Turn Parents into Ambassadors through Digital Marketing Tactics

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Turn Parents into Ambassadors through Digital Marketing Tactics

Turning Parents into school ambassadors through digital marketing tactics should be central to a language school’s marketing strategy.  Why?

Parents are decision makers and their reviews and recommendations have a strong impact on the school’s marketing success. In contexts where a big proportion of language school students are young learners and teenagers, parents will be your customers as well.

Considering the power of their influence and the role they play in the marketing success of the school, there’s no doubt that they deserve excellent parental (=customer) support and services.

The challenge is: How do you make international parents so satisfied that they become advocates of your language school’s programmes?

In this blog article, I will explore the topic that I presented at the English UK Marketing Conference, which was held in London on 29th September. I will discuss the foundational elements that need to be established first and the digital marketing tactics that can be integrated into the language school’s strategy.

What’s the English UK Marketing Conference?

English UK is the association of language schools in the UK. Every year the association organizes a marketing conference where members gain plenty of ideas on how to promote their English courses to international students.

My presentation at the English UK Marketing Conference aimed at raising awareness that even in the context of international language education parents still play a crucial role in the marketing success of language centres.

I also presented solutions to engage and support parents through digital channels in order to improve the customer experience (from the parents’ end) and in this way stimulate the generation of positive word of mouth.

“The best marketing for a school is having happy parents actively telling their friends and colleagues about your wonderful learning environment. Word-of-mouth marketing works because of personal connections and is generally the largest source of new students at your school”

Nick LeRoy founder of Bright Minds Marketing

Generating Word of Mouth Among Parents of International Students

If you’re wondering how to generate word of mouth in an international context, you’ll find the answer in this blog post.

To begin, it’s important to emphasize that Digital Marketing offers cost-effective practices that language centres can readily integrate into their marketing plans. However, to effectively reach international parents and provide the support needed to foster word-of-mouth, a well-strategized digital marketing plan is essential. For optimal results, consider collaborating with agents. A robust digital marketing strategy will not only support agents by making it easier for them to promote your school but also incentivize them to market it locally.

How do you Market to Parents of International Students?

Overseas parents cannot walk into your brick-and-mortar school to see the premises, and facilities and meet the staff. They cannot have the opportunity to experience the school’s ethos before they make a decision to send their most precious soul to a language school across the ocean. This is where digital marketing comes into play and helps you get closer to families.

Through digital marketing, you can build trust, and give parents peace of mind and guidance before, during and after the programme. By doing so you set the conditions to generate word of mouth.

The Importance of Word of Mouth (WOM) in ELT Marketing

Word of Mouth Marketing often receives little attention in language school marketing. It’s sometimes considered old-fashioned, and while language schools invest significantly in marketing, they rarely allocate resources to a Word of Mouth Marketing strategy. Yet, word of mouth remains an incredibly powerful tool in marketing, primarily driven by customer satisfaction.

During my presentation at the English UK Marketing Conference, I went through the concept of WOM to provide context, using a chart from a research paper by the University of Auckland Business School.

This chart shows there’s an aspect of WOM that can be activated through paid programmes such as referrals and ambassador initiatives. While these are effective ways to market your English language course, my focus at the conference was on the “indirect” aspect of Word of Mouth Marketing. By looking at the chart, it becomes clear that genuine Word of Mouth Marketing is challenging to control and manage. However, if commitment, trust and customer satisfaction are ensured, the chances to generate word of mouth are significantly high.

“Want to know the best thing about word-of-mouth? It’s available to everyone. And it doesn’t require millions of dollars spent on advertising. It just requires getting people to talk.”

 Jonah Berger in Contagious

What do International Parents Need to become Ambassadors?

To make sure international parents are satisfied it is important to understand what they need and how to deliver the best service and support for them.

According to the English UK Student Statistics Report 2023, the age of English language learners studying in the UK has gone down to 12 years on average. If your programmes are for children and teenagers your parents are busy Millennials. Their kids are the most precious thing in the world and they will be miles away from home and away from their parents’ control and supervision.

