The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) was passed in December 2015. Since then, educators and education vendors alike have been working toward compliance by the 2017-18 implementation deadline. If you were counting on the new administration to delay ESSA’s implementation, then you’re out of luck. While some of the ESSA rules and regulations are open to amendment, the law itself is here to say, and the timeline for transitioning from No Child Left Behind (NCLB) is written into it.
That timeline is quickly winding down despite the fact that many of the regulations that govern ESSA were only just released in December 2016. Schools and districts are currently in a state of limbo: they’re finishing the school year under NCLB and planning budgets for next school year under ESSA. With that transition will come changes to education in every state, every district and every school. In an essence, ESSA changes everything.
Those changes will greatly impact education vendors like you, too. Where schools get funds to purchase products will change. What educators need from vendors also will evolve, along with how vendors must communicate with customers in education. Some companies may see this as a major challenge; we consider it an exciting opportunity to partner more closely with schools and districts to help them navigate the changes ESSA is guaranteed to bring.
It seems that at every turn, marketers are greeted with one message: It’s the Digital Age. There’s no doubt that social media and email have grown in popularity — and for good reason, especially among educators — but what about direct mail? Should you drop it completely from your marketing mix?
The short answer is no, though there are understandable reasons for considering it. Direct mail takes a considerable amount of time to create, deploy and track compared to email marketing. The cost of mailing direct mail is high, though the USPS does offset expenses with incentives. The cost per acquisition of direct mail also is more expensive than email — $19 compared to $15, according to the Data and Marketing Association (DMA). Finally, the DMA reports that direct mail volumes have seen a 1.9 percent decline year-over-year since 2005.
However, direct mail response rates still outperform digital marketing. DMA data reveals that the average direct mail response rate for house lists is 5.3 percent and 2.9 percent for prospects. To put those numbers into perspective, no other channel even reaches 1 percent.
Email is an effective way to communicate with today’s educators. Not surprisingly, 51 percent of Curriculum Directors told Agile that they like learning about edtech through emails. However, email as a preferred method of communication extends beyond those more tech-savvy educators. In Agile and SheerId’s 2016 Teacher Spending and Loyalty Survey, 66 percent of teachers said they trust email for learning about products, programs and services available for their students and classrooms.
Education vendors have caught on to the power of email for marketing to educators, and that means that teachers and administrators start their school days with inboxes that are fuller than ever. Make sure your messages get delivered and stand out from your competitors by overcoming five hurdles every email marketing campaign faces after you hit send.