Email Marketing for Effective, Engaging Communication at Private Schools

July 30, 2013 Julia Bannister

At our recent User Conference, communications staff from private schools all over the country packed a Best Practice session to learn about using email marketing to communicate successfully with constituents. It’s an important topic that many UC13 attendees found helpful, so we’d like to share it with you here on the blog.

I was thrilled to have the opportunity to work with Whitney Donnelley, WhippleHill Account Manager, to present on this subject  – and I hope you’ll enjoy our tips & tricks!

Highlighting the most important info:

In general, email is a great way to build community at your school. It’s a primary form of communication between you and all your constituent groups: parents, students, alumni, prospective families, et al. Effective email communication gets the right information to the right people at the right time.

As an Account Manager, Whitney has had lots of experience working directly with independent schools, helping them use WhippleHill tools to maximize their communication efforts. He says that your e-newsletters (Pushpages) should act as your school’s strategic communication tool. If your constituents are only going to read one communication from you, it should be your e-newsletter.

When using Pushpage, your school will have to decide:

  • Who to send it to
  • How often (monthly? weekly?)
  • The layout
  • The content

Consider using your e-newsletter to highlight life at your school. For example, you may choose to include information about school events, leadership vision & philosophy, major changes, and fundraising opportunities.

The key is to be consistent, so your constituents know when to expect a Pushpage from you, and have an idea of what type of information they’ll find inside. Find a format that works and stick to it.

An eye on engagement:

Just like everything else in life, it’s also important to be flexible. One extremely effective and reliable way to see what content your readers find most interesting is to keep an eye on the click-through rate for your Pushpages. You can track how many people click on each link that you share. See what links are getting the most traffic and make sure to keep that type of content front and center! If you decide to try something new, you can track the click-through rate to see if it drives engagement or not and decide if you want to continue the effort going forward.

Pushpage Click-Through Rate Small

Keep mobile in mind:

Another very important factor to consider when crafting Pushpages is the rise of mobile. You’ll find that all of your constituent groups are reading email on smartphones and tablets as well as on desktop computers…and we all know how annoying it can be to scroll left to right and back again on a phone or tablet, zooming in and out to try to find a link!

To keep your readers engaged, make it easy for them. For some great tips on how to design mobile-friendly Pushpages, check out this blog post from Jes Cady in the WhippleHill archives.

Mobile-Friendly Pushpage  Mobile-Friendly Pushpage2

Here are a few more of our top tips for effective, engaging email communication:

  • Set goals
  • Publish regularly and be consistent
  • Look for opportunities to repurpose existing content
  • Provide self-serve archives of your Pushpages on the school site
  • Encourage participation and contribution from others at your school

Further reading:

What Parents Want in School Communication

8 Tips for a Great Parent Communication Plan

Principals Share Tips for School Newsletters that Work

At UC13, we had the chance to open this session up to discussion. People were interested in hearing how other schools use the Pushpage tool, and what challenges and successes you’ve found. 

Share your experiences or questions in the comments section below!

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