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: 

  1. Create emails that feel like you’re talking just to them and refrain from plurals. For example, ‘Dear Sally,’ instead of, ‘Dear parents.’ Or, ‘We’re inviting families to this event,’ instead of, ‘You are invited to this event.’ 
  2. Use the personalisation feature several times during the email, not just at the top. For example, further down the email, you may be showcasing your upcoming musical. You can say, ‘Sally, did you know that there are 150 musicians performing at this year’s musical?’ It helps catch the reader’s attention.
  3. This may be difficult for schools with a more formal tone of voice, but writing conversationally (especially when your emails are to students) is a good way to connect. Formal emails put distance between you and the reader. Conversational emails come across as more warm and personalised. You need to find the balance that works best for your school.  

When planning out your email lead nurturing campaigns, keep these three tips in mind to help you and your readers: 

  1. The day of the week and even the time of sending is really important. Sending an important email at 8 am on a Monday morning is likely to get lost as families are busy preparing for the day. 
  2. Less is more when it comes to email nurturing. Make sure your emails are concise, with only one piece of key information for the reader. Too much information can be a big turn-off as it just feels like too much work. 
  3. If your camping requires a family to spend some time taking an action (completing an application form for example), give them a clear deadline in the first email and then make sure to schedule gentle reminders up to the due date. 

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. 

The importance of data

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:

  1. You want them to open your email. You measure this by looking at your open rate which is the number of people who have opened your email expressed as a percentage. A drop or increase in open rate will tell you if your subject line and preview text is interesting enough for a reader to click on your email when it lands in their inbox. 
  2. After they open your email you ideally want them to engage with your content. Now, this typically means clicking on a link to your website. The number of clicks as a percentage is what’s called your click-through rate This helps you understand if your calls to action, the little buttons in your email, and your content are interesting enough for a reader to want to explore more.
  3. You want to avoid your readers unsubscribing. Your unsubscribe number is the number of people who received your email and then unsubscribed, again as a percentage. This is an important one to keep an eye on, and any emails that have a higher unsubscribe rate might be a red flag that your content isn't matching your reader’s expectations.

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. 

Getting budget sign-off

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:

  1. Survey parents and show how many are on social media, are using websites, and are on other online platforms like apps, emails, and texting. 
  2. Showcase how trends are moving to digital marketing and away from print advertising. 
  3. Discuss how when set up successfully digital marketing expands your team’s reach and energy and allows your team to do more and save time and money. 
  4. Use urgency and fear of missing out. Mention how your school needs to move with the trends or be left behind. You can even show how your key competitors are already using digital marketing. 

"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. 

Wrapping up

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. 


Watch Episode Seven - Email Marketing for Schools
You can find the full episode here
Published 31 October 2022