Using E-Newsletters to Convey Your Marketing Message and Build Relationships with Prospective Families

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1 Using E-Newsletters to Convey Your Marketing Message and Build Relationships with Prospective Families Admission COP Lisa Colton, Guest Presenter Rebecca Egolf, Facilitator January 23, 2007

2 Lisa Colton and Darim Online Lisa Colton is the founder and president of Darim Online ( a non-profit organization dedicated to helping Jewish organizations (schools, synagogues, summer camps and others) most effectively use the Internet for marketing, communications, education and community building. Lisa is an alumna of Stanford University and the Pardes Institute for Jewish Studies in Jerusalem, and has been a frequent presenter at PEJE Leadership conferences. She is the recipient of the Hillel "Exemplar of Excellence" Award and the Jewish Communal Service Association of North America's "Young Professionals" Award. She lives in Charlottesville, VA with her family. You can reach Lisa at or (434)

3 Call Etiquette So that we all don t hear your background noise, phones ringing, conversations, keyboards clicking, etc. please hit *1 to mute yourself. If you have a question or comment, hit *1 again to come off mute so that you can participate. Re-mute yourself after you are done participating.

4 Agenda Pre Call Survey Results Technology is a tool Marketing basics - what marketing? Messaging E-newsletter services Formats, branding Frequency and delivery Getting your e-newsletter open and read Evaluating your results

5 Pre-Call Survey Results (27 schools responding) Does your school send an e-newsletter to: Current parents 96% Current students 29% Current grandparents 17% Prospective students/families 13% Donors 9% Community members 25% Alumni 29% Others indicated: board members, colleagues at other schools, alumni parents Do you send an e-newsletter that is specifically for prospective families? 2 responses - Yes, we send the current family e-newsletter to prospective families. 0 responses - Yes, it is modified from the version we send to current families. 0 responses - Yes, we use some of the content for current families, but focus the e- newsletter for prospective families. 1 response - Yes, we compose an e-newsletter specifically for prospective families. 24 responses - No, we don't send an e-newsletter to prospective families.

6 Pre-Call Survey Results (27 schools responding) How often do you send an e-newsletter? Once a month - 1 response Every other week - 1 response Once a week - 4 responses Irregularly - 2 responses Not at all - 18 responses Do you track and view how many people receive, open and/or click on links in your e-newsletter? How do you modify your e-newsletter program based on these statistics? Not tracking/collecting data We track openings, clicks on links, bounces and opt outs. We have not done anything to change our practices. We track it through webstats We also print a few on paper for those that want, but we would like to not do this. This is our first year in an electronic format. The past 6 years, it was mailed to families weekly. We do not track this information. I am not set up to do that. I would be interested in knowing how many of the prospective families do read the newsletter. Although, I would think that if families were not interested in receiving it, and I do it out every Friday, then they would me letting me know to remove their name from my distribution list.

7 Pre-Call Survey Results (27 schools responding) What technology do you (and/or your school) use to send an e-newsletter? Constant Contact - 19% (4 schools) Other e-newsletter service 0% Listserv through our school - 19% (4 schools) Other listserv such as YahooGroups 5% (1 school) Outlook or other program 39% (8 schools) Other (please specify): Edline; a Word file made into a PDF; newsletter is posted on website and parents are ed a link to it; created in Pages/Indesign, hosted on our server, families click to view on our server Who is responsible for gathering content and sending the e-newsletter? IT professional/webmaster 5 Development professional 1 Admissions professional 5 Board/committee member 3 Head of school 9 PTA or parent 5 Administrative assistant 13 Other volunteer 2 Communications/Marketing professional 4 Teacher 5

8 Pre-Call Survey Results What are you most proud of in how you communicate with prospective families via ? The rich content. But it is a wall of words. No photos, no graphic design. It is designed as a narrow column so that this can be easily read on the computer screen, so when you print it out, it is very long. WE NEED TO MOVE TO THE NEXT LEVEL! I think that our newsletters are positive, informative, relate what is happening at our school as well as what is taking place in the community. We have various sections, i.e., Head of School message, Middle School, counselors corner, kvelling corner, etc. We only respond to those who us through our web site. It is totally individualized and directed to specific questions they may have regarding our School. We are proud of our recent switch to Constant Contact which provides us with a professional looking document. Families and staff receive our newsletter every week with as many details as possible about what has happened in the last five days and what is anticipated in the coming weeks. Prior to this initiative, families had very little information about what went on in the school. The newsletter is a way to connect people and make them feel invested in the school. A part of our website is called the notice board. We post information on the notice board in four sections: Lower School, Middle School, Upper School and Community. An goes to the parents weekly, listing the titles of all new postings. Since it is listed on our web page, all prospective families are able to access the information. It gives a great snapshot of the previous week and keeps recipients aware of upcoming events both within and outside of the school.

9 Technology is a Tool As you think about integrating Internet technologies such as e- newsletters into your work, please remember that these are TOOLS. Technology is not an end in and of itself, it is a tool to help you accomplish your mission. Therefore, it is critical to know how these tools work (technical), but even more important to think about what you want to accomplish and how you will implement and utilize these tools strategically (conceptual). Many people make the mistake of rushing to have a product in hand without understanding how and why they will be using it. Technical execution is actually the easy part.

10 Marketing = Relationships Marketing is not sales. Marketing is not forcing a constituency to accept a pre-designed program. Instead, marketing is the assessment of your constituent s needs and interests, and educating your constituent on why they should invest in a relationship with you. And then put in place the tools to continue to build and strengthen your relationship with them. E-newsletters can be a tool to achieve these goals.

