How Language Schools Can Increase International Student Recruitment

Gone are the days when language schools could only recruit international students via student recruitment fairs, expensive agents, and school-to-school exchanges.

Today, you can bump up foreign applications dramatically even without sending staff abroad to educational fairs.

With the right marketing campaign in place, you can bring on board more international students than ever before. And this is exactly what we will be talking about today.

Dive in to learn:

    • How can language schools increase international student recruitment
    • How to target marketing campaigns accurately to recruit more students interested in studying abroad
  • Few marketing hacks that will help you to close more deals with potential students


How to develop the perfect international student recruitment strategy

Who are your targeted students? 

Who’s your ideal targeted student? Where are they from? What do they expect from a language school? Do they pay for schooling themselves or will parents fund them?

These are the questions that you must answer before developing a recruitment strategy. A one-size-fits-all kind of marketing will not do the job when it comes to cross-border recruitment. 

A marketing strategy that would work for high school students from China might not be equally effective for, let’s say, Saudi Arabia college grad.

To efficiently recruit across cultures you need to be aware of unique cultural norms and customs, values and behavioral styles. Here are a few of them.

What are your students cultural expectations?

In some Asian cultures, students barely ever ask any questions. In that part of the world asking questions is a sign of rudeness as it means that a teacher or a presenter didn’t do their job well.  Being aware of this cultural feature, you can address the most commonly asked questions without potential students having to ask them.

Gender-related customs should also be considered when recruiting worldwide.  Especially in male-dominated societies like some Arabian Gulf countries. For example, when recruiting female students from countries like the United Arab Emirates, you will most probably have to communicate through their male parent, agent or another family member.

Expectations of education also vary from culture to culture.

For example, Asian students who study English as a Second Language (ESL) put greater emphasis on improving English for future career development.  Therefore to get the most out of language learning, Asian families are willing to pay more for their kids to be completely immersed in the language.

Latin American students, on the other hand, see ESL schools as an opportunity to learn and earn abroad.

According to BELTA, very often Brazilian students seek for ESL programs that would allow them to study English in addition to opportunities for temporary seasonal work.

A lot of European ESL students, view English Courses as an opportunity to take a gap year to experience other cultures while improving the language.

Understanding your potential students’ motivation and expectation is crucial, as it would help you guide your international student recruitment marketing plan properly. 

How to adjust your marketing campaign properly?

Not every country should be treated the same when it comes to international student recruitment. Different regions also mean different marketing tools and platforms to be used.

According to Students Online: Global Trends report by QS, international students from African countries rely more on online resources. If you are targeting students from Morocco, Algeria or Egypt, you will have to invest more time and money into your online presence.

Build a comprehensive website, so potential students can make a decision based entirely on what can be found on the web. Make it easy for them to contact you through social media and chats. Invest in Google ads and Facebook ads.

Video strategy

Having a YouTube presence can also help you to build credibility and set correct expectations. After all, we tend to consume and retain video information way better than dry text.

Using the video testimonials of your past students can cement a virtual relationship with your potential customers even more. Here is an excellent example of YouTube marketing material:

If you are targeting Asian markets, online presence might not be enough. Think about investing in education fairs and physical brand ambassadors in place.

Social media strategy

Fast growing social media is another excellent marketing channel to use. Especially in European countries, where over 70% of people are using social media regularly.

Keep in mind though, that social media differs by country. If you, let’s say, plan to recruit students from China, you will have to establish a strong online presence on popular local networks like WeChat and Sina Weibo.

Correctly-done social media marketing can give dramatically boost your enrollments and make it easier for your potential students to find you.

Here is an example of ESL school from Ukraine who has cultivated almost 300 000 followers on Instagram by simply creating a useful English learning content daily.

For ESL schools, social media can also be an excellent market research tool. SM is excellent for running an informal survey. Through social media, you can better understand how qualified your leads are, and you can filter out unqualified prospects.

Whether you are generating overseas leads through physical ambassadors, educational fairs or digital marketing, understanding cultural marketing differences is a must. The more thorough and culturally appropriate your marketing strategy is, the better are your chances to generate high-quality international leads.

Is your website ready to sell worldwide?

One of the biggest challenges when it comes to international students recruitment is having a website in place that can cater to your clients worldwide.

