On a recent webinar, we spoke to Hannah Hudson, Editorial Director of WeAreTeachers, and Linda Ingersoll, Leader of our Strategic Engagement team at MDR, about the value of educators as a consumer market. They provided useful insights that were extracted from our in-depth Teachers as Consumers report. Following, you’ll find some of the questions that were asked during the webinar that we thought were worth sharing. Many of the questions relate to education marketing best practices, and are essential to incorporate into most marketing campaigns.
Questions on Multi-Channel Campaigns
Besides offering promotions, what have you found is most effective in email marketing campaigns to teachers?
We have found that offering free resources, such as free classroom posters, lesson plans, or instructional materials always drive high interest with teachers. The more targeted and personalized you can be with the content offer and with the messaging in the email, the better. For example, a subject line such as “Louisiana fourth grade teachers, here’s a free math poster for you,” is much more likely to get opened than a vague subject line like, “Get your free poster.” We also find that timely, seasonal content always gets good engagement with educators, and we use that approach in our weekly WeAreTeachers newsletter.
Can you give some examples of “longer form” pieces of content that makes sense for teachers?
We find that the most successful content offers teachers a laugh, a dose of inspiration, or a list of ideas and resources that they can use right away in their classrooms. One of our most popular series on WeAreTeachers has been our “50 Tips and Tricks” for teaching every grade. Infographics can also be a great way to communicate data and are widely shared by teachers on Pinterest.
Do your email specialists have a “Top 10 list” of ways to optimize campaigns?
Yes! Check out our Digital Marketing Trends report for a checklist to optimize email, digital advertising, and social media campaigns.
Can you offer more specific suggestions for how to use Pinterest to reach and engage teachers?
Teachers use Pinterest as a visual search engine to find, save, and share lessons, crafts, products, activities, and professional development materials. This blog post has some great tips for how to make the most of your Pinterest presence.
How do you find trusted bloggers to partner with for influencer marketing campaigns?
It’s all about taking the time to do your research and building We have found that the influencer tools offered by more general marketing platforms do not have much depth in the education space, which is why we have created our own proprietary database of teacher and school leader influencers that we use for select campaigns at MDR. Finding the right influencers involves spending a lot of time on social media, seeing who speaks your brand’s “language,” and working on building a relationship with those people—including commenting and sharing on their posts that have nothing to do with your brand, for example.
Is it OK to simply abandon a social media platform? We started a Google+ account thinking we would reach teachers in Google Classroom, but it hasn’t generated the audience we hoped for.
In short, yes. Don’t feel like you have to be everywhere at once. Picking one or two channels and doing those really well is much more important than being everywhere. We are firm believers in testing to see what works with your specific audience, and if you are finding that Google+ is not an effective social channel, then by all means try another one! We find that Pinterest, Facebook, and Instagram are some of the top channels used by educators, so you’re more likely to get better engagement by focusing your efforts on those channels. Here are five ways you can tailor your efforts across social channels to connect with educators.
Do you have any data on what types of subject lines and email newsletter content (besides free resources) tend to get the most engagement? STEM topics, for example?
Our email specialists always say: the subject line is to get the open, and the content in the email itself is to get the click. Questions in the subject line tend to work well to intrigue the reader enough to open and tell them that the content of the email will be relevant to them. As for content, it totally depends on your target audience. The more you can segment your audience to offer them relevant content, the better. Our recently released Digital Marketing Trends in the Education Market Report is full of these types of insights. You can download a free copy here.
We are a nonprofit and our product is free, so offering discounts/giveaways/coupons is not relevant. Do you have any suggestions on the best way to increase brand awareness?
We work with a lot of nonprofits on brand awareness campaigns. Even if you are not selling a physical product or service, most nonprofits still have some sort of free educational resources to share. For example, for one nonprofit, we create free, virtual field trips that are a great promotional tool for the brand. Brand awareness campaigns are a great way to get in front of teachers, keep your brand in the top of their minds when they are looking for something fun to do in their classroom, and develop a loyal following of teachers who use these free resources from the brand’s website. Contests, quizzes, and challenges are also a great way to help build excitement around your brand without requiring a lot of resources.
We are a small startup company and do not have the budget to run multi-channel campaigns yet. What channels or channel would you recommend starting with if we had to choose just one or two?
It depends on what your goal is. If the goal is to generate leads, and you had to choose just one channel to focus your efforts on, email will give you the best bang for your buck to drive leads and purchases. Email combined with social shares from a trusted source, like WeAreTeachers, or partnering with a well-known blogger/community influencer is a great way to extend your reach even further. Targeted social ads also work well for our clients. Social media advertising is a highly scalable tactic and it’s possible to get a good return on your investment as long as you are targeting the right audience.
You made a comment about teachers being more likely to open links sent to them from trusted sources. What are some ways to become a trusted resource for teachers?
There are a lot of things that go into building trust with educators. Do they recognize your brand or have they heard teacher friends speaking positively about it? What is your message and are you talking the way real teachers do, or using education or business jargon? What resources does your brand offer beyond your product? How do you acknowledge the very real challenges teachers face, as well as their successes?
Questions on the Teachers as Consumers Report
How many teachers were polled for the Teachers as Consumers report?
This report is based on survey data from 800 educators across the U.S. The respondents include teachers, instructors, professors, administrators, and specialists in both public and private settings and at all levels of education—PreK through higher education.
What percentage of educators are women?
About 70% of teachers in the U.S. are female.
What percentage of the respondents were millennials? Is this statistically representative of the entire educator population?
According to a brand new study by the Pew Research Center, millennials were born between the years 1981 and 1996, so they include anyone between 22–37 years old today. About 25% of respondents in our Teachers as Consumers report fall in this age range, which is statistically representative of the entire U.S. educator population.
What differences do you see in consumer behavior between higher education educators and k-12 educators? How does this impact a campaign?
Our Teachers as Consumers report does not distinguish between K-12 and higher education teachers, however, in our analysis of teachers’ interaction with digital marketing we do see differences in behavior between these two audiences. For example, the Higher Education Leadership peer group continues to be the most accessible via email, while K-12 teachers continue to be the least accessible. This is likely due to the Higher Education Leadership group being targeted less frequently in campaigns by our customers. In addition, the higher education audience is more segmented, so they are less likely to be included in broad campaigns.
While it is very common for companies to send the same email promotion to all teachers in K-6, a kindergarten teacher has different needs than a fifth-grade teacher, and a lack of message relevance will translate to lower open and click-through rates. Because Higher Education promotions tend to focus more specifically by department (History, English, Mathematics), campaign sizes are naturally smaller, improving deliverability and message relevance, resulting in higher open and click-through rates.
Do you have any questions about teachers as consumers? Let us know, by commenting below and we’ll get you the answers!