Linkedin for ELT: How to find clients for your business English course
When you have a busy school or ELT academy to run, you have so much to do that social media marketing is probably the last thing on your mind.
At Hubbub Labs, we have a background in education management and teaching – and work extensively with a range of education businesses, from ELT academies to edtech platforms. We understand many of the challenges you face. That’s why we’ve decided to put together a series of articles about marketing in education.
Today, we’re going to focus on marketing business English courses on Linkedin. And there’s a good reason we’re starting here.
It’s time to plug the English language skills gap
A recent report by Cambridge English found that in every industry and across all company sizes, there is a 40% gap between the English language skills required and the skills that are actually available.
Room for improvement? Absolutely. This skills gap also presents a big opportunity for language school owners to sell more business English courses.
But there’s more.
Another study found that an increasing number of companies have recognised that adopting English as a common company language comes with long-term advantages to productivity and growth. These companies include Nokia, SAP, Heineken, Samsung and Renault, among others.
Is there a way to tap into that market?
Linkedin is an effective marketing tool for ELT businesses
When it comes to connecting with professionals and brands, Linkedin is the platform of choice for digital marketers. It has over 645 million users – 201 million of whom live in Europe.
That might seem like small fry compared to Facebook’s 2.41 billion users, but Linkedin still packs a punch. It generates 4 out of 5 B2B (business to business) social media leads. The remaining 20% of leads are made up of all the other platforms combined, including Twitter and Facebook.
Linkedin is all about professional conversation
The key difference between Linkedin and other social platforms is that people are there with a professional purpose. We see Linkedin as a business-focused, people-first content platform. People tend to talk to other people somewhat more than they interact with brands.
Moreover, users aren’t simply looking for distractions on the platform. Rather, they’re looking for resources, industry updates, advice, recommendations and information.
Browse the groups, hashtags and feed and you’ll find genuine conversations and lots of engagement – especially in the world of ELT and education. It’s time to start thinking about how you could add value to the conversation.
How to shift your education marketing mindset
1. Create buyer personas
Before you dive in and try to reach new business English course customers, you should develop a series of buyer personas. These are detailed descriptions of your typical customers, for example; an HR manager, a training manager, or individual executives who travel a lot for work.
Buyer personas will help you:
- Target the right people with ads (location, job title, budget, objectives)
- Focus your messaging (what are you saying and why?)
- Help external agencies understand your clients (it’s a faster, more efficient way of communicating your needs)
- Ensure your team is on the same page (you’ll be surprised how differently some people see your target clientele)
Our blog on building buyer personas will provide you with step by step instructions on how to do this.
2. Say something that resonates with your buyer personas
The second step is to make sure that your message is one that’s relevant to each of your buyer persona’s needs. A good example of customer-centric marketing is this video ad from Babbel:
Here, Babbel has focused in on one type of person: someone who is learning English to progress in his career. This advert is cleverly targeting that specific segment of their market.
3. Broadcasting your message on the right platforms
The third step in a customer-centric marketing mindset is to decide where you broadcast that message. Ideally, that will somewhere your customers hang out online. For business English students, that’s usually Linkedin.
Your Linkedin to-do list
Here’s how to establish your school as the go-to for professionals who want to improve their English language skills.
1. Optimise your website for mobile
This is number one on the list because we can’t emphasise enough how important it is! If your website isn’t optimised for mobile, you’ll find that people will get frustrated and leave straight away, without having a look at what your school has to offer.
2. Build a Linkedin company page
Over 90,000 schools are on Linkedin – it’s time to join them! Choose a profile picture and a banner. Pages with pictures get 6x more visitors, but don’t overthink it – the logo of your school is a good choice for your profile picture.
Next, fill out the ‘About us’ section with a short paragraph telling visitors everything they need to know about your company. Make sure you fill the rest of the fields out – website, location, address, employees. Completed profiles get more hits. Which leads on nicely to the next thing on our to-do list…
3. Connect with your staff and teachers
As we mentioned before, Linkedin is a business-focused, people-first platform. That makes it a fantastic opportunity for potential students to see exactly who might be teaching them. Encourage your teachers and staff to update their Linkedin pages and connect to the company page.
Again, professional-looking pictures, completed profiles and skills create a good impression here. As a bonus, ask your staff to give one another endorsements and recommendations so that anyone who visits your page can see your talented and capable teaching team.
4. Post content that is relevant – and post often
This is where you really set yourself apart from the competition. People are on Linkedin, actively looking for interesting, relevant content. And the stats reflect this; of all the B2B website traffic that originates from social media, half comes from Linkedin. But there are a few caveats when it comes to Linkedin content:
- Don’t be tempted to repost content that has been created with a different platform in mind, i.e. Facebook/Instagram. You can certainly adapt your content, but Linkedin is a professional space and it’s important that the content you publish is appropriate. Generally, avoid cat memes!
- How you publish is also important. Posting a link to your blog is fine, but your views and engagement will be much higher if you use an adapted extract from your blog content to create a post on Linkedin – and add the link to the blog in a comment on your post.
- Use hashtags. It’s a quick and simple way to make your content more discoverable and engage people who aren’t connected with you. Posts with even one relevant hashtag get around 30% more views or impressions. Once you’ve written an post, you’ll see a range of possible hashtags pop up. Do a bit of research and find out what hashtags other educators are using in their posts.
- Post often. The more you post, the more prominent your content will be. This is your opportunity to establish your academy as the business English experts in your city, so make the most of it! Companies that post weekly see twice as much engagement as companies who post less.
5. Ask staff to share your content
On Linkedin, we’ve seen people prefer to interact with each other, rather than brands. Asking your staff to share your content is a great way to get your content up front and centre.
Of course, not everyone will want to do this, but you can incentivise it. Perhaps there could be a prize for the most engaged teacher. Or even a commission if they get you new sales.
You can also ask your teachers to share your posts and content in Linkedin groups with high engagement. Don’t think of it as spamming – they’re taking part in a broader conversation. If your content is useful then they’re adding value to that group.
If you’re sharing learner-focused business English content, make sure your current students know about it too. Connect with them on Linkedin. If your content is relevant and valuable to them, they’ll soon be sharing it with their connections.
6. Use LinkedIn Ads
Ads get your content in front of a lot of people and drive traffic to your website. What makes LinkedIn ads different from Twitter and Facebook ads is that you can specify your target audience through employment parameters, such as job role, experience level, seniority and industry, as well as the more common parameters such as location and language.
The benefit of this is that you’re reaching a really relevant audience, which is a huge advantage when targeting professionals. It has to be said that, as a result of this specific targeting Linkedin ads are more expensive. But your investment in paid posts is a smart one if your message is landing in front of the right people and you have a higher ROI.
By actioning these quick steps and following the content suggestions, you’ll really make your Linkedin company page stand out on the platform, generate lots of engagement and create leads for your business English classes.