How to effectively communicate with parents

Effectively communicating with parents has always been important, but it’s now more crucial than ever. Due to Covid-19, parents are extra worried about health and safety, and may have questions about the ‘new normal’ we are all facing.

Both day and boarding schools should always keep parents informed about everything that’s going on, whether it affects the whole school or just their individual child.

But how do you address these concerns and communicate well, even if the parents are based internationally? Here are Digithrive for Schools' top tips for communicating with parents in the current climate.

Top tips: Communicating with UK-based and international parents

Post on social media

Posting regularly on your school’s social media channels is a great way to communicate with prospective parents. As it is a public medium, social media is the place to shout about your school’s achievements, whether it’s excellent exam results, an exciting project or a sporting victory. Social media scheduling programmes like Hootsuite are incredibly useful, as you can bulk schedule content in advance and choose the exact time and date for it to be posted. 

Keep your school’s profiles looking professional with sharp images that are in-line with your school branding. That doesn’t mean you can’t post candid moments, but make sure that they are taken with a good quality camera. Encourage parents to follow your social media accounts and post at least 2-3 times a week, and soon enough you will have built an online community that adds an extra dimension to your school’s communications.

It is also important to create a private Facebook group for parents, as not everyone is comfortable with images of their child being shared publicly on social media. A private Facebook group provides parents with a safe, discreet place to communicate with each other and staff. You have the ability to approve who joins the group, to make sure they are actually a current parent. This adds an extra level of security and allows you to freely post information that you only want parents to know, as well as more candid, casual images and videos of children.

Send email newsletters

Social media is fantastic, but email newsletters should not be overlooked. Not all parents have social media, and you don’t want them to miss out on important announcements. Plus, social media is better for visual, snappy and informal content, whereas emails are better for longer, more detailed and formal content. Both are key to successful communication.

You should have a school email newsletter that you send out to parents at least every month (if you don’t, read this). It may include a note from the Head, extra-curricular news, dates for the diary and other important information. 

Segmenting data is extremely important for school mailing lists. By dividing your newsletter subscribers into categories, for example by year group, you can send them personalised emails that are relevant to them. For instance, while parents of year 11 pupils should be kept up-to-date with the latest GCSEs news (e.g. coursework deadlines and revision clubs), this wouldn’t be relevant for year 8 parents.

Frequently update the website

Your school website will often be the first port-of-call that prospective and current parents alike turn to for information. Make sure the site is regularly updated and accurate so parents are clear on everything they need to know, from how to contact the school to upcoming open days.

You should also have a school blog or news section on your website. This doesn't have to create a lot of extra work for you - after sending out your email newsletters, you can repurpose the newsletter content on your school website, which allows prospective parents to see the impressive news too.

Schedule digital meetings

Due to the Coronavirus pandemic, teachers and parents are not able to communicate in-person in the manner that they used to, for example open days are now mostly either private tours or virtual open days. 

Hosting regular virtual meetings between school staff and parents is a great way to keep them up to date with their child’s schooling and address any questions and concerns they may have. Both group meetings, where the Head or another senior staff member addresses lots of parents, and one-on-one meetings to discuss individual grades and progress, are an effective way to communicate during the pandemic, particularly with parents who are overseas.

After the meeting, send an automated follow-up email thanking them for their time and check if they have any further comments or questions.

Listen to feedback from parents

It’s important to give parents a chance to have their voices heard. Read our guide to online review management for schools and how to increase good online reviews for more. Not only will good online reviews improve your search engine rankings, but it shows parents that you are open to feedback.

All reviews and comments, both online and offline, should be listened to and treated with respect. Rather than making excuses, or trying to change the parent’s mind, show that you have taken their comments on board and that the school will take steps to justify the matter, or at the very least, discuss it.

To find out more about how Digithrive can help with your school’s communication, book a consultation now.


Email remarketing

How to re-engage old Open Day leads

You’ve done the bulk of the hard work - raised the level of awareness surrounding your school and attracted prospective parents and students. But now they’ve dropped off the grid entirely. 

This could be due to a number of reasons; the initial impact of Covid-19 and the time restrictions brought on by homeschooling, parents assuming your Open Days are now cancelled, or those that merely couldn’t make the last date you had in the diary pre-lockdown.

