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.
Enrollment email nurturing is the process of engaging prospective families with the goal of moving them from “prospect” to enrolled family.
Email nurturing programs begin with initial customer interaction. 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, your goal 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 best practices.
Define smaller goals
The final objective 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 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 an example of a 3 email nurturing cadence:
- The goal of first email batch: Establish that you’re here to help – not to sell – by speaking to a family’s needs with useful content
- The goal of second email batch: Build confidence that your school is trustworthy by sharing the experiences of others (testimonials, reviews, interviews, statistics)
- The goal of final email: Discuss enrollment with the family by inviting them to visit the school or scheduling a phone call
Personalize your content
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 your email content 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.
How many touches 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 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 to 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 email nurturing programs with only three emails.
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 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.
Track, measure, improve
You’re not going to ace your 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 is why you really want to use a commercial email service rather than manually doing this from your own email system.
Whichever software you choose, the more you track data and measure the results, the stronger you can make your nurturing program.
- Email is still one of the best tools to convert prospects, and email nurturing programs are 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 3 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