Email Marketing 101: The Key to Private School Growth

Email Marketing 101: The Key to Private School Growth

February 7, 2024
(Reading time: 5 - 10 minutes)

Student recruitment is more challenging than ever with stiffer competition and shrinking demographics. Yet the most powerful tool to boost inquiries and fill seats often goes overlooked—email marketing.

Personalized email marketing is considered a valuable strategy for engaging with the parents of prospective students. This direct channel allows private schools to drive conversions by showcasing their strengths to prospective families. But not just any emails. Targeted, tailored messages matching the decision journey stage of prospective parents.

This presents a massive missed opportunity to deploy email marketing for what it does best.

In this guide, discover how to harness the recruiting power of email campaigns. You'll learn to optimize list segmentation, strategic timing, compelling designs, and integrated analytics that turn inquiries into enrolled students.

Now, let’s dive in and start driving the enrollment growth your private school deserves!

Introduction to Email Marketing

Email marketing is a powerful tool in the world of digital marketing. It involves sending emails to a group of people intending to promote products or services, develop relationships, or convey important information. This form of communication allows businesses to reach their audience in a personalized and cost-effective way.

The inception of email marketing dates back to May 1, 1978, when Gary Thuerk, a Digital Equipment Corp (DEC) Marketing Manager, sent out the first commercial mass email.

For better or worse, he is considered “the father of spam,” but he likes to think of himself as “the father of e-marketing. There’s a difference.” While the list went to several hundred people, DEC ultimately sold approximately $13+ million based on the email. It would be over 98 million today if you adjusted it for inflation. (Sources: Smart InsightsComputerworld)

Since then, email marketing has evolved significantly. Today, it's not just about sending mass emails. It's about delivering the right message to the right person at the right time. With advancements in technology, marketers can now segment their audience, personalize their messages, and track the success of their campaigns in real time.

For private schools, email marketing presents a unique opportunity to reach out to potential students, engage with parents, and communicate effectively with the school community. In the following sections, we'll delve deeper into why email marketing is essential for private schools and how you can leverage it for success.

The Importance of Email Marketing for Private Schools

Private schools must employ strategic marketing methods in the competitive education landscape to attract prospective students and maintain strong relationships with parents and the wider school community. This is where email marketing comes into play.

Firstly, email marketing can significantly increase enrollment rates. Private schools can showcase their unique offerings, values, and successes by sending out targeted emails to prospective students and their parents. This personalized approach helps to engage potential families, answer their queries, and ultimately convince them to choose your school.

Secondly, email marketing is an effective communication channel between parents and educators. Regular newsletters can keep parents updated about school events, student achievements, and policy changes. This keeps parents involved in their child's education and reinforces their decision to choose your institution.

Lastly, compared with other forms of digital marketing like social media or pay-per-click advertising, email marketing often delivers a higher return on investment (ROI).

Take these statistics for example:

  • Email ROI vs. Investment: Email marketing boasts an impressive average ROI of $42 for every $1 spent, showcasing its cost-effectiveness in generating sales. (Source: Neal Schaffer)
  • Acquisition Effectiveness: Email is reported to be 40 times more effective at acquiring customers than Facebook, highlighting its superior performance in customer acquisition strategies. (Source: OptinMonster)
  • Welcome Emails Impact: Welcome emails, with a remarkable 91.43% open rate and an average click-through rate (CTR) of 26.9%, demonstrate the effectiveness of initial engagement in email marketing campaigns. (Source: Moosend)
  • Overall ROI: Email marketing exhibits an outstanding overall ROI of 4,200%, underlining its exceptional return on investment compared to other marketing channels. (Source: Sixth City Marketing)
  • Segmented Campaigns: Segmented, targeted, and triggered email campaigns contribute significantly to ROI, with an impressive 77% coming from these personalized approaches. (Source: Smart Blogger)

Top 5 Benefits of Email Marketing for Private Schools

Email marketing offers a myriad of benefits to private schools, making it an essential component of their marketing strategy. Here are some of the key benefits:

  1. Targeted Communication: Email marketing allows you to segment your audience and send tailored messages. For instance, you can send different emails to parents, students, alumni, and potential enrollees. This targeted approach ensures that your audience receives relevant information, leading to higher engagement rates.
  2. Cost-Effective: As mentioned earlier, email marketing provides a high return on investment. It's a cost-effective method that allows you to reach a large audience without incurring hefty expenses. This is particularly beneficial for private schools operating on tight budgets.
  3. Measurable Results: With email marketing, you can track open rates, click-through rates, and conversions. This data provides valuable insights into your campaign's performance, enabling you to tweak your strategy for better results.
  4. Builds Relationships: Regular communication through emails helps build strong relationships with parents and students. Sharing updates, achievements, and useful resources can foster a sense of community and strengthen your school’s reputation.
  5. Increases Enrollment: A well-executed email marketing campaign can boost enrollments by showcasing your school's strengths and unique offerings. It can also help retain current students by keeping them engaged and informed.

