Inbound marketing is a strategic approach to designing and publishing content for the right person at the right time. Email drip campaigns are a great way to help you do just that!
What is an Email Drip Campaign?
Email drip campaigns (also called trigger emails, lead nurturing emails, automated emails, or email workflows) are a series of emails sent out automatically over a certain period of time. The idea of an email drip campaign is to provide the right information to help families take the next step in their enrollment journey. Done right, an automated drip campaign can even be the catalyst to help families complete their enrollment journey by submitting an application or meeting with an admissions officer.
Types of Email Drip Campaigns
Email drip campaigns may also be known as an email nurturing campaign because you are “nurturing” your relationship with potential families by staying connected, building trust, and answering questions they most likely are having.
Effective email drip campaigns can be personalized and targeted to specific segments of your subscriber lists to meet your reader’s needs. Here are some examples of types of email drip campaigns commonly used by school marketers.
Welcome drip campaigns
Once a subscriber has joined your email list, it’s important your school respond with an automated welcome email series. As soon as a prospective family has opted in to your email list, they are excited to learn more about your school. If you do this correctly, a welcome email series is a great opportunity to say “hello” and virtually extend a handshake to the new subscriber.
Here's an example of a welcome email drip campaign.
Email #1. Welcome
Thank you for subscribing and welcome to our school. Include a list of your most popular blog articles they might be interested in.
Email #2. FAQs
Have questions about our school? Here are common FAQs we’ve received from other parents interested in our school.
Email #3. About Our School
Here’s a brief background about our school. Include any interesting historical information.
Email #4. Connect on Social Media
Share additional information about your school as well as how people can connect with you on social media.
Educational drip campaigns
Educational drip campaigns provide prospective families with answers to commonly asked questions in general as well as specific questions about your school. Examples of common educational topics might include:
- How can I find the best school for my child?
- How is an independent school different from a private school or a public institution?
- Are all independent schools similar?
- Are independent schools elitist?
- How do I apply to an independent school?
- Is financial aid available for all independent schools?
- Why do small school and class size matter?
- How qualified are independent school teachers?
- Do independent schools offer sports, music, theater and art programs?
- Do independent schools welcome parent involvement?
- Why should I send my child to an independent school?
Nurturing drip campaigns
Nurturing drip campaigns are vital to building interest in your school. The idea of nurturing drip campaigns is to slowly share content with families that recognizes a growing interest in the independent school experience for their child and specifically your school. This is where you might share increasingly in-depth information over time, such as factual information about your school (i.e. average class size, diversity statistics, percent of faculty with advanced degrees, percent of students who participate in athletics or other special programs, recognition your school has received, etc.)
Webinar promotional drip campaign
An email drip campaign can be an excellent way to obtain webinar registrations. While many families are aware the college application process may be comprehensive and multi-faceted, far fewer anticipate a similar process for admissions to independent and boarding schools. Although there are significant differences, many younger students will need to complete testing, interview, and submit an application for independent school admissions.
Your school may decide to offer a webinar to help parents understand the independent school admissions process. This may include a discussion about how students and families can identify the school with the best fit for their goals and needs and how to successfully navigate the application process. A webinar such as this can be a powerful recruitment tool.
You can use this technique for other types of admission events, such as a campus tour, information sessions and open houses, collaborative events, admission fairs, game nights, etc. These events may include panels with current students, teachers, parents, and admissions representatives, sample classes, and Q&A sessions.
Retargeting email drip campaigns
School marketers use this type of drip campaign strategy to reignite interest and engagement among prospective families who haven’t interacted with your organization for a certain period, like three months.
You can run an email drip campaign to:
- People who have visited your website but didn’t engage further with your site (like download an ebook, sign up for a newsletter, etc.)
- People who have started to fill out an inquiry form but didn’t complete it
- People who have previously opened one of your emails
- People who have searched for keywords relevant to your school, such as your school’s name
- People who have used a certain search term immediately before landing on your website
In order to track visitors to your website or people who have completed the above actions, you would need to install a Facebook and/or Google pixel on your website. Learn more about Facebook retargeting here.
