Takeaways from our 2023 Marketing Conference
11 October 2023

Takeaways from our 2023 Marketing Conference

Our annual Marketing Conference took place in London and online on Friday 29 September.

View the 2023 marketing confernce photo gallery >>

For those who missed it, here are some of the things we learnt:

UK ELT – where we are headed

BONARD's Ivana Slobodnikova presented global ELT statistics and looked at some of the key trends.

She highlighted five growing markets which sent more students in H1 2023 than they did in H1 2019: Colombia, Thailand, Chile, Argentina and Peru.

Looking ahead, she told us to prepare for changes to the traditional top ten source markets, the return of junior travel and students travelling from China, and negative factors including staff and accommodation shortages and visa refusals issues. 

Tiktok video creation for language centres 

Herbert Gerzer of Lurn Media gave us an introduction to content creation for TikTok. He shared examples of how education providers can make effective ads, even with limited time and budget.

His top tips included:

  • use native TikTok features (like greenscreen) so that your content looks authentic and less like an advert
  • audio is key - but videos also need to be accessible
  • avoid text in 'safe space' areas so that you can use the same video on other social platforms
  • keep your videos moving: more than one shot is best
  • stick to 30 seconds
  • create a library of raw content that you can reutilise to save time and money

Tips for using chatbots

Richard Bradford from Disquiet Dog highlighted the need to invest both time and money into 'training' AI chatbot tools, to ensure a positive experience for users. 54% of customers say their biggest frustration is the number of questions they have to answer before being transferred to a human agent.

Richard's recommended language centres should:

  • have someone dedicated to managing and ensuring the chatbot's evolution over time
  • consider outsourcing the staffing of their chatbots until the technology is properly tested
  • ensure a consistent tone of voice between the chatbot and human help

Keeping on brand

Ann Hawkins reminded us about the importance of keeping on brand and gave examples to help the whole team stick to the style guide. Once you have established a well-defined brand identity (with clear values, mission, and vision), you need brand guidelines that all your staff can understand and access easily.

Ann's advice included:

  • Training employees at all levels to understand your core values and messaging
  • Planning the lifecycle of your brand guidelines so they can evolve
  • Updating the guidelines regularly

Turning parents into ambassadors

Gina Rodriguez talked about the value of happy parents who generate word of mouth about your school. She encouraged schools to make parental support a central part of their marketing plans. Her ideas included:

  • using podcast episodes to build trust and peace of mind around issues like homestay and student wellbeing
  • using WhatsApp Business for personalized communication with parents including updates, enquiries, image sharing and student progress reports.
  • using social media live streams for parent Q&As and 'meet the teacher' events

How can language centres use AI now?

George Chilton from Hubbub Labs gave an overview of the Artificial Intelligence tools available and how language centres might start using them to benefit their marketing teams. 

A few examples included:

  • Chat GPT has plugins can transcribe or summarise videos and research flights, essentially acting as a personal assistant to free up time for more creative work
  • Canva has a free AI tool that generates images based on your description
  • ByWord AI which can write copy (though it produces quite dull copy which still needs an editor) 

Jimmy, a consultant for Disquiet Dog, was more sceptical in his session about the benefits of using AI for content generation. He pointed out that ELT centres are usually selling a one-only service, so they don't have the data required to take advantage of many AI tools.

He suggested that at the moment AI does a few marketing jobs well:
  • personalise website content tailored to each individual visitor
  • target advertising campaigns - identifying the people who are most likely to be interested in your products or services
  • automate your email marketing campaigns by sending personalised emails based on interests and purchase history
  • generate content like product descriptions, blog posts, and social media posts.



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