Email Marketing for Schools: Best Strategies and Techniques

Email marketing for schools

Email marketing for schools is a way to reach out to the target audience, including students, parents, and staff. However, to stand out in the cluttered inboxes of the recipients, schools need to use some specific email marketing strategies and techniques. 

In this guide, we’ll provide tips and examples of effective email marketing campaigns for schools. By the end, you’ll have the knowledge to create a compelling email campaign that resonates with your audience and drives results.

What is email marketing for schools, and why do it?

Schools range from public to private and can offer professional or hobbyist courses. Any of them can benefit from email marketing (and tips from this article).

Email marketing for schools is sending promotional or informative emails to a targeted list of subscribers: students, parents, teachers, and others. The main objective of email marketing for schools is to engage with the target audience, build relationships, and ultimately drive the desired action, which could be anything from enrolling in a new course to attending a school event.

Here’s an example of a school email campaign detailing a successful alumni’s journey:

An example of a school email
Source: MailCharts

Using education email marketing services is beneficial for several reasons:

  • 70% of U.S. consumers prefer to be contacted by brands via email. Educational institutions are brands in their own way, so their marketing needs to follow industry trends. 
  • Education emails have an average open rate of 21.92% (higher than emails from financial services, health and beauty, and internet marketing companies) and a click-through rate of 1.75%.
  • Most email users check their email daily, and some do so up to 20 times per day.
  • 25% of people aged 18-35 admit to checking their email first thing after waking up in the morning.

Email is a good choice for connecting with prospects of any kind. Furthermore, compared to other forms of marketing, email marketing provides one of the highest returns on investment (36%).

Objectives for schools’ email marketing

There are various campaign goals schools can set for their email marketing efforts. Here are some examples:

Increasing enrollment

Email marketing is an effective way for schools to communicate with prospective students and parents. You can provide them with important details about the school’s schedule and programs while simplifying the application process.

Application completion email example
Source: Finalsite

Retaining current students

Schools can also use email marketing to keep current students and their parents informed about important school events and news. These emails help to build loyalty and increase retention rates.

An example of a school email with news
Source: Canva

Fundraising

Schools can use email marketing to ask for donations and support for various initiatives, such as building new facilities for education or funding scholarships.

An example of a fundraising email
Source: Silent Partner Software Inc.

Beyond that, email marketing helps schools to:

  • Highlight academic opportunities, extracurricular activities, and field trips.
  • Provide virtual tours.
  • Answer parents’ questions about enrollment.
  • Introduce faculty and staff members.
  • Explain the school’s mission.
  • Present details on financial aid and scholarships and much more. 

In short, email marketing is an effective way to showcase the many benefits of your school’s education. To reap these advantages, you need to craft persuasive email campaigns that leave a lasting impression.

Develop an email marketing campaign for schools step-by-step

It’s time to take your school’s email marketing game up a notch! Follow this comprehensive guide to create impactful messages and elevate your communications strategy.

Build an email list

Email list building for schools is the first step to staying connected with the community and keeping parents, teachers, and students informed. To make sure your school has the most comprehensive mailing list possible, here are a few steps you can take: 

  1. Create an opt-in form on your website or social media channels. If you describe the benefit of your newsletter well or offer something in return (like an ebook or a checklist), people will sign up to receive emails from your school.
  2. Collect email addresses during registration or enrollment periods. 
  3. Ask for email addresses during school events. 

Define your goals

Before creating any content or sending any emails, determine what you hope to achieve with your campaigns. This could include increasing enrollment by a set number of people, improving engagement with current students and families, raising a set amount of funds, or any other objectives. Then you can craft an email marketing strategy for your school based on these goals.

By setting clear, measurable goals from the outset, you’ll craft messaging that resonates with your intended audience and track the success of your campaign over time. Additionally, clearly defined goals will help you make informed decisions about your email content, layout, and frequency, ensuring your campaign aligns with your broader school marketing strategy.