All modern email service providers offer a way for you to import subscribers using a .CSV file. This gives you the ability to create custom audiences, such as visitors to your site as tracked by a pixel. You may need to use a paid version of your email service in order to have this feature, although it comes as a standard feature within most email services I’m aware of. You can also use a tagging feature to segment your audiences, which is an effective way to track individuals based on actions they’ve taken or not taken.
Engagement retargeting email drip campaigns
Perhaps the least commonly used by school marketers, this type of email drip campaign retargeting works well for those who offer various channels of engagement. Examples of these types of channels might include:
- YouTube videos
- Podcasts (audio files)
- Rich media ads (interactive ads that include multimedia features created using HTML5 technology, such as video, audio, animation, etc.),
- Flash games (free games played online), etc.
Based on the type of action a user takes, marketers can infer things like intent and level of engagement to serve highly targeted content to email subscriber segments.
Benefits of Email Drip Campaigns
School marketers are recognizing the myriad of benefits of email drip campaigns. Here are some of the most common benefits schools discover when implementing and analyzing this marketing strategy.
Drip email campaigns are excellent strategies for engaging prospective families efficiently. Experian conducted research on welcome email drip campaigns and found that they have a 58.7 open rate as compared to regular emails which had a 14.6 open rate. Additionally, if automated emails are sent immediately after a subscriber opts in, the open rate jumps to an astounding rate of 88.3 percent!
Share relevant content
Emails are sent directly to subscribers inbox, which is more intimate than, say, sharing content on social media. Furthermore, you can segment your subscriber list and send content that is specific to each segment.
Nurture prospective families
Nurturing prospective families is all about building a relationship with them, helping them through the enrollment process until their child or young person is enrolled in your school. It’s a communication strategy designed to share the right content with the right person at the right time.
Nurturing through an email marketing campaign refers to time-based emails sent out to your audience to inform them and motivate them to take the next step in the enrollment process. This is why it’s important to segment your audience, utilize A/B testing, set up automations, and track your progress using analytics and reporting.
When you use email drip campaigns, you are ensuring families will remember your school because your content will be fresh in their minds. They will also be more likely to refer your school to other families when their friends or family members are considering a school for their child. By allowing families to know, like, and trust you through an email series, you increase the chances they will choose to enroll their student in your school.
Re-engage with unengaged prospective families
Automated drip campaigns offer many ways to reach out to audience segments at any point in time. If a contact becomes inactive and never reads your emails, you can set up a campaign specifically to re-engage these subscribers.
This can be applied to folks who landed on an inquiry form but don’t complete it. When you’re creating a drip campaign for these families, be sure your email:
- Catches your readers’ attention
- Instills curiosity
- Resonates with your school brand
- Is simple and to the point
- Include value to the reader
- Creates a sense of urgency
- Helps them visualize how awesome it would be if their child attended your school
- Is polite and not pushy
- Includes a call-to-action
- Show you care (ask if there’s something you can do or a question you can answer)
Best Practices for Drip Campaigns
Here are a few things you can do to ensure you get the most out of your automated email drip campaigns.
Communicate in a timely manner
When it comes to reaching out, timing is extremely important. Keep in mind the sooner you send information based on actions taken by your subscribers the more relevant the content and the more likely you will have success.
Segment your lists
Take the time to segment your subscribers down into smaller groups, perhaps by age of child, month in which they opted in to your list or other categorization that makes sense to you. Segmentation helps you create more personalized content that will be more relevant to each segment.
Diversify your content
The best way to determine the best content for your subscribers is to test by sending different, but relevant, content. For example, you could experiment with a three-part automated series, but change up variables such as your subject line or call-to action. See what works best, then use that content moving forward.
Try creating different email drip campaigns for different purposes. Be sure to target user groups based on segmentation and use your email drip campaigns to reach the right people. Email drip campaigns are a highly effective marketing strategy every school marketer should be utilizing. They can increase inquiries and leave a long-lasting positive impression on prospective families.
Does your school use an automated email drip campaign strategy? If so, what type of campaigns do you utilize? What type of campaign do you think should be added to the above list? Please share in the comments below…