Episode #27 – Email Marketing

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Learn more about how to Market, Advertise, and Brand a Christian School with Email Marketing on this episode of the Preschool Pioneers Podcast.

Topics Include:
Email Service Providers, The Importance of Lists, Our Main, Email Newsletter List, Our Customer Leads List, Email Automation, Segmentation, Providing Value and Cutting Through the Noise, What Else Can You Do With An Email List?, and Tips for Getting Better Open Rates

Suggested Resources are:
Jotform, Zapier, IFTTT

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Transcript of Episode:

Radio Announcer: The Reconstructionist Radio Podcast Network presents the Preschool Pioneers Podcast with Reverend Jeremy Walker, where you will hear practical and biblical advice from a unique perspective on the subject of Christian education.

Jeremy Walker: The Preschool Pioneers Podcast is brought to you by the GCS Apprenticeship Program. For more information, visit gcsapprenticeship.com.

Aaron Slack: Welcome to another episode in the Preschool Pioneers series on marketing, advertising, and branding your Christian school. The topic for today’s episode is email marketing. We’re going to talk about what it is, how to use it, and why it will benefit your Christian school. There’s a lot of good things that come with having an email marketing program, and not just marketing, but having email lists for your parents, for your customers. We’ll get into all that as the episode progresses here.

Email marketing. What is it? It’s basically using email to connect and communicate with current customers. For a Christian school, that would be your students, parents, grandparents, relatives, friends, and family members, even, if they’re interested. It is also a way to bring in new customers, so you’ll also have potential parents who you’ll be sending emails to.

Email is pretty old as far as digital communications go. But even in our social media age, which we’ve talked quite a bit on this podcast so far, it is still extremely important, something you definitely need to think about and have for your Christian school.

If you think about all the emails you get, a lot of them you don’t open. In fact, probably most of the emails I get, I don’t actually open. But there are ones that you do. Even if you don’t open every email, there’s certain companies, things that you need, you want notified about. You might not read every email, but you still want to be subscribed to their email list. This is going to be the same thing with the people on email lists for your Christian school.

Email is still a very important way to keep in touch with people and companies you care about, or at least, you want notifications, you want some kind of communication for them to keep tabs on them, because occasionally, there’s information that you find useful. Email is still a tremendous way to do this.

In my way of thinking, in terms of priority, you’ve got phone calls and text messages, and then email is pretty close to that. It’s a high-priority communications channel for most people. Your email inbox is still a fairly personal method of communication. The fact that you would let a company or a person email you is still a pretty big deal in the scene today.

With marketing emails, you can subscribe at any time. But when you voluntarily allow companies to send you things because you derive some value from the exchange, that’s a really big deal. It shows some level of trust, or at least, interest, in the company.

In exchange for these companies hopefully providing you value, you also, of course, are letting them market to you. We’ve talked a lot about social media on this podcast, but there are a few advantages that email has over social media. For one, it’s pretty much a guaranteed delivery. Unless something gets marked as spam, when you send an email to someone, they are going to receive it.

This is very different from social media— in particular, Facebook and Twitter, and all these platforms we have today. When you send out an update, usually only a percentage of the people who subscribe, who are fans of your Facebook page, for instance, are actually going to see that update. But when you send an email to someone, unless it gets marked as spam, they are going to get that email. There’s no guarantee that they’re going to open it, but they will at least receive the email. It’s much more guaranteed delivery than social media.

Also, it doesn’t disappear from a timeline, like a tweet or a Facebook update. It’s still sitting there until you decide to do something about it. You either got to archive it or delete it, or whatever. But it’s still sitting there, unlike a social media update from a company.

Also, it is a whole lot cheaper when you consider traditional marketing methods or even paying to promote Facebook posts. Writing an email especially costs nothing. We’ll get into the pricing in a little bit, but it’s really, basically, essentially nothing.

For example, MailChimp, which is what we use at Grace Community School, they have a free plan. But even their premium plan, which we’re on, is still only $10 a month for every 500 subscribers. That’s unlimited emails, $10 for every 500 subscribers. If you had 1,000 subscribers, you’re paying $20 a month, which is, again, essentially zero. It is a very, very inexpensive way of marketing and keeping communications channels open with your customers and potential customers.

