Top Email Marketing Services for Educational Institutions + How to Choose

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Email marketing is a reliable and effective tool used across all industries. Currently, a growing number of educational institutions are embracing it too. So, if you’re in the educational business, you should give it a try in order to not fall behind your competitors. But developing a successful email marketing strategy without software solutions might be tricky. 

To help you choose the right tool, we’ve put together a list of 9 best email marketing services for educational institutions , accompanied by expert advice on how to pick the perfect fit.

The benefits of using email marketing services in education

Email marketing has numerous benefits for businesses. But in education in particular, it delivers outstanding results. According to a report from Campaign Monitor, email open rate for the industry in 2021 was 28.5% — the highest one among the 18 industries represented (the average is 21.5%). Education also has the second highest click-to-open rate. Moreover, survey data from Statista indicates that the overwhelming majority of internet users aged 15 and up use email. All this proves that email marketing is an effective way to reach current and prospective students and their parents.  

While it is theoretically possible to create email marketing campaigns manually, this method has many limitations. To make the most of their efforts, educational institutions use email marketing software. It automates routine processes, saves time, and helps schools and online courses drastically improve vital metrics.   

Here are just some of the benefits of using email marketing services in education:  

  • Less time spent on composing emails (thanks to drag-and-drop builders and email templates). 
  • Better-looking emails that reflect your brand identity
  • Higher deliverability and trustworthiness (due to email authentication)
  • Emails delivered to all subscribers right on time
  • No limitations for bulk emails (unlike in free services like Gmail or Outlook) 
  • Efficient triggered and nurture campaigns for higher enrollment and retention (due to automation) 
  • Improved engagement due to personalization 
  • Detailed campaign analytics to draw insights from

In addition to that, email marketing provides exceptionally high ROI ($36 for every $1 spent) and remains one of the most cost-effective digital marketing channels.

Now, you might be wondering how to find the best email marketing service when there are so many out there. Well — first, you need to consider a few things.

Main things to consider when choosing the right tool

All educational institutions are different. Yet they can all use common guidelines when it comes to choosing email marketing software. From the features available to the subscription price, here is what you should focus on. 

Available features

First and foremost, study all features an email marketing service offers. When choosing software for an educational institution, pay special attention to the following.  

Themed customizable templates

It’s hard to create an email that’s both good-looking and functional without designer skills. But with drag-and-drop builders and ready-made templates, any marketer can do it in a matter of minutes. 

When choosing a tool for an educational institution, look for a service that offers a choice of themed templates for education. Template customization is also a must as it lets you add your organization’s logo and other visual elements of brand identity like colors and fonts. That will make your newsletters and other messages more attractive and trustworthy.

Landing pages and subscription forms

Landings and opt-in forms are ubiquitous in education. Schools of all types use them to inform about enrollments, scholarships, webinars, etc., as well as to sell products, offer incentives, and gather more data. 

Although you can design landings and forms with other services, the option to create email campaigns, landings, and opt-ins using just one tool is usually more convenient. 

Segmentation and automation

In email marketing for educational institutions, these two features are indispensable. Using list segmentation, you can break your subscribers into categories according to their enrollment status, majors, electives chosen, etc. Automation, in its turn, will help deliver messages right on time, create nurture campaigns to boost enrollment, and more.

Online learning platforms can use these features to deliver courses in chunks, segmenting their clients base by course type.   

Personalization

Since personalization became available, every industry embraced it — education included. Marketers working for schools, institutes, and other educational organizations leverage various data such as name, course type, extracurricular activities, etc. to create a better experience for their clients. 

According to research data, personalization is an effective way to boost student engagement, so you definitely need the platform of your choice to have it. If you’re unsure how to use this feature, study some educational email examples for inspiration.

Some other features — like A/B testing to choose the best subject lines and copy will also come in handy. 

Your organization might also have specific requirements depending on its type and size. If that is the case, look for those features in particular. 

Ease of use

Educational institutions don’t typically have large marketing departments. Sometimes, a single staff marketer handles several activities at a time. So, the software of your choice should have an intuitive interface and be really easy to navigate.  

