Email Marketing Your Summer Camp - Automating "selling" your camp [Uber-blog post warning!]

The Fortune is in the Follow-up

email marketing summer camp
email marketing summer camp

No matter if you get people to sign up for your email newsletter or just you received a call from a new family interested in camp...

Automated email follow up can be a key component in managing your time effectively (this is a set-it-and-not-really-forget-it-but-rather-only-look-it-over-yearly-system), helping families get to know you without being "sales-y", and keeping in front of potential families over the long sales cycle of summer camp decision making.

This is the one camp sales technique that I believe EVERY camp should be practicing.

What is Email Automation?

It is a system (made easy by Email Service Providers / ESPs like Constant Contact or, our favourite, MailChimp) where you can offer a free download to people (see below for ideas of what you can offer) in order to get their email.  The ESP will then automatically send out as many emails as you wish, on the schedule you choose.

What does Email Automation offer your camp? 

  • a proven, effective sales technique with returns on investment that all your time on social media cannot compete with.   For every $1 you invest in email marketing your return will be $43.  (social media is more like $1:$1.25)
  • a kind of selling that your customers appreciate: it's low pressure; it allows people to feel like they know and respect you; it gives them time to feel confident in their decision. Email marketing is not "Hello, would you like to send your kids to our camp?"
  • a simple system to measure the results of your effort. It's easy to tell what's working and make small changes.
  • The material you create for your marketing emails can be used for many different purposes. You can create an automation sequence for new leads, follow-up to a camp inquiry, after people sign up (they're going to need much of the same information).
  • The system is passive for your purchaser - they don't have to check an app or go to a new website to find out more about you.  The information arrives automatically
  • It sets you apart - you are the most helpful school/camp/org so you must be the best choice
  • Repetition, Repetition, Repetition - people get a LOT of messages in a day. Sometimes you only cut through the clutter by showing up - over and over again. 

How do we get people to sign up for our Email Marketing Automation? (Automation is the series of emails that you wrote ahead of time that are delivered automatically)

We offer them something that they would find useful.

By getting to know the families we serve - knowing what the stressors are in their life, what their day is like, what they hope for their children - we can offer a free "problem solver" (see next) that will entice them to sign up for our email list.

What can we offer to get Sign Ups for our Email Automation? 

Check out these headlines and consider how you could create a 500 word essay, a Top Ten List or a 90 second video to that would address the issue.

  • How to pick the right summer camp for your child's unique interests
  • Does your child have Nature Deficit Disorder - 10 things to look for
  • What developmental characteristics will my child learn at camp that they can't learn at school?
  • 10 things our first year camp families notice about their kids when they get home from camp
  • Is your child ready for summer camp? 5 signs that it's time!
  • What to look for when picking a (your camp's specialty) camp
  • 5 Relationship Building questions you should ask your child every day - lessons from a camp counsellor
  • 10 Questions for a Camp Director
  • Q & A: How do I know when my child is ready for sleepaway camp?
  • What is the right length of time for a camp session?
  • How will I know if it's safe? 5 key procedures that every summer camp should have
  • Preparing your daughter/son for summer camp
  • But what they do at night? 5 ways we make sure your child goes to bed happy, healthy and tired.
  • Understanding Supervision at Camp
  • How is girls/boys camp different than co-ed camp
  • What kind of people make the best mentors for a teen girl?
  • Other Ideas from your Parent FAQs
  • Check out this list that I got from a private school marketing consultant (if you're associated with a private school you should be following Randy Vaughn!)
    • K-6
      • A newcomers guide to our city: helping your little ones love their new town and school
        • Suggested delivery: Have your admissions director or student write a detailed blog post about welcoming a family to your city including restaurant tips, map to local parks, and family entertainment options. Create a video tour of your school and upload to YouTube.
        • How to know if a Kindergartener is "reading ready"
          • Suggested delivery: Ask your top teachers to compile a checklist or provide video/audio of tips for parents to use.
          • Best tips for making the first day school the best for parents and students
            • Suggested delivery: Have the head of school create a fun welcome video that is sent to all incoming students via email a week before the first day. Have students write tips to knowing how to get around the school.
            • How much screen time should your children get a day: 3 teachers, 3 parents and 3 child counselors weigh in
              • Suggested delivery: Get teachers, parents and counselors weigh in that could be complied into one blog post. Produce video content from local experts as well on your school’s YouTube/Vimeo account.
              • 7 Mistakes Christian Parents Most Often Make in Raising Disciples
                • Suggested delivery: Have local parenting expert in your community provide a guest blog post either in written or video format. Have the Head of School offer thoughts as well.
                • Gr 7-9
                  • The most popular apps and websites your preteens are obsessed with and you may not even know it
                    • Suggested delivery: Have a local social media expert serve as a guest blogger on this topic. Produce a written blog post with links to social media sites, apps, etc so parents can conduct their own research. Produce a local live presentation and make this available to your community as well.
                    • At What Age Should My Daughter Get a Cell Phone?
                      • Suggested delivery: Ask local experts and parents to weigh in on this topic and produce a written blog post with the results. Ask expert to produce an audio file as well.
                      • How to evaluate the academics of your student (when we don't use the state's standardized tests)
                        • Suggested delivery: Have your head of school do a video or audio explanation of this evaluation process at your school. A written document might be good to put on your website as well for prospective families to read.
                        • Having A Social Media Contract with Your Teen
                          • Suggested delivery: Work with a social media expert to create a sample contract. Ask teens to weigh in on the topic as well. Produce a blog post that includes links to research as well as the sample contract (Word or PDF format).
                          • Teens
                            • How to find college scholarships
                              • Suggested delivery: Ask your counselor(s) at your school to provide a written blog post with links to scholarships applications. Have them provide