Burnsville-Eagan-Savage District 191
Breaking news, current events, and upcoming stories — Burnsville-Eagan-Savage 191 is a busy school district, covering all the critical information and updates of the 8,000 students across three different communities.
To share all the information and announcements, District 191's communications department was functioning like a small news team, tackling one story after the next. While this approach had its merits and produced quality content, there was an opportunity for growth and change.
“We weren't necessarily doing anything to provide our audiences with information that would be helpful for them,” said District Director of Communications Aaron Tinklenberg.
District 191’s comms team started noticing the inbound marketing strategies others were using, such as drip campaigns, and began integrating a similar approach to the district’s communications strategy.
Serving Minnesota's Burnsville, Eagan, and Savage communities, District 191 is a self-described future-forward school district that creates barrier-free pathways for learning.
Using Finalsite Workflows, an automated email campaign tool designed for schools to enhance and automate their email communications, the District could streamline its content creation and automatically distribute communications, saving what precious time their district office did have.
“When we moved over to Finalsite and learned about Worfklows,” Tinklenberg shared, “we wanted to try to use it for our staff and potential future parents who expressed interest in kindergarten and our Virtual academy.”
District 191 explored how it could give its 1,200 employees and hundreds of families the information they needed to feel connected — without manually pushing out every message.
Using branching logic and goal setting, District 191 can determine the time standards and email paths, ensuring that if a recipient opens an email, clicks a link, or achieves a set goal like a form submission, their journey can be adjusted accordingly.
Now, Finalsite Workflows enables the district to craft automated email campaigns tailored for personalized email journeys, sustaining engagement with all stakeholders, especially staff and prospective families.
“The workflow was really helpful,” said Matt Steichen, communications coordinator for the district. “It lets us see the whole series of content that you want to share, and by scheduling it all at once, you’re laying out your whole plan, and you’re able to ‘set it and forget it.’ You can focus on the day-to-day tasks knowing we strategically set up those messages ahead of time.”
Workflows also provides admins with a detailed analytics dashboard, showcasing essential metrics like the number of users in a Workflow, those who've completed the process, and unique engagement indicators.
The district can regularly review and update active or drafted campaigns and change the content or wording as needed. “When I look at how I'm using my time,” Steichen said, “I don't need to rebuild them from scratch. The emails are intuitive to build and it’s easy to add text or photos. I needed virtually no training, so now I can dedicate more time to writing, day-to-day events, and other projects.”
“We've seen the best results in our campaigns to prospective parents...Last year, we had more students than the previous year for the first time in my entire time in the district.”
DISTRICT DIRECTOR OF COMMUNICATIONS
While many district employees are onboarded during the summer, the district's hiring continues throughout the school year. As part of an initiative to support new staff, a branding Workflow was launched to emphasize the taglines, mission statement, and how each member can support the district’s brand as an ambassador, as well as acknowledge and celebrate employees across the district. The specific workflow kicked off at the beginning of the year for new staff, but every month, the office enters the new hires into the Workflow to be sent the resources and content over time.
“Celebrating staff and getting those messages out was really helpful,” Steichen said. “The data we get from Finalsite is helpful to strategize how we deliver content. As far as measuring the effectiveness of a branding campaign itself, we went back and surveyed staff and saw really positive results based largely on the content we sent throughout the year. We saw increases in branding awareness, employee satisfaction, and how they feel about being part of our district and their work.”
“The data that we received around new staff and understanding the components of our brand, our mission, and our vision and core values, in particular, were considerably better this year,” Tinklenberg added. “We feel confident the campaign was a major reason.”
An eight-message campaign introduces new and current pre-K families to the district’s kindergarten program, helping families understand what the year will look like for their students and easing any nerves.
“We've seen the best results in our campaigns to prospective parents in particular, and over the last two years, we saw our enrollment decline level out,” Tinklenberg said. “Last year,” he added, “we had more students than the previous year for the first time in my entire time in the district.”
“The ability to see how many people are clicking on content and understanding what's resonating with people is great,” Steichen shared. “Is it better to do short videos? Is it better to have a block of text or link to a story that's on the website? We receive a lot of good data regarding how staff members and parents want to engage with information.”
Tinklenberg added, “With the data we get, you can go back and look at it as a package and ask, ‘Are we hitting the audiences? Are we getting good interaction, or should we mix the content so they're packaged differently?’ It allows us to be more proactive rather than thinking, ‘OK, we want to send something out this month, so what's it going to be?’
“The ability to see that all together lets you plan different content and make sure they go together ahead of time,” Tinklenberg continued. “One of the biggest benefits is being able to decide when you're going to plan. We don't always get to set aside a quiet day for planning, but spending some time in the summer organizing the next drip campaign makes a huge difference.”
The district is using a similar approach to reach and engage parents of students entering the sixth grade, another key transition point within the district.
“It’s well-received and helps us stay connected with families, “ Tinklenberg said. “That was something we were hearing in particular — families going into middle school felt like they had fears or concerns about what was coming or what to expect.”
“If we didn't have that tool, we wouldn't be able to reach out to these families or consistently stay in contact with them. It’s just a huge benefit and something we wouldn't have been able to do before.”
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