Marketing for Language Schools: Experiences, conclusions and recommendations

Written by on 06/12/2016 in Blog

ONLINE MARKETING on price labels

Discussing with my clients about marketing approaches they are using in their Language Schools, there was one message that came up regularly:

The traditional forms of acquiring students – direct mail, billboards, paid advertising, prints ads – are no longer working. These methods are not measurable, very expensive, and the ROI is minimal – if not negative.

The reality is that prospective students begin their search for Language Schools at Google, and if you don’t show up on the first page, you might as well not exist.

Your potential students are also doing much more of their research before they even reach out to your school, pushing inquiries down to the bottom of your marketing funnel. If your school isn’t providing educational content about your classes, references from other students, and ways to communicate and engage with your office before they’re ready to apply, another competitive school in your area that is will most likely acquire that student.

But don’t worry. There’s hope for you and here is what could help you:

Inbound Marketing

Using inbound marketing at your school is about creating content that is going to be found by your target students on Google and in social media. This content lives on your school’s blog and website, and is targeted at solving the problems and answering the questions your target students are searching for online.

For example, if you’re a Language School, you should be building up your content around the keyword phrases. Many schools are writing content that is brand focused, constantly talking about information that is only relevant to those that already know about the school. Those that don’t know about your school, but are looking for prospective private schools in their area, are searching for more general terms.

As a starting-point you should develop a content strategy by establishing different profiles for your target groups. Next step is to come up with targeted keywords to create content around. My advice for content: Make sure you are active with your student community online, answering questions and providing useful information they need before they apply.

If things are up and running you may think about taking advantage of Google ads and Facebook ads.

Social Media Strategy

Social media really supports your content strategy and provides you with channels to promote it. It’s also serves as a retention tool, so you can easily engage students.

If you have some experiences with social media, you know that the key challenge is to manage social media effectively. My advice is to schedule time to check social media and only check it at that time, because you can spend all day on all the different channels, e.g. in the morning schedule your posts for the day and respond to any messages, tweets, or comments you may have, then check it during lunch, and then right before you leave the office.

My advice for social media is to treat every channel separately and differently. Not all content will work on all channels in the same format and length. But you have to understand which channels will work best for your school and manage what you can. Don’t try to be on every single channel; you won’t have enough time in your day and you’ll end up managing all the channels only somewhat effectively.


If you’re already getting started with inbound or would like to start soon, get ready to start measuring everything you do. This includes what you’re currently doing (like direct mail or other more traditional marketing tactics). It’ll make it far easier to make the case for inbound investment with comparative metrics.

Last but not least: follow a lean business model. Cut the marketing tactics that don’t have a positive return on investment, and invest small and iterate on what works.

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