Email Marketing for Schools: A Step-by-Step Guide to a Successful Drip Campaign

Email Marketing for Schools: A Step-by-Step Guide to a Successful Drip Campaign

by Trevor Waddington, Principal, Truth Tree

You’ve got a new inquiry! 😁

Whether you’re a big school or a hidden gem, we all get excited when a family is interested in our school.

Your next move should always be a personal outreach, I don’t care how large and in charge you are.

After your personal outreach, it’s time to trigger the drip campaign you’ve worked on or are working so hard to curate.

For folks new to the idea, let’s tackle what a drip campaign is and why it’s important. Those in the know can skip down a few sections.

What is a Drip Campaign?

A drip campaign, also called automated marketing, is an email marketing strategy where prospective families receive a set of pre-written automated emails sent over a period of time.

It’s called a “drip” because, just like a leaky faucet, you can expect a slow and steady sequence over a period of time. (Sometimes, email drips can get annoying, just like a leaky faucet.)

Therefore, your school’s drip campaigns must be carefully crafted to achieve the desired goal.

What is the Goal of a Drip Campaign?

Of course, as an admarcommer, your ultimate goal is to enroll new students. However, the journey from consideration to signing an enrollment contract is long for families. Therefore, you should consider multiple drip campaigns based on where the user is in the funnel.

For this blog, we will create a top-of-funnel drip after the user (presumably a parent) has inquired.

The goal of this drip may be to have them sign up for an admission event, schedule and attend a parent interview, or complete the application.

To achieve your goal, there are three primary objectives.

  • Open
  • Engage
  • Action

For each email, we want the user to open it, engage by reading it, and take an action.

Tips to Meet Your Objectives

Sender and Subject Line

When you send the first email in a drip, it’s imperative they open it. So, you want to ensure the sender and the subject are easily identifiable.

Scenario: A parent goes to Truth Tree Academy and fills out an inquiry form on the home page.

Information submitted:

  • Parent first and last name
  • Email
  • Grade of interest
  • Child first name

We all get tons of emails, so choose the sender and subject line wisely to ensure a high open rate. If it comes from the admission director, how is the user to know who that is? In this case, you’ll want the sender to be the school’s name or Trevor @ Truth Tree Academy. If you want to really capture their attention, and you have their child’s first name, make it look like this:

From Subject
Trevor Waddington [Child’s first name] at Truth Tree Academy

Experiment with senders and subject lines to see what works best for open rates.

Set the Tone

Decide if you want the sequence to be formal, informal, conversational, or authoritative. The voice may differ based on the audience. You’ll likely want to address the parent of a 3-year-old differently than the parent of a 14-year-old.

You may want the greeting to start with

  • Hey Steve,
  • Hi Steve,
  • Waaaazzzzz Up, Steve (but probably not)

In all cases, ensure the content below the greeting is simple to read and easy to understand. Your emails should be written at a 3rd-grade reading level and be free of admission-lingo.

Length and Format

According to Boomerang, 75 to 100 words per email will maximize engagement and increase the chance they take an action.

But Trevor, there’s so much information to share!

I hear you, but that’s why this is a drip and not a one-time deal.

As a part of your format, link back to your website. Give them a brief description and reason to click the link (a call-to-action). If the content you’re linking to is a potential pain point (admission process, testing documents, financial aid application, etc.), use the content in your email to proactively address the paint points: ‘There are several steps in the process, but we are here to help you.’

Use short paragraphs and lists whenever possible to help make your emails more digestible. If you scroll back up, you’ll see a lot of small, even one-sentence paragraphs.

And if you’ve made it this far, it’s working! 😉

Make It About Them

Raise your hand if you have children.

If you really raised your hand (😏), you love talking about them.

So ask questions about their child and, if you have it, definitely use their first name.

  • What does Tiana love learning about?
  • What are your child’s favorite activities?
  • Would Gregory enjoy learning a second language?
  • What is most essential for you to, [parent first name], when looking for a school for Tycho?

Continue to make it about them by leading…with them.

  • E.g., At Truth Tree Academy, our students…
  • For example, Stanley will [state the benefit] because [explain the tactic(s)] at Truth Tree Academy.

Build Rapport

All of the above tips are meant to build rapport. You can’t do that if you are talking at them, robotically feeding them mountains of information.

Tell them about yourself, how long you’ve been at the school, and what you love about the program. In subsequent emails, you can insert similar stories about teachers, students, and an interesting thing that just happened the other day.

