Email marketing to millennials: The ultimate guide to reach busy parents in seconds
by Shanxi Omoniyi, Online Content Director, Midwest Parent Educators • July 24, 2020
When you think about 21st-century communication, the first example that comes to mind probably isn’t email. But don’t underestimate the power of the digital inbox!
Even in 2020, the rate of email users is growing and continues to grow. There were 3.8 billion users in 2018, and that number is expected to reach 4.4 billion in 2023. Email marketing also provides a much better return on investment than other marketing channels—for each $1 spent, an estimated $44 is generated. (See this UpViral article for more information.)
So how can you go about maximizing this amazing channel for your homeschooling organization? Let’s start with the big picture.
Organize your email list. This step will inform the rest of your email marketing. Many email platforms charge based on the number of mailing lists you create, even if the same people are included on different lists. For example, say you have a member email list and a volunteer email list. However, Sarah Smith is on both: she’s a member of your organization, but she’s also a volunteer. Instead of creating duplicate lists and getting charged twice to email Sarah once, create a master email list (you can call it Homeschool Organization X’s Master List, or something more creative) and then create segmented lists from there. Brainstorm the kinds of recipients you interact with most frequently: for example, members, volunteers, donors, attendees at specific events, and prayer partners. Ideally, you’ll also segment your email subscribers based on the ages they’re homeschooling: preschool, elementary, middle school, and high school.
(Re)set expectations regarding open rates and click-through rates. My mom once said she was concerned that “only a few” people were opening her homeschool newsletters. When she told me the email open rate, however, I was staggered! It far exceeded the average nonprofit email open rate of 28% (according to Hubspot). Average click-through rates are far lower, ranging from around 2% to around 6%. If you have an email list with 1,000 subscribers, a 28% open rate means you’re reaching 280 people with the click of a button.
Decide the frequency of your emails. Another concern homeschool organizations can have about email marketing is knowing whether they email their audiences too much or not enough. It may surprise you to know that many email marketers aim to send emails at least once a week, and they consider once a month to be too infrequent. Ultimately, your content should be valuable enough that your readers will stay on your subscription list even if they don’t read every email you send.
At Midwest Parent Educators (MPE), we send monthly email newsletters chock-full of MPE event details, extracurricular opportunities, and links to MPE’s blog posts. But for special events, we hold seasonal campaigns in which we send emails one month, then two weeks, and then three days before the event. (The campaign emails often highlight registration deadlines and event giveaways.) You’ll need to find the right balance for your organization—so experiment with the frequency that works best for you!
Test your email subject lines. Most email marketing platforms allow you to run A/B split tests. In an A/B test, you send an email with a particular subject line (“A”) to one test group of recipients and send the same email—with a different subject line (“B”)—to another test group. After tracking open rates, the email marketing platform sends the email to the rest of your subscribers using the winning subject line.
It’s amazing to discover which subject line your audience responds to versus what you thought they would respond to! Just one example: Our Women’s Encouragement Day email traditionally had the subject line Sign up for a day reserved just for you! But in testing, we discovered that another subject line (A day *just* for homeschool moms? Yes!) significantly outperformed the original subject line’s open rate by 10 percentage points.
Integrate email marketing with other channels. Here’s how you can get extra life from your social media content and blog posts—link to them from your emails!
Make it mobile friendly. Remember that many people now read their emails on their phone screens, so keep your messaging succinct. Break down sentences into their own paragraphs for easier reading. Try to persuade readers to click through to your website by using attention-grabbing headlines and pictures they can click to get further information.
Make it personal. A subject line with the recipient’s first name in there tends to have increased open rates. Feel free to use emojis and personalized, hyper-local terms in your subject lines, too. And instead of labeling your return email address something like Homeschool Organization X, try personalizing it with the first name of your office manager or president—Dave at Homeschool Organization X.
Don’t be afraid to call out your mistakes. Did you know that email subject lines with the word Oops in them tend to have higher open rates? While I don’t advocate going overboard with this tactic (“Let’s apologize for every email we send!”), if you send an email with a wrong link or a section missing, feel free to send a friendly follow-up email explaining what you did wrong and how you’re making it right.
Learn as you go
As I reflect on MPE’s efforts to market to millennials, I can see that many of our successes didn’t spring from strategies we thought out in advance (though that would have been nice!). They arose as responses to specific challenges. Through our staff’s initiative and God’s guidance, we found answers that worked—and that keep working.
Feeling inspired to continue reaching out to millennial homeschoolers in fresh and effective ways? Regardless of the technologies we use (or don’t use), parents in every age group are doing our best to provide a great education for our children. That’s a cause we can all champion, from generation to generation!
Shanxi Omoniyi is the online content director for Midwest Parent Educators (MPE), a homeschool support organization in Kansas City. A homeschool graduate, Shanxi earned degrees in journalism and English from the University of Kansas. She is excited (and humbled!) to continue homeschooling with her own children. Her company, Wordspire Media, helps businesses and organizations share their stories through content marketing, social media management, and email marketing.