Remember when the best way to communicate with your community was with a paper newsletter? Technology has grown, and so have our expectations. We want faster, more direct communication about the things that are important to us. If your email open rates are struggling and parents are missing important messages, our experts have a few practical tips to get your community connected in Episode Eleven of The Admissions Club.

Connecting your community

Firstly, you’re not alone! Most school communication pros understand that no matter how much effort you put into creating engaging content, many parents simply won’t read your emails. - Georgie O’Neale

And you shouldn’t feel bad - there are many reasons parents don’t engage. Think of your own life; how many messages and emails do you get every day? Many are sent straight to your spam folder, while others are only briefly glossed over. 

We live in a time of communication overload, and your school community is no exception. To understand why your communication might get the cold shoulder, let’s look at what could be causing it.

"Some of the most common complaints I’ve heard from parents are that they don’t know where to look or that communication was inconsistent." - Sam Hunt


Consistency is king! You can have the most amazing communication, but if they aren’t consistent in both content and delivery, they won’t be effective. That means your Thursday email needs to go out on Thursday all year long, and the description and date of an event on the online calendar and app need to be the same as the blurb in the weekly newsletter. When these things aren’t consistent, parents get confused, and confused parents get frustrated. This leads to more emails and calls to your school, and that means more time wasted. 

Connecting in the digital age

Millennial parents are the biggest cohort for most schools these days. They were kids when the internet became mainstream, so they know their way around finding information online. 

Add to that the smartphone, which is now an everyday part of our lives. We do everything on them, from banking to grocery shopping. Although your newsletter email is important, it competes with app notifications, work emails, and messages and phone calls for your parent’s attention. 

Your parents are overwhelmed with info, so they expect your communication to be super clear and accessible. Schools can use many channels to communicate different types of messages to their families. Think email newsletters, permission slips, your school website, and student portals. 

"If you’re struggling with parents engaging with your content, think back to the old marketing saying, ‘the right product, at the right time, in the right place’. Where do parents (especially millennial parents) spend most of their time these days? On their smartphones!" - Timo Nieuwoudt


So if you know that parents would rather be reached through their smartphones, and you know which channels you want them to use, you’re ready to start building a fresh communication strategy. 

The idea is to give parents one simple and easy place to go, from where they can access all the information they need. It almost sounds obvious enough, but getting a school app can really transform the way you connect with your families. 

School apps streamline communication so everything’s in one place. Parents are busy and need to know right away the answer to something. What’s coming up? What was the last email that the head of the school sent? Where are the forms? Having things in one place makes life a whole lot easier. And when we make it easier for parents, they’re happier. And happy parents stay. 

Imagine logging into your school’s app. You land on a home page with buttons that with one tap can take you to the most important pieces of information a parent needs. If everything is in one place, we’re not forgetting to upload to a channel or communicate something to a specific class. 

Think about your current communication gaps. Do your parents know where to find information? You can check this by looking at metrics like your email open rate, or think back to the last time you had emergency communication. Did the parents get the message? A school app can become that one-stop communication stop for your community, with all the information in one place. 

The usefulness of a school app

With your community on board, you’ll start to see an immediate improvement in engagement. An app lets you reach parents right in the palms of their hands, and gives them easy access to the content you’ve prepared for them. Let’s run through a few common scenarios.

It’s time for your monthly newsletter. Instead of sending out an email that’s likely to get lost, you load it on your website and let parents know via an app notification. With one tap, they’re reading away.

“I remember this one school a few years ago needed to tell parents that the car park was flooded, but parents showed up for pick up anyway because no one thought to check the website where the message was posted.” - Sam


“As a parent, I remember the stress of that 7:40 am rush to get out the door and that call ‘have you got everything?’ When instigating the rollout of a school app, one of the highlights for me was receiving the feedback that now parents and students quickly check their calendars and timetable for the day on their mobile devices. And they felt that they were far more likely to be prepared for the day ahead.” - Mary-Lou

As a working mum, it’s a huge consideration when choosing the right school. A school with a good school app means that no matter what changes happen during the school week, I will have that information at my fingertips. - Georgie O’Neal

Getting everyone on board your shiny new school app is the fun part. Your marketing team can focus on showing everybody the benefits of the app and how they’ll serve to make your life easier. 

Telling your community about your app is sure to impress parents (especially the younger ones). It’ll demonstrate to them that your school is forward-facing and that you’re concerned with meeting their expectations.

“Our schools love their apps. We introduced the first school app in Australia over eleven years ago, and we still get such amazing feedback from every school we work with.” - Timo Nieuwoudt


A school app helps you to connect with your community, as it’s one central point from where they can find any information they might need. Once you introduce a school app, it sits as a cornerstone of your communication strategy. Because it’s such an important part, there are a few things you should keep in mind when introducing an app at your school. 

Firstly, make sure it’s custom-branded. Your colors, your logos, your imagery, it all helps to build trust and showcase you as a forward-thinking and polished school. 

Then, decide on the right links to include on your app homepage. Now, most schools link through to their newsletter, their spirit store, their parent portal, and even their timetables or athletics programs. 

Another thing to think about is when you’ll use push notifications. So you want to save these for the most important messages, and of course make sure that you can target those to the right year, grade, and sports team. 

Finally, think about how you’ll introduce your app to your school community. We always suggest setting a goal for your team around the number of downloads, for example. Let’s say within six months you have five hundred downloads. Approximately half of your school community. How’d you get there? Work that into your marketing plan. Include links to the app, social media, or email newsletters. We’ve even seen school mascots walking down the student drop-off parking area with a QR code that parents can scan and download the app while they’re waiting for their kids. 


Getting parents engaged with your content is hard for even the most seasoned marketer! It’s not because your content isn’t engaging, but often because parents are overwhelmed with information from many sources. Making it easier for your parents, by giving them a central point to connect with you, is a surefire way to help drive engagement and connect your community.

Watch Episode Eleven - Bringing Your Community Together
You can find the full episode here
Published October 31 2022