As a marketing professional, I am frequently faced with questions from school principals concerning the validity of the school enewsletter. School principals want to know if this is a worthwhile communication tool. Is it working? Are people reading it?
I would argue that if you don’t know whether or not your current parents are reading your school newsletter; how much time they spend reading it; and which articles are of most interest to them — then you’re doing it wrong.
There are a plethora of email marketing tools available that can provide you with valuable analytics that can not only tell you if your newsletter is working but can also provide you with information that will guide you to create more effective content that is relevant to your readers.
The key idea behind developing effective enewsletters is relevance. If your content does not interest your readers it will be ignored. In my experience, 90 percent of all school newsletters that I have come across are not serving their primary communication purpose.
The biggest mistake that many schools make is to utilise the newsletter as a marketing tool. It’s not. The number one objective of any school newsletter is to inform. Parents want to know what is happening at the school — relevant to their child/ren.
I’m a stickler for guidelines and protocols. So, here’s my top ‘rules’ for creating newsletter content that will provide real value to your readers:
- No flowery, verbose text. Get straight to the point, only providing factual information that parents need to know — where, what, when, how and if it’s necessary … why.
- Avoid heavy blocks of content. Research shows that online users do not ‘read’ content — they scan it. With this in mind, bullet points are always best and certainly no more than a few one-sentence paragraphs should be included.
- Avoid reflective news articles. The newsletter is not the place to report on past events — do this on your school’s website and in the magazine. You can always provide a ‘Latest News’ link in each issue that redirects readers to the news section of your website.
- If you feel the need to highlight student achievements, have strict guidelines in place about which achievements will be published. I would suggest regional, state, national and international level recognition only.
- Always consider your audience. Consider whether or not each article is useful, informative and relevant to parents.
- Break the newsletter up into categories so that parents can easily click through to sections that are relevant to them.
- Frequency is important — set rules about how many issues an article can be published in. I would suggest that if readers are faced with an article any more than two consecutive weeks, it starts to become irrelevant.
- Use images and blocks of colour to break up the text and provide visual breaks for readers. Research shows social media posts that include a photo receive more attention than simple text-based posts.
- Review your newsletter analytics after each issue and provide feedback to content contributors so that you can make improvements. If an article is not being read then someone needs to know about it.
- Proofread! Twice! By two different people. You are an education institution. Parents will be concerned if they spot errors and spelling mistakes.
Content aside, it’s also really important to think about how your newsletter is likely to be delivered and read. As a working parent to two school-aged children, I would really appreciate being able read the school newsletter on my mobile phone. But I can’t because my school newsletter is not mobile phone friendly. And this really irritates me — sometimes to the point where I just can’t be bothered trudging upstairs to read it on my desktop computer and so I rely on word-of-mouth from other school parents. While this is clearly a first-world problem, I would bet I’m not the only one. Parents are time-poor, be kind to them.
Here are some more blogs on enewsletters which might be of interest to you.
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This blog was written by Shelley Garcia-Webb
As a Senior Account Manager, Shelley oversees the corporate communications for a large portfolio of clients. She has a strong reputation as a dedicated marketing professional with a keen eye for detail. When she’s not writing creative copy or juggling multiple projects she can be found obsessing about food, dreaming about outdoor adventures and travel and dancing to live music … especially The Cat Empire.