Email Marketing for Education Companies: Tips for Getting Started
You invest a lot in acquiring new customers or leads. How do you stay in touch with them and keep them as customers? Email marketing for education companies is the most critical marketing activity for increasing your customer lifetime value. We'll share tips for building a successful email marketing program.
Email Marketing Tools
The first step is finding the right email marketing tool for your education company. Consider the features you will use the most and the number of contacts you need. The pricing for most email marketing software relates to the number of contacts you have and the price will go up as you get more contacts.
Here are some pros and cons of the three most popular email marketing tools for small businesses and startups: Hubspot, Mailchimp, and ActiveCampaign.
Good all-in-one marketing solution. You can send emails, post on social media, manage your social media ads, and use it as a CRM
Price goes up a lot as you add contacts
Entry-level, low cost
Recently acquired by Intiut, so we don't know what will happen with the tool
Many options for personalization
Some of the personalization can be challenging to set up for first-time users
Email Marketing Platform Setup
Before you start using your email marketing tool, we recommend four foundational steps to set it up.
1. Create your unsubscribe preference center
By default, your email marketing tool will require that your emails include a link in the footer for someone to unsubscribe to help ensure you're following the CAN-SPAM act. If someone unsubscribes, that means they can't receive any emails from you.
However, if you set up a preference center for your emails, you will give people the option to choose which emails they want to receive from you, and they won't need to unsubscribe from every email. For example, they may want to receive your monthly newsletters but not your weekly product feature emails. Giving people the option to choose what they want to hear from you will keep more people engaging with your emails.
2. Segment your lists
The most important advice about email marketing is not to blast emails to your entire list. Instead, you need to segment your lists into groups of people so that you are sending relevant messages. Reference your overall marketing strategies and buyer personas to help you come up with how you should segment your email lists.
Plan how you will communicate with people and organize them into lists in your email marketing tool. For example, leads who haven't purchased from you should be on one list and customers on another. Your emails to leads may need to explain more about your company than emails to customers. Within customers, you may want to separate people based on what types of products they have bought from you. Or you can separate leads and customers based on the type of educational institution they work at.
If your email marketing tool is integrated with your CRM (which it should be), you will need to be familiar with the fields in each platform to help you figure out what data you can use to segment your lists and how to sync your contacts between the systems.
3. Design email templates
Most email marketing platforms have a set of designed email templates for you. You can improve those email templates by incorporating your company branding. First, outline the types of emails you'll send out most often (i.e. newsletters, content, promotions). Then, create branded email templates from the default email templates provided. When you have a set of branded email templates, you won't need to start from scratch every time you send out an email. You'll also have more consistency in your branding with emails that use the same logo, colors, and design style.
4. Develop a list clean-up plan
The last step is to map out how you will keep your lists clean. If you send too many emails to people who unsubscribe or bounce, it can affect your emails from being sent out, and you can be blocked for sending spam.
Some email marketing software integrates ways to help you keep your email lists clean. For example, Hubspot has a feature to automatically remove people who haven't opened your last 11 emails. Determine how often you will check your email lists to clean them up. We recommend checking them quarterly or twice a year, depending on how many emails you send.
Email Marketing for Education Companies: Strategies to Consider
Now that you're done setting up your email marketing platform, it's time to determine your email marketing strategies. Your email strategies should relate to your overall marketing strategies and goals for your business. Here are some common email marketing strategies for education companies.
Nurture emails help you stay in touch with people, whether they are leads or customers. These emails provide helpful information to keep you top of mind.
Nurture emails usually come after the contact takes action. For example, they requested information, attended an event, downloaded content, or a sales opportunity was created.
Nurture emails are perfect for marketing automation, where you set up a way to send emails automatically. Automations can be set to send emails in multiple ways. One way is to send emails based on the number of days passed. For example, you can send emails every seven days for three months. You can also set your automations to send emails based on behavior. For example, if someone opens an email, they get the next email in three days. If someone doesn't open the email, they get the next email in ten days.
With this strategy, you email people based on information you have about what products they have bought from you. You send them emails to get them to buy more or upgrade their plan. For example, if they are on a free trial or freemium version of your product, you can send them emails letting them know about features in your paid plan. Or if you offer a suite of products and they bought one, you can send them emails with information about the other related products.
You can send personalized emails by capturing information about your customers in your CRM and sharing it with your email marketing platform. For example, if you ask for a customer's birthday, you can send them a coupon or a gift on their birthday. Or, if you know someone bought a particular product, you can offer them additional support three months after the purchase. When an email is not personalized, 52% of customers say they'll find somewhere else to go. Of course, how you personalize depends on your business, but know that personalization is more than including the person's name in the email.
Abandoned Cart Emails
You need an abandoned cart email strategy if you sell products on your website, like online courses. It's estimated that the online shopping abandoned cart rate is around 70%. You can recover some of those by sending abandoned cart emails. When you connect your email marketing platform with your ecommerce platform, it can trigger when someone has put items in their cart, then left your site without purchasing. You can then send automated emails reminding them that they have items in their cart, and you can offer a discount to get them to come back and buy.
Email Marketing Metrics
The great thing about email marketing is you get results about its performance immediately. The primary email marketing metrics are open rates and unsubscribe rates. If no one is opening your emails, they won't see your message or take action. You also want to look at your unsubscribe rates as another metric for measuring your email's effectiveness and the health of your email list.
Click rates and click-to-open rates might also be important, depending on the goal of your email. For example, are you trying to get someone to visit your site to learn more or buy? Then you should evaluate your click and click to open rates. Do you want someone to reply to the email? Then, click rates aren't relevant.
Below are email marketing benchmarks for the education industry. It's always best to improve performance based on data from your company emails, but here are email marketing benchmarks for the education industry to start with.
Open Rate: 28.5%
Click Rate: 4.4%
Click to Open Rate: 15.7%
Unsubscribe Rates: .2%
Are you looking for ways to improve the performance of your emails? Here are some ideas for troubleshooting your emails:
If your open rates are low, you might be sending your email to people who aren't interested. Revisit your lists and segmentation. Also, evaluate your subject lines. Are they less than ten words and attention-grabbing? Use your email marketing tool's A/B testing feature to test subject lines and see which works better for your lists.
If your click rates are low, take a look at the design of your emails. Do you have too many things for them to click in one email? That can confuse the reader and cause them not to take action. Is it clear what you want them to click, and they're not? Try highlighting the text in a different color or use a visual like a button. Also, review the content of your email to see if you're enticing them enough to want to click through to read more.
If your unsubscribe rates are high, revaluate your lists and your segmentation. Start sending lists to smaller groups of people your message is most relevant to, and then expand.
Email marketing for education companies is a marketing strategy that should not be overlooked. It is the best way to stay in touch with your customers and leads. Setting up a strong email marketing strategy will benefit your education company with a low cost and high potential solution for converting and retaining customers.