In a survey I did among parents in LATAM in preparation for the English UK Marketing Conference, it came out that BEFORE parents enrol their sibling they need to trust that:

  • The school is safe
  • The teenager will be supported emotionally and academically
  • The teen will be guided and looked after during their stay in the UK

For those parents finding the right and reassuring information and finding it quickly is key. What’s more, feeling supported by the practical side of organizing the overseas study trip is a plus.

The survey showed that DURING the study holiday international parents need peace of mind and reassurance about their kids’ safety. They also need to see that there are plenty of opportunities for cultural and intercultural experiences.

Interestingly, it emerged that parents also need academic reports and guidance AFTER the study holiday. Parents want to know what progress was made and the best ways for their kids to continue to improve the English language when back.

If as a language school, you meet these parents’ needs while providing an excellent language course, then rest assured that you’re setting the conditions for a positive word of mouth.

Reaching Millennial Parents Overseas via Digital Tactics

There are a variety of marketing tools that could be used. At the conference, I shared cost-effective tactics that involved Podcasting, WhatsApp Business and Organic Social Media. The aim is not only to engage parents but also to transform them into enthusiastic advocates of your language school.

Here’s the slide with a summary of the tactics for your reference. If you wish to discuss them in detail do not hesitate to book a no-obligation call with me to see how I can help with tactics that suit your resources and budget.

Laura Wilkes from Communicating for Impact kindly shared the benefits of Podcasting in a short video which I showed at the presentation.

How English UK Language Schools with Junior Programmes are Using Social Media

I audited the social media networks and websites of 20 members of English UK that offer courses for teens. I wanted to check if the content there was supporting parents’ concerns and desires before, during and after the study holiday. It was immediately evident that from a digital marketing point of view, there’s plenty of room for improvement.

In the audit of those schools’ social media networks I noticed that in general, they were “static” with predominantly photos of tours. There was little content that parents need to get a feel of the school from a distance. Ideally this content would showcase the staff, the teachers, the food, safety, host families and school facilities. From a parent’s perspective, only a few of the schools’ social media communication really stood out.

All of the schools were on Facebook, most were on Instagram and only a few were on Linkedin. Despite the fact that LinkedIn is a powerful network to connect with professional parents language schools are not making the most of LinkedIn.

On the other hand, and to my big surprise, the school agents were generally doing a much better job than the UK-based schools on social media.

School Agents on Social Media

I came across some agents’ accounts with live streams, school video tours, and teachers’ videos that all in all gave an idea of the ethos of the language school. This is key to generating trust, and reassurance and for parents’ peace of mind.

Language Schools: You can do so much more with social media! Don’t remain only at feed level but make the most out of all the features the platforms offer.

Graphic post that reads Generating Post Ideas


This Social Media Ideas Workbook is for you if:

  • You struggle to find ideas of what to post
  • You need fresh ideas to create posts.
  • You want to improve the content of your posts
  • You need to show how valid your language school is.

In a platform like Instagram, for instance, take advantage of Stories, Live streams, Hashtags and Highlights . If you aren’t using all the potential of social media, why is it? Is it a lack of time, or skills?

If you need support in creating social media content that helps you meet parents’ needs then don‘t hesitate to get in touch. A consultation session with me can take you from confused to clear on how to maximise the use of social media for your language school in a one-to-one session with me.

Conclusion: Fostering Word of Mouth through Digital Marketing Tactics

Transforming parents into school advocates depends on the quality of your language course and the exceptional support you offer to Millennial parents. Building a strong foundation for word-of-mouth marketing and stimulating it through a range of digital marketing tactics is the key to turning parents into enthusiastic ambassadors for your school. In the context of international language education agents will play a crucial role in helping you transform happy parents into advocates, too.

These parent ambassadors will champion your school, enhancing its reputation and instilling confidence in prospective parents. This will guide potential parents to choose your institution with peace of mind and support your agents in promoting the school.

Ready to take the next step in boosting your school’s visibility and reputation overseas? Contact me today to explore how we I help you implement the right digital marketing strategies and start reaping the benefits.

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