Out of all the marketing channels you can use to promote your school, email is still top dog. The people of earth send more than 281 billion emails A DAY, and every dollar spent on email marketing generates $38 in return. With such a high return on investment (ROI), if you’re not investing in an email nurturing program already, it’s time to get started.
Email nurturing is the process of engaging prospective families with the goal of moving them from “prospect” to enrolled family.
Every email nurture campaign begins with the initial customer interaction. For schools, these interactions are typically achieved once you get a family’s contact information. You can do this on your website through call-to-actions (CTA) such as request more information forms, content that requires them giving up their email address (lead magnets), or plain old contact forms. This can also be achieved through offline activities like relationships with your feeder schools or community events. Pretty much any technique that gets you a prospective parent’s contact information.
Once you have the contact information, the goal of your email nurture campaign is to keep the prospect engaged and push them towards taking the next step towards enrollment. Without an enrollment email nurturing program, a prospect can easily lose interest, forget about you, and fall by the wayside.
Your school’s overall marketing strategy should always include an effective enrollment email nurturing program. To build one, follow these nurture email best practices.
The final objective of enrollment email nurturing is, of course, enrolling a new family. But to get there, you must define smaller goals that act as stepping stones toward the big one. Enrollment is not a binary, zero or one, equation. It is a bunch of small steps towards enrollment.
Because enrollment email nurturing programs target warm prospects (families who have already shown interest in your school), try keeping your goals focused on educating and informing. You don’t need to capture their interest, you need to sustain it and strengthen it.
With each email, you “drip” new information to move this family through these goals and further down the funnel. Here’s a 3 email nurture sequence example:
Enrollment email nurturing doesn’t work if you settle for bland, generic emails that don’t discern between a family’s wants, needs, interests, and goals. In fact, personalized emails can achieve up to six times higher revenue per email than non-personalized ones. To nurture prospects instead of spamming them, start by grouping your prospective families into different categories.
For example, say you set up a request form that touches on a prospective family’s interests and economic background. If 20% of requests from families are in a low-income tier, you might send them an initial email with an infographic that highlights your school’s financial aid program. If 35% of your prospective families say their child is interested in art, you might send an email with a video that showcases a recent class art project.
This “tailoring” of content of your lead nurturing emails allows your prospective family to receive information important to them and critically, information that will allow them to see how their child will benefit from attending your school.
Nobody gets married after the first date, and generally, nobody decides on a school from one visit to your website. You need to have multiple contacts to move parents through the journey of discovering your school. In traditional sales, it takes 7 – 13 “touches” (interactions with a prospect) to make a sale. Leveraging what the private market tells us, your enrollment email nurturing program should comprise at least 7 touches with a prospective family.
I know that this sounds like a lot, but once you set it up, you are going to be able to use it year after year with minor tweaking. You can reuse content because in the eyes of the prospective family – it is new to them.
And don’t think that you need to be perfect if you are just starting out. I have seen very effective enrollment email nurture programs with only three emails.
To avoid being tossed into the mental spam folder, it’s important to build a relationship with your prospect. A good nurturing program fosters trust and rapport, which helps prospects feel confident about their decisions.
By treating the prospect like an individual human being rather than a cardboard cutout, they will, in turn, view you and your staff as individual human beings rather than a virtual sales robot.
You’re not going to ace your enrollment email nurturing program right out of the gate. And that’s okay – as long as you continue making it better. To do that, you must use analytics to identify areas of improvement.
Tracking email opens and clicks can establish which subject lines work and which don’t, and which email call-to-actions are effective, and which aren’t. This sort of data is usually easy to come by with commercial email services, and can be difficult to impossible to get manually from your own email system.
There is a ton of great email analytics software out there. Constant Contact is a good, no-frills choice for beginners. If you want more features and stronger support, enrollment management software like Enquiry Tracker.
Whichever software you choose, the more you track data and measure the results, the stronger you can make your nurturing program.
Nick LeRoy, MBA, is the president of Bright Minds Marketing and former Executive Director of the Indiana Charter School Board. Bright Minds Marketing provides enrollment and recruitment consulting to private, Catholic and charter schools. For information about how Bright Minds Marketing can help your school improve its’ student enrollment, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or call us at 317-361-5255.
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