Best Practices for School Email Marketing Campaigns

Email marketing is one of the most essential strategies for school marketing. According to Statista, there were 254.7 million email users in the U.S. in 2020. With this many people using email, your school cannot afford NOT to have an email marketing strategy. And compared to social media marketing, with all of the platforms, nuances and constant changes, email marketing is relatively straightforward.

Today’s blog post covers the best practices in school email marketing. Following these tactics will set your school marketing up for success for years to come.

Build Your School Marketing Email List

How you go about building your email list will set the stage for your future success. 

Best Practice #1. NEVER buy or rent an email list

Buying or renting an email list can lead to low open rates, bad brand appearance, and even hefty fines from privacy protection agencies.

So, what should you do to build up a quality email list?

Best Practice #2. Offer a free inquiry magnet in exchange for a visitor’s email address

An inquiry magnet is a free download someone gets in exchange for giving you their email address and signing up for your email list.

Typical inquiry magnets include:

  • eBook
  • Webinar
  • Mini-course
  • Daily emails (i.e. daily parenting tips)
  • Virtual library
  • Cheatsheet
  • Checklist
  • Audio version of an ebook
  • White paper or report
  • Guide
  • Toolkit
  • Case study
  • Resource list
  • Calendar
  • Worksheet
  • Plan or planner
  • Recipe or activity instructions
  • Round up (collection of curated information in one document)
  • Inspiration list
  • Quiz
  • Free consultation

Inquiry magnets need to be something people really want, something valuable to them that shows you understand what they’re looking for on your site or need. For example, let’s say you offer a quarterly digital magazine publication (flipbook) that features stories about your school program, students, faculty, alumni and your strategic plan in action. The visitor on your website could sign up to receive the current digital publication and then be added to your list to receive future updates.

Best Practice #3. Add an email pop-up to collect email addresses

In addition to the landing page, most websites will let you add a pop-up to collect email addresses. Set one to appear after the user has spent some time on your website, which indicates they feel they are receiving value and are open to receiving more information. I use Opt-In Monster for this task.

Also, make sure you include a check box so parents can opt-in to your email list when they submit an inquiry form or application. This ensures you are in compliance with the ever-stricter anti-spam policies being implemented by governments as well as email services themselves.

A double opt-in is even more effective because it requires the user to open their email and click on a link to verify their email is legitimate. This prevents users from giving fake emails, but it trains their email app to recognize your domain as a quality sender.

Maintain Your School Marketing Email List

Just as important as building your list is how you maintain your list.

Best Practice #4. Periodically scrub your list

A big part of maintaining your email list is scrubbing your list to remove emails that bounce or addresses that never open your emails. A good rule of thumb is to scrub your list every 6-12 months.

You might be wondering why you should remove people from your list who don’t open your emails. Email algorithms use the engagement ratio as a metric for determining whether an email is spam. The more you send emails that never get opened, the more likely the emails services will eventually categorize your emails as spam.

The good news is that, despite these increasing obstacles to email deliverability, the overall value of email marketing is on the rise. 

Best Practice #5. Segment your list

Segmentation means dividing your email list into groups so you can send each segment content specific to their interests. You can segment your list into groups of people based on where they are in the enrollment journey.

When you group segments according to their behaviors, i.e. brand awareness, interest, inquiry, intent, etc. Creating trigger automation flows based on previous behaviors allow you to be responsive to your potential families’ needs. So, it’s no wonder 77 percent of email ROI comes from these types of segmented, targeted trigger campaigns. It’s the best tool for giving your audiences the content they’ll want to open because they know it’s targeted to their interests. 

Send Valuable Emails

Best Practice #6. Make sure your email stands out

The average office worker receives 121 emails per day. Of these, about 40 are important business emails that need to be responded to. That leaves about 80 other emails vying for attention. The only way to stand out in the crowd is to make sure your email is something the recipient wants to click on because it somehow improves their lives. 

Best Practice #7. Convey value in the subject line

Often, this means telling the recipient what they’ll get from opening the email.

The best subject lines:

  • Are 50 characters or less in length
  • Contain a “hook” that gets the readers’ attention
  • Leave the reader with a bit of mystery so they’ll be compelled to want to know more
  • Whatever you tease in the subject line is actually delivered in the email

Best Practice #8. Include a preheader

A preheader is the first few words before the body of the email that get previewed in your inbox to support the subject line. Most email marketing systems will allow you to set the preheader when you enter the subject line, so you don’t have to worry about altering the actual body copy.

Best Practice #9. Always A/B test your subject lines

Comparing two subject lines using an A/B test means you’ll always be sending out the best subject line to your audience. You do this by sending the first subject line out to a certain number of your list, and the second subject line out to the same number of other subscribers. After a certain period of time, the subject line with the most opens is the winner. Send the email out to how ever many subscribers you have left who weren’t part of the A/B test population.

Best Practice #10. Craft killer email copy

There are whole courses designed to teach people email copywriting skills. Since we don’t have enough space here to disseminate a whole course, here are a few tips to help you get started.

  • Keep text neat and simple, with the main points upfront
  • Use short sentences with lots of paragraph breaks
  • Write for your audience using your list segments
  • Keep it friendly
  • Avoid using spam trigger words
  • Run your email through a spam test to make sure your formatting, punctuation, and fonts all pass through the filters. There are plenty of free spam checker apps online you can use. Sometimes just a tiny tweak can make a huge difference

When it comes to email marketing, sending emails to a clean list, in a compliant format with a clear message to users you know want to receive it will allow you to execute successful campaigns far into the future.

What email marketing best practice do you think should be added to this list? Please comment below…

About the author 

Brendan Schneider

Hey, I’m Brendan, and this is my blog. After 28 years working in private, independent schools in mostly admissions, enrollment, marketing, communications, and fundraising roles, I decided to make SchneiderB Media my full-time job, where I help schools get more inquiries through my Fractional Digital Marketer program. I also started the MarCom Society, a membership created expressly to help, support, and train marketing and communications professionals at schools.

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