The student recruitment challenges faced by language schools are unique. Language education can attract students from a wide variety different places and cultures, each with different ambitions, interests, and tastes. With such a broad spectrum to cover, it can be a challenge figuring out how to develop a content strategy that really appeals to your prospective audience base.
Things become even more complicated when you consider that your prospective applicants have limited language proficiency, meaning that any content you produce should preferably be simple, visual, and easily translatable to facilitate multi-language campaigns.
So what’s the key to quality language school content? In this blog, we take a look at a few possible angles to approach your content creation from that could help your posts resonate with a much wider audience.
1. Using Student-Generated Content Gives Prospective Students Content They Can Connect With
Legendary marketing guru Philip Kotler once said that ‘the best advertising is done by satisfied customers,’ and the statement holds true even in highly specialised fields like online student recruitment for language schools. One of the simplest yet most effective ways of really connecting with prospective students is to include student-generated content featuring current and past students from their country or region. Seeing someone who was once in the same position as they are now, with a similar culture and background, achieving their goals with your school’s help can resonate with prospective students in a powerful way, and help build trust and confidence in your brand.
Example: The University of Washington use student testimonials to promote their International & English Language Programs, asking international alumni to comment on their experiences and share their favourite memories from their time on the course.
Student-generated content can take many forms, including guest blogs, student diaries, or even videos. It’s also extremely versatile, and can be repurposed on social media, in email lead nurturing campaigns, and a number of different areas of your website, as well as in printed promotional materials. Your current and past students are usually more than happy to provide glowing references, and the diverse student body of many language schools means you’re likely to be able to source content that speaks to different audiences in a number of regions around the world.
Example: For really impactful content, why not consider filming student testimonials and incorporating them into a video about your school? KAI Japanese language school did just that, and the results speak for themselves. You’ll notice that the video includes people speaking in both English and Japanese with closed captions available, and students from Italy, Switzerland, and Canada, demonstrating the wide range of voices language schools can incorporate into their content.
2. Location, Location, Location: Selling Your School as a Study Destination
When they begin searching for language schools online, prospective students are often confronted with a myriad of possible study destinations, particularly when looking to study widely spoken languages such as English and Spanish. As a result, it’s important for schools looking to recruit more students online to do all they can to play up the unique selling points of their location, emphasising what makes it special and convincing potential leads that it would make the ideal new home for them.
After all, while their education is likely to be the primary motivation of a student looking to study on a language program abroad, many are also excited to experience new places, people, and cultures. Your goal should be to paint a picture of your home country or city as a great place to live, highlighting cultural attractions, fun things to do, and other great experiences students can look forward to.
Example: ONCAMPUS Global run pathway programs for international students at a number of Universities in the UK. Posts like this one, which details some of the tourist attractions near their campuses, are a great way of getting prospective applicants excited to enroll on their courses.
Focusing on your location is also an ideal way to create great visual content. Try posting photos of local scenery on your website, or on visually oriented social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram. If you have time, you might even consider shooting a video tour of the area for prospective students. Visual content generally attracts high amounts of engagement on the web, and best of all for language schools, it’s universally understood, meaning students from all your targeted regions will find it easy to engage with.
Example: This video from Camino Barcelona makes excellent use of its home city, featuring some beautiful evocative shots of the architecture and beaches.
3. How Educational Content Can Help You Generate New Leads
Today’s internet users value informative, useful content, and language school students are no different. Both prospective and current students will probably expect your blog and other online channels to include some educational content, and posts offering helpful resources to improve their language skills can be a great way of promoting your services.
Many language schools include blogs explaining common phrases or slang terms, or lists of tips to make studying easier. If done well, this sort of content can be a great way of building confidence in your teaching methods, and prospective students who learn something, however small, from browsing your website are far more likely to make a serious inquiry.
Example: Destination Canada, a summer English language camp for high school students, offers loads of useful advice for ESL learners on its website, like the below infographic. Simple and highly visual, infographics can be a great way to present content so language school audiences can easily understand it.
Remember, educational content doesn’t have to be dry and serious. Try thinking of interesting and fun ways students can improve their language skills, and create posts around them. For instance, you could post a blog about movies or TV shows students could watch in your language, or an infographic highlighting activities that can improve their skills. When you put your mind to it, you’ll be amazed at what you can come up with.
Example: This blog post from CultureWorks, another Canadian ESL provider, takes the novel approach of suggesting word-based board games students can use to improve their language skills.
4. Use Your Content to Highlight the Potential Rewards of Studying at Your Language School
Another important aspect of attracting prospective language school students is convincing them of the benefits of learning a new language. Many potential applicants will see it as the key to improving their career prospects, and opening up new opportunities for them around the world. Posts which highlight the potential rewards of your programs will give them concrete reasons to pursue their goals, and strengthen their resolve to make their ambition a reality.
Example: The American Association of Teachers of French of Rhode Island (AATFRI) composed a series of videos promoting the benefits of learning French. In this one, a successful international relations professional talks about how it has helped him in his career.
To stand out from the crowd, it’s also important to promote the more specific benefits of your language school programs. Whether you’re offering language learning for the workplace, daily use, or for academic purposes, emphasising a specific niche will help you focus your online marketing more effectively, making you more likely to attract leads that fit your profile.
Example: This post from the English Studies Institute, which is based at University of California at Berkeley, does a great job of positioning their Intensive English program as the ideal route to working and studying in the USA.
5. Showcase Your School’s Community and Social Events
While many prospective students will be excited to come to your school, it’s important to remember that they may also be apprehensive too. Coming to a strange country and being far away from your family and friends can be daunting, and it’s only natural for students to be worried about adjusting to a new culture, fitting in, and making new friends.
Promoting some of the extracurricular activities and social events you offer at your school can be a great way to allay some those fears, showing the sense of community your school provides for students and the family-like atmosphere that can develop among them.
Example: This video of a Thanksgiving meal at LUMOS Language School in Salt Lake City offers a glimpse into what student life is like there, showing the community atmosphere the school provides and really giving prospective students a sense that they will be entering into a caring, supportive environment.
Photos, video, and other content centred on extracurricular activities at your school are also perfect fodder for social media marketing for schools, providing you with a steady stream of posts that will give prospective students a real sense of your school’s personality and culture.
Example: Inlingua Victoria, an ESL school in British Columbia, regularly post snapshots of student life on their campus and social events on their Facebook page.
While it’s important to create posts built around a range of different topics, each of these angles offer a great starting point to approach your content from when you’re looking to generate ideas. Not only that, but they can be applied to almost any type of content format across a number of digital channels, including your website, blog, and social media pages. They can even be translated into different languages in order to appeal to a wider range of students.
Best of all though, they each communicate a clear message that speaks to universal concerns of language students at all levels around the world, meaning you can be sure your content will really hit home with your target audience.
Working for language school? What kind of content marketing approaches have worked best for you in the past? Leave a comment below and let us know what you think!