Learn to build an email nurturing program that’ll help deepen engagement with families and increase student enrollment.
Of all the marketing channels you can use to promote your school, email is still top dog. The people of Earth send more than 306 billion emails a day, and every dollar spent on email marketing generates $36 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.
What is an Email Nurturing Campaign?
Email nurturing is the process of engaging prospective families with the goal of moving them from prospective family 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 calls-to-action (CTA), such as:
- Request-more-information forms
- Content that requires them giving up their email address (lead magnets)
- 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 their contact information, the goal of your email nurture campaign is to keep the prospect engaged and push them toward taking the next step toward enrollment. Without an enrollment email nurturing program, a prospect can easily lose interest, forget about you, and choose a different school.
Your school’s overall marketing strategy should always include an effective enrollment email nurturing program.
To build one, follow these nurture email best practices.
Enrollment Email Nurture Campaign Tip #1: Define Smaller Goals
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 toward enrollment.
Because enrollment email nurturing programs target warm prospects (that is, 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 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 three-email nurture sequence example:
- The goal of the first email batch: Establish that you’re here to help — not to sell — by speaking to a family’s needs with useful content. This may be something a parent would find interesting, such as “10 Ways to Make Mornings Easier for Kids” or “What to Look for When Choosing a New School.”
- The goal of the second email batch: Build confidence that your school is trustworthy by sharing the experiences of others (student testimonials, positive family reviews, interviews with staff, statistics about your graduates or teachers’ collective experience).
- The goal of the final email: Discuss enrollment with the family by inviting them to visit the school or to schedule a one-on-one phone call with the principal.
Enrollment Email Nurture Campaign Tip #2: Personalize Your Content
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.
To nurture prospects instead of spamming them, start by grouping your prospective families into different categories.
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 how your school supports students from low-income families and what community resources they can benefit from (such as food pantries, transportation, medical help, etc.).
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 over other schools in your community.
Enrollment Email Nurture Campaign Tip #3: Know How Many Interactions Are Enough
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 seven touches/interactions with a prospective family.
I know that this sounds like a lot, but once you set it up, you can use it year after year with minor tweaking. You can reuse content because, to a prospective family, it’s new to them.
And don’t think you need to be perfect if you are just starting out!
I’ve seen very effective enrollment email nurture programs with only three emails.
Enrollment Email Nurture Campaign Tip #4: Build Relationships with Your Prospects
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.
To craft the perfect enrollment email nurturing program, make sure your emails:
- Provide value and do something that helps the prospect (offer useful information, send a helpful video)
- Don’t begin by asking the prospect to do something (fill out this other form, give us more info)
- Focus on one subject (cost, music program, AP classes)
- Don’t overwhelm prospects with information (“Here are 150 cool stats about our school!”)
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.
Enrollment Email Nurture Campaign Tip #5: Track, Measure, Improve
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, but it can be difficult to impossible to get manually from your own email system.
There is a ton of great email analytics software out there.
If you want robust features and strong support, enrollment management software like SchoolMint Connect can help you automate follow-up emails with families, keep track of registrants for events, collect data to make better enrollment decisions, and more.
Watch the brief video below to learn more about Connect:
Email Nurturing Takeaways
- Email is still one of the best tools to convert prospects, and an enrollment email lead nurturing campaign is essential for motivating new parents to enroll.
- Define your goals for the program, making sure that they all work toward the ultimate objective: enrollment.
- Personalize your content by segmenting prospects into categories, then automating specific emails that speak to each category’s unique wants, needs, interests, and goals.
- Create at least three emails that will drive your prospect down the sales funnel, and make sure the first email after the initial interaction is delivered within five minutes. Let the average length of your sales process inform the timing of subsequent emails.
- Build a relationship with your prospects by providing them value and focusing on their needs.
- Track your email analytics and measure the results to continuously improve your nurturing program.
- Use a platform like SchoolMint Connect to automate your email marketing to families!
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