An easy and effective tool to connect with parents, emails are great for nurturing families to enrolment and nudging them to the next step. In Episode Seven of The Admissions Club, our experts go through some tactics you can use to make your emails more interesting to readers, and how you can improve your overall Digital strategy.
Emails are an excellent way to engage, educate, and connect with your admissions list, especially if you send them consistently. You can use your emails to highlight your program, invite families to events, send out school camp registrations, or whatever other purpose you may have. Emails offer you a chance to educate your community year-round.
Email nurturing involves meeting families where they are, and targeting your messaging based on where people are in their decision-making process. For example, families who’ve taken a tour may need that little nudge to remind them to fill out their application. Email nurturing gives you time by allowing you to target specific audiences based on criteria, and ensure a smooth transition through your marketing funnel.
Nurturing leads is all about building a connection, learning what they’re interested in, and sharing information that keeps them moving along your pipeline. - Liz Yee
Think about your database of enquiries, which could be made up of families who made a telephone enquiry or filled out a form on your website. When you nurture these contacts, you can send them emails that can move them through your enrolment steps. These could be as simple as a birthday message or could be more direct, asking them to move to the next step in your admissions process.
Most schools think of email nurture campaigns and shudder. ‘Oh, the work! Oh, the time to create!’ But here’s a little secret: batching and scheduling will give you back your time and your sanity. - Aubrey Bursch
You can create most of your content in advance and then only maintain and adjust it from year to year. You can use this content as your base, from which you can add more timely event-specific emails later. It’ll serve to simplify your life and make your prospective families feel connected and engaged. This automation can save your registrar and enrolment team hours of follow-up work every week.
To really reach and connect with families, you should make sure that your lead nurturing campaigns are personalised. Tagging names, grade levels, and other specific information allow you to target your message in the stage that a prospect is in.
If your school’s emails sound generic, or you feel like they’re auto-generated; prospective parents and students may not connect with them as much. There are a few strategies that can help your email feel more warm and personalized:
When planning out your email lead nurturing campaigns, keep these three tips in mind to help you and your readers:
There’s nothing worse than getting a long email with no subheadings, visuals, or clear calls to action. It’s like sorting through a haystack in the middle of the night! Not effective. Plus, with our very short attention span culture, we need to grab people’s attention long enough to convey the information. - Aubrey Bursch
Schools can achieve this in their email marketing campaigns by practising bolding key points and using bullet points to break up and showcase information, and also by using photos that really tell the stories.
One of the main benefits of email marketing is the ability to accurately track and report data so you can measure your overall success on an ongoing basis, and see how your audience is responding.
When we’re talking with schools, we often hear these phrases: ‘I think this is what parents need or want reminders about, or I feel that parents don’t know about this program. But thinking and feeling aren't reliable indicators of what is actually working or not working for your school. - Aubrey Bursch
Data can help your team to inform their decisions and make sure you’re spending your time and money in the most effective way. One way to think about measuring success for email campaigns is to think about the three steps you want and don’t want your audience to take when they get your next email:
A really powerful email trick we use with schools to double open and click-through rates is to re-send to an unopened email recipient with a different subject line. You’d be surprised how effective and easy this is. Just schedule the resend to unopened two days after the email goes out and change the subject line, and ta-da! You’ve increased open rates. - Aubrey Bursch
A common mistake most email marketers make is to set and forget their campaigns. It’s an easy mistake to make because we spend a lot of time personalising and thinking about what we want our emails to convey to our prospects. If you want to increase your open and clickthrough rates and reduce your number of unsubscribes, you need to track and measure these metrics often.
One way to do this is by setting up a monthly recurring review in your calendar where you look at your open and click rates and make small adjustments to your copy, your send time, or even the images and call-to-action buttons you use in the emails.
Now that you're confident and ready to move ahead, there's just one problem - getting budget sign-off. It’s a common challenge for school marketers, but there are tactics you can use to convince your school's leadership of the value of digital marketing.
A good place to start is to show your school leadership the numbers. Data is the most powerful tool that you have, and data collection should be a continuous process so that you can show what’s working and what isn’t.
There are a few ways you can do this:
"I’m not going to lie- getting school buy-in is going to be difficult no matter where you are. You have to know your data, and you have to know your numbers. Where are you now, and where do you potentially want to go? Think about the definition of insanity - doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. You have to experiment, and I think that’s the argument you can take to your school leadership." - Brendan Schneider
If school leadership is still on the fence about implementing a digital marketing campaign, bring to attention the cost-benefit of not doing it. Remind them that your school will potentially leave a blank space for other schools to fill and that if your school wants more attention it needs to make some noise.
Now you’re ready to put together a digital marketing business plan, and start thinking about how you’ll present it to your leadership. Set some goals for how you’ll measure return on investment. Include which channels are best, whether you’re in or outsourcing, and a competitor analysis for them to look at. Once you have a plan set up, you can look at shifting the budget from low-performing traditional channels, to digital. This lets you test the waters. Or, if you’re able, start working on a budget proposal to justify additional investment.
After going over some of the best email marketing strategies that you can use, you can now start to improve engagement, stay consistent, and automate personalised messages to your families. In no time you'll improve your open rates and build an engaged audience who connect with your content and are ready to take the next step in the admissions journey.