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How do Chinese digital channels relate to the student lifecycle?

June 15, 2021 |   Ada Wang

A global pandemic in 2020 reinforced the importance of digital strategies as essential to ride out the disruption that came with being unable to market in more traditional ways.

But even prior to 2020, education providers wanting to remain relevant, visible and competitive in Chinese student recruitment were already coming to understand that being across the nuances of China’s digital ecosystem was crucial for engaging with prospective Chinese students.

This is not to say that having an on-the-ground strategy - visiting campuses, attending recruitment fairs, using local agents - has become irrelevant, particularly as we come out of the pandemic and international travel resumes.

However, these standard recruitment and marketing techniques are only useful if used alongside a comprehensive China digital strategy.

The student journey

The key to building this strategy is understanding the Chinese student journey and the digital channels most effective at each stage. The three stages are:


The journey starts as much as two years out from a student wanting to commence study (up to 31% of students plan this far out) and carries through the recruitment process until an offer is made and place accepted.


With 20-50% of international university places taken up by Chinese students, staying with this cohort during their degree is crucial, especially because Chinese students remain engaged with friends and family at home during their studies. If they are having a positive experience, they become quasi ‘Key Opinion Leaders’ (KOLS), helping to enhance and promote the brand.


Nearly 80% of students return home post-degree, with alumni engagement valued at around $41 billion in the US alone. This value comes from alumni returning to China and talking up their experiences, as well as their continued support through donations. It can also be more strategically leveraged by reaching out to alumni to act as case studies on Faculty/university webpages or during targeted digital marketing campaigns.

Creating a Chinese digital strategy can be quite complicated. But, we have simplified it for you! We created a Chinese digital strategy guide suited for institutions worldwide ready to enter the Chinese market. Download the guide here.

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