Skip To Main Content
Master Email with These 7 School Newsletter Tips
Connor Gleason

Are your email open rates down? Do your parents complain they're getting emails with information that has nothing to do with them? Maybe you've made some grammar mistakes your co-worker won't let you forget.

Don't worry; we've all been there.

Email newsletters are one of the most popular types of communication for schools (and many other industries), but they are also the most difficult to do correctly. You have to compile seemingly unrelated information into a digital communication tool that's eye-catching, well-written, targeted, timely, and informative — and you expect the newsletters to be opened and read without fail.

While the concept of an email newsletter seems simple, we know that it's not. So, how do you make a good newsletter for your school? We've put together seven school newsletter tips.

1. Segment Your Email Lists

Next week's lunch menu and information on the class reunion don't belong in the same newsletter. Since different constituent groups (including alumni, students, parents, and faculty) have different needs, you will need more than one newsletter and areas of content. Segmenting email lists and content by constituent groups is the easiest way to ensure the right content gets to the right people.

For example, your student newsletter may include important upcoming dates, school events, extracurricular activities, and any school-specific content (like a student or athlete of the month). On the other hand, your alumni newsletter may include information about your annual fund, any upcoming alumni events, featured alumni, and more.

Charolette Country day school alumni newletters

While some content will overlap among segmented lists, creating separate newsletters will give constituents the feeling that the entire newsletter is relevant to them rather than just a piece of it.

If you're using Messages, Finalsite's email system, you can also utilize dynamic content to set up custom “configurations” for automatically displaying Posts, and Athletic and Calendar events in your newsletter templates so that you can customize the content users are seeing based on their constituent group. Not only does that make your content more personalized, but it saves you and your team valuable time.

2. Make Your Content Scannable

When attention spans are limited, and users often skim content, making your email newsletter content scannable is essential. Here are five tips:

  • Use Clear Headings and Subheadings: These serve as visual cues to help readers quickly identify the topics or sections in your newsletter. Use varied text formatting (e.g., bold, larger font sizes) to make headings stand out.
  • Bullet Points and Lists: Instead of long paragraphs, use bullet points or numbered lists to convey information. This makes it easier for readers to digest key points or steps quickly. It also organizes information in a more visually appealing manner.
  • Short Paragraphs and Sentences: Keep paragraphs short, ideally no more than 2-3 sentences. Readers should be able to quickly glean the main idea without getting bogged down in dense text.
  • Incorporate Visuals: Images, infographics, and charts can convey information more effectively than text alone. A well-chosen visual can summarize complex data or ideas and capture a reader's attention. Ensure that the visuals are relevant and have a purpose—don't use them just for the sake of decoration.
  • Highlight Key Information: Use bold, italics, or colored text to emphasize key points or important information. This will draw readers' eyes to the most crucial parts of the content. However, don't go too crazy; overuse can make your content look cluttered and confusing.

Email Newsletters: Successful Strategies for School Districts | Finalsite

3. Set a Schedule (and Stick to It)

Less content isn't just about making your email scannable — it's about making it timely. Sending out one newsletter per semester isn't really an effective way to keep constituents up-to-date. Most newsletters are sent to school communities weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly.

You'll need to choose a frequency that works for each constituent group. Alumni don't need emails as often as students and parents. For example, you may send an alumni newsletter once a quarter, a student newsletter bi-weekly, and a parent newsletter weekly.

Creating a school newsletter and sending emails more frequently will allow you to cut back on content, and provide a constant basis of communication with your constituents, so they'll learn what to expect and when to expect it. That way, they'll be more likely to open your newsletters and engage with the content inside.

Pro Tip: Keep a publishing calendar. Make a plan to write, design, and send your newsletters regularly so that you can plan which content to include in each newsletter. You'll feel more organized to prepare each newsletter.

4. Make it Personal

From subject lines to the email sender, your constituents want a personal and familiar email newsletter. Make sure it's sent from a name or email address they'll recognize. Never send an email from a "DONOTREPLY" email address, and try to use names when possible. For example, if your newsletter comes from, you can still make it so that the email comes from a specific individual.

screenshot of personalized newsletter

Within the email, personalize as much as possible! Your students don't want to feel like they're just a number, so using personalization tokens to turn "Dear Student" into "Hey Sarah!" will make your student feel much more at home.

5. Make the Most of Your Subject Line

Email subject lines are crucial in determining whether an email gets opened. The subject line should be clear, relevant, and compelling. For a great school newsletter, keep these in mind:

  • Highlight Immediate Relevance: Given the array of communications that parents and students receive, it's essential to make the relevance of your email immediately clear. For example:
    • "Important Dates for October: Parent-Teacher Conferences & More"
    • "Action Required: Permission Slip for Field Trip on Friday"

By leading with what's important or requires immediate attention, you signal the value of opening the email.

  • Personalize Where Possible: Personalization can make a subject line stand out and feel more relevant to the individual recipient.
    • "Congratulations, [Student Name], on Making the Honor Roll!"
    • "[Student Name]'s Upcoming Performance Schedule"

Using a student's name or referencing a specific event related to them can capture attention. However, ensure your database is accurate to avoid any errors in personalization.

  • Keep it Brief and Avoid Overused Phrases: Long subject lines can get cut off in many email platforms, especially on mobile devices, which can lead to confusion or the main message getting lost.
    • Instead of "Reminder: The deadline for submitting applications for the upcoming school trip is approaching soon," consider "Deadline Alert: School Trip Application Due Friday."

Additionally, avoid repeatedly using phrases like "Important update" or "News from school," as they can quickly become white noise and hard to search in an inbox. Instead, always aim to convey each email's unique value or content in the subject line.

6. Test, Test, and Test Again!

We've all seen an email where we thought, "yuck!" Remember that your constituents are busy, too. If you expect them to spend time reading it, they expect that you took the time to craft it. Poor use of whitespace, unrelated alt text, and images that can't be downloaded are going to result in an automatic "Move to Trash."

Messages Templates

Finalsite Messages lets you create beautifully branded and mobile-friendly custom newsletter templates for your school. If you need a little help getting started, there are plenty of templates and newsletter examples for your school to choose from.

7. Get Social and Share it!

If you want your newsletter to reach more viewers, it's time to get social. Share a link and include your school newsletter in your portals to create an archive of past communications. Many elements in your newsletter — like news stories, calendar events, and blog posts — are already linked to your school website. Sharing them will increase your site's traffic and raise awareness of important dates and events.

Oregon Episcopal School newsletter

Oregon Episcopal School keeps an archive of its newsletters for families to reference — a great way for stakeholders to stay connected.

Key Takeaway

Email newsletters are essential communication tools for schools, but crafting effective ones can be challenging. Remembers to segment your audience, use a mobile-friendly template and content that's easy to read. Keep a consistent schedule, and don't forget to add a personal touch. Soon, you'll be on your way to creating a school newsletter that boosts readership and engages families better than ever.

Easily create and send personalized emails with Finalsite Messages. Click here to get started!

Connor Gleason Headshot


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.

Log in to post a comment:

Explore More Recent Blogs

Subscribe to the Finalsite Blog

Love what you're reading? Join the 10k school marketers who get the newest best practices delivered to their inbox each week.

Request a FREE
website report card

Want feedback on your school or district's site? Get a free website report card, generated by an in-house website expert, sent right to your inbox.