Reengaging with old leads via email remarketing is one of the simplest and most effective ways to boost leads for your now virtual open days.  Here are Digithrive for Schools' top tips to help you achieve new admissions through email remarketing. 

Email Remarketing: How to engage old leads

Utilise your Data (Cookies)

For email remarketing campaigns to be successful, you will need a browser cookie installed on your website. This cookie will monitor your site visitor’s experience and collect information on them. For instance, by using cookies you will be able to understand which Open Day your prospective parent was initially interested in attending, as well the factors they cared most about, whether it be your school’s academic achievements, school facilities or fees. This is all done by tracking the pages visited on your website. 

Automated Email Sequences 

Once you’ve collected this data, utilise it by segmenting your audiences into relevant categories, for instance academic year groups or day/boarding, then send them highly bespoke automated sequence email campaigns that provide answers to your prospective parents’ questions. As the sequence is automated, it creates multiple touch-points with the perspective parent and guides them down the sales funnel. Not only will this majorly increase your chances of conversion, it’s a relatively low cost digital marketing approach as it utilises the CMS you should already have in place. 

We use Hubspot and highly recommend it for setting up sequential email marketing campaigns.

Remember, it's not only website visitors who haven’t made direct contact that you can add to email remarketing campaigns. What about those parents who have contacted you via telephone, contact forms or school events, but haven’t taken the next step? Or what about those who have previously signed up to an Open Day but were unable to attend?

For example, if someone doesn’t attend an Open Day, you can send them a ‘Sorry we missed you’ email with details of the next one. Then once they've signed up, you can send them a second email can be your prospectus and vital information about the school that parents need.

Less is more 

Within your email, keep the information relevant and concise. To help parents take the action you want them to, you need to be specific. If they were looking at an Open Day for Sixth Form, don't mention other year groups in your email, only the dates of the upcoming Virtual Open Day for Sixth Form.

Make sure you include a clear CTA button that takes them to a sign up form (landing page) . Keep this specific to the event and easy to fill in and easy to navigate. 

Give options

Not only has the Coronavirus pandemic changed the way schools conduct open days, but it has also changed the behaviour in prospective parents when researching and considering schools. Some may dread the thought of attending an open day and feel most comfortable on a one to one zoom call with the Head or Q&A with the admissions officer. Whilst others maybe less risk adverse and simply couldn't select a school without experiencing a physical tour and talk. 

With our current campaigns, we have found giving three options work best for parents, with mixed results per event per school. These include:

  • A pre recorded tour of the School
  • Personalised Q&A session (via Zoom)
  • 1-2-1 Zoom interview with your Headteacher. 
  • 360 Tours of the school (if you have the time and resources)

Reset & Repeat

Another advantage of using email remarketing is once you’ve created these sequences, you can easily reproduce these campaigns and create an automated funnel for prospective parents going forward and open events in the future. This can easily be done by creating a ‘trigger’, that automatically enters parents into a remarketing funnel once they’ve taken a specific action on your website.

To read more of our guides for schools, click here.

Digithrive for schools

Create a school email newsletter parents will actually read

School email newsletters are a brilliant way to communicate with parents, share school news and success stories and move prospects further along in the journey towards enrolment. However, if they’re not executed well, email newsletters can be boring and clog up inboxes, leaving a negative impression rather than a positive one. Here are Digithrive's top tips on creating a school email newsletter that parents will actually want to read.

How to create a brilliant school email newsletter

Keep it focused

Decide what your email newsletter is going to be about. For example, is it...

  • School news for current parents (Sporting successes, information on inset days etc.)
  • Editorial content (Interviews with members of staff, articles from the school magazine etc.)
  • Attracting prospects (Promoting open days, sharing positive exam results etc.)

You can’t do all of these things in one newsletter. Keep it simple. If you have to, create multiple newsletters for different audiences. Current parents don’t want know about upcoming open days and likewise, prospective parents don’t want to know about upcoming parent-teacher evenings. Year 8 parents don't want to hear about GCSE revision clubs (yet), but that's something useful to let year 11 parents know about.

You can do this by segmenting data - splitting your email subscribers into different groups, and sending them personalised content.

This means that each email is targeted to them and includes useful information about their child's schooling rather than clog up their inbox with content they won't read.

