The Teacher Guide to using email to find ESL students

Welcome to our latest post in our Teaching English Online series!

This week, we’re hosting Elena Mutonono. Elena coaches teachers on how to build up their online teaching businesses. Elena has kindly prepared a comprehensive guide to using email to find ESL students. Take it away Elena!

‘Today I’d like to provide you with some ideas on using email to find ESL students. You may have heard that email marketing can help you get students, but as an online ESL teacher you wonder if it’s something you should consider.
After all, you’re not a marketer or a sales person, you’re just a teacher. You want students to come to you, just like they would if you worked at a regular school.
But as an online teacher you spent hours learning and then building a website, creating your “package,” putting up the irresistible “sign up for my free trial” offer, but people don’t seem to notice.
Part of the problem is . When you teach for a physical school, it’s really hard not to notice that building where you work. People are curious – they notice it and then the come knocking, looking for you.
But in the online world, your new website is a building without a sign, hidden in the remotest part of town. Nobody knows you’re there.
So how can you become more visible and lead people to your not-yet-known website and eventually buy from you?
This is what the post is about. Using email to find ESL students. Let’s dig in.

Strategy 1: Choose a niche

Niche finding is essential for people like you and me, because let’s face it: everybody teaches “just English,” or “any English,” or (worse) “100+ services-to-fit-your-needs English.” Think how bland your ad would be if all you would put is, “English lessons for every person. Different ages. Different format. Fun.” Does this describe you? Then how does this not describe other people who are pretty much teaching the same things?
Mind you, “Business English” or “IELTS Prep” isn’t necessarily a niche. It’s a category, a spring board, but if you want to get deeper and find the best customers that will need exactly what you want to offer, you must niche down.
In their post on how to find one’s niche, Mariah Coz and Megan Minns come up with a very succinct formula of niche finding:
elena-1So going back to Business English, which we now know is a category, you will no longer write in your emails “I teach Business English” (come and buy my lessons), but rather
elena-2What does choosing a niche have to do with using email to find ESL students? Everything.
The audience that you choose to target your offer, is in fact your pool of the future best students. Think of what students make your work so effortless that it doesn’t feel like work. There usually is a specific group.
Once you choose your niche, your writing becomes more effortless because every time before you write anything you’ll be connecting to this audience of yours that you wish to serve.
That in turn will connect with your potential dream customer, and in the long run will compel her to choose your services over “General English lessons,” because she is in fact a middle-aged female professional making presentations.
Read this inspiring story of how an online teacher like you and me decided to forgo that desire that many of us have of teaching English to everybody and actually serve a particular group of people and focus just on one skill.

Strategy 2: Create a lead magnet to encourage more sign-ups.

Now that you’ve settled with your niche, it’s time to begin growing your list of subscribers. Subscribers are the people who will become your customers in the future.
What I want to focus on right now is creating an incentive for people to sign up for your list. The best incentive is never “join my newsletter” which I keep seeing on online teachers’ blogs and websites.
Newsletter feels long, bulky and impersonal. What you need to provide is value in return for the email. The value is a free product, an e-book or an e-course that helps your audience with a specific problem.
So if your audience is middle-aged women who make presentations in English and whose role is to secure new contracts for a company, you need to identify one problem that they might have when delivering presentations.
Let’s say the problem is their confidence level, especially when they begin their presentation. Then you create an e-book titled X tips on how to begin a presentation that people want to listen to.
elena-3Pro-tip: Use google docs to create an e-book and then convert it to PDF.

Strategy 3: Set up automated email series.        

Automation is a feature within your email marketing service that allows you to create a series of welcome emails (for instance) sent every time someone joins the list. This is your opportunity to introduce yourself and your brand to your new subscribers.
You don’t want to leave your subscribers hanging, and you want to make sure that they remember who you are so your emails aren’t lost.
This is how you can add an automated email with a gift (free e-book) to reach every one of your subscribers’ inbox.
Your automated series can also include just a couple of emails or perhaps a series of emails arranged into a “short email course.” Your goal is to create a quick win for your future customers and provide them with a lot of value.
When you don’t use that momentum after people have just joined the email list, they may forget about you, which lowers your chances of building your credibility and later selling your expertise in an e-book, an e-course or private lessons.
Once your credibility is established, you can begin sharing more tips on a regular basis, perhaps as often as you post on your blog.

Strategy 4: Set up a limited time promotion (bundle).

Once trust is established, you may consider offering several of your products re-packaged as a bundle to provide more value at a lower price for a limited period of time.
There’re many ways to go about this, but here’re just 2 ideas:
When you send a limited-time offer, choose the people who recently joined your list. They’re already excited to have received your free valuable emails, why not try to offer them a paid solution?
Create a limited-time offer bundle for a weekend, and offer it to your most active subscribers who haven’t bought anything from you yet. Add a free e-book to the lesson plan you want to sell as an incentive and a bonus.
Limited time offers work wonders for people who have been reading your content for some time and are on the fence about trying out your paid solutions.
Smart email marketing will encourage those people to make that step and become your client. Using email marketing service will make it easy to send the right offer to the right people.
I hope these strategies will convince you to give using email to find ESL students another go. Email will definitely help bring the right clients to you, no matter how “little traveled” your website is.’

About the author:

Elena Mutonono transforms teachers into teacherpreneurs. Check out her blog and join her Facebook group for teacherpreneurs. If you’d like to learn more about different ways of using email to find ESL students, join Elena’s FREE List Builder course to receive a manual and a series of valuable sessions!’



  • Tina says:

    August 30, 2016 at 1:50 pm

    Very interesting and great ideas!! I shall implement them asap!!
    Cheers, Tina.

    • Kris Jagasia says:

      August 30, 2016 at 2:59 pm

      Thanks for stopping by Tina, definitely a lot of actionable advice here from Elena!

    • Elena Mutonono says:

      August 31, 2016 at 1:30 pm

      Tina, thank you for reading! It would be great to hear from you about the changes that will take place in your online business once you start implementing some of these tips. Feel free to contact me with any questions you might have. Good luck!

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