The three types of email reader and how to target them all!

What is the main driving force behind any marketing email?

Every one of our clients has a different goal when marketing to schools, but every email should have one important thing in common: The Call to Action.

When I say those words, what image does it conjure in your mind? A colourful button with large text saying ‘Click Here’ or something similar? This has been the mainstay of marketing emails for a very long time, and is the method we are most consciously aware of.

There is more to call to actions than buttons…

Despite the fact that we’re seeing an upturn in popularity of more simple email designs when marketing to schools, the humble button still has its place. An analysis of campaigns sent over the past six months showed that 40% of the time, the hottest area for clicks was the call to action button.

But that leaves 60% of emails where the button didn’t win out. So where were people clicking in those campaigns? In those examples, it was the more subtle calls to action which won out over the direct approach. Hyperlinks on key text won in 39% of emails, and the company logo was most popular in 16%.


While this is fascinating in itself, the really important question is ‘Why?

What makes people click on the button in one email, and the logo in another?

There are a few factors at play, of course. Familiarity with the brand, the text on the button, the quality and length of the copy, and many other factors all contribute to where people focus their attention. However, we noticed that in some cases, the heat maps of seemingly identical emails were showing vastly different results.

We wondered if these hot spots then, were merely a product of chance. And then we spotted an interesting pattern.

The difference seemed to be the audience. And not only were different audiences behaving differently from one another, they were behaving consistently within their own ‘categories’.

Different job roles click on different calls to action

One of the quirks of marketing to schools is the fact that you often need to target various teachers and decision makers at once. Introduce the product to the end user (often a teacher or head of department) to get them excited about using it. Send an email to the decision maker (often the head or deputy head – if you need advice on who this would be for your needs, just ask). And don’t forget the business manager, who manages the school finances.

Frequently in email marketing, you’ll target a single job role, but this is often not the case when marketing to schools. And the reason this is significant is that we have seen clear patterns of behaviour among different job roles.

We’ve discovered that when reading a marketing email, there are three typical types of ‘clickers’.

Let me introduce you to each of them:


Meet Mrs Brown. She’s an Art Teacher at Milltown Academy. She loves teaching, and her priority is giving her students the best possible opportunities to be creative, and to instil in them a love of art. She recently received a marketing email promoting new resources, which she feels would benefit her students. She clicked the main call to action button which said ‘Get your free sample’.




Mr Cash is the Business Manager. His primary concern is the school finances. He is a naturally cautious man; when he sees the email, he is resistant to being told what to do, so he steers clear of the buttons. He is, however, interested in a paragraph in the email regarding the cost saving benefits of the resources. This text is linked to a relevant web page. When he clicks through, he is able to find out more about the offering and make an informed decision.



Mr Smith is the Head Teacher at Milltown Academy. He also received the email. He gets a lot of marketing emails, and so he’s the toughest audience. He ignores both the buttons, and the more subtle text links. Instead, he decides he wants to learn more about the company behind the resources. So he clicks the company logo and goes through to the home page to do his own research.


I know this is a largely simplistic view, but when we sent out a segmented campaign to these three audiences recently, over 90% of each group behaved in precisely this manner.

So what does this mean?

There are two important points to take away from this.

Firstly, when planning your marketing to schools strategy, you should build emails which provide opportunities for all three types of clicker to find their way to your website.

And secondly, keeping the motivation behind the clicks in mind, make sure you choose your landing pages carefully; the button clickers are more impulsive, and more ready to be sold to. Take them to a page which takes advantage of this. The text clickers are more cautious. They want to know more, so give them the confidence they need to proceed. And your logo clickers are looking for information about you. So present your best side, and show them why they should want to work with you.

With over 20 years’ experience in marketing to schools, we can help you to create an email that will work – read more about our email copywriting and email design services.

So, are you ready to start creating your next marketing to schools campaign? Get in touch now to find out how we can help you to get it right!



Sarah Jackson

Email Campaign Manager

I work closely with our clients to manage their email marketing campaigns. If you don’t know your pre-header from your call to action, your A/B test from your autoresponder, I am here to help. Contact me at

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