Write a copy and design the email

A compelling email copy is essential to make an impression on your audience. You have one shot to convey your message and get the desired response from your audience.

Write a clear message and cut unnecessary details. Use the design to enhance the message.

The design should be visually appealing, easy to read, and on-brand. Include images or videos to make your email more engaging. Ensure your email is optimized for mobile devices, as close to half of marketing email opens happen on mobile.

Tip

Use templates to design your emails. Selzy offers 100+ email templates for any occasion that you can adapt to your needs in an intuitive drag-and-drop email builder. Try the email builder for yourself with this free online demo and check out higher education email examples for inspiration.

An email from Medical Training School is an example of a well-crafted message. It is not overloaded with text. The main message (benefits of training) is broken down into blocks for easy reading. There are relevant pictures and one button with a clear and understandable call to action:

An example of a medical email announcing school courses
Source: FormGet

Compose a subject line

The subject line is the first thing your subscribers see when they receive your email. And it can make all the difference in your email marketing efforts, as 33% of recipients will open an email strictly based on its subject line. Follow these tips to compose an engaging subject line:

  • Keep it short. A typical desktop email client usually shows the first 60 characters of an email’s subject line, while smartphones and tablets tend to display around 25-30 characters.
  • Use action words to create a sense of urgency. A Return Path study showed that phrases related to urgency were the most successful in subject lines. Of those, the phrase “Still time” generated the best results, with an average read rate of 34%. Another research found that using the word “now” in email subject lines resulted in an open rate of 31.73%.
  • Personalize the subject line. Including the recipient’s name can make the email feel more personal and increase the chances of it being opened.

Subject line examples for your campaigns:

  • Last chance to enroll for the fall semester!
  • Don’t miss out! Join our school community today
  • Chris, discover your path to success with us
  • Melissa, start your education right now
  • John, new opportunities await: Apply now
  • Become a part of our winning team
  • Limited spots left for spring admissions
  • Your future awaits: Register for our information session
  • Get ahead of the game — start your college journey now
  • Exciting news! Our school just added a new degree program
  • You’re invited: Join us for an exclusive campus tour

Test and analyze the results

A/B testing emails is important for the success of your school’s email marketing campaigns. A/B tests show how different elements, such as subject lines, visuals, length, etc., can affect engagement (email opens and clicks). According to research conducted by Litmus, those who use A/B tests get 82% greater returns on investment than those who do not. Even though minor changes may seem insignificant, they can lead to greater success for the campaign overall. By continually testing and optimizing efforts, marketers can refine their email marketing strategies in the future.

Best techniques to boost your school’s email marketing campaign

To make the most of email marketing, schools should employ several techniques to engage and inform their audiences. 

Segment your email list

Segmenting an email list for schools is crucial for effective communication with the audience. Divide the email list into smaller, targeted groups, so you can tailor school email messages to specific segments, resulting in higher open rates, click-through rates, and engagement.

According to a study, segmented email campaigns have an open rate 14.31% higher than non-segmented campaigns. Additionally, segmented campaigns have a click-through rate that is 100.95% higher than non-segmented campaigns.

Here are some examples of how schools can segment their email lists for newsletters:

  • Segment students by grade level. Create separate lists for elementary, middle or junior, and high school pupils. This can help schools provide each education grade level relevant information, such as upcoming events or college preparation resources.
  • Segment parents by grade level. For example, a school may send updates about classroom activities, homework, and school events to parents of elementary school students, while parents of high school students may receive information about college applications, graduation requirements, and scholarship opportunities.
  • Segment donors. This allows schools to send targeted messages to donors based on their giving history, such as thank-you messages, updates on how their donations have been used, and requests for additional support. Schools can also use this segment to send messages about upcoming fundraising events or campaigns.
  • Segment by interests. By asking parents and students to specify their interests during the registration process, schools can segment their email lists to send messages about specific programs or extracurricular activities. For example, schools can send updates about sports teams, music programs, or academic clubs to members of those groups.
  • Segment by districts. Schools can segment their email lists based on the district they serve to communicate district-wide announcements, such as school closures or changes in school policies.

