Is your digital content attracting the right students?
27 April 2018

Most ELT centres think they are filling their websites with keywords and content which will attract students and agents to their courses.

But digital marketing specialist Richard Bradford, who runs our Bootcamp courses to support ELT centres, says that though the concepts are simple, not everyone is getting it right. Here are a few useful tips from Richard on making digital marketing work for your ELT centre...

Using keywords in digital marketing

"Your ELT market is looking at using certain keywords, and your website is configured using certain keywords, and if those things don't match you won't get clients. When people say 'we don't get as many bookings as we used to' – that will frequently depend on how well they are positioning for those keywords. It's so obvious if you think about it - but not if you're not thinking about it," says Richard.

Using Google in digital marketing

Google is a good librarian, says Richard. "The head of Google Search was on the radio recently and said that years go if you wanted something you would go to the one library in the city and ask for it, and essentially that's all they're doing.

"The only way to prove that you're relevant for a given ELT search phrase is to have substance around that. We've introduced the idea of content nodes. It's not about writing an article to optimise to Google search, it's about being a really good source of reference for things around the theme.

"The example I use frequently is of when I was at International House and we were promoting IELT. "So we got content on the site around that: there was the IELTS test, the IELTS prep course, preparation for the speaking and written test, grading, what different IELTS scores lead to, what kind of IELTS scores unis want, how many points do you need for an MBA, alternatives to IELTS.

"Those are the sort of questions people ask. You can see the central keyword is IELTS but I've listed five or six different angles which would be useful to different clients. There might be FAQs around that, but if you are getting more and more encyclopaedic around that content mode Google is going to sit up and listen."

Every ELT centre is unique: your website should be too

When Disquiet Dog does digital marketing audits of ELT centre websites, people often expect them to be "the same because they're in the same industry," says Richard, adding: "The answer is they're not. Everybody is located somewhere slightly different and in the fine tuning they are all different. There are real specifics like teacher experience, location, type and size of school, whether it's got a garden or is on the seafront.

"We need to able to angle the offering and make sure we're filtering it by where they feel they're special. That could throw up all sorts of different things – lowest cost, highest quality? Or it could be a school with nice people, that's friendly – even a school that's good for 47-year olds!"

What is your ELT market looking for?

Take this a step further and angle your content towards what your market is looking for, tying it in with how your market is segmented and identifying the personas you are talking to.  "There's a lot about personas at the moment – who are you talking to? It's about personifying the demand so you can understand it, look at it, and talk to it. So again, that's what key words and key word search can do," says Richard.

One a recent course, he says, one delegate said: "We might be writing content but now we know why we're writing it, for whom we're writing it and how to write it, and we know how to create it in such a way that Google is going to reward us for it."

Using keywords and content – some final digital marketing tips

"You get schools churning out blog articles and saying it doesn't work, we're still no higher in the rankings. No, it's because you've not yet absorbed the fullness of the message. It's not that complicated when you know how to write for a purpose and audience. Let's be very careful about how we target who it is you're writing for and what you think they're asking for," says Richard.

  • Make sure your article is about what the headline says
  • Keep referring back to the title

Get more expert help on digital marketing for ELT at one of our tailor-made Digital Marketing Bootcamps, run by Richard Bradford for English UK. The next dates are 7 and 8 June with another session pencilled in for 10 and 11 January 2019.

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