As program leader, you are pulled in many directions. From planning curriculum to meeting stakeholders to overseeing program operations, there are hardly enough hours in the day to complete your to-do list. One task that takes a large chunk of your time - but doesn’t have to - is program communication.
Whether you’re sending program information to newly registered families, delivering thank-you notes or distributing your weekly newsletter, there should be a way to streamline communication and automate much of the process to save you valuable time. That’s where email marketing comes in.
How to Use Email Marketing to Streamline Program Communication
1. Automate Standard Emails
Certain processes and procedures are standard in your program. For example, when a new student enrolls, there are specific forms that need to be signed and pertinent information that needs to be shared. With a special feature called marketing automation, you can create a series of emails in advance (in your email marketing platform) and send them automatically when a new family joins the program.
Here’s an example of how it works. You’ve created three standard emails in advance for new families: one that welcomes them to your program, one that includes forms and program information and another that shares the program rules and schedule. Through your email tool, you simply have to add the family’s contact information to a particular list, and they’ll automatically receive the emails in their inbox. If you want to spread the emails out over the course of three days, you can do that, too!
2. Send Emails in Bulk
Another perk of using email marketing is the ability to send the same email to a number of people. Using email rather than physical flyers, for example, will certainly save you time and paper. You simply create an email once, add your recipients and hit “Send.” The number of recipients you can add depends on the tool that you use. Gmail, a free email service, has a limit of 500, which should be more than enough for your program communication needs.
Another added benefit is the ability to personalize each email, even when you send them in bulk. While this feature is only available with some email marketing tools, it allows you to add identifying information - like a parent or child’s name - to the email. Most tools use something called tags, and when added to the email content, the tool replaces the tag with information from the contact’s profile. For example, if you type “We’re happy to have [child’s name] in our program!” the tool will replace the tag [child’s name] with the appropriate name. It’s a simple way to make your families feel recognized and valued.
3. Schedule Emails in Advance
Being able to schedule emails in advance is a definite time-saver for program leaders. Instead of creating and sending emails in the moment, email marketing tools allow you to create them in advance and deliver them on the day and time you select. This is particularly helpful if you distribute a parent newsletter each week. It also allows you to check for any errors, misspelled words or incorrect information, which can affect others’ perception of your program.
4. Store Important Contact Information
Most email marketing tools allow you to save your contacts’ information, making program communication quicker and easier. But it goes beyond basic information, like name, home address, phone number and email address. With some tools, you can save enrollment dates, birthdays, special interests and more. Having this information stored allows you to send emails recognizing birthdays, enrollment anniversaries and events or holidays that are meaningful to families - all without extra effort on your part. These small gestures can help you foster community and personal connections with families and students.
5. Use Pre-Designed Email Templates
Don’t waste time making your emails look “pretty.” Many email marketing tools provide a range of templates that you can use to share program information. You can find templates that are perfect for quick announcements, program newsletters and even student spotlights. Many of the tools use drag-and-drop elements, allowing you to easily add images, sections, headings, dividers and more to your email with just a click. This saves you time and ensures your emails reflect the quality of your program.
6. Invite Additional Users
Need to save even more time? With most email marketing tools, you can add more than one user to the account. This allows you to delegate the creation and delivery of program information to another staff member. You can simply monitor emails and make sure they’re up to your standard before they’re delivered. Or you can hand the task over completely.
5 Free Email Marketing Tools for Your Afterschool Program
To help you get started with email marketing, we’ve shared a list of free tools to try below. Many of the tools are free up to a certain number of subscribers (contacts) and then charge a fee once you reach that limit. Review each option to see which tool is best for your program’s needs.
- Gmail: It’s important to note that Gmail is an email service, not an email marketing tool, but it provides a few of the features mentioned above.
- Mailchimp: This tool is free up to 2,000 subscribers and provides a range of offerings, including email, marketing automation and advertising.
- Mailerlite: This tool simplifies email marketing and it’s free up to 1,000 subscribers and 12,000 emails per month.
- SendPulse: Similar to other tools, it provides email, automation and personalization, and it’s free up to 2,500 subscribers and 15,000 emails.
- Mailjet: The free plan gives you 6,000 emails and access to many of the tool’s main features.
Your time is valuable, and program communication is one less task you have to worry about thanks to email marketing. Consider the many ways it can simplify communication with families, staff members and other stakeholders. Then choose one of the free email marketing tools above to begin saving time and automating communication in your afterschool program.