Also, unlike with social media, when a person interacts or opens an email, it’s pretty much a one-on-one experience. When you think about Facebook, or Twitter, or Instagram, you’re just constantly scrolling through. You might pause for a couple seconds to look at a status update. You might hit Like or whatever, maybe leave a comment real quick. But for the most part, it is something that’s just on your page, along with a whole bunch of other things that are going on at the same time.

But when you open an email, for however long you are looking at that email, it’s basically a one-on-one interaction. You only have that one email open that you’re looking at. Your attention is directed right at that communication, that email, for however long you’re looking at it. That is another advantage that it has over social media.

Also, it is more universal. Not everyone has Twitter or even Facebook, for example. Most people do have Facebook. But still, there are a few people who either don’t have social media accounts or they still email as their primary method of communication. If you have an email list, you’re not leaving those people out. That is another really good point in its favor.

I would say that money-wise, it has the lowest cost to the highest benefit ratio of any marketing program that you’re going to do. Again, the cost is essentially zero. Basically, the cost is just the time and effort that you put into it, of building your list, sending out the emails, and whatnot. But as far as monetary costs, it’s essentially zero.

At Grace Community School, we haven’t been doing an email list, actually, for that long, basically just since 2015. We’d experimented a little bit a few previous to that. But we got really serious about it in 2015, about the same time we launched our blog. It has just become one of our most important marketing channels, and also one of our most popular outreach programs that we have for our parents.

Jeremy Walker: I remember when we first thought about going into the email list concept. But it wasn’t where they had services yet provided, really, like MailChimp. We were trying to do it, build an email list, like you would if you had a group of friends or whatnot. You have your email and you would have a list of people, and you’d have to maintain that manually. It was a real pain to do that, even though it was this 101 communication and people really do like getting these emails.

But people might think that $10 a month for 500 subscribers would be a lot. Maybe I’d just do it myself. But having done it ourselves, or at least tried to do it ourselves, the $10 a month for a service like this is minuscule at best, and really is something that people should really think about, because trying to do it on your own possible, but it has a lot of downsides to it.

Aaron Slack: A lot of downsides, including if you’re trying to run … doing mass emails from a personal, say, Gmail account. It’s going to get flagged as spam very quickly, because spammers obviously, where they’re trying to use personal accounts, basically, Google flags those. If you have a personal Gmail account that’s sending out thousands of emails, it’s going to get marked as spam real fast. That is a really good reason to use a service, which is the next thing I’m going to talk about, that is called ESP, which is not extrasensory perception, but is email service provider.

Like Jeremy mentioned, we tried doing one in Gmail years and years ago. There’s a lot of good reasons not to do that. Email service providers are definitely how you want to do it, in particular if you are a business.

There’s a few that are really possible. All of them are very good on this list, as far as I can tell. MailChimp, which we use. AWeber is another very highly recommended one. There’s Constant Contact, Infusionsoft. There’s Myemma, is another really good one. But we use MailChimp, so most of my experience is going to be directly related to MailChimp. But all these services that I’m going to talk about, all these features you can basically do in any of these decent email service provider companies.

I really recommend MailChimp. We use it all the time. You can’t really go wrong with it. But any of these other companies would also be good. Definitely do your research, see which one works best for you. But I don’t think you can go wrong with MailChimp. If you use a particular customer relationship management program, you might have a reason to look for a service that integrates with that. But otherwise, MailChimp or any of these others will work just fine.

Again, premium plan MailChimp, $10 per every 500 people, unlimited emails. There’s some other features that go along with the premium program that I recommend. A/B testing. For instance, you could send identical email with two different subject lines, and it’ll split it up so you can see which one gets more opens. That kind of thing you can also do on the premium plan. Also, in particular, the email automation, which I’m going to get to a little bit later.

You can design and write your emails in MailChimp. It’s a really simple drag-and-drop, what you see is what you get email composing system. They look very good. Drag and drop your graphics, and videos, and links and everything into it. Everything you want to do, right there. Real easy to use.

