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Email Marketing for Schools & Education

7 Email Marketing Tips Your School Should Know

Are you struggling to get decent returns from your email campaigns? You hear every marketer and read every blog talking about the amazing potential email campaigns can have for your school.

But why isn’t it working for you? As marketing professionals, we’ve heard this many times before.

Email campaigns can be complex but if you follow these 7 tips for email marketing success your school will not only have an engaged community for potential outreach opportunities but can also meet…even exceed your enrollment numbers.

Let’s dive in to see how you can improve your email campaigns and let automation work its magic!

Tip #1: Segment Your Lists

The basis for any successful marketing campaign is to have your campaign be as targeted as possible so the right message can be sent to the right people at the right time.

A great place to start is by segmenting your contact lists. Begin with broad lists such as faculty, parents, students, alumni and prospective parents or students. As you gather more data create separate lists for freshmen, sophomores, juniors, and seniors, and a separate list for parents of each. 

You can even get granular and have lists for members of after school clubs, sports teams, or donors based on the donation amount. The goal of your email marketing campaigns should be to send only relevant content that your subscribers would care about.

Did you know that properly segmented campaigns can drive a 706% increase in revenue? Think about how that could translate when selling tickets to an alumni dinner or increasing enrollment numbers.  

So how do you begin to gather this data?

On a contact form create a dropdown menu with options for Parent, Alumni, HS Senior, and so on. To entice your potential prospect, offer a helpful lead magnet that addresses your audience’s pain points such as a guide containing Questions Every Parent Should Ask on a School Tour.

If you provide the goods, your subscribers will be happy to offer their information enabling you to effectively segment your email campaigns.

Promotional Tip: Email marketing is most effective as part of a larger integrated enrollment marketing strategy. We can help. Learn more about our digital strategies and consulting services for education.

Tip #2: Personalize Those Emails

We already discussed a fundamental building block of personalizing email campaigns - segmentation. But there are many other advantageous ways you can personalize emails to improve open and click-through rates.

The first step is to build trust with your prospect by personalizing recipient information.

One study showed emails with personalized subject lines have a 26% higher open rate than those without. As funding becomes tighter you can’t afford to miss out on that extra 26%.

Basic email personalization includes using a recipient's name in the subject line and first line of your copy while more advanced techniques include changing the content of your email based on gender, location, or other important subscriber information you have.

What other areas can you personalize in an email campaign?

  • “From” name: Different subscribers can see different names. This could be helpful if prospects in certain grades speak to a specific person in the admissions office.
  • Email content or topics
  • Copy
  • Imagery: You can test different images for gender, age, ethnicity or interests

Tip #3: Sending Emails at the Optimum Time

The success of your email campaigns also largely relies on timing.

While there is no one perfect time that guarantees high ROI, here are a few general best practices (according to this aggregated report based on 14 studies) for the best days and times to send your campaigns: 

  • Overall best days to send emails are on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday.
  • The best times include:
    • 6:00 AM - People often check their email before getting out of bed
    • 10:00 AM - Late morning is the best time to send emails across the board
    • 2:00 PM - People might be looking for a mid-afternoon distraction
    • 8:00 PM - A common time for parents to be checking email post-dinner

Remember these are just general times to consider sending your emails, but the best time differs per brand and even per segmented list. That’s why it’s imperative to test open rates per campaign to find your optimum day and time.

If you offer subscribers a weekly or monthly email newsletter, it’s best practice to stick to a specific day and time so that subscribers learn to expect your email and even look for it in their inbox.

email marketing welcome

Tip #4: Catch the Reader’s Eye with Your Subject Line

Think of the number of emails your subscribers already receive in their inbox, which means you need to find ways to stand out from the crowd.

As we already discussed in the personalization section (see above) email subject lines can greatly affect open rates. Like the cover of a book, it has to grab the reader’s attention for someone to want to open it.

Here are a few tips to help you create better subject lines for your campaigns:

  • Remember to keep it short; max. 50 characters
  • Ask a question in the subject line
  • Express urgency without using "urgent” (i.e. when selling tickets to a school event use "Ending Today: [Event Name]")
  • Never use a noreply@school.com email address as it doesn’t look personable. Use a real name to personalize your brand
  • Use a recipient’s first name in the subject line

Write your subject line last since it’s one of the important factors for open rates. Don’t be afraid to A/B test subject lines even within the same segment to see what best resonates with your audience. Test! Test! Test!

Tip #5: Find the Perfect Balance Between Words and Photos

Much like your school’s website, it’s important to find the right balance between written and visual content to keep your audience engaged.

In your email, incorporate the use of various heading tags, bold or italics, bulleted lists, and clear call-to-action (CTA) buttons throughout.

Follow the inverted pyramid structure for a truly effective email layout:

  • At the top include the most important information to catch the reader's attention, which should correspond to the email’s subject line
  • Give more details about the headline as you go down the email
  • Include a “hero” image to highlight the main content discussed
  • Each section should end with a clear CTA (Call-To-Action) button to guide prospects to the next steps you want them to take

If your email includes text-heavy sections, use headers to organize content and make your email more readable. You want your recipient to be able to scan through and find the most relevant information to them.

email marketing Let's Connect

Tip #6: The Trick When Images Won’t Automatically Download

This one can get annoying as there isn’t much you can do to fix it. We’re talking about when the images in your email won’t automatically download, creating a layout that doesn’t look as visually appealing as you’d like.

Certain email providers such as Outlook, Thunderbird, and Apple Mail don’t automatically show images in your email meaning they have to be manually downloaded. This can be frustrating after spending so many hours crafting the perfect email.

You don’t have control over what email providers your recipients prefer to use, you do have control over the content of your email.

That is why it’s best not to create emails with only images, and to use “alt text” so readers can understand what the image illustrates should they want to take the extra step to download.

Tip #7: Email Automation is Your Best Friend

Last but certainly not least is marketing automation, a big buzzword in the industry. So why does this matter?

Marketing automation is a key factor of an effective inbound strategy as it allows you to focus on what you do best without having to worry about tedious campaign details and the possibility of leads to falling through the cracks.

Email automation requires you to set up a campaign only once and will automatically be sent to a person when they meet certain trigger criteria whether that’s filling out a contact form or downloading a lead magnet.

Automatic emails are timely, personal, and relevant to the recipient (several tips we’ve already discussed above) meaning they are opened and clicked more often driving revenue for your institution.

Your content is relevant and engaging, your prospect will learn more about your school and be more receptive down the line when reaching out with admissions information or asking for donations.

It’s all about keeping prospects engaged so you’re top of mind when they’re ready to act – not shoving a blanketed sales pitch down their throat on day one.

Email is still one of the most effective channels for marketing your business, and a school is a business. Many marketers and salespeople have given email marketing a bad name treating people's inboxes like a highway billboard - promotional messages reaching out to anyone who will bite.

But thanks to these 7 email marketing tips you know better and can create targeted and successful campaigns that drive enrollment numbers, donations, ticket sales to events, and more.

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