Here are a few tricks that would help you internationalize your website. Let’s start with the basics.

First of all, since you are targeting people who are only in the process of learning English, having your website translated into different languages is not a bad idea.

Getting a generic translation done is very easy and inexpensive task, especially if you are using freelance platforms like Upwork or Freelancer for that.

There are plenty of ways to design the international section on your website.  The easiest way would be to have a drop-down language menu on your homepage.

Technical aspects

Another thing to consider when developing an international website is server location. Your potential students far away from the servers might experience some loading delays, especially if your site is content heavy.

Therefore many international language schools use cloud networks or global content delivery networks to get their contents closer to potential students.

If you want to take it a step further, you can even have different subdomains for different language versions of your website. Subdomains allow you to have a local IP address, which can be helpful if you want to build an SEO strategy specific to the region.

Once you have all of the technical details sorted it is time to work on the content itself.

What should a successful ESL school website do?

    • It has to effectively pull in potential students
    • keep them around
  • convert leads into enrollments

Simple as it is.

Serving as your school’s virtual home, a website is students first point of contact. Answering the most commonly asked questions about the school and the program is your websites primary goal.

Speaking of questions,  it is crucial for all of the prospects inquiries to be answered in a timely manner. It is a good idea to set up a quick auto-response with some useful links to nurture your leads, while they are waiting for a physical admission representative to get in touch with them.

Your website surely has to wear multiple hats. Being the virtual face of the company is one of them. Since not all of the students have the luxury to come to ESL school before enrolling, make sure that your website gives them a vivid picture of what they can expect from your educational institution. Testimonials,  grads contacts, content created by your students etc. – all these elements make your website a very welcoming space in which potential leads can discover your school virtually.

Speak your Customer’s Language

Did you know that 74% of customers would be more keen to buy from you if you offer customer support in their language?  Since you are recruiting ESL students, who don’t understand English fluently yet, multi-language support is crucial.

Being able to address client’s inquiries efficiently and answer their questions quickly is what can turn browsers into buyers.

It does not mean that you should provide customer support in all of the languages spoken by your potential students.

Focus on those markets where you have the most mature presence. For example, if your 80% of your leads come from Brazil, having a Portuguese-speaking team member would be an asset.

You know what they say, word of mouth is the best kind of marketing. Your current and past international students can also be your brand’s ambassadors.

The best part is, you don’t even have to hire the ambassadors on a full-time basis.  By setting up a referral program for your grads, you kill two birds with one stone. First of all, you get yourself a multilingual brand ambassador ready to sell your courses abroad. Second of all, you create brand loyalty, which is always a good thing. You should definitely consider facilitating “word of mouth” through students ambassadors, you would not believe how effective this strategy is!

Allowing the student to pay with local payment methods

Cross-border education calls for cross-border payments

Did you know that 13% of online buyers abandon their carts because the prices were listed in foreign currency?

Not displaying an appropriate currency to your potential student is a proven way to risk a conversion. Besides, sometimes when student pays for a curse in a foreign currency, they can get to pay foreign transaction fees. And this is not something most of the students want to spend on top of an expensive ESL program tuition fees.

So why risk a conversion? With all of the technology at our hands, it has never been easier to send and accept multiple currencies. 

The easiest way would be to have a domain and a separate subdomain for each country. When setting up a payment gateway you will notice a country selection drop-down. By configuring a payment gateway for each subdomain separately, you will allow your customers to pay for the course in their own currency.

Accepting payments in installments

Paying in installments is another financing hack that can improve your conversion rates. Some nations are used to paying in easy monthly installments, so offering them this option would dramatically boost your closure rates.

Installments payments are very popular in Latin American countries, such as Mexico and Brazil. Just so you know, 30% Brazilians often do not proceed with a purchase unless the website offers installments.

Offering payment installments can drastically increase your enrollments. After all, making 12 monthly payments of $200 does not seem quite as scary as paying $2400 all at once.

How can you accept this kind of payment? By partnering with a company that processes local payments in the region, such as EBANX, for instance. 

Final thoughts

It has never been easier to recruit international students from all over the world to your language school.

Deep understanding of your market combined with an immersive marketing campaign and a top-notch customer service can make your virtual leads physically come to you on campus.

How does your language school increase international student recruitment? Let us know in the comments down below!