Growing Your Email List: 5 Easy and Actionable Ideas for School Marketers

Private Schools Marketing

Email marketing is an effective way to connect with your audience and keep them engaged with your school’s offerings. Growing your email list is an essential step to reaching more people and impacting more community members. In this article, we’ll provide you with five actionable areas to improve your school’s email marketing efforts. These tips are designed to help you attract new subscribers, retain current ones, and create an engaged audience. Let's do this!

Why Is It Important to Grow Your School's Email List?

School marketers spend a lot of time and energy on creating great content and managing their email programs. That effort is largely the same whether you’re sending to 10 subscribers or 10,000 – so growing and keeping a healthy list of subscribers is what makes that effort truly worth it. By focusing on the size and health of your list, you can enhance your outreach and communication efforts while also laying a strong foundation for your digital advertising strategies. Here's why this is so important:

  • Connecting with key audiences: Email is an essential tool for reaching out to various groups that are vital to your school's success, such as prospective parents, current families, staff, alumni, and donors. A well-maintained email list enables you to keep these audiences informed, engaged, and connected to your school.
  • Expanding your reach cost-effectively: One of the major benefits of growing your email list is the ability to connect with more people on a budget. Unlike other marketing channels that may require significant investments, email marketing allows you to reach a large audience for as little as $17 per month.
  • Boosting digital advertising through lookalike audiences: A comprehensive email list can significantly enhance your other digital advertising efforts. Platforms like Facebook and Google Ads can use your email list to identify "lookalike audiences" – individuals who share similar characteristics with your existing subscribers. By targeting these lookalike audiences, you can increase the chances of reaching potential families and supporters who may be interested in your school.
  • Taking control of your list size: The size of your email list is not a fixed number; it's within your control. By employing effective strategies to grow your list – such as hosting events and leveraging social media – you can expand your reach and impact while maintaining control over your communication efforts.

Growing your school's email list is of paramount importance for connecting with key audiences, expanding your reach cost-effectively, and boosting your digital advertising efforts. By taking control of your list size and implementing effective strategies to expand it, you can maximize the impact of your communication efforts and ensure the continued success of your school.

5 Simple Tips for School Marketers to Expand Your Email List and Improve Communication

For school marketers, a strong email list is essential for effective communication with prospective students, parents, and the community. Here are five simple tips you can put into practice today to have a stronger email program in place for the next school year.

1. Invite People to Subscribe

You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take, and you lose 100% of the sales you don’t ask for. The same logic applies to email subscribers. If you never invite people to subscribe, how can you expect anyone to? 

Request Subscriptions

Ask visitors to join your school's mailing list on your website, social media or at events. Make the subscription call-to-action clear and visible to encourage sign-ups. Be sure to tell your audience of prospective subscribers what you want them to do, what they’re signing up for, and why it will be valuable to them.

Use Website Forms

Place subscription forms on your school's website – such as the homepage, blog, admissions information pages, events page and footer – for easy sign-up access. 

Utilize Pop-Ups (Sometimes)

Use strategically placed pop-up messages to encourage subscriptions by offering exclusive content or early access to school events. Avoid using more than one or two pop-ups, as too many can irritate visitors – and if possible, use a pop-up tool that allows you to control settings and customize who sees the pop-up and how often.

Take Advantage of Events

Collect email addresses during in-person events like open houses, parent-teacher conferences or school fairs for follow-up communication and personal engagement. Consider easy collection methods like a QR code that can be used to check in to the event. Adding an incentive (like a gift card draw for everyone who signs up) is always a nice bonus!

Provide Value and Exclusivity

Offer exclusive benefits to subscribers to encourage more sign-ups. These benefits could include discounts on school merchandise, early access to event tickets, or exclusive content.

2. Simplify the Sign-Up Process

To encourage more people to join your email list, it's essential to make the subscription process as seamless as possible. 

Keep Forms Simple

Only ask for essential information during sign-up. Collect names and emails here, and then get more details about subscribers later. This allows you to build comprehensive profiles without overwhelming them initially – and increase the likelihood that someone will say ‘yes’ to your email list.

Set Clear Expectations

Inform potential subscribers about content type and frequency. Humans get a lot of email… so be sure to set expectations around how much they’ll be hearing from you (for example, twice a month) – then stick to your promises to maintain trust and keep subscribers engaged.

Test Forms Regularly

It’s easy to set up a sign-up form, test it out, then assume that it’s working (forever) – but you’ll want to ensure your forms function seamlessly and add new subscribers to your email database or welcome workflows. It’s best practice to create a regular testing schedule to ensure things are working as expected. You might want to calendarize a test a couple of times a year – and before you start to promote major events like your annual open house or open up a new recruitment season.