Design is everything

As well as having great content, your newsletter should be visually appealing. Make it simple and use your school’s colours to keep it in line with your visual identity. Also bear in mind whether the majority of people will be viewing the email on a smartphone or desktop computer, and adjust your design accordingly. Don’t forget to include social media buttons so readers can easily click through to your channels.

Don’t go overboard with promotion

The majority of your newsletter should be informative and provide value to your readers. They are far more likely to click on a link that looks interesting or entertaining than a button that says ‘Click here to view our website’. Keep promotional content to around 10% of your newsletter, perhaps with a banner at the middle or end. Too much promotional content can feel like spam and be offputting.

We hope you enjoyed our tips for creating a school newsletter that will engage your subscribers.

digithrive for schools

how to use email marketing to boost school admissions

3 clever emails to increase open day attendees and admissions

There are two main reasons why schools must send emails to their contacts. Firstly, to update current or prospective parents and pupils on key event dates, and secondly, to move prospects further along the customer journey towards enrolment. While other types of content such as social media and blogging are important too, emails remains highly effective, allowing you to personalise the content depending on who (which persona group) is set to receive it. Here are three clever emails to send to increase open day attendees and admissions for your school.

A foreword

The way to ensure you are sending the right content to the right people is to collect the correct information through sign-up forms. This is an easy way to see what kind of content each person is interested in receiving. Make sure you ask: ‘Are you a pupil,  student or parent?’ and: ‘Do you already attend the school?’. It is important to not ask too many questions on form fills (this leads to reduced conversion rates) but rather to focus on asking the right questions. For more advice on creating effective forms for conversions, read our guide about questions you should ask on forms.

Once you have effective form fills, you can use them to segment your contact list and send appropriate emails to each group. For the purposes of this blog, we will be focusing on three effective emails to send to prospects.

1. Informative resources

These emails are ideal for prospective students and parents who are early on in their journey to signing up to your school and would benefit from more information on the syllabus, course material and subjects offered. Advice-led content such as 'How to choose the right prep school for my child' will be relevant here.  You should also think about downloadable content such as ‘Choosing a Prep School: FAQs,’ and include information about financial aid initiatives, bursaries and scholarships.

If you know that a student has spent a lot of time on your drama and theatre page, then sending them some links to videos of previous shows or details of past productions will be relevant. If a prospective parent has shown interest in your alumni page, they may be looking to see what kind of opportunities your school will create for their child. Send them a link to an article about your students’ acceptance rate at Russell Group universities, or you could even send them research written and conducted by your alumni. These emails are great for prospects who are at the top of your funnel, answering questions they may already have in their mind, or even questions they didn’t know they had –  and thus pushing them further down the funnel.

Here's an example:

2. Pre-event: emails to increase virtual open day show rates 

If a prospective parent or student has already signed up to attend your virtual open day, then reminder emails are a great way of increasing show rates. Not only are you reminding them of the date, but you can also send useful content that may further persuade them to attend. Here are some examples of emails you should send before your virtual open day:

  • Confirmation email to thank them for signing up to our virtual open day - this confirms their place and makes things feel official. Don’t forget to include a link, such as your zoom link,  to the event here too.
  • Save The Date links to their online calendars - this ensures they won’t forget about the event.
  • Attach digital versions of your prospectus.
  • Video greetings from the Head - a simple video from the Head saying, "we look forward to seeing you at our virtual open day event" can be extremely powerful, especially if they have the time to personalise it for each attendee.
  • Invite people to send in their questions - in this email, make it clear that questions sent in will be answered at your virtual open day - this is likely to boost attendance rates of those who asked questions.
  • Event agenda and checklist - having a clear agenda encourages attendance and sets expectations. Provide a list of everything that will be discussed at the event to be sent a day or two in advance, along with a link to access it. 

Here's an example:

3. Post-event emails to increase admission rates

Post-virtual open day emails remind parents of the admissions deadline and give them a chance to send feedback. Encouraging parents to confirm their place in advance of the deadline is proven to boost admission rates, as well as helping you improve any further events. In addition, sending useful follow-up emails (automated sequences) about the process with ‘soft deadlines’ such as when to ask for references or when your children should begin preparing for entrance exams can also be very helpful and bring your school to the forefront of their mind. For  anyone who was unable to make the event, you may want to offer a private one-to-one zoom call. As prospects move further down the funnel, you may want to offer meetings with an admissions officer, head of year, subject teacher, the school board or even the headteacher.

