How does “The Internet” affect English Learners’ decision on choosing Language Schools?

Written by on 27/02/2017 in Blog


Back in the 90s, when you bought a car, almost all of the information about the car came from the dealership and the salesman themselves. You didn’t have much choice but to depend on the information they provided.

But if you’d buy a car today, you would probably go straight to your computer and look for reviews and experiences of other people who had bought the brand you’re considering. Reading a couple of bad reviews can actually influence you to look for another car brand.

It’s no different in choosing an English language school or course worldwide.

There is a model developed by Mckinsey & Company that captures these changes in the consumer’s behavior over time. This model is called The Consumer Decision Journey or CDJ.

Mckinsey & Co’s CDJ have helped countless brands realize that they’re focusing most of their marketing investments in all the wrong places.

Now, how does this apply to students choosing an English language school?

How consumers decide before

The traditional way of viewing consumer decision making is as a funnel. People start with many different brands then narrow it down until one brand is left and ultimately make the purchase. Here’s an illustration of the theory:

Back then, language schools would spend the majority of their marketing funds/efforts at the top of the “funnel” in order for them to be more visible to their prospective students and be included in their initial consideration set.

How consumers decide today

Now, being noticed isn’t the most important strategy anymore. As people have access now to vast information and opinions online. There are many more inputs that may influence their decision making process. If they don’t like what they see, they may drop your school from their consideration.

This consumer behavior is best modeled by CDJ:

CDJ’s model is viewed as a loop and comprises of four different stages. This is what you can do in each of these stages:


This is the initial stage where students gather the brands that they would put in their consideration set. This is where you try to get noticed and make a good impression. Your prospective students are the ones who want to learn English, so create ads that will pique their interest.

But this is not to say you have to exhaust all your efforts here. Many schools have made the mistake of focusing too much in this stage. You have to remember this is not the only priority.


This is where the students assess whether they actually see themselves joining your language school or not, by doing online research, looking for reviews and social media chatter about your courses.

In this stage, you have to think like your prospective students. Research English language schools worldwide. Which schools come up most prominently? Are you happy about how your school comes across? Think of ways to further improve your brand.

Not enough reviews? There are ways to get more great reviews published across the web.


This is the moment where students make their final decision. Give the students a compelling reason to join you now. Make the students application process as easy as possible. Do you require prospective students to come down for a level assessment? How about offering the option to do it through an online questionnaire or on the phone?

Offer online booking of appointments, free trial classes, etc. Let them experience what would it be like to be in your school, and lower the risk of signing up.


Ensure that your students are not only learning English well but are also having fun. This is the point where a student could be your best ally. Go beyond the basics and see what extra you can do for them to add to their enjoyment and learning experience.

We trust that you already offer solid courses, but it’s often about the little extras. Offering an online platform for example, will allow students to login more often and have a more intense experience.

Having some scheduled excursions or out-of-class activities work well, too. They can be great photo opportunities as well.


Students that are truly happy in your school can help you in a big way. Ask them for a great review and become an advocate. These reviews will help other prospective students that are still in the evaluate stage to find a connection or find the answer they’re looking for.


School-student relationship doesn’t end with them joining your school. Even if their basic course is already done, you have to stay in touch with them in as many ways as possible.

Make sure to have an open relationship with them where they can feel free to engage you with feedback and requests.

By doing this well, you ensure that you are nourishing a bond that would really last and benefit you in the long run.

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