Optimize Email Design and Deliverability

Once you've built targeted contact lists, the next priority is designing aesthetically pleasing, mobile-friendly emails that reach subscriber inboxes. Consider these best practices:

  • Use a responsive email template that resizes for smartphones and tablets. Over 50% of emails are opened on mobile devices today. (Source: eMarketer, 2023)
  • Limit width to 600 pixels so the text doesn't require left-right scrolling on mobiles.
  • Increase font size for scannability and usability on small screens.
  • Confirm compliance with CAN-SPAM, GDPR, and other email regulations to protect the sender's reputation. An unsubscribe link in each email is essential.
  • Carefully evaluate any embedded links, images, or attachments to prevent deliverability issues due to firewall blocking.
  • Monitor inbox placement, spam complaints, and bounce rates. Continuously refine contact lists to keep hard and soft email bounces under control.
  • Implement A/B testing to gauge how subtle design tweaks impact metrics like open and click-through rates, but only if the list is large enough. This can be harder for smaller private schools.

A mobile-friendly design paired with proactive deliverability management will maximize reach while engaging today's on-the-go parent audiences.

Time Emails Strategically Based on Enrollment Stage

When publishing email campaigns and newsletters, timing is just as important as segmentation and design. Align the frequency and content of messages to match the decision journey target recipients are currently navigating.

For prospects, focus on driving conversions by:

  • Promoting open house events and registration drives starting 8-12 weeks pre-event
  • Maintaining top-of-mind awareness with discovery-oriented content like school spotlights, alumni success stories, or student experience features
  • Capturing leads via email form fills offering visit day guides, tuition comparisons, or application checklists

For applied and waitlisted families awaiting admission decisions, share priority deadlines, connect on social media, and convey the school’s culture.

Once enrolled, engage parents with a mix of student life updates, faculty profiles, volunteer opportunities, referral programs, donation requests, or alumni initiatives like networking events or fundraising campaigns.

Mapping email timing to the admissions funnel stage is instrumental for triggering the right action based on the audience's mindset. Ongoing testing of cadence and offers can then optimize responses.

Best Practices for Private School Email Marketing

Now that we've explored the benefits of email marketing for private schools, let's delve into the best practices to create an effective email marketing campaign.

  1. Segment your audience: Not all emails are relevant to all audience members. Segment your email list based on factors such as age, grade level, interests, and parent/student status. This allows you to send targeted emails that resonate with each group.
  2. Strategically Time Emails Based on Enrollment Stage: Align the timing of email campaigns and newsletters to the admission funnel stage recipients are in. For prospects, focus on driving conversions. For applicants, share deadlines and convey school culture. For enrolled families, engage them as brand ambassadors.
  3. Personalize your emails: Personalization goes beyond addressing the recipient by their name. Tailor the content based on the recipient's interests and interactions with previous emails. This makes your emails more engaging and increases the likelihood of conversions. 
  4. Use a compelling subject line: The subject line is the first thing recipients see, so make it count. It should be compelling enough to convince recipients to open your email. A/B testing can help identify subject line types best for your audience.
  5. Include clear calls-to-action (CTAs): Every email should have a clear purpose, with a CTA directing recipients on what to do next. Whether it's "Apply Now", "Donate Today", or "Read More", ensure your CTAs are clear and visible.
  6. Optimize for mobile: With more people accessing emails on their mobile devices, it's crucial to ensure your emails look great on all screen sizes. Use responsive email design to adjust your emails for different devices automatically.
  7. Regularly clean your email list: Regularly remove inactive subscribers from your email list. This improves your engagement rates and ensures your emails are reaching people who are genuinely interested in your school.
  8. Track and analyze your results: Use email marketing analytics to measure the success of your campaigns. Track metrics like open rates, click-through rates, and conversion rates to understand what's working and what needs improvement.

By implementing these best practices, private schools can maximize the effectiveness of their email marketing campaigns. However, it's important to remember that email marketing is not a one-size-fits-all solution. What works for one school might not work for another. Therefore, always test, analyze, and adjust your strategies based on your unique circumstances and goals.

Conclusion: The Power of Email Marketing for Private Schools

Email marketing is the most direct and cost-effective channel for private schools to drive inquiries, boost admissions, and maintain community engagement. By implementing the strategic list segmentation, timing, design, and integration tips outlined here, you can elevate your results.

Yet, in today’s complex digital landscape, executing an advanced email program with so many moving pieces can still prove challenging for time and resource-constrained private school marketers.

That’s where expert help comes in!

If you feel your admissions and marketing teams could benefit from additional email strategy guidance and execution support, please don’t hesitate to reach out.

I and the private school marketing experts here at Cube Creative Design specialize in creating fully optimized, automated email funnels tailored specifically to the KPIs of private education institutions. Our customized solutions combined with training on platform tools and analytics, empowers schools to own and run breakthrough campaigns long-term.

You’ve read about the immense revenue growth potential sitting untapped within your school’s email channel. Now, put that potential into action.

Let’s discuss how we can work together to finally leverage email marketing to hit your student recruitment goals! Contact me today!

Chad Treadway

Written by:  |  February 7, 2024

Chad is a Partner and our Chief Smarketing Officer. He will help you survey your small business needs, educating you on your options before suggesting any solution. Chad is passionate about rural marketing in the United States and North Carolina. He also has several certifications through HubSpot to better assist you with your internet and inbound marketing.

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