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Putting a solid strategy in place can help with a school’s enrollment and retention—and make your job easier.

By Lauren H. Dowdle

Ask any educational institution what’s been the key to their success, and you’ll likely hear a range of responses. But one of the key factors for most (if not all) of them is that they put a plan in place to help them reach their goals. That’s especially true when it comes to setting a school up for success with email marketing.

With so many factors to consider—like the campaign type, send times, contact segmentation, and email flow—it can be easy to fall down the email marketing rabbit hole. Creating a clear road map for your goals will help narrow the focus of your campaigns to keep you on track and improve engagement

Not only will it improve your email metrics, but having a solid email marketing plan for your educational institution will also help with these five things.

1 Sets school apart

Students and their families have a lot of options when it comes to choosing the right educational institution for them. Email can be a great tool to show them what makes your school the best option for them.

Start by sharing basic information about your institution so they can become familiar with who you are and what you offer. From there, highlight any merits, specialized programs, award-winning faculty members/students, extracurricular events, athletics department, and examples of what past students have achieved after graduating—like this example from Masterclass:

These emails can be planned out in a campaign, with each one highlighting a specific program or aspect of the school to catch the interest of your targeted audience.

2 Keeps everyone informed

From faculty and staff to students and their families, schools need to keep everyone informed about what’s going on. Not only from a logistical perspective, but also as a way to better connect with them. Whether that’s upcoming events, deadlines, or campus news, email campaigns can be a great tool for sharing that information when properly planned out. 

One of the best ways to send that type of information is via a regular newsletter. The newsletter can be weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly depending on how often and how much information the school has to share. No matter what timetable you decide on, be sure to stick to it. That will improve your email engagement because your subscribers will know when to look for the newsletter. 

Once you have the initial newsletter template set up, simply remove the old text, images, and links and replace them with the current news that needs to go out each time. When people feel informed, that also helps them build a sense of loyalty to the institution.

3 Increases enrollment

Schools don’t wait until the night before classes start to try to get students to enroll, so creating an email marketing plan around enrollment shouldn’t be any different. Think about the entirety of the student journey and each touchpoint that’s needed to bring results.

Create an email flow that hits on each of those areas, from deadlines, informational meetings, how to apply, turnaround times, and what to expect once they start school. It can be tempting to focus on the early steps involved with increasing enrollment, but you want to take the full picture into consideration to win students and their families over for the long term.

4 Builds community

Creating list segments, providing targeted campaigns, and offering valuable content all play a vital role in engaging your audience. But even more important than that, those techniques help students, faculty, and their families feel more connected to both the institution and each other.

When you create a sense of community, that also helps retain students—and their siblings as they age into the school. Loyal students and their families can be your greatest ambassadors to drive enrollment efforts, as well. Retaining students is more cost-efficient and shows your educational institution is successful, which will attract more students.

Email campaigns that feature photos and quotes from students and faculty can drive home the sense of community. Those types of campaigns can also boost metrics since your audience will want to see if they or someone they know have been featured. You can also highlight alumni, what the institution is doing locally and beyond, and educational programs they can get involved with.

Having an email marketing plan in place for these campaigns is a must so you’ll know what photos, interviews, and information you need to gather ahead of time.

5 Makes the job easier

Any chance you get to take work off of your plate, make the most of it. While that sometimes requires more time in the beginning, the effort will pay off and help things run smoother going forward.

Planning out the email campaign(s) is a good place to start. That includes creating automated emails for each type of flow, such as welcome, tuition, back to school, event sign ups, or any type of flow your contacts enter once they’ve completed a specific task. From there, conduct A/B tests of the subject lines, images, CTAs, and other elements one at a time to see what works best so you aren’t wasting time on campaigns that aren’t performing as well.

Email marketing doesn’t have to be intimidating, especially with platforms like Robly that offer drag-and-drop template editors, user-friendly interfaces, resources for educators, and technical support. With both Gen Z and millennials continuing to use email to interact with brands and educational institutions, establishing a solid email marketing plan will play an important role in the school’s success.

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