Several months ago, we looked at the seven simple steps to launching your own Christian school website. Now that you've had time to launch your own website, we're going to take a closer look at how your Christian school can use your website to reach a wider audience of current and potential parents and students. Of course, now that you have a website, you can now start to use email marketing!

Email Marketing, Defined

Email marketing is the promotion of a product or a service, in your Christian school's case. Don't confuse this with spam. Spam is the abuse of sending emails to unsolicited recipients in a mass mailing format. More simply, correct email marketing is obtaining email addresses legally through a subscription option and sending emails to those who are subscribed. Spamming is acquiring email address lists and sending emails to people without permission.

There are many styles of emails you can use, ranging from simple text to more advanced versions. No matter the type of email format you choose, each works the same. The goal is to reach your audience's inbox and have them open your email, then perform an action based on your message.

Of course, as a Christian school, you'll be advertising the service of a quality education and teachers, curriculum based on Christian worldview, and a safe learning environment. The first rule of marketing, no matter if you are making a flyer for your hallways, an email, or the most advanced of websites, is to know your audience and your purpose. Decide who you want to target (parents, students, or both), then gear your message around that with your promotional material, your voice to the community, and in every other marketing idea you decide to use.

Quality content that is helpful to your audience will generate more subscribers and grow the number of people to whom you can advertise. Referrals from parents who receive your emails and forward your email to a friend are a great way to grow your list. Plus, you can add your own advertisements to emails and eNewsletters and promote your school through discounts, special offers, testimonials, and scholarships.

More than sending quick announcements about school events or activities, email marketing involves reaching a wider audience with your valuable message and also utilizes currently enrolled families to send electronic or word-of-mouth referrals to friends and neighbors!

Five Reasons Why Your School Should Care

Why, after all, should your Christian school care about email marketing, much less implement it? Here are five proven, concrete reasons why you can and should do email marketing at your Christian school!

1. It's affordable.

Even though budget issues within Christian schools are a struggle, it's also important to remember that times are economically challenging for families wishing to enroll, too. To achieve results and stay within your budget, you need creative ways to spread the word, and email marketing does just that! Unlike direct mail, there are virtually no materials or postage costs to worry about. Plus, email is a preferred way of contact by many. There are many self-servicing solutions that allow you to eliminate costly creative costs as well, such as free email templates. Email marketing can cost as little as pennies per email, saving your school a bundle.

2. It's effective.

Email marketing lets your Christian school proactively connect with your community, including families who are already enrolled and those who could potentially enroll! Instead of waiting for families to come to you, email marketing allows you to directly message your audience and give them a link back to your website. Even more, email marketing allows you to target certain segments or your entire church congregation (if your school is affiliated with a church). In a recent survey by Forbes Media, email and eNewsletter marketing are considered the second-most effective tool for generating conversions (getting people to buy), just behind SEO. Email helps reach families and increase retention rates, while keeping your school on budget.

3. It's instant.

Email is the preferred method of communication in the digital world, where time and space are no longer barriers. Email responses are often immediate and much more reliable than direct mail. When you ask your reader to do an action within your email, like "click here" or "visit our website," the audience knows exactly what steps to perform and responses usually happen within hours or days of sending your email. Quick and instant, emails are the medium of choice for correspondence today. With self-service options, you can send out newsletters or emails in minutes. Emails save hours of time that you would've spent printing, stuffing, handing out or mailing letters or fliers!

4. It's measurable.

Email marketing is easily measured. Results are reported in terms of "opens" (those who opened your email), and "click through rates" (those who performed the action you asked your audience to do within the email). If you include links within your email to your website, a certain web page, or to your Facebook or Twitter groups, you'll be able to identify responses quite easily. Several web analytics sites, such as Google Analytics, can also track your website traffic for free; however, email tracking services can charge fees. The best choice for your school will be determined by your budget. Tracking emails will let you know your efforts are making progress and reaching your audience!

5. It's easy.

There are many email marketing services available for your Christian school! Most include professional, do-it-yourself email templates, along with tracking and reporting options. For you, an important decision will be what audience to target, then legally acquiring the correct email addresses to utilize. If you send emails to currently enrolled families, you most likely already have permission to use these, but if you want to email to new families, you will have to gain them by subscription via your website. A great option is to ask to add readers to subscribe to emails when they request info about your school or add a pop-up option to your website homepage. Don't forget to be patient! It takes some time to build your list if you're starting from scratch. Once you have acquired the information you need, you'll be able to send emails literally within minutes, saving time and effort!

Sharing the Good News

Without a doubt, email marketing has come a long way in reaching audiences, and you can put this 21st century technology to work for your Christian school at a fraction of the cost of direct mailings or printed pieces. Sharing news about your Christian school goes beyond just your doors and classrooms. Indeed, sharing information about your school is the first step in sharing the good news of God's truth! With email, you are unlimited in the possibilities for reaching others and connecting to potential and current families in your community. Be sure to read upcoming School Messenger articles that will also look more in-depth at how to pick audiences for your emails, how to create an effective email, and how to use emails to promote your website, blog, and social media.

As the Lord says in His Word in Matthew 16:15, "And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature." You can reach more families and students for your Christian school and save more souls for Christ. Your Christian school can embrace today's technology to connect with those around you. Get started today by praying and talking to your school administrators and faculty about email marketing. Finally, watch for upcoming articles on how to create your own Christian school email campaign.

Have questions on how you can use email to market your Christian school? Ask us! Leave a comment for us below.