This month’s blog update focuses on email marketing and a review of one of our favourite online web-based email marketing systems, MailChimp.

Email marketing is probably one of the most effective ways for a school to communicate with all of its different audiences. Students, parents, staff, alumni, community groups and prospective students/parents all need regular, clear and professional communication; whether that includes mailings to students to promote clubs/activities, training and development news for staff, or a regular newsletter to parents/guardians.

Clearly there are many low cost (often free), effective online email marketing services on the market to support schools, but we’ve chosen to narrow this blog review to MailChimp, highlighting what we see as its benefits and offering guidance for its employment within the school marketing mix.

Firstly, how does MailChimp and My School Portal work together?

My School Portal is an integrated system that manages data and communications in a secure and easy way. As you would expect MailChimp has the ability to connect school’s data with MailChimp to ensure that the administration of audience groups is easy and efficient. MailChimp handles subscriber preferences to ensure adherence to privacy legislation which can then be updated automatically to ensure everything is up to date.

So, what are the benefits of using MailChimp?

1. It saves precious staff time. It automatically updates and cleanses subscription emails and makes it really easy to send targeted mailings to different audiences.

2. Simple design engenders great functionality. It gives users the choice to include their school branding within professionally designed templates or if preferred, to create bespoke templates. Companies such as Email Monks offer very cost effective template design and coding services compatible with MailChimp.

3. Effective data capture. With sign-up forms embedded in school websites it captures key contact details and seamlessly adds these to the database, allowing visitors to receive scheduled and un-scheduled school updates.

4. Low cost social media advertising. For schools that are harnessing social media as a way of engaging with parents, MailChimp can create ads on Facebook and Instagram that link directly with the social media channel, making it easy to build a campaign with no additional cost. Find out more here

5. Automated, timely and targeted. Schools can enhance their marketing function with MailChimp’s pre-planned, automated communications, resulting in reduced administration time, stronger communications and relationships with different audiences. Email automation might mean wishing students a happy birthday, sending term date reminders or a welcome email before an open day / school visit.

6. Automatic email blog posts. Schools that actively blog might be interested in MailChimp’s RSS campaign feature which automatically emails new blog posts out to a subscribed audience. Schools can create their own RSS template and control frequency of posts sent daily, weekly, or monthly. Click here for more details.

7. Guaranteed delivery. MailChimp’s status as an approved bulk mailer means schools can send emails to an unlimited number of recipients at one time; unlike most email services and Internet service providers who limit the number of emails sent at one time to prevent spamming.

8. Improved analysis and reporting. Reporting is made easy with MailChimp. Real time reports show numbers of emails delivered, if they were opened, what stories were most popular and a host of other useful information to help gauge what different audience groups are interested in. This intelligence helps schools see the reach and potential impact of marketing efforts.

9. GDPR ready. It’s important to remember that email marketing is about to change when the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) comes into force in May 2018. Schools using email marketing to send out mailshots need to ensure that each and every one of their contacts have opted in. MailChimp has published the following guide which sets out what they are doing as an organisation to ensure compliance, and also what their customers can do. Find out more here.

10. MailChimp is FREE (!) depending on the volume of mail sent. MailChimp is free for users that have less than 2000 subscribers and who send less than 2000 emails per month. However, with more than 2000 subscribers the pricing is still very competitive.

Summary

While there are many user-friendly email marketing tools out there, we like MailChimp’s simple easy to use interface, its ability to connect to other systems such as WordPress and it’s free to low cost pricing structure.

To talk to one of our specialists about moving your School’s email communications up a notch please give us a call so we can help you get things moving.