If you can use a computer, it’s very easy to design emails in MailChimp. They have a whole bunch of templates that you can use, or you can design your own. Then you can save your templates so that you can just reuse those over and over, and just put different content into it, but reuse the same template.

Also, scheduling emails. I go through and I try to stay a week or two ahead on all the emails that we send out. I try to get ahead on it and just schedule them so they go out on particular days. That makes it really simple. You do a whole bunch of work at once, and then don’t have to worry about it for a week or two.

Also, even more important than all of these other features with an email service provider, is that it helps you manage your email list, which would be very, very tedious and difficult to do if you weren’t using an email service provider like MailChimp. We discussed before the difference with owned and rented media. Your email list is an example of owned media. It is like your website. It belongs to you.

We use MailChimp to help us build and maintain our email lists, but they belong to us. At any time, I could download all of our email lists onto an Excel file, and then take this to any other email service provider, upload it, and we’d be good to go again. These belong to you, so any reputable email service provider is going to give you access to your complete list. It belongs to you. That’s really a really important thing. An email list is extremely, extremely valuable.

We actually have two emails lists, which I’m going to get into the details of. Basically, one for current customers, and then one for potential customers. We also have a couple other lists, like Reverend Jeremy maintains the one that goes for the GCS Apprenticeship Program. Was it the Recon?

Jeremy Walker: The Recon Resource Network as well. Starting to [inaudible 00:13:03] for that as well.

Aaron Slack: There’s another one that we’ve started a list for. When you go into MailChimp, we can see all of these other lists that we have. You can have as many lists as you want in MailChimp. Again, it’s just that $10 for every 500 subscriber with the premium plan.

MailChimp also lets you design very easy forms to use. When someone signs up, they get an opt-in email, which they then have to confirm that they wanted to be added to the email list. Everything is very aboveboard.

Another way that we get email addresses as well is when people sign up the enrollment paperwork at Grace Community School. We have a form there for them to put their email list so they can be subscribed to our list, so they don’t have to go online, find the sign-up form, and do it themselves.

If you’re a Christian school, I definitely recommend having that as part of your enrollment paperwork, as having the email sign-up. That way, it’s less work for the parents, and you’re going to get a lot more people to sign up for it, having that basically as default on the enrollment paperwork.

Jeremy Walker: One of the wonderful things about these kind of services as well is that whenever they sign up for it, they might be interested at the moment. But in a month or whatever, they might be disinterested. If a person is disinterested in any point in time, they can just unsubscribe from it.

Aaron Slack: Right.

Jeremy Walker: It’s a great opportunity to be able to do that too.

Aaron Slack: It’s, as we discussed before, permission marketing. Anybody who doesn’t want on our MailChimp list, they just got to hit that button at the bottom of the email and they’re gone. Real simple, real aboveboard. Any reputable email service provider is going to have all of these subscribe forms, unsubscribe forms built into it so that they comply with regulations and keep a good experience for everyone.

We’ll be right back after this break.

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Aaron Slack: Welcome back to our episode on email marketing on the Preschool Pioneers Podcast. As I discussed before the break, at Grace Community School, we actually have two email lists. One is for current customers and one is for potential customers.

The main one is basically our main email newsletter list. That’s for current parents, grandparents, relatives. There’s no reason that a potential customer couldn’t sign up for this. But it’s got a lot more information about the daily goings on at the school, upcoming events and things that wouldn’t be as much of interest to someone who isn’t yet a customer. I’ll tell you how we have that set up so they can switch from one list to the other.

In MailChimp, for our current customers, we know the Grace Community School location that they are signed up for so we can tailor the info to them for special events. For example, when we have a bounce house at a particular location— say, our Port Charlotte location— I’ll send out an email saying, Port Charlotte, you have a bounce house tomorrow. I’m able to send that just to the Port Charlotte parents so that the entire email list doesn’t get the email that only pertains to the Port Charlotte location.

You can segment your list very easily like this in MailChimp. Information like that, you can ask for that when they do sign up for the list. That’s what we do. That way, we’re able to do this. You can also segment later with a little questionnaire and links that they click on. But for some information like that, it’s definitely worth having that built into the form so that you’re good to go from the get go. You have, in particular for us, which school location they go to.

