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How To Increase Your School’s Email Open Rates in 2021

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From relaying important updates to sharing fun events happening at your school, sending email newsletters is important for building community and engagement at your school, as well as serving as a marketing tool for retention and prospective families.

You may be wondering if email marketing is even still worth it in today’s times. The answer is yes, it is! Email marketing is still a direct path to family and student inboxes, and studies show that email marketing is one of the most effective ways to communicate with your audience, nourish leads and drive traffic to websites.  

Here are some tips to help improve your school’s email marketing and open rates.  

Set a Good and Realistic Open Rate Goal

You may be wondering, what is a “good” open rate you should be aiming for?

The average open rate for email marketing varies depending on the study and industry. For the education industry, Campaign Monitor reports their average open rate to be about 24.9%, whereas Finalsite finds their overall average open rate to be as high as 49%. It is actually rare to have open rates over 50%!

Of course, for your school, it depends on your school’s list size and makeup. Are there out of date email addresses, people who have graduated and moved on, or prospects who never enrolled? Your open rate is a percent of your list, so if your list contains people who are not engaged or interested in your content, the open rate will be lower. 

If your list is full of disengaged people, consider cleaning up your list by inviting current members to confirm their list enrollment, or reviewing campaign data and removing those who have not opened an email in the last 6-12+ months.

Create goals that are reasonable and reachable, and ensure your list is targeted.

Use a Non-Generic “from” Email Address

While generic emails like dontreply@ can be great for convenience, they’re more likely to get flagged as spam by email hosts. Try using a more personal name as a sender, like [email protected]. When it gets to someone’s inbox, the name will appear as the sender and feel more approachable and reliable – and readers will be more likely to click to open. 

Focus on the Subject Line

Much like the title of a book, movie, or TV show, the subject line is what a reader will use to deem whether the email is important enough to open. Even the small words you use can affect whether someone will open an email, so the subject line is really key to increasing open rates.

Consider the Length of the Subject Line

It’s generally accepted to go for one of the extremes: super short subject lines, or extremely long ones. This article from Kinsta reports that subject lines that are 100-140 characters have higher open rates. At the same time, some upwards of 230 characters have higher open rates.

If you’re already trying this method and finding no success, try and switch it up. Sometimes 25 characters or less is effective as well. It really depends on your audience.

Bake-Sale starts Tomorrow! Is a 24-character subject line.

Bake-Sale fundraiser for new school computers starts tomorrow! Make sure to sign up for your spot today.  Is a 106-character subject line.

Try Using Emojis

Emoji’s are fun, modern, and are definitely appropriate to use in the subject line of emails. SmartrMail found that subject lines with emojis are 3% more likely to be opened. Just be careful with how many. Start out with three max.

Use Certain Words – Avoid Others

If you’re trying to express urgency, it’s better to use words like “today,” “now,” and “tomorrow,” rather than “quick” or “urgent.” Other words can make readers feel part of something exclusive and personal through words like “for you,” “deserve,” “exclusive,” and “hand-picked.”

Personalize the Message

Use merge tags to personalize emails. Most email marketing services provide tags that will insert the recipient’s name in the body, subject and preview. Addressing your reader will make them feel like the information is personally for them, and more important to read. This is important to include in the beginning because a little preview of the body of your email may appear next to or under the subject line.

Review the Results, Test and Implement Campaigns Based on Data

What works for you and your school will be personal to your organization, your message and your audience. Testing different messages, subject lines, send times and designs with your audience(s) can provide information on the type of messaging and information that produces higher open rates.

Feel free to schedule a free 15-minute consultation with Tara to ask questions or get help with your website or to ask about other digital marketing solutions.. 

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