It’s Monday morning, and you have a flood of emails to get through before you start your week. In all likelihood, so do the parents of the children in your childcare or preschool program. So, how do you make sure your important parent communications don’t get lost in their spam boxes? And how do you make sure parents are actually reading them?
The simplest, best way to stand out in the inbox is to make sure parents recognize that it’s coming from you.
Parents want to hear from you. They crave the updates and reminders you send. They love to feel involved, and they need to feel connected to little ones throughout the day. So when they can recognize that a communication has come from you, they’ll be much more likely to open it.
Beyond making your emails easy to spot in the inbox, try these five tips to improving your email open rates – and parent communications – overall:
Make your subject lines catchy
Your subject line is the first thing people see, so you always want to craft something that grabs attention and gives them a reason to open your parent communications. Your subject line should give a strong indication of what information your email contains.
For example, don’t say something generic like “August Newsletter.” Instead, try something like “Our fall activities list you won’t want to miss.” The first subject line just tells the recipient they are receiving a monthly newsletter. The second subject line makes it obvious that the email contains a list of fall activities. Which one is more interesting?
Have a deadline and need parent cooperation? Try adding a sense of urgency with “Action Required” or “Deadline” and the date something needs to be completed or submitted.
Personalize your parent communications
Add impact by making parents feel like you are talking directly to them. To make your parent emails feel more personal and really hit home, try using merge fields when sending to a large group.
With simple touches like first name, child name, or balance due, you’ll make every parent feel like each email is tailored to them, specifically, instead of just treating them like another name on your mailing list. To do this quickly and easily, try a childcare management solution like EZCare, which offers this type of functionality as a standard feature.
Single subject vs. weekly digests
Before sitting down and firing off a “quick” email, ask yourself whether it’s important enough to be a standalone “one off” message, or whether you can wait and incorporate it into your weekly newsletter.
The last thing you want to do is flood parents’ inboxes with a continuous flow of emails, so creating a routine of sending a weekly digest can be a great solution to information overload. A regular, periodic communication lets parents know when to expect information and enables them to plan time for reading it.
One-off emails should be reserved for really important information, like weather closures, payment reminders, or paperwork deadlines parents can’t afford to miss. These should draw more immediate attention because you don’t send them regularly, so parents will be more inclined to open and read them right away.
Cut to the chase in your parent communications
Remember when you had spare time? Neither do today’s parents, so try to keep your emails short, sweet and to the point.
Make the information you need them to remember most easy to spot within the email body. Dates and times of events and deadlines should be where your eye goes first, so place that first on each new line or paragraph, and draw attention to those nuggets of information using bold text, an accent color or a slightly larger font size.
This helps parents get right to the information that is most important for them to see. It also saves them time by allowing them to review what they need to know now and decide what they can read later when they have more time.
Throw in some eye candy
Big chunks of text are boring. You really want to grab attention, and images are a great way to do it.
Consider throwing in some interesting photos or other images to make it more visually interesting and keep parents scrolling for more. Parents would love to see their little ones featured in this week’s newsletter, and snapshots from last year’s fundraiser reinforce the fun factor and foster participation. Just be sure that you have signed authorization from each parent in order to use those types of photos!
Images can also help parents quickly scan the screen and determine what they want to read now, and what they might skip over until later when they have more time.
Including a photo or icon at every scroll point in a long email or other type of parent communication can help break up the text and keep the eye moving through the page. Be sure to include the right images at the right spots to fit your email’s content.
With these five tips, your parent communications will be sure to grab attention, and most importantly, get read. By staying in touch with parents, you’ll not only keep them connected to information, you’ll keep them active and engaged in your program.
|Check Out an EZCare Group Demo|
Editor’s Note: This post was originally written by broadcast email partner, Constant Contact, and posted in August 2015. We’ve revised it to include new information and current best practices.