How to build your email list when marketing to schools

You purchase a list of email addresses for schools and teachers. You upload it to your email marketing platform. You craft a beautiful email with great text and stunning visuals. You wonder why it doesn't bring in any fresh leads for your business.

Be honest with yourself. You know the answer. It's because you purchased the email list.

The teachers on the list don't know you. In fact, why should they even trust you?

It's not that email marketing doesn't work, it's that cold email campaigns are ineffective. You should be building your own list of contacts - people that genuinely trust you and your organisation.

But how do you build that list in the first place? It's all about the offer.

Email addresses are currency

There's value in an email address. You know it - you're even willing to pay for a list of them. Teachers know it too.

When teachers hand over their email address, they want to know that they will get something in return. They know that their address is a form of currency, so what will you offer in exchange?

'Sign up for our email newsletter'. This is probably the most common call-to-action that we see. But why should teachers want your newsletter?

'Sign up for our email newsletter and get special offers'. Better... but what are those special offers? Do teachers even know enough about your brand to want a discount on your product?

'Fill in your contact details to download our free brochure'. Getting there. At least you're offering something that people can download instantly. Usually, however, this sort of content offer is better reserved for contacts in the decision stage of the buyer's journey.

Great content offers are lead magnets

To entice teachers into sharing their email address with you, you need to offer something that they genuinely want. Something that they can use straightaway.

So, what do teachers want? They want their problems solved.

In an age of stretched budgets and ever-expanding workloads, teachers have more than a few problems that need solving. Offer them something that helps them out and you've established the trust that is vital for your next inbound marketing campaign.

Here are just a few ideas:

  • a scheme of work that they can download and use the next day
  • a template to help them assess students' understanding of a difficult topic
  • a bank of ideas for integrating ‘British Values’ into their schemes of work

These resources should be downloadable in the form of PDFs, PowerPoints, Excel spreadsheets or any other digital format that makes sense. You want your content offer to be something so useful that teachers keep it on their computer’s desktop for regular access.

What are the ingredients of a great content offer?

To turn your downloadable resource into a lead magnet, you need to ensure that it works without the need for any further purchase. Free trials, online demonstrations and consultation calls are not lead magnets. Save this type of offer for when your leads are in the decision stage.

Your lead magnet should be a complete resource in itself. It should be of sufficient value that you would happily sell it to customers for a small fee. Why? Because that’s exactly what you’re doing - your leads are purchasing the resource with their email addresses.

That said, it should certainly leave them wanting more. If you’ve given away a set of lesson plans for teaching about the industrial revolution, then why wouldn’t teachers want your resources for about the causes of World War One?

Your lead magnet should naturally carry over to the core products and services that you offer. There’s no point promoting a lead magnet for geography teachers if your core product would only interest the drama department.

Using landing pages to complete the transaction

In order to get your free offer, teachers need to supply their email address. To give you their email address, you need to present them with a form.

Plenty of resources will allow you to create forms on your website and host them on a landing page. Just make sure that this then points them to a ‘thank you page’ where they can download the file, and automate a follow-up email that delivers the resource to them for posterity.

Alternatively, you can use lead flows that offer the resource when users scroll part way through your web page or indicate that they intend to leave.

Promoting your lead magnet

With your lead magnet firmly in place, you can now start promoting it with the same gusto you usually reserve for your core product.

Rather than constantly tweeting about your paid products, switch the focus of your social media accounts to your lead magnets. People are much more likely to click a link if they know they can access a resource for free.

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