Jeremy Walker: We’ve mentioned this a couple times before, but giving people something that they’re interested in will keep them on your list, will keep them paying attention, and they’ll want to be there. Making sure, like you said, not the entire list, nine locations for Grace Community Schools, all going to get information about a location that has nothing to do with them. But being able to separate it like that is very advantageous to keeping people happy on your list as well.

Aaron Slack: We provide a whole bunch of information. I’d say here, for us, because we provide so much value with our email and because it is information that the parents want, we are able to email probably a lot more than, say, a retail store would be able to get away with. We are pretty close to sending one email just about every day. Occasionally, there’s a day that there’s not an email that gets sent out. But for the most part, that’s pretty close to an email a day because all of the things that we do at Grace Community School, all our events that come up, parties, dress-up days, and those sorts of things. Parents want to get these emails, so we email pretty frequently.

Not so much on the potential customers list. Basically, that has an email that goes out about once a week or so, and then tapers off if they haven’t become one of our current customers.

The other way that we get … I mentioned that we have the email sign-up on our enrollment form. Basically, once a month, the managers of all the locations, they send me an Excel file from our center management software, which is Procare … An Excel file, which all the emails … Then any new ones from the past month I upload into MailChimp. That way, they’re added to the list.

Then, again, the second email list is for potential emails. The main way that we get that is there is a contact us form on the Grace Community School website. This is for people who are interested in the school. They’re able to sign up for information from us about Grace Community School and its programs, and also ask specific questions as well. That is the main way that we get information, get that email address.

With nine locations, we’re pretty close to about 100 people requesting information. Most of these people do leave an email address as well, so we’re able to get about 100 emails from people requesting/wanting informational emails from Grace Community School every month. That’s a whole lot of emails. That’s why this potential customers list is so important. They go to the website. They request information and also are asking to be contacted by a salesperson to answer their specific question— rates, availability, this kind of thing.

They might be asking this question and filling out this email form in the middle of the night or Friday evening or whenever, middle of the weekend. It might be a day or two, depending on the situation, before one of our managers gets back to them to answer their questions. That’s where the email automation features of MailChimp or any of these other email service providers kicks in.

Basically how it works is about an hour after they request information, there’s a thank you email that goes out, thanks them for requesting the info, and has some links to our website, and blog, and various pages. If they want information now, they can click on those links and get further information. Then they get another email, an automated email, the next day, and another about three days, five days later. Then it gradually slows down. They get one a week for a while.

Then, if they still haven’t done anything, it slows down to about once every few weeks, just to keep us top of mind, to keep us in their mind in case they … Maybe they were just requesting information, but they’re not going to need childcare for a few more months. But they’re still going to start getting some information about us. They’re going to still hopefully browse some of our other materials and start to build a little bit of that trust.

One of the new things … because we have a whole sequence of emails that go out over these days and weeks. One of the new features or new emails that I’ve added as well is that about a month after they sign up for the potential customers list, I have a more personalized email asking them if they have any questions.

It says, basically, you’ve been on our email list for a few weeks now. You’ve gotten some emails from us. I wanted to know— I put my name on it— is there any other questions that we can help you with directly? Just respond back to this email, and I’ll either respond back with the information you’re looking for or I’ll put you in touch with one of our locations so that they can help you.

Since I’ve done that, I’ll get an email about every week or so with somebody saying, actually, yes, do you have this program or whatever? It makes it a little bit more personal. Not just marketing emails, but just a personal touch that, hey, we are listening. You can respond to this email and we’ll get back with you. That’s actually worked out well too. That’s something I would suggest, not just automated emails.

The great thing about this whole email sequence is that once it is set up, you really don’t have to do anything about it. I still tweak and add emails to it periodically. But for the most part, it’s all done automatically. There’s a sequence of emails that they get that basically runs the whole gamut of our entire program. They learn about our reading program, our social media programs, all fun events that we do, our Bible time, basically everything that we do about Grace Community School. We have have summaries and links and everything. Basically, our entire program gets sent to them a little bit at a time in these email sequences.

