals that showcase the unique aspects of your PBSA. Establish yourself as a valuable resource for Chinese students seeking information and support related to their study abroad journey.

By following these steps and tailoring your strategy to the Chinese student market, you can position your PBSA as the preferred choice, capture the attention of Chinese students, and establish long-lasting relationships within this lucrative demographic.

Crafting effective marketing messages for the Chinese student market 

When targeting the Chinese student market, it's crucial to craft marketing messages that resonate with their cultural values and preferences. Here are the main steps to set up a solid strategy:

Tailoring Messaging to Chinese Cultural Values

To effectively connect with Chinese students, tailor your messaging to align with their cultural values. Emphasise the importance of education, academic success, and career prospects in your marketing content. Highlight how your PBSA supports their academic goals and provides a nurturing environment for personal growth. Additionally, consider incorporating elements of collectivism, family values, and social connections into your messaging, as these are important aspects of Chinese culture.

Tips for Effective Messaging via WeChat

WeChat is a powerful platform for reaching and engaging the Chinese student market. Tailor your content to different channels within WeChat to optimise your messaging strategy. For example, use WeChat Moments to share visually appealing content, such as images or videos showcasing the amenities and community aspects of your PBSA. Utilise WeChat Groups to foster a sense of community and facilitate discussions among current and prospective Chinese students. Personalise messages and leverage WeChat's interactive features, such as polls or surveys, to encourage engagement and feedback.

Examples of Effective Marketing Strategies

To create an effective marketing strategy for the Chinese student market, consider implementing full-funnel functionality. Start by raising awareness and generating interest through targeted ads, informative blog posts, or videos that showcase the unique features of your PBSA. Then, provide value-added content such as virtual tours, testimonials, or success stories to build trust and consideration. Finally, guide prospective students through the decision-making process by offering incentives, exclusive promotions or personalised support during the booking stage.

For instance, you can create mini programs within WeChat that allow prospective students to explore virtual tours, request more information, or book viewings directly. By integrating full-funnel functionality into your marketing strategy, you can effectively nurture leads and guide them toward choosing your PBSA as their preferred accommodation option.

By tailoring your messaging to Chinese cultural values, optimising your content for WeChat, and implementing full-funnel marketing strategies, you can create compelling and effective marketing messages that resonate with the Chinese student market. This will increase your chances of attracting and converting Chinese students, establishing your PBSA as the ideal choice for their study abroad experience.

The vital role of WeChat Mini Programs in your a PBSA marketing strategy

WeChat Mini Programs have become an indispensable tool in reaching and engaging the Chinese student market. Here's an overview of their functionality and the role they play in your sales funnel:

What are WeChat Mini Programs?

WeChat Mini Programs are lightweight applications within the WeChat ecosystem that offer a wide range of functionalities. They provide users with a seamless and immersive experience without the need to install separate apps. Mini Programs can be accessed directly within the WeChat app, making them convenient and easily accessible for Chinese students.

Role in the Sales Funnel and Boosting Conversion

WeChat Mini Programs play a vital role in the lower funnel of your sales strategy. They allow you to guide potential customers through the booking process, leading to higher conversion rates. By integrating Mini Programs into your marketing strategy, you can streamline the customer experience, increase engagement, and drive conversions.

Examples of WeChat Mini Program Use Cases

WeChat Mini Programs offer various ways to enhance the customer journey and drive engagement. Here are a few examples of how they can be utilised within your PBSA marketing strategy.

Showcase Buildings and Rooms

Create Mini Programs to provide virtual tours of your buildings and showcase different room types. Allow prospective Chinese students to explore the facilities, amenities, and room layouts. This helps them gain a better understanding of the accommodation options available and encourages them to make informed decisions.

Booking Viewings and Alert Notifications

Facilitate the booking process by integrating a Mini Program that enables Chinese students to schedule viewings directly from within WeChat. Additionally, offer the option to sign up for alerts when rooms become available, ensuring they stay informed and have the opportunity to secure their preferred accommodation.

Customisation and Room Add-Ons

Utilise Mini Programs to allow Chinese students to personalise their room preferences and request specific items or add-ons to be included in their accommodations. This customisation option adds value to their experience and makes them feel more connected to their future living space.

By leveraging WeChat Mini Programs, you can provide a seamless, convenient and interactive experience for Chinese students, leading to increased engagement and higher conversion rates. Whether it's capturing interest, booking viewings, or offering customization options, Mini Programs enhance the customer journey and contribute to a positive overall experience – as well as an effective pipeline.

At VIVA CITY, we understand the important role WeChat Mini Programs can play in your PBSA marketing strategy. We specialise in creating highly impactful, adaptable Mini Programs tailored to your unique requirements. Contact us to discover how our expertise can help you leverage this powerful tool and enhance your engagement with the Chinese student market.

