Wondering if email marketing is still a relevant activity for your school to engage in? Especially at a time when inbound marketing has opened up more profitable and effective ways of getting enrollments, can it still prove to be beneficial?
The answer is yes, email marketing, the strategy of sending emails to your prospects, current parents, and subscribers, is still a powerful marketing tool. Emails can enable you to gather leads, convert prospects into enrollments, and turn your parents and students into loyal school community members.
As the market continues to make demands that you do more with less, email still remains the go-to strategy. It especially works if budget is a concern and your goals are to connect with your prospects in a personalized manner.
So why does email marketing endure as a choice among marketers despite the presence of alternatives such as social media and inbound marketing?
Email Marketing Stays True
Even as social media continues to thrive with its accessibility and popularity, email is still the preferred medium by many marketing teams. This is mainly due to email’s ability to drive sales at a low cost in investment, resulting in a higher ROI (Return Of Investment).
This simply proves that email marketing creates conversions.
But aside from ROI, many marketers still attest to the “tried and true” results of email marketing over the uncertain outcome from social media. Even if you create several social media accounts for a wider audience reach, you run the risk of sacrificing focus on what channels need to be prioritized. Email marketing provides this focus while possessing a broad reach, as well.
Despite these advantages, it also has its share of challenges, especially for school marketers.
The Challenges of Email Marketing
Email marketing is a sensitive affair. There’s the chance that while you may send the right message, it might be sent at the wrong time. And that can turn people off, risking your trust and relationship with them.
For instance, opting to send promotional emails retention-related content will obviously be inappropriate and irrelevant to your prospects.
You can lose subscribers if you keep sending them messages that are not relevant to them.
This is especially true if you adopt the outbound email marketing approach of sending to individuals who have not signed up for your newsletters, or worse, who have not interacted previously with your school. This may bring a negative connotation to your intentions.
Speaking of which, you may encounter a few challenges with parents:
- Parents, especially millennial parents, are usually online. And they’re mostly online using social media.
- Many parents, regardless of their age, will not read the emails you send them. They may prefer some other form of communication from your school aside from email.
Email marketing has been mistakenly classified as an exclusively outbound marketing strategy. While it has been identified and extensively used for outbound, it can also be utilized in conjunction with your inbound marketing initiatives. These days, most marketers use a combination of both.
One of the best ways your school can do this is with your email lead nurturing campaigns.
What Is Email Lead Nurturing?
Email lead nurturing involves sending out a series of emails with a coherent purpose relevant to its recipient. These emails contain useful content that targets their recipient’s interests and pain points.
Lead nurturing is also known as drip marketing and marketing automation. Drip marketing gets its name because you’re sending your recipients “drips,” which are pre-written sets of messages.
We’ve previously discussed marketing automation and how it can help your school inbound marketing strategy. Although new marketing tools are necessary, they are by no means adequate by themselves when it comes to successfully creating leads. You also need to develop your skills in defining your target audience, crafting targeted messages, etc.
As you gather leads from your website, keep in mind that not all of them are ready to take the next step. Some studies show that 50% of qualified leads are not ready to purchase immediately. If you push these leads to decide in order to convert them, you may end up losing them instead.
The best way of going about this is to refer to where your recipient is in their buyer’s journey.
Refer To Your Buyer’s Journey
As you practice your inbound marketing strategy, you should also develop your skills in understanding your leads and what they need. When you deliver the right message to them at the right time, you can be assured that you’re nurturing them well enough.
To guide you through this process, refer to your buyer’s journey.
Lead nurturing means that you engage your defined target group by sending them relevant information at each stage of their buyer’s journey.
(image courtesy of Hubspot)
First, identify what content is relevant to their buyer’s journey.
If your website visitor is in the awareness stage, this means they’re still doing their research. You can help them by providing links to resources they can read on your website:
- Blog article
At the consideration stage, a visitor on your website may be comparing your school with another. It’s likely that they are assessing both of your schools’ offerings. So, at this stage it’s best that you present them with information about your school, highlighting your benefits and advantages:
- About Our School page
- News and announcements
- Case studies
- Parent testimonials
As you guide your leads towards their decision stage, and now that they’re ready to convert, expect that they’re now more interested in content about how you’ve helped other people meet their needs. This is when the following content will prove to be useful:
- Case studies
This stage is the most important of all the stages. Now’s the time to back up your assertions about your school. You’ll need to provide information on how you’ve helped other people achieve positive results.
After you’ve determined which types of content are the proper fit for each stage of the buyer’s journey, the next step is making sure all of the content is prepared and uploaded on your school website. It’s hard work, but email lead nurturing has its benefits.
The Benefits Of Lead Nurturing
Email lead nurturing can be very beneficial for your school. If you provide valuable content and services to your leads, your reputation will grow along with your numbers.
By engaging with you on a consistent, regular basis, prospects come to trust you and treat you as an expert in your field.
Email Lead Nurturing:
- Ensures you of consistent communication with your audience
- Allows you to identify their specific interests and pain points
- Assists you in targeting your leads through better segmentation
- Increases engagement
- Encourages referrals and new leads
Always have a prompt, relevant reply ready for your leads. Show them that you’re not ignoring them and you can prevent losing leads in the process.
Get to understand your leads by finding out what their interests are and what challenges they face. Provide the content they need and see what they respond to.
- Enhance your communication with your leads by properly segmenting them through email nurturing.
- Maintain engagement with a lead that interacts with you. If you have leads that have stopped doing so, you can remind them to engage with your school again.
- As you share relevant, reliable content and delight your leads even further, they may just refer your school to other people.
Now that we’ve explored the various benefits of email lead nurturing, you should consider if your school is prepared to take on the requirements of such a campaign.
How To Set Up An Email Lead Nurturing Campaign
To set up a lead nurturing campaign, here’s a simple step-by-step process:
1. Set Your Goals
What do you want to achieve with your emails in your lead nurturing campaign? There are four types of emails to choose from based on what your goals are:
You can send emails that promote your events or offers. Remember to avoid spamming. It may be safer to send these to qualified leads.
Also known as an educational content email. Pick a topic based on your lead's interests and send educational content emails that are relevant. If they express interest with your emails, proceed to provide them with new, related content.
If a lead shows interest by interacting with your website (clicking on a banner link on your website or in your email), follow through by sending them an invitation to your open house or webinar.
Provide lists of helpful, relevant content. If a lead watched your webinar about “The Benefits Of A Christian Education”, then provide them with links to your blogs about the same (or related topic).
2. Select A Persona
If you’ve created a list of buyer personas, select which persona you are targeting. What interests or pain points are you trying to help with?
You will only be able to craft effective content after you’ve identified the specific persona that you want to help.
Here’s a guide on how to create your school’s buyer’s personas if you haven’t done so yet.
3. Identify Your Content
Since you’ve finished selecting your personas, you can now choose which of your existing content you can send to your leads.
Remember to refer to your buyer’s journey to determine what content is applicable for each lead.
Using emails for your lead nurturing campaigns involves a combination of using inbound and outbound marketing strategies. Regardless of which type of strategy you use them with, it’s clear that emails are still powerful, reliable means of conversion.
By keeping your leads engaged with your content on a regular basis by using emails to move them through the different stages of their buyer’s journey, you’re not only nurturing their needs, but you’re also doing them a great service.
This is far from what an untargeted email blast can accomplish.
And if you’re beyond that, then you’re taking a step in the right direction for your school.