A close second to them taking the desired action, thereby achieving your subgoal (scheduling time to visit your campus), is replying to your email with answers to your personable questions. Heck, if you can have a back-and-forth where you discover commonalities, rapport-building is well underway.

Closing and P.S.-ing

The last paragraph of your email should inquire about a general understanding of all that was included in the email. When coupling a closing paragraph and a postscript, a great one-two punch is to tier your calls to action.

For example, the closing paragraph should give them multiple options to schedule a campus visit, register for an open house, email the admission director to schedule a private tour, etc. Then, in the postscript, suggest they complete a more significant step, like applying.

Now that we have our goal, we understand our objectives, and learned some tips to create a compelling email drip, let’s break down potential content for three emails.


The Email Sequence Breakdown

Email #1

Sender: Truth Tree Academy
Subject: [Parent first name], let’s chat!

Hi [Parent first name],

Thank you for your interest in Truth Tree Academy!

My name is Trevor Waddington, the Director of Admission. As you can probably tell, this is an automated email. I will reach out soon to learn more about your family and tell you more about Truth Tree.

Are there any questions I can answer before our conversation?

With gratitude,

Trevor

P.S. – If it’s more convenient, please consider finding a time on my calendar. Here, you can schedule a phone call or personal tour.

Note: If this email is not opened, schedule a follow-up email (Email 1A) with the same information, but change the sender and the subject line.


Email #2

Sender: Trevor Waddington (if they opened email 1 or 1A).
Subject: Let’s explore Truth Tree Academy for [Child first name]

[Parent first name],

The best way to explore Truth Tree is through our families! Those who have experienced what your family might one day.

Below are some examples of what parents love AND don’t love about our school.

That’s right, we are not perfect. Our goal is to show you if we will be a, dare I say, perfect fit for [Child first name].

“The teacher-student relationships are phenomenal. My wife and I never understood all the benefits of small classes until Trevor and others explained how much more meaningful time our son had actually interacting with the teachers. They get to talk and share ideas and experiences, not just get called on to answer questions a few times a day.” – Raymond, Current Parent of a 4th grader.

“Our first year was a bit rocky. Rachel was new, and the class had been together for several years. She had a hard time fitting in. After we addressed this with her teachers, they created a plan to help, and after about a month, Rachel couldn’t wait to go to school to learn and, of course, see her newly developing friends.” – Lauren S., Current Parent of a 2nd grader.

“I love how individualized everything is for my kids. There’s great flexibility, allowing the students to show what they learned. My youngest son doesn’t always see it that way. He sometimes thinks the other kids have easier assignments but also admits he loves showcasing his knowledge in ways that make him want to learn more.” – Abigail, Current Parent of a 7th and 9th grader.

[Insert 2 video testimonials. One from an alum and one from a former parent.]

Now that you’ve heard from members of our community, it’s time to visit!

Our next open house is Wednesday, October 12 at 10 AM. You can RSVP here.

If you’re unavailable on that date, click here to schedule a one-on-one tour.

See you soon,

Trevor

Email #3

Sender: Trevor Waddington
Subject: What’s NEW at Truth Tree for 24-25

[Parent first name],

The 2023-24 school year has not even begun, and members of our team are already looking ahead to what’s the horizon for 24-25.

That’s why I’m excited to invite you to our upcoming open house on Wednesday, October 12, at 10 AM.

The morning starts with refreshments, followed by a brief introduction from our Head of School, Meredith Kyle. Then, the action begins with a campus tour that will showcase what makes us the #1 ranked PK-12 school in the Metropolis metro area. And, of course, you’ll learn about the programmatic updates and campus expansions [Child first name] could experience next.

Open house attendance is limited to ensure ample elbow room, so please register by this Friday, September 30. REGISTER HERE.

With gratitude,

Trevor

P.S. – If you are ready to apply and want to attend the open house, on page one of the application is a button to register. #twobirdsonestone. Start the admission application.

  • If you want to get really fancy and put in the work, you can create specific drips based on the user’s form fill. For example, if they indicate they are interested in kindergarten, you can send them a series of emails that speak to the benefits of kindergarten at YOUR school.
  • Give them something “exclusive” in one of the emails. First dibs on a student visitation day or a link to the latest e-newsletter to get an “inside” look at the communication current parents receive.

The above three emails should get you started on your way to nurturing prospects from inquisitive inquiry to can’t wait to apply-er. 

If you are looking for assistance with your email marketing, I encourage you to reach out and learn what Truth Tree’s email marketing services for schools can do for you.

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