Implementing and measuring your PBSA marketing strategy 

Once you have developed your PBSA marketing strategy for the Chinese student market, it's important to effectively implement and measure its success. Here are the key points to consider:

Budgeting and Resource Allocation

Allocate a budget specifically for your marketing efforts targeting the Chinese student market. Determine how much you are willing to invest in various channels such as online advertising, content creation, social media campaigns, and WeChat Mini Programs. Ensure that you have the necessary resources, both in terms of staff and external partners, to execute your strategy effectively.

Implementing Your Marketing Plan

Execute your marketing plan by deploying your chosen tactics and initiatives. Launch your WeChat Mini Programs, publish engaging content on WeChat, run targeted ads, and engage with prospective Chinese students through various channels. Consistency and regularity are essential to maintain visibility and momentum.

Measuring and Tracking Success

Implement robust measurement mechanisms to evaluate the effectiveness of your marketing efforts. Track key performance indicators (KPIs) such as website traffic, conversion rates, engagement levels on WeChat, bookings, and occupancy rates. Analyse data regularly to identify trends, areas of improvement, and opportunities for optimisation.

Consider leveraging WeChat analytics and other monitoring tools to gain insights into user behaviour, campaign performance, and audience demographics. These insights will help you understand which aspects of your strategy are working well and which areas need adjustment.

Adapting and Adjusting Your Strategy

Based on the data and insights gathered, be prepared to adapt and adjust your strategy as needed. Identify any underperforming tactics or channels and reallocate resources to more effective areas. Continuously refine your messaging, content, and targeting to better resonate with the Chinese student market. Stay updated on industry trends, adjust your approach accordingly, and be agile in responding to evolving market dynamics.

Regularly reassess your buyer personas and market research to ensure your messaging remains relevant and appealing. Seek feedback from Chinese students and adapt your strategy to address their evolving needs and preferences.

By implementing a well-defined marketing plan, closely monitoring key metrics, and remaining adaptable, you can ensure the effectiveness of your PBSA marketing strategy in attracting and engaging Chinese students. Continuously measure, learn and optimise to maximise your reach and impact in the Chinese student market.

Best practices and case studies

When it comes to marketing PBSA to the Chinese student market, certain best practices can help you achieve success. Here are some key strategies to consider:

Build Trust and Establish Relationships

Develop trust with Chinese students and their parents by showcasing your commitment to safety, security, and quality. Highlight your partnerships with reputable universities, showcase positive student testimonials, and provide transparent information about your accommodations and services.

Leverage Social Media and Influencers

Utilise social media platforms, especially WeChat, to connect with your target audience. Develop engaging content that resonates with Chinese students, including information about local attractions, campus life, and student support services. Collaborate with influencers who have a strong following among Chinese students  to amplify your brand's reach. 

Tailor Your Messaging and Content

Customise your messaging to align with Chinese cultural values and preferences. Focus on factors like community, support networks, and the overall experience of living in your PBSA. Consider providing content in both Mandarin and English to cater to the needs of Chinese students and their parents.

Case Study: Successful PBSA Marketing Campaign in China

One notable example of a successful PBSA marketing campaign in China is the partnership between CRM Students and VIVA CITY. By leveraging WeChat Mini Programs, ABC Student Housing created an immersive experience for prospective Chinese students.

Through a series of Mini Programs, they showcased their accommodations, virtual tours, and floor plans. They also provided an easy booking process and enabled users to engage with staff members for personalised enquiries. The campaign resulted in a significant increase in bookings and a positive brand reputation among Chinese students and their parents.

This case study highlights the effectiveness of leveraging WeChat Mini Programs, personalised content, and a focus on the unique needs and preferences of the Chinese student market. By adopting similar strategies and tailoring them to your specific PBSA offerings, you can effectively attract and engage Chinese students seeking accommodation for their overseas studies.

Ready To Take PBSA Marketing For The Chinese Student Market To The Next Level?

In conclusion, targeting the Chinese student market for PBSA requires a thoughtful and tailored approach. By understanding the unique preferences, cultural factors, and decision-making dynamics of Chinese students and their parents, you can create effective marketing strategies that resonate with this audience.

Key takeaways from this guide include the importance of cultural sensitivity, the role of WeChat and Mini Programs in the marketing funnel, and the significance of building trust and relationships. By implementing these strategies, you can position your PBSA as an attractive and trusted option for Chinese students studying abroad.

When it comes to leveraging WeChat and Mini Programs, VIVA CITY can provide valuable expertise and guidance. Our team’s experience in creating impactful, adaptable Mini Programs can help you optimise your customer interactions, enhance conversion rates and streamline the booking process.

To succeed in the competitive Chinese student market, it is crucial to continuously assess and refine your marketing strategies based on performance metrics and market trends. Stay agile, listen to the needs of Chinese students and their parents, and adapt your offerings accordingly.

By implementing the insights and recommendations shared in this guide, and considering VIVA CITY as your trusted partner in WeChat and Mini Program development, you can effectively attract and cater to the growing Chinese student market, establishing your PBSA as the preferred choice for their study abroad journey.

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