Some ESPs (email service providers) offer great functionality, but their interface might be confusing — especially for a novice. Others are just not tailored to the needs of the education industry — for example, they might lack necessary templates or have too many features that are superfluous. And as for design, that is often just a matter of personal taste.

The best way to decide how convenient a platform is in your particular case is to try a bunch of different ones and compare. Use free plans or trial periods for that purpose. 

Useful tip: a knowledge base and 24/7 tech support can make things much simpler for your marketing specialist! 

Price

Last but not least: the best email marketing service for educational institutions should be affordable. Don’t get us wrong — we’re not calling for picking the cheapest offer on the market just for the sake of it. However, price matters. 

Besides, there’s no need to pay more for extra  functions that you don’t need. Sometimes, it really comes down to picking the right plan, as all ESPs offer a variety of them, differently priced and with different functions available.

Best email marketing services for universities, colleges, schools, and learning platforms

Still feel overwhelmed? Here’s our hand-picked shortlist of top email marketing services for educational institutions to narrow your choice.  

Selzy

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Users praise Selzy for its exceptional ease of use and an intuitive, user-friendly interface. While having a range of features big enough to stand the competition, it also provides 24/7 support and an extensive knowledge base. That makes it a perfect tool for beginners in email marketing.  

Another advantage is this EPS’s affordability: the price range starts at just $7 for its Lite plan. Plus there is also a generous free plan that includes all the main features essential for educational institutions: personalization, website subscription forms, automation, and more. 

Other plans (starting from Lite) offer advanced options such as segmentation and A/B testing that can take your email marketing in education to the next level. Landing page builder and chatbots are coming soon, too, though it is not yet known what plan will include these features. 

However, some users indicate they would like to have more sophisticated analytics and automation. Segmentation in Selzy also needs slight improvements.

Free plan: Up to 15,000 emails, up to 1,000 contacts, no limitations.  

Price range: Up from $7/month, flexible pricing. 

ConvertKit

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ConvertKit’s founder and CEO has a background in UX and has authored a couple of books prior to turning to email marketing. As a result, ConvertKit focuses specifically on the needs of content providers, including online courses creators. 

This tool is specifically known for convenient ready-to-use templates, accessible customer support, and unlimited landing pages and opt-in forms that are available even for free plan subscribers. It is also an affordable service, but monthly plans are significantly more costly than annual ones. Additionally, there is a somewhat limited choice of functions included in the free plan.  

As for the cons, users point out that the service’s A/B testing is limited, as well as its tracking and reporting options. Among other drawbacks, narrow choice of email templates and lack of customization are mentioned. 

Free plan: Up to 1,000 subscribers, with limitations. 

Price range: Up from $9/month, flexible pricing. 

Moosend

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This service is popular with online stores, small businesses, and online courses. Users highlight its ease of use, great automation and integration features, and detailed analytics. The service also has reliable customer support. 

However, there is no free plan offered. Instead, you can use a free 30-day trial that includes most of Moosend’s features: email newsletter builder, templates, tracking and analytics, and even automation workflows. Paid plans start from $9 if billed monthly or $7 when billed annually.  

The cons frequently highlighted by users include slow interface, limited analytics and customer support, not enough integrations as compared to competitors. 

Free trial: 30 days. Unlimited emails, some limitations. 

Price range: Up from $7/month, flexible pricing. 

Mailchimp

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Mailchimp is one of the most popular email marketing platforms worldwide. Due to that, the service can use data and insights to provide personal recommendations to its users. While the platform is more popular with larger organizations — particularly, e-commerce companies, — it can easily be used by small businesses. 

The ESP has a free plan with no time limits and whopping 300+ integrations available. However, customer support is limited to 30 days on this plan, and the functions available are very limited. That means you won’t be able to test some features that are vital for email marketing in education, such as automation and email scheduling. 

Other cons include limited choice of ready-made templates and occasional problems with deliverability.  

Free plan: Up to 500 contacts, up to 2,500 emails/month, other limitations. 

Price range: Up from $11/month, overages apply. 