This email announces a new program for people with disabilities. It is aimed specifically at this group of individuals:

An example of a personalized message from Loyola Marymount University
Source: Loyola Marymount University

Use an appropriate subject line

We talked about the importance of the email subject line above. But there is one more point that will help you make it as effective as possible — specificity.

When writing emails from schools, make the subject line topic-specific. A subject line should clearly communicate what the email is about and be relevant to the recipient. This will help readers quickly understand the content of the email and decide if it is important or not. 

Some examples of appropriate subject lines for school emails include:

  • Volunteer opportunity: Help with [Event name]
  • Schedule change for [Class name]: New meeting time on [Day]
  • Reminder: [Conference name] tomorrow at 4 pm

Personalize your messages

Personalization is all about using the data you have on your prospects to deliver tailored offerings. This is an opportunity to demonstrate that your school hears, acknowledges, and responds to their individual needs and preferences. You can send different emails about new courses, jobs, and other opportunities based on the students’ areas of study or special interests. You can also set up library reminders and assignments’ deadline notifications, birthdays emails, etc. 

To start building a personal connection with potential customers, incorporate their names into your email templates as McGill University did:

An example of school email personalization
Source: Higher Education Marketing

To draw back prospects that have left your institution’s enrollment funnel early, you can take advantage of triggered emails. Abandoned application reminders will motivate them to return and finish what they started. It’s a highly effective way to re-engage these individuals who are still interested in enrolling but may need some extra encouragement.

Include a compelling CTA (call-to-action)

It goes without saying that calls-to-action are one of the most crucial elements of any digital marketing strategy. As part of email campaigns, CTAs can be an effective tool to drive up click-through rate (CTR) – i.e., the percentage of users who actually take a desired action after receiving your message.

An enticing call-to-action can direct readers right to your school website, boosting visitor count and unveiling new opportunities for them with your institution. Proper CTAs bring you maximum results from every email sent!

When you’re looking for the perfect CTA to feature in your email message, go with something eye-catching. Research has proven that a visible button instead of a text link increases click-through rates by 28%. A large, brightly colored call-to-action alongside plenty of white space will make sure people take notice — and convert.

The Neuroscience Education Institute uses a simple email design to encourage potential students to enroll. The email has prominently displayed buttons that stand out in size and color, grabbing the reader’s attention and guiding them toward taking action.

An example of a compelling CTA in a school email
Source: MailCharts

Try out interactive features

Interactive emails have become a crucial aspect of email marketing education. They promote user participation thanks to engaging features and improve the overall email experience. Adding interactivity to your school’s emails can attract potential prospects and keep them engaged with your content for longer, enhancing your email marketing efforts.

To make your school’s emails interactive, you can include videos that will appeal to your target audience. It can increase click-through rates by as much as 300%.

That is, using video content in emails can make them more successful, as demonstrated by McMaster University’s email:

An example of the usage of video in an email
Source: Higher Education Marketing

Another way to add interactivity to your school’s emails is by incorporating GIFs, which add a dynamic touch and make the email more appealing. According to a Litmus study, brands that use animated GIFs in their emails see a 105% higher return on investment (ROI) than those who do not use GIFs. 

Vancouver Film School used the GIF below to inform prospects about its upcoming virtual workshops and certifications:

A GIF used by the Vancouver Film School

Conclusion

Email marketing for schools can be a powerful tool to reach out to students, teachers, parents, and other people involved. To ensure success, schools need to employ effective email marketing techniques and strategies:

  • Build a mailing list to target interested parties.
  • Segment an email list for effective communication with the audience.
  • Compose an engaging email copy and subject line and create an eye-catching design.
  • Personalize messages for a more relatable experience.
  • Include a compelling call-to-action to convince readers to take the next step.
  • Use interactive features to keep recipients engaged for longer.
  • Analyze the results and experiment with A/B testing.

By using these tools and strategies effectively, schools can optimize their email campaigns for increased success.