Ah, the joyful holiday season...a golden opportunity for schools and districts to engage their communities through heartfelt emails full of happy holiday wishes. Crafting the perfect Thanksgiving, New Year, and "happy holidays" emails from your school brings a sense of connection and warmth to your communities during an important time for reflection, togetherness, and holiday spirit (and maybe egg nog.)
From email lists to choosing the best visuals, there’s a lot of logistics to pull it all together. Many schools are left wondering how to wish someone happy holidays AND have a meaningful impact —without being repetitive.
Here’s a comprehensive checklist to ensure your school's holiday emails hit all the right notes and are tailored to engage your parents, the friends of your school, and the extended community this season.
Step 1: Define Your Holiday Email Goals
Before you start drafting your holiday emails, it's important to define your goals. Are you looking to express gratitude, share student achievements, or encourage participation in holiday events? Each goal requires a different approach, so clarify your intentions before moving forward.
Furthermore, consider your target audience. Parents, family, alumni, grandparents, friends of your school, and other community members may have different expectations, interests, and engagement levels during this time of the year. Tailoring your content to their preferences is key to achieving your goals.
Step 2: Draft a Captivating Subject Line
Your subject line is your email's first impression, so make it count. It's the key to increasing open rates and ensuring that your recipients actually read your holiday emails.
Consider what will grab the reader's attention when crafting your subject line. Keep it concise, clear, and relevant to the holiday or event you're addressing. For instance, "Join Us for a Heartwarming Holiday Celebration" or "A Thanksgiving Message from [Your School Name]" are straightforward and engaging.
Remember, a good subject line should evoke curiosity, excitement, or a sense of importance. Put yourself in your audience's shoes and consider what would prompt you to open your email amid the thousands of marketing emails and holiday cards everyone gets during the busy holiday season.
Step 3: Personalize Your Greetings and Segment Your Audience
Personalization is key to making your recipients feel valued and appreciated. It’s important to use their names, and don’t forget about tailoring your greeting to their specific relationship with your school.
Whether it's a "happy holidays" message or you're wishing your community a merry Christmas or a prosperous New Year, segmenting your audience is a crucial step. Identify different groups within your community, such as parents, friends of your school, alumni, and grandparents.
For instance, parents might love updates on winter school events, while grandparents may cherish heartwarming stories about students.
Step 4: Share Meaningful Content
Now that you've personalized your greetings, it's time to focus on the content of your holiday emails. Consider what type of content will work best for your audience. Stories, photos, and videos can be powerful tools for conveying the spirit of the holidays or a happy new year.
Share heartwarming anecdotes about students or highlight school achievements that showcase the impact of community support. Many schools opt to share a festive song or a clip from a holiday performance that captures the essence of the season.
Strike a balance between promotional and informative content. While sharing updates or significant milestones is important, don’t mix sending a holiday greeting with an annual fund ask.
Instead, focus on creating an emotional connection and boosting spirits by storytelling and using narratives to make your content more engaging. Share students' experiences, the impact of community support, or your school's journey throughout the year so far.
Highlight School and Student Achievements
Your holiday emails are a great opportunity to showcase your school's accomplishments and milestones, which can foster pride and engagement within your community.
Share achievements such as academic successes, community involvement, or any unique milestone. Highlighting these moments reminds your audience of the impact their support has on your school.
Encourage your audience to take pride in being part of a successful school community. Show how their contributions have made a difference, whether through volunteering, attendance at events, support for students, or donations. Demonstrating the impact of support — use stories, statistics, or testimonials to show how your school has positively affected students' lives, and don't forget to show the tangible result of their involvement.
Step 5: Visual Appeal Matters
The visuals of your holiday emails play a role in capturing your audience's attention and keeping their interest. Here's how to ensure your emails look as good as they read:
Visuals, such as images, videos, and graphics, convey the holiday spirit. Choose visuals that align with your school's brand and use high-quality, relevant images that evoke the emotions and themes associated with the season, whether Thanksgiving, winter holidays, or the New Year.
Make Sure It Looks Great On Mobile
Most of your recipients will check emails on their smartphones, so ensure visuals and images are responsive to various screen sizes. Compress your images to keep your email load time fast, and send tests of your emails to different devices to confirm they display correctly.
Pro Tip: Make sure your fonts are readable on smaller screens and that buttons and links are easily tapable.
Step 6: Monitor and Respond
Once you've sent your holiday emails, the work isn't done yet. Track your email campaign closely for open rates, click-through rates, or replies, and respond to any feedback or questions.
If you're using Finalsite's email and newsletter communications tool, Messages, you can use the data and insights to refine your email strategies for the future. Consider sending large groups of emails to different constituents on different days, so you can gain any insights and adjust your content, messaging, or subject lines accordingly.
For example, send your parents’ emails one day, alumni the next, and your extended community the following day. Learn from what worked and what didn't to make each holiday email campaign even better than the last.
The holiday season is filled with joy, and your school's holiday emails are a powerful tool for making connections, celebrating, and reflecting on a great year. So, as you create your holiday email campaigns, keep these steps in mind, and watch your school community grow stronger and more connected this season.
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.