Here are some ideas of post-event emails you can send:

  • Thanks for attending - include useful information such as deadlines, financial support info, links to admissions applications and prospectuses. You can also include a post-event survey here. 
  • Sorry we missed you - send this to those who didn't attend. Include a link with the recording, or invite them to join you on another day, whether it’s a personal call or another virtual open day event.

Final note

Make sure your email includes a call-to-action (CTA). Example CTAs include ‘book your place’, ‘find out more’ or ‘download our prospectus’. This strengthens the relationship  between your institution and the prospect and gives you further information on what kind of content they want to receive more of. If executed correctly, this should increase open day attendees and admissions.

We hope you found this article useful. To read more like this, click here.

If you would like to find out about our lead nurturing service to help you get increased open day attendees and admissions, book a free consultation.


3 emails to send to improve your admission rates

The purpose of schools sending emails to contacts is twofold: to update current/prospective parents and students on key event dates and to move prospects further down the journey to enrolment. While other forms of content such as social media and blogging are also important, email still remains special because you can personalise the content depending on who is receiving it.

A foreword

The way to ensure you are sending the right content to the right people is to collect the correct information through sign up forms. This is an easy way to see what kind of content each person is interested in receiving. Ensure to ask questions such as ‘are you a student or parent?’ or ‘do you already attend the school?’. It is important to not ask too many questions on form fills (as this leads to reduced conversion rates) but rather focus on asking the right questions. For advice on creating effective forms for conversion, get in touch here. 

Once you have effective form fills, you can use this to segment your contact list and send appropriate emails to each group. For the purposes of this article, we will be focusing on three effective emails to send to prospects, to eventually nurture them to conversion.

1. Informative resources

These are ideal for prospective students and parents who are early on in their journey to signing up to your school and who would benefit from more information on the syllabus/ course material/ and subjects offered as well as any financial aid or scholarships. For instance if you know a student has spent a lot of time on your drama and theatre page, then sending them some links to videos of previous shows, or details of plays covered in previous years may help to push them down the funnel and decide on enrolling to your school. If a prospective parent has shown interest in your alumni page, they may be looking to see what kind of opportunities attending the school will create for their child. Send them a link to an article about the acceptance rate of your students at Russell Group universities, or research written and conducted by your alumni. This is a great way to answer any questions they may have in their mind, or even questions they didn’t know they had, and will push them further down the funnel.

2. Lead nurturing emails with important dates

If a prospective parent has already signed up to attend your open days, then sending reminder emails before the day is very useful. Post open-day, sending information on relevant application closing dates or financial aid form submission dates is handy and subtly encourages prospects to make a decision. An email encouraging them to confirm their place before the deadline is proven to boost admission rates. In addition, sending useful emails about the process with ‘soft deadlines’ such as when to ask for references or when your children should begin preparing for entrance exams can also be very helpful and bring your school to the forefront of their mind when they inevitably begin preparations. Finally, engage prospective students/parents by getting a copy of your student activities calendar and sending them dates of key events to give them a feel of the school. Invite them along to watch a sports game, theatre performance or attend an open lecture/ taster day. This is a great way to make people feel included and a part of the school’s community even before they sign up. 

We provide a full lead nurturing service to turn prospects into real admissions. To find out more, get in touch.

3. Opportunities to connect

Finally, make a list of all the direct face-to-face contact points you offer and categorise them by journey phase. You can start by considering all the ways prospective students can interact with staff members, current students and alumni. You can send them an invitation to a taster day or a weekend programme, or simply let them know they can call you if they have any questions. For prospective parents, you may want to offer signing up to a private tour for those who cannot make it to open days. As prospects move further down the funnel, you may want to offer meetings with an admissions officer, head of year, subject teacher the school board or even the headteacher. Applicants who have been accepted can get offers to meet with a student mentor or form tutor. This is a great way to keep all prospects engaged, no matter what stage they are at in the funnel. 

Final note

Whatever the topic of your email, make sure it includes a call-to-action (CTA). Example CTAs could include ‘book a tour’, ‘find out more’ or ‘download our prospectus’. This tightens the relationship between your institution and the prospect and gives you further information on what kind of content they want to receive more of.

We hope you found this article useful. To read more like this, click here.

If you would like to see how Digithrive can help your school get more admissions, book a free consultation.