Optimize for Mobile

Statistically speaking, more than half of your website visits are likely to come from phones or other small mobile devices – so be sure to provide an excellent user experience on these devices by optimizing pop-ups, forms, and your entire website for mobile browsing.

3. Keep Subscribers Engaged (and Minimize Unsubscribes)

When it comes to growing an email list, retaining existing subscribers is just as important as acquiring new ones (and it’s easier too!). Here are some tips to reduce the number of people who unsubscribe from your email list.

Monitor Both Ends of the Funnel

Focus on keeping existing subscribers engaged while also working on acquiring new ones. Maintaining a balance ensures a healthy email list. You’ll naturally keep an eye on the new subscribers you’re adding… but be sure to watch where and when people are unsubscribing too, and note any patterns that you might be able to affect. (For example, if people tend to unsubscribe more after receiving a specific kind of email content or after you’ve emailed a little more often than usual.)

Keep Your Promises

Reduce the likelihood that people will want to unsubscribe by sending the type and quality of content you promised them and maintaining the frequency that subscribers were informed about during sign-up. Consistency builds trust and keeps subscribers engaged.

Offer Alternatives to Unsubscribing

When users attempt to unsubscribe, present other options like opting to reduce the number of emails they receive from you (for example, hearing from you once a month vs once a week) or setting topic preferences (for example, only hearing about time-sensitive news and events) – and respect their choices. Offering alternatives can help retain subscribers who might otherwise leave.

4. Attract Subscribers with Content they Care About

When you’re coming up with content for your emails, ask yourself what kind of topics your audience would care about. Providing valuable resources can lend support and encourage people to join your email list.

Here are three steps to create and offer targeted content in exchange for their email address:

Develop Targeted Content

If one of your main audiences is parents, consider what those parents care most about. Topics like academic performance help, emotional well-being support for their children, or safety and security measures within your school environment.

Create content that appeals to their interests and addresses their concerns. Offering valuable information for free can help build trust and establish your school as a reliable source of information.

Offer Valuable Resources

Consider offering resources like a guide to choosing the right school for their child or a checklist of questions to ask when evaluating schools. These resources can provide valuable insights and help parents make informed decisions. By making a parent feel that you’ve helped them before they’ve even chosen your school — they’re much more likely to trust you with their child’s education.

By offering helpful resources, you can attract more subscribers to your email list and strengthen your communication efforts with parents.

Revisit and Update Topics

If someone opens an email from you and can immediately tell that it was written last year, it’s unlikely that person is going to bother opening your future emails. It’s a good idea to review your email content monthly, or at least every couple months, to make sure that your content is up to date and addressing current topics. When coming up with email topics, keep it timely, relevant, and helpful.

5. Boost Email Subscriptions with a Referral Program

Creating a referral program for your current subscribers can effectively grow your email list. Encourage them to share your emails with their friends, family, and colleagues to tap into the power of word-of-mouth marketing.

Ask Families for Referrals

Implement a referral program to create a network of engaged subscribers and expand your email list through the trusted recommendations of your current subscribers. One of the best ways to do this is to show appreciation to the families who already engage with your content.

Highlighting success stories within your school is an amazing way to boost morale and get attention. Share exciting achievements and testimonials from families who are satisfied with their experience at your school. Then, encourage families to share these stories with their friends and family.

You can also achieve this by hosting events at the school, allowing students and their families to bring their friends, neighbours, or other potential students. These events could be things like school plays, alumni gatherings, or fundraisers. Use these opportunities to network with potential parents and share information materials about your school.

Offer Incentives

Provide rewards like tuition rebates, school swag, or gift cards when their referrals sign up to receive information from your school. Incentives motivate current subscribers to spread the word and help you reach a wider audience.

Implement a referral program to create a network of engaged subscribers and expand your email list through the trusted recommendations of your current subscribers.

By implementing these simple tips, school marketers can effectively grow their email list and improve their communication efforts. The larger your email list, the greater your reach and impact. Start expanding your email list today to maximize your email marketing efforts.

Conclusion: Enhance Your School's Email Marketing by Growing Your Email List

Growing your email list is a crucial step in enhancing your school's email marketing efforts. By following these strategies, you can attract new subscribers, engage your audience, and increase your impact:

  • Invite people to subscribe
  • Reduce sign-up barriers
  • Retain current subscribers
  • Offer valuable resources
  • Create referral programs

Remember to monitor your metrics, adjust your strategy, and continuously provide high-quality content to your subscribers. This will ensure long-term success with your email marketing campaigns.

Want to keep learning about email marketing for schools? Check out the rest of the series:

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 to receive more marketing tips in your inbox.


Get marketing insights straight to your inbox.