Then periodically, have another email that says, you’ve been part of the general information email. Would you like to join our main email newsletter list? Then they can click on that and sign up for the main list. This is really, really useful for us. We’ve only been doing the second list, the potential customers list, for a few months now. But it’s been actually very successful. Quite a few of these people do end up bringing their children and becoming customers.

You can also get a whole lot more advanced than this with email automation, which MailChimp supports. We don’t go too in depth into this. For instance, you could set it up so the person gets an email. They click on a link in the email, go to your website. Then, depending on which pages they visit, they get a personalized email with more information based on which pages they visit.

For instance, if they go to our karate … We offer karate class at Grace Community School. You could set it up so that if they visited the karate page, a day later, they get an email with more information about our karate program. I might set something up like that in the future.

There’s a whole lot of other things you can do with e-commerce, with MailChimp and these other email service providers. For instance, if you … an online store, and a customer left items in their cart, but didn’t check out, you could have MailChimp send them a reminder, hey, you left some items in your cart. Did you want to check these out? Or, do you need any help with this? Which is actually pretty common. But MailChimp all of this. We don’t need that kind of thing with Grace Community School’s email list. But it is a feature that they offer.

Jeremy Walker: I think it’s a really neat feature that these type of services provide because not only are you getting that one-time decision that somebody made, like they wanted look at your page at one point in time or sign up at one point, or maybe they filled out information … But interactive emails, the idea that a person could go to your karate page, or your dance page, or your reading page, and then later on, receive an email based off of that showing of interest … They showed interest in something. Therefore, then, this service will then send them an email tailored towards that type of interest. I think that’s quite amazing, really.

Aaron Slack: You can also segment the lists further. For instance, I could send an email out to just people based on which links that they’ve clicked in a previous email, whether they opened an email or not.

Once a month, we do a big email newsletter. Sometimes I’ll send it out. Of course, not everybody opens it. Then a week later or a few days later, I can send it out again, but just send it to the people who didn’t open it the first time with a different subject line. That actually gets more people to open it.

These are the kind of things you can do with your email list. You could also segment it on which age of a child that they have based on which links they have and this sort of thing. You can really get pretty in depth in this. You don’t necessarily have to, but it is something that you can do. These are all provided in MailChimp and these other email service providers as well.

Open rates is what they call the percentage of people that opens a particular email. They aren’t everything. Again, I know there’s a lot of emails that I get that I don’t necessarily open up, but I still want to get those emails. We also try to make our subject lines fairly informative as well, like “Bounce house tomorrow” for the Port Charlotte location. A parent will be glad to get the email notifying them that the bounce house is tomorrow, but maybe they’re too busy to click and actually open the email. That’s okay.

We get about a 10% to 15% open rate overall, which is quite decent. The fact that they are still having them subscribe shows that they still want the information, even if they don’t absolutely open each and every email.

Again, segmentation, personalizing the emails, all the things that you can do. All this goes back, of course, to the importance of providing value. People do get a lot of email. When you’re a Christian school, you don’t want it to be all sales items. You want them to be value, letting parents know what’s coming up in the school, things that are going on, photos and videos for the parents. This keeps people wanting to be on your email list. You’ve got to make your emails valuable.

The other thing is when you’re providing value and sending emails that people want, when you do send out a marketing email, they’re going to be much more likely to pay attention and return the favor.

Some of the emails that we send with our email lists. Party notices, when we’re having a party coming up at school, dress-up days. Reminders about our special classes. We have a karate class, dance class, music, and art class. We do send out people emails periodically reminding them of these and letting them know what they need to do to sign up. Links to our blog posts. When we publish a blog post, we’ll send out an email with links to that so they can read that as well.

In particular, a couple of things that we do every week. We email every Saturday an email telling the parents what is the next theme week that is coming up at Grace Community School. For example, next week is circus and carnival week, right now that we’re recording. This Saturday, we had an email that went out to the list letting people know circus and carnival week is next week. We’re having clown dress-up day next Friday. It keeps parents informed of that.

