“Summer melt” sounds like a tasty treat, right? In reality, "summer melt" refers to when families, after enrolling in your school, don't fully follow through and show up when the school year starts.
They “ghost” you, as the kids would say.
It’s not unheard of — both current and new families with the resources to submit multiple deposits may enroll at multiple schools and wait until the first day to make their decision (I've seen it happen.)
For college-bound students, summer melt numbers can be anywhere from 10-40% and in one instance, one city saw 43% of its students never attend in September. Burn...
The summer months are an important time to firm up your family’s decisions to enroll at your school, keep delivering the value of your experience, and stir up excitement for the new year. After all, they’re not truly, fully, 100% a student until they’re in the seat on Day 1.
Certainly, that can be unnerving for your admissions office and its enrollment management strategies. But the good news is that there’s a powerful tool to help combat this threat and increase yield: automated email workflows for your admissions office.
Why Email Workflow Automation Matters
Email is like the Swiss Army Knife of communication. It's direct, efficient, and, most importantly, versatile. With a well-thought-out plan, an email automation workflow can keep families engaged and informed, while also giving them a taste of your school's culture.
Based on a predetermined time, or a user’s level of engagement, you can choose when (and which) emails are sent. Plus, automating these workflows takes a load off your admissions office’s plate and ensures families receive consistent, timely communication.
Key Ingredients of an Effective Email Workflow
Before we dive into the actual workflow, it's worth noting a few essentials:
- Personalization is key — no one likes feeling like they're just another name on a list.
- Timely delivery means sending the right information at the right time.
- And of course, your content should be engaging and informative, but remember, there's a fine line between keeping families in the loop and drowning them with emails.
Crafting the Perfect Summer Admissions Email Workflow
Your admissions office’s summer workflow needs to be a balance of logistical information families need to know (health form deadlines, back-to-school supply lists, teacher assignments, etc), creating excitement for returning to campus, and reminding families of the value of your school. It could look something like this:
Kick things off with a friendly message and a greeting that makes families feel truly welcome. This email could include a brief overview of the school and the exciting journey the family is about to embark on. And remember, personalization goes a long way!
School Values and Culture Email
People love stories — they're engaging, relatable, and memorable. Use this email to share stories that highlight the school's values, mission, and culture. This could be a success story of a former student or a unique school tradition that everyone loves — and can’t wait to happen this year.
Just like Hebron Academy, celebrate the culture of your school with an email that calls out the experience — both in and out of the classroom.
Community Introduction Email from a Parent Ambassador
This email is all about showing families they're not just joining a school, but a community. Introduce families to the wonderful individuals that make up the school community, like the dedicated staff, the enthusiastic student council, or the supportive PTA.
This is a great opportunity to involve Parent Ambassadors and have the email come from them. Include some information about their family, how long they’ve been at the school, and some of their favorite things about the parent experience.
A summer email to parents from Blair Academy creates buzz in the weeks prior to classes starting — a great way to better connect the parent community and count down the last few days of summer.
Academics Overview Email
Now's the time to show off your school's academic programs. Share highlights of your curriculum, the qualifications of your faculty, or student success. Give families a clear picture of the amazing education their child will receive.
Extracurricular Activities Email
School isn't just about academics, it's also about growth and discovery outside the classroom. Use this email to showcase your exciting extracurriculars. Whether it's the champion chess club, the inspiring art classes, or the passionate soccer team, give families a glimpse of the possibilities.
Baylor School highlights all the ways students can get involved. With so many clubs to choose from, there’s something for everyone.
Logistics and Preparation Email
Equip families with practical information to prepare for the first day of school. This could be details about the school calendar, uniform, supplies list, or transportation arrangements. A prepared family is a less stressed family!
Final Reminder/Countdown Email
A final email can serve as a gentle reminder and build anticipation for the upcoming school year. A countdown, a final checklist, or even a personal note from your head of school can add that final touch of excitement.
Analyzing and Improving Your Workflow
Analyzing your email workflow is crucial for fine-tuning your strategy. Engagement metrics like open rates, click-through rates, and response rates are your metrics for success here. By keeping an eye on these KPIs (key performance indicators), you can understand what's resonating with families and what might need a bit of tweaking.
With Finalsite Workflows, you can create personalized, automated email campaigns that nurture prospective and current families to automate the journey. Not only that, detailed stats about open rates, click-through rates, and engagement details give your office the feedback and metrics you need to improve communications, and so much more.
For example, if one email has a significantly lower open rate, consider adjusting the subject line to make it more enticing. Or if a particular email generates a lot of positive responses, consider what made it successful and apply those elements to other emails in your workflow.
Pro Tip: Improvement is a continuous process. Don't be afraid to experiment and adapt based on feedback and engagement data. After all, each school and its community are unique, and your email workflow should reflect your individual brand.
Summer melt might be like an inevitable part of the admissions cycle, but with an effective email workflow, you can keep families engaged, informed, and excited about the upcoming school year. And the best part? You can tailor this workflow to your school's unique needs and community and fold it into your strategies for increasing student enrollment.
And remember, the goal isn't just to prevent summer melt, but to build meaningful relationships with families that will last far beyond the first day of school.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Connor has spent the last decade within the field of marketing and communications, working with independent schools and colleges throughout New England. As Finalsite’s Senior Content Marketing Manager, Connor plans and executes marketing strategies and digital content across the web. A former photojournalist, he has a passion for digital media, storytelling, coffee, and creating content that connects.