11 Marketing Basics What is your goal? Who is your audience? Are there multiple audiences you should be considering? How might the message differ for each audience? For example: Parents who are weighing Jewish Day School vs. another private school Parents who are weighing Jewish Day School vs. public school. Parents who are definitely sending their kids to a Jewish school, but debating between this one and that one. What are essential variables for their decision making? What do they need to know, and what do you need to say to bring their needs and expectations in line with your offerings? Given the above: What is your message? This will differ for admissions vs. current parents. Think about how you adapt/edit other content for your admissions focused e-newsletter.

12 Messaging You must not only say the message, but also demonstrate it - in organization and graphics and professionalism. What are the multiple messages said through these images? A B C D E

13 Conveying your Message Once you know your audience and what they need to know, your message is conveyed in multiple ways, photos being one of them. Use your messaging opportunities to speak directly to what your audience needs/wants to know, not just what you want to tell them. Be specific - this is more than Happy Kids! or Jewish! Show integration of Hebrew in curriculum, sports programs, arts, science. Demonstrate (in photos, layout, colors, etc), as well as say (in words) your message.

14 Discussion: How have you focused your message for prospective families? How might you adjust your message to speak to their specific needs and interests?

15 Why Marketing? Organizations are doing it: 75% of businesses have lists 13% of total marketing budget is spent on When asked what consumers would like to replace: 54% replace telemarketing 45% replace in-person sales calls 40% direct mail Source: Association for Interactive Marketing, DoubleClick Study It s affordable and more effective: Cost to communicate to in house list is a fraction of direct mail Recipients are using in their daily life -- an effective at the right time has an equivalent or greater chance of being read and acted upon than direct mail. marketing has drastically changed the economics making relationship marketing viable for businesses of all sizes - saving time and money.

16 E-Newsletter Services E Newsletter services such as Constant Contact automate best practices: Manage lists adding new subscribers, handling bouncebacks, removing unsubscribes Provide easy-to-use templates. Send readable formats HTML and/or Text Handle unsubscribe links required by law Ensure delivery, tracks results and obeys the law Standard Programs (e.g. Outlook, Hotmail) not designed for group messaging: Limited # of s sent at one time List break up more susceptible to filters Message can be filtered, blocked or undelivered without notice No tracking and reporting of results If messages perceived as spam, entire corporate server can be blocked by ISPs Provides valuable statistics to help you measure and improve success.

17 Benefits of Constant Contact Designed and priced for small and mid-sized organizations Easy to use, self explanatory, great customer service Effective technologies, training & workshops Affordable, non profit discounts. Subscriptions as low as $15 a month for use by whole school not just admissions Web-based, software as a service Allows use from home, office, school Enables multiple staff to use concurrently No need to upgrade software Major features: List management and image hosting 130+ customizable templates Real-time reporting Sign up and more info at: PEJE uses Constant Contact for all its e-newsletters and highly recommends it view examples of PEJE e-newsletters at

18 Constant Contact Formats Newsletters Frequency: monthly / quarterly Lots of educational content (typically non-promotional) Promotions Frequency: bi-weekly / monthly Focus on promotion / limited content 2, 4, 6 product promotions, coupons Announcements Frequency: event driven Promotional or educational with targeted message Invitations, open houses, special events

19 Discussion: What does a graphic, professional looking e-newsletter say to a prospective family about your school, as compared with a plain text ? How does this serve you in your work to recruit new families to your school?

20 Examples of Graphic Consistency Website E-Newsletter

21 Frequency and Delivery Objective: maximum impact / minimum intrusion How often to send Create a schedule and be regular. This applies both weekly/monthly and may vary seasonally for you. Communicate schedule and privacy when collecting addresses. Include frequency in online sign-up Monthly Newsletter Coordinate all types of ing and snail mailings for maximum impact Newsletters (monthly / quarterly) Announcements / Event Invitations (as needed) When to send When is your audience most likely to read it? Day of week (Tuesday & Wednesday) Time of day (10am to 3pm) Test, test, test and revise to improve results.

22 Open Rates for E-Newsletters Averages. Your results may vary. Test days and times. Good results for synagogues sending to their members is around 40-45%. Need your help to learn important variables for schools (especially admissions) and what can be expected and successful results. Day Tuesday or Wednesday Time 11:00 AM -12:30 PM Open % 50-62% Thursday 3:30 PM 34-44% Friday 9:30 AM 18%

23 Get Your Opened and Read The From line Use a name the recipient will recognize Include your company name or brand The clearer the better The shorter the better Be consistent 60% of consumers say the "from" line most often determines whether they open an or delete it. Source: DoubleClick The Subject Line Keep it short and simple You have 3 seconds or less characters including spaces 5-8 words Incorporate a specific benefit Include your brand Capitalize and punctuate carefully Test and share your knowledge with us! The Body Headlines, teasers and links to the site Keep it brief - users don t read a lot of text in s, and will turn off (delete) quickly if it feels like too much Drive traffic to your site with links to web site for full article or more info this means your website must be kept updated Make clear section headlines to help users navigate Use photos - keep them small and wrap text around them Keep above the fold rule in mind

24 Evaluating Your Results What influences open rates? Why do s bounce? addresses are no longer valid Servers are down Mailboxes are full is blocked Look at what people click on -- what are they interested in? Clean invalid addresses out of your list Contact those who have bounced or blocked s to improve rates

25 Questions and Comments? What is your experience? Challenges? Successes to share? Questions? What next steps would help you?

26 Thanks for participating! For members of the Admission Community of Practice, please continue the conversation and share examples of your work on the COP Listserv. For our special guests today, we re glad you joined us! Questions or comments? Contact Admission COP Facilitator, Rebecca Egolf, at

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