Top 10 Email best practices

This article is a copy of a blog post from the official MSA blog.

The ROI for email is higher than any other communication channel according to the Direct Marketing Association.   It’s also the preferred method of communication over text and tweets by most consumers. 

Here at MySchoolAnywhere we see over 1 million plus emails go out to parents and faculty every month.   We see some great emails but also a lot that could be improved. 

These are our top 10 tips (in no specific order) to make sure your parent association is optimizing every email you send. 

  1. Labor over your subject line - it's the first thing they see
  2. Make it personal
  3. Target your audience
  4. Make the content easily "skimmable"
  5. Don't email just when you want something
  6. Don't use Comic Sans or other funky fonts
  7. Have a primary "call to action" and a due date
  8. Go easy on images and fancy templates 
  9. Mobile friendly first.
  10. Have a schedule

Take our Email class and learn more!


#1 Labor over your subject line – it’s the first thing they see

The average adult’s attention span is down to just 8 seconds (That’s less than that of a goldfish.)  Your subject needs to be on point to get through the clutter of today’s inbox.

  • Keep it to 50 characters or less.
  • Tie it in with your message. 
  • If you require them to do something, tell them Action is Required
  • Don’t sound “salesy” or use all caps.

#2 Make it personal

Remember you are talking to real people with names.  Studies show that you get a 25% better response if you personalize your message.  So “friend-it-up” with our merge tags and insert the first name in every email you send:  “Hey Jessica” or “Hi Jessica” is better than “Dear Family”.    Learn how to use merge tags

#3 Target your audience

Stop broadcasting everything to everybody or your email will stop being read.  This goes hand in hand with personalizing email.   For example:  if you need volunteers for an event, don’t send to those that have already signed up – they’ve already taken action.  Don’t send a graduation notice to parents of Kindergartners, they don’t care.   MSA makes it easy to send email to specific groups.   Learn how to send to specific groups

#4 Make the content easily "skimmable"

On average, most adults get over 80 emails a day.  Use headings, text anchors and bullets to make an email easy to scan with a quick glance.  Also keep your paragraphs to 2 or 3 sentences max and break up large amounts of text into “bite size” chunks.

#5 Don't email just when you want something

You know how you feel when your teen only talks to you when he wants gas money?  That’s how your parents feel when the only email you send is another request for money or time.

Tell them a story every once in a while and make sure they know what your organization is doing for their kids.  Add a cute anecdote from a teacher or school staff.  I’m sure they have some to share. 

#6 Don't use Comic Sans or funky fonts. 

Gone are the days when email was only read on a PC using Outlook.  Email is viewed on different devices with different operating systems and they are not all compatible.  For example:  comic sans doesn’t look good on an iPhone.

We recommend Arial.  If that’s too boring for you, try any “san serif” font but test on both your computer and phone to make sure you can read it.

#7 Have a primary "call to action" and a due date

Or keep to a minimum of 2 to 3.  Don’t load your email with a bunch of links and think they will click on them all.  Also, make sure to include a due date with every action required to ensure that they respond.  Even if you don’t have one, make one up!

#8 Go easy on images and fancy templates

This isn’t the time to show off your graphic design degree!  Images are a great way to catch the eye and spice up your email.  It’s also important for easy recognition like your adding your school logo.  However, half of your audience is reading email on their phone and loading a bunch of graphics means slower viewing.    Learn how to use images.

#9 Mobile friendly first

Over 50% of email is now read on the phone.  Send yourself a test email first and open it on your phone to make sure the colors, fonts and images are appearing where and how you want them. 

Consider using a single column template rather than the traditional 2 column “newsletter”.  This will ensure that all the content will fit.  You can use text anchors to make it easy for the reader to jump to the content they want.

#10 Have a schedule

We’re all creatures of habit.  We see a lot of email go out Sunday night in preparation for the upcoming school week.  Parents like the consistency and you want them to depend on (and anticipate) your communication.   Familiarize yourself with our email scheduler and put your email on “auto pilot”.     Learn how to send and schedule email