The best month to market to schools? It’s not what you’d expect…
When we talk about the best time to market to schools, we often focus on the best day of the week and best time of day to send your email marketing campaigns.
Our current statistics tell us that, on average, Wednesdays and Thursdays between the times of 10am and 12 noon see email marketing campaigns achieve the best engagement rates.
So does this mean that a Wednesday morning in February will see the same engagement as an email sent at the same time on a Wednesday in October? Or are there certain times of the year when schools email marketing campaigns see better results?
To find an answer to this, I analysed all of our client’s email campaign statistics from 2017. And whilst the results do show some difference in engagement rates throughout the year, it might surprise you…
When is the best month to market to schools?
If you’d have asked me a year ago if any time of year sees a drop in schools and teacher’s engagement rates, I’d have gone for during the school summer holidays. Schools are closed in August so there’s no point marketing to schools during this time – obvious!
Well, actually no – it turns out I was wrong. Looking at all of the statistics for our 2017 email marketing campaigns, August was actually the third best month in terms of both open rates and click through rates.
But how can this be when schools are closed? We know that teachers do spend time over the summer planning and preparing for the new term. I recently carried out a survey of UK school teachers and 86% of them told me that they regularly check their emails during school holidays. Why? It’s a great time for teachers to work on new ideas without the distraction of teaching, marking and playground duty! Because they have a bit more time to read emails and follow up on things of interest, we usually see a good engagement rate during this month.
We also know that 70% of teachers have access to a smartphone or tablet to check their emails, so being in school is not a necessity to reading an email.
So does this mean everyone should run their marketing to schools campaigns in August?
Well, let’s take a look at some of the other statistics from 2017 first:
Here we see that May saw the highest open rates of the year. March and April saw a slight drop in open rates (possibly due to long school Easter breaks) but click rates remained around average. December saw the second highest click rate, and despite split half term weeks in October where schools were closed for a variety of weeks across the whole month, we saw some good results.
Overall, we found that November was the most successful month with the highest click through rate and the second highest open rate.
So does this then mean everyone should run their marketing to schools campaigns in November? Well, no, not necessarily.
We can’t just focus on the statistics…
Whilst it’s interesting to look at the variations in engagement rates throughout the year, it’s even more important to think about your product or service.
Think about: Is your marketing campaign date specific? Is your product or service seasonal? Can it be used all year round? Does it require a large financial investment?
We can also take a look at the school year and, where appropriate, plan marketing campaigns around key events:
The Financial Year
The new financial year in April is a key time for most UK schools. Many schools will spend the months leading up to this using up any remaining budget – if they don’t spend up, they risk receiving a smaller budget for the next year.
Senior leaders will also be planning for the next financial year. According to our recent surveys, head teachers and business managers start planning for the new financial year at least three months in advance. This means the period from January to April is a key time to raise your brand awareness with senior decision makers who are making big plans for the coming months. If your product or service requires a larger financial investment, this time is crucial as it allows decision makers to allocate larger spends in advance.
Click the images below to read more about School Spending and How Schools Buy
Don’t forget, the financial year for Academy Schools begins in September so the three months leading up to this are a key time for marketing to academies. Take a look at our Academy Schools Marketing Plans for some ideas about how you can get your brand into academy schools.
Results days are exciting and busy days, and also days when all teachers are guaranteed to be in school. In between congratulating their pupils and supporting them with their decisions, teachers often use these days to catch-up on emails and admin before the start of the new term.
Read about how we help Swansea University with their annual Clearing Campaign which includes successful Results Day email marketing campaigns.
As we’ve already learned, school holidays can be a good time to start building your brand awareness with teachers when they have more time to spend reading and interacting with your emails. That said, we do see a variation in engagement rates during the different school holidays so it’s worth chatting to our campaign team to see what they recommend specifically for you.
So what’s the answer?
So after looking at the statistics from 2017, and identifying the key school dates coming up in 2018, how do we use this information to decide when to send your campaign?
Well, after all that digging and analysing our 2017 statistics, I’m actually going to say don’t focus too much on these! Yes, email marketing success rates do vary from day to day and month to month, and our team will always advise you on the current trends. However, engagement rates also vary from campaign to campaign.
The key? Focus on your own campaign
Rather than focussing on what the current trends say are the best day, time or month to run email marketing campaigns, you need to prioritise your own product or service above all. Here are a few tips on how to do this:
01. Understand your audience.
Think carefully about which teachers and decision makers are the right target for your campaign. School staff can be both influencers and purchasers so a multi-campaign approach, targeting different decision makers, can see great benefits.
See which teachers and decision makers you can choose from here.
02. Set clear aims for your campaign
Think about what the purpose of your campaign is – do you want teachers to sign up for something, download something? Understanding your product or service, and what your aim is, can really help to focus the content and timing of your campaign.
03. Think long term
If you’re just testing the water then a one-off campaign is ok, but if you really want to break into the schools market a long term campaign is the best strategy. It’s the best way to build your brand awareness in order to generate more leads and sales. Here’s how we ran a successful long term brand building campaign for Safeguard Systems.
04. Create a campaign that stands out
70% of teachers and decision makers receive five or more marketing emails into their inbox each day so it’s essential that your campaign stands out and interests them enough to engage with it. Read how investing in your content can increase engagement rates by 44%…
Once this is all done, maybe then take a look back at the statistics and key dates to see when the optimum day or time to send your campaign might be. Remember though, you need to have a great campaign in the first place in order to take advantage of those key trends.
Ultimately, the aim is to create a fantastic marketing campaign that will stand out and engage teachers and decision makers no matter what day, time or month it is!
Feel free to get in touch any time to discuss how you can create a great marketing to schools campaign.
I keep our clients up to date with the key information and education knowledge needed to plan a successful marketing to schools campaign – whether it’s our website, our blogs or our social media. Contact me at email@example.com