Then almost every Sunday, I will send out, basically, a photo and video recap email. All of the photos and videos that we put up on social media in the past week, I’ll send out an email with links to all those photos and videos so that in case they missed them on social media, they can check them out there. They got links to our YouTube page, so they can go watch our videos there.

Those, probably the most popular emails that we send, in case they missed it on social media, or maybe they’re not very active on social media. I talked to a couple of parents that they’re just not really big on Facebook. They tell me they pretty much just wait for the email to come out with the links so they can check it out. Nothing wrong with that. That is one of the reasons that we send out that photo recap email. Any time you put up content online, it’s not going to be seen by everybody. Your email list is a great opportunity to share that with people as well.

We’re going to take a brief break for a message. We’ll be back in a couple minutes.

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Aaron Slack: Welcome back to the episode on email marketing of the Preschool Pioneers Podcast. Parent communication and customer leads are the two most important reasons to have an email list, again, being able to communicate with your current customers and provide information to potential customers— the most important objectives, I think, with having an email list. But there are a few other reasons, which I’ll briefly go over.

Google, Facebook, and Twitter all allow you to take that email list of email addresses and upload them to Google, Facebook, and Twitter. Then you can actually send out a promoted message or an ad targeting just those people if they have used that email address with Facebook, if it’s the same email they used to sign up for the email list.

For instance, you can send a Facebook ad just to those particular people, which can, again, be useful, in particular because not everyone is a Facebook fan of yours. You might not be able to reach them as easily as you can with the email list. Having that email list uploaded to Facebook lets you do both.

You can also do what’s called a lookalike audience as well. Basically, Facebook will look at those lists of emails and the social accounts that are associated with those, and target people with paid promotions that are similar to that email list audience. That gets a little bit into a more advanced topic of Facebook ads and Twitter ads. But it is something else you can do with your email list.

Another thing that we did along those lines, when we did our yearbook advertising promotion this year. Every year at Grace Community School, we put out a free yearbook, but we do sell ads, dedications and things in the back of the yearbook. I was able to not only send out a series of emails to our email list about the yearbook and the opportunity for them to place a yearbook ad. I was able to run a Facebook ad using our MailChimp list so that people got the same message in the email, and also got it on Facebook as well. That’s an example of what I’m talking about by using your list for targeting on these social media platforms.

Jeremy Walker: All these services go together, and are starting to. The technology’s catching up. Our email list is not just an email list anymore. Your choices to give someone your email when signing up your child can also get you advertised on Facebook and things like that. It’s pretty amazing, really, because if you’re providing content that’s valuable, they’re going to get it on multiple platforms so they don’t miss it. It’s really great technology.

Aaron Slack: Another thing we do is, as part of the sign-up form, we ask for people’s zip codes. This is useful for marketing as well. We can basically export the list as an Excel spreadsheet. I can look and see how many emails are in this zip code, how many are in this zip code, which his very useful for marketing as well, since not just digital advertising can be targeted by a zip code. Also, when you do any kind of direct mail, this is also typically by zip code. Finding out that you have this many customers in this particular zip code is useful as well.

We mentioned open rates and getting people to like your email, open your email. I’m going to go into a few tips here for trying to get a better open rate. That’s an important advertising skill called copywriting, basically using text to convince or persuade people to do what you’re asking them to do, which, in this case, is to open the email.

One of the things that we’ve got good success with is trying questions, asking someone, hey, would you be interested it in this? That’s the kind of a question. Again, if you’ve provided value with your email list, and they see a question like that, they’re more likely to open the email and see what you’ve got inside. Try to make that subject line interesting, because people will judge the email by the subject line, in many cases, and decide whether to read it or not based on that.

We do try to keep our email subject lines informative, but you also might not want to give too much away. Otherwise, too many people will feel like they don’t need to open the email at all. Make it an interesting subject line, using a question, this kind of thing— still being truthful, of course, but spiking people’s curiosity so that they’re more likely to open the email.