Campaign Monitor

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Campaign Monitor is a powerful tool that offers a big range of features, from simple to advanced — such as multiple integrations and real-time analytics. It also boasts a variety of workflow management features that are great for enterprises. These, however, might be superfluous for smaller educational institutions. 

There is also no free plan available, and free trial is very limited in terms of features included. For example, it only allows a list of up to five subscribers which is not sufficient for a proper test. Paid plans start from $9, but the features, though numerous, don’t quite fit the needs of the educational industry. 

Moreover, landing pages and forms that are vital for educational institutions are only available via integrations in all plans. On the bright side, the service offers great customer support and an extensive knowledge base. 

Free trial: Up to 5 subscribers, no journeys or transactional emails; no time limit. 

Price range: Up from $9/month.  

SendinBlue

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SendinBlue is known for its appealing ready-to-use templates and automation features that are great for building nurturing email campaigns. Additionally, it allows the creation of SMS and WhatsApp campaigns. It also has its own sales CRM that integrates seamlessly. 

The ESP has a free plan that includes many vital features such as personalization, automation, and segmentation. However, there is a limit of 300 emails per day, and reporting options are totally missing. Paid plans start from $19 a month, which is on the pricier side compared to most competitors. Moreover, the Starter plan lacks A/B testing and other important features.  

The cons highlighted in customer reviews include a somewhat confusing interface, limited personalization, landing pages that feel outdated, and unresponsive customer support. 

Free plan: Up to 300 emails/day, limited automation, other limitations.

Price range: Up from $19/month. 

iContact

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iContact was originally designed as an easy-to-use tool for small businesses. Today, it boasts a scope of clients from different industries, including education. 

The platform has all the main features needed for higher education institutions: built-in customizable templates, segmentation, embeddable newsletter opt-in forms, A/B testing. The latter is included in its free plan, too — but other important features are limited. 

The ESPs Advanced plan, which is the only other option, has all the necessary features — but it is rather expensive, starting from $23 a month. Among other drawbacks, users sometimes cite occasional glitches, slow load time, and billing problems.  

Free plan: Up to 500 contacts, up to 2,000 emails/month, other limitations. 

Price range: Up from $23/month for Advanced plan, pricing varies depending on contact list size. 

Hubspot email marketing software

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Hubspot email marketing software can be used as a free standalone tool or as part of its Marketing Hub bundle. Either way, it is an effective tool widely used by educational institutions — particularly, higher ed organizations. 

The platform boasts a bevy of clients from the education industry and a number of success stories. However, there is a lot of confusion as to which features are included in the free plan and which are not. The next-level option is the Starter pack, and that costs $45 a month. So, if you’ll find the free tool insufficient for your needs and the paid one too expensive, you will likely have to migrate to another platform. 

There also are some other cons, such as limited templates and automation if you choose the free plan, and confused pricing. Moreover, it takes time to master the tool. 

Free plan: Yes, features unspecified, with limitations.  

Price range: Up from $45 for a Starter pack (Hubspot Marketing Hub) 

SendX

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SendX is an affordable service that offers many features that universities, colleges, and other educational institutions can leverage to their advantage. These are landings and embeddable forms, advanced segmentation and automation, A/B testing.  

The platform also has transparent, super-simple pricing: the plan type depends on the size of your contact list only, no other limitations apply. The cheapest option has a limit of 1,000 subscribers and costs $9.99 a month ($7.49 a month if billed annually). The number of emails is unlimited on all plans.   

On the downside, there is no free plan available. The only way to test the tool is a 14-day trial period — but it offers all the functionality of the paid plans. There is also a limited choice of integrations, and some users point out the problems with email design responsiveness.  

Free trial: 14 days, no limitations. 

Price range: Up from $9.99 for Business plan, pricing varies depending on contact list size. 

Wrapping up

Email marketing delivers impressive results when used in the educational industry. To maximize the positive effect, educational institutions of all types leverage software solutions. Email marketing services provide multiple benefits to its users — but the results are particularly impressive with the right tool. 

Use our expert advice and a list of best email marketing services* for education from this article to make a choice that will fit your educational business like a glove. 

 *Customer reviews from GetApp, Trustradius, and G2 were used to get insights for this article.

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