As a private or independent school marketer, you work hard to build a strong email marketing list – so maintaining that list and keeping your subscribers engaged is very important. In this post, we'll talk about five effective strategies to reduce your unsubscribes and keep your audience connected to your school.
1. Do What You Said You Would Do (Frequency, Type of Content, etc.)
There are two main reasons why someone will unsubscribe from an email list: they either start receiving more emails than they expected, or the content doesn't align with their expectations. It’s up to you to set these expectations right from the get-go. To prevent people from feeling misled, make sure you stick to the promises you made when they subscribed.
Set Clear Expectations from the Start
When people subscribe to your email list, clearly communicate the type of emails and the frequency at which they can expect to receive them. Before you ask people to receive your content, you need to know what that content will be.
Will you be sending monthly newsletters? Event updates? Weekly bulletins? Find out what kind of content people actually care about, and stick to only that. This helps manage expectations and ensures that your subscribers know what they're signing up for.
Maintain Consistency in Frequency and Content
Consistency is key when it comes to email marketing. If you promised a monthly newsletter, don't start sending weekly updates. This will likely frustrate your subscribers. Likewise, if your subscribers signed up for admissions-related information, avoid bombarding them with unrelated content. If you’ve ‘gone dark’ for a few months and then suddenly send a series of messages, you’ll be in danger of seeing more unsubscribes.
Audit Your Invitations
How can you be sure this isn’t harming your current email program? It’s a good idea to go back and audit all of your sign-up forms and invitations and ensure they are honest and accurate.
2. Send High-Quality, Relevant Content – and Segment if Needed
To keep your subscribers engaged, send high-quality, relevant content that caters to their interests.
Assess Alternatives to Sending Another Email
Not all content is best suited for email delivery. It’s important to ask yourself: “Is what I’m sending here relevant enough to my audience to warrant sending an email?"
To maximize impact and ensure your message reaches the intended audience, consider using alternative channels for specific types of content. Some examples include:
Text Messages: For short, notification-style updates about admissions processes, deadlines, or urgent announcements, text messages can be more effective than emails.
Social Media: Share school news, events, and achievements through social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. This allows you to reach a broader audience and encourages sharing within your school community while reserving your emails for more targeted messaging.
School Website or Blog: For in-depth articles, interviews, or resources, consider publishing them on your school's website or blog. This not only establishes your school as an authority but also drives traffic to your website.
Segment Your Audience for Targeted Messaging
Segmentation is a powerful tool for ensuring your content remains relevant and valuable to each subscriber. By dividing your audience based on factors like age group, interests, or engagement levels, you can send targeted emails that resonate with each segment.
For example: if you’re sending out an email specifically for parents of graduating students, segment that audience so that parents of second graders don’t need to hear about it.
Here are some tips for effective segmentation:
Demographic Segmentation: Group your subscribers based on demographic factors such as grade levels (elementary, middle, and high school), location, current families vs. alumni families, or parents vs. prospective parents.
Interest-Based Segmentation: Categorize subscribers based on their interests, such as academics, athletics, arts programs, or extracurricular activities, and tailor your content accordingly.
Engagement Level Segmentation: Identify highly engaged subscribers, occasional readers, and inactive subscribers, and create targeted campaigns to re-engage or further engage each group.
Remember, the key to successful email marketing for private schools is understanding your audience's needs and preferences and tailoring your communication accordingly.
3. Send Exclusive Content They Can't Get Anywhere Else
Expanding on the previous point, if you use your school website for things like blog posts, it’s redundant to also send that post via email (although a round-up of popular content at the end of each month might be valuable). Providing exclusive content to your email subscribers makes them feel valued and less likely to unsubscribe. Here are some ways to do that.
Offer First Access or Insider Information
Creating a sense of exclusivity can be a powerful motivator for subscribers to stay connected. By giving email subscribers first access or insider information, you not only keep them engaged but also encourage them to act on the information.
Some examples include:
Priority Event Registration: Allow email subscribers to register early for popular events, workshops, or seminars before opening registration to the general public. If people feel like subscribing to your email list gives them VIP-like access, they’re more likely to stick around for those benefits.
New Program Announcements: Share announcements about new academic programs, extracurricular activities, or scholarship opportunities exclusively with your email subscribers before promoting them on other channels.
Special Promotions: Offer exclusive discounts or promotional offers for school merchandise, event tickets, or other school-related items to your email subscribers.
Share Content Exclusive to Email Subscribers
Develop content that's only available to your email subscribers, such as in-depth articles, interviews, or behind-the-scenes stories. This encourages subscribers to stay connected and engaged with your emails, as they know they're receiving unique content that they won't find elsewhere.
4. Offer an Alternative to Unsubscribing
When someone clicks your “Unsubscribe” button, see this as an opportunity to help them feel valued. Instead of losing subscribers altogether, offer alternatives that allow them to tailor their email preferences.
Include Preferences in the Welcome Series
When subscribers join your list, provide them with the opportunity to self-segment by identifying what they're most concerned about or interested in when it comes to their child's education. This allows them to receive only the content that's most relevant to their needs, leading to higher satisfaction and lower unsubscribe rates.
Offer Options for Fewer or Specific Emails
When a subscriber clicks the “Unsubscribe" link, direct them to a preferences page where they can choose to receive fewer emails or only specific types of content (as an alternative to unsubscribing completely). This gives them more control over the emails they receive and may prevent them from unsubscribing entirely.
Here are some suggestions for implementing this strategy:
Create a Preferences Page: Develop a user-friendly preferences page where subscribers can easily update their email frequency, content preferences, or unsubscribe from specific email categories (or from all emails).
Promote the Preferences Page: Educate your subscribers about the preferences page through periodic reminders in your emails. Encourage them to update their preferences as needed.
Re-Engagement Campaigns: For subscribers who have opted for fewer emails or specific content, consider running periodic re-engagement campaigns to remind them of the value of your other content offerings and encourage them to update their preferences.
5. Use Data to Learn and Improve
To keep your subscribers satisfied and engaged, gather feedback on your email content and make improvements based on their input.
Conduct Surveys to Gauge Subscriber Satisfaction
Sending out occasional surveys asking your subscribers for their thoughts on your email content, frequency, and overall satisfaction with your communications can provide valuable insights into areas that may need improvement. You could even take this a step further and offer an incentive for people to fill out your survey – such as a discount on school merchandise in exchange for their feedback!
Monitor Engagement Metrics
Keep an eye on open rates, click rates, and other engagement metrics to identify which content resonates best with your audience. Compare this data between emails – and also on a larger scale, looking at this quarter vs last quarter and also looking at this quarter vs the same quarter last year. Use this data to refine your email strategy and ensure you're meeting your subscribers' needs.
By implementing these five strategies, you'll not only reduce your unsubscribes but also foster stronger relationships with your subscribers by showing that you understand their needs and preferences and are tailoring your communication accordingly. If you stay committed to providing value and continually refining your approach based on data and feedback, you'll be well on your way to achieving email marketing success for your school.
Want to learn more about email marketing for schools? Check out the rest of the series:
- 5 Ways to Unlock Automations
- More coming soon!
At Metric Marketing, we develop measurable and practical strategies to help private and independent schools like yours to make the most of your marketing efforts. We'd love to discuss your private school's marketing requirements with you. Contact us today to speak with our marketing professionals or sign up below to receive more marketing tips in your inbox.