For example, when we participate in some of these newspaper best of campaigns here locally in the southwest Florida area, instead of saying, “Hey, vote for us” in the subject line, I’ll mix it up a little bit and say things like, “Can you help us?” That makes it more interesting because people want to know, well, sure, I want to help you, and I’ll open the email. Then I’ll have all the information, whereas if I just led straight with “Hey, vote for us,” there are people I’m sure who wouldn’t open that as opposed to “Can you help us?” These kind of things are good ways to increase your open rate and just get people to basically look at what you got to show them.

Again, with the A/B testing feature in the MailChimp premium, you can actually scientifically tell whether or not your strategy’s working by … I can send out an email. I’d say one is “Vote for us” and the other is “Can you help us?” and see which one got the most opens. You can do that with the A/B testing feature in MailChimp.

Having an email on your list, having a person’s email address, is something very personal still. You’re taking up space in their inbox. It is a special privilege not to be taken lightly. People will unsubscribe if you are not providing value. Again, it goes back to providing information, being helpful, asking people how you can help them. That’s, again, gone a long way in our potential customers email list, is just offering to help people. They do take me up on that offer.

Focus on providing value, and people will want to get your emails. You’re going to be able to build your list and be able to take advantage of this very important resource for communication and marketing your Christian school

I have a few resources that I’m going to recommend, all directly related to email lists and managing email lists. First off is JotForm, which is what we use, basically, on all of our Grace Community School and Grace Community School Apprenticeship websites. It’s a real easy-to-use form creator.

You can request information from people, put it up on your form. That’s what we use mainly for our contact us forms on the website. It’ll have a dropdown box where they can select they want information on, which school location they want, a place to put in their email address, their phone number, type their question, and send that off.

That’s where the next cool part is, which is a service called Zapier. If you’ve used If This Than That, IFTTT, it’s very similar to that, except it is primarily for business applications. Zapier really is a neat service, and particularly for managing email lists. How I do with Zapier for the school email is when they fill out one of these contact forms, that email, Zapier checks the form and automatically adds it to the appropriate list in MailChimp, depending on what form it is.

Jeremy Walker: Wow.

Aaron Slack: Then the way I manage, because we have the two lists … As I said, periodically, I’ll have an email that goes out saying, hey, you’ve been part of the potential customers. Would you like to join the main Grace Community School email newsletter? If they request information, they toured a facility, they signed up their child, and now they’re ready move on to the main email list, they can click that link. They can put in their information for the main list.

But I don’t want them to get double emails. What I have Zapier do, it continually scans the customer leads list and the main email newsletter list. If it finds an email on both lists, it will delete it from the customer leads list. They’re only signed for one at a time. Basically, as soon as they sign on to the main email list, they get unsubscribed from the customer leads list, so they’re not getting double emails.

Jeremy Walker: So Zapier’s like the wizard behind the curtain.

Aaron Slack: Pretty much. It is a phenomenal program for taking unrelated apps and services that don’t natively talk to each other and making them do things like this, if you do have a list, and particularly if you get more advanced, using JotForm and Zapier.

You can do embedded MailChimp lists. That is one way to do it, and embed the MailChimp list directly on your website. But if you want to use JotForm for something else … because JotForm is real useful as far as getting things emailed to you. It can do a lot more than just your basic email list form from MailChimp. JotForm we use primarily. Then we use Zapier to make everything talk to each other and make sure that people aren’t getting double emails and all this sorts of stuff.

JotForm, Zapier, and then MailChimp, any of these other email service providers. If you’re interested in setting up an email list for your Christian school, definitely check those out and do some research about those.

That’s all for today. I’ve mentioned a few tools in this episode, in particular JotForm, Zapier, and MailChimp. In our next episode on the Preschool Pioneers series on marketing, promoting your Christian school, we’ll be doing an entire episode devoted to tools for the marketer. That’s next time on my advertising series here on Preschool Pioneers.

Jeremy Walker: Thank you for listening to another episode of the Preschool Pioneers Podcast. If you’d like to subscribe to the weekly Preschool Pioneers Podcast, you can visit our website at preschoolpioneers.com. You could also find us on Facebook at facebook.com/preschoolpioneerspodcast. Of course, you can also find us on Twitter at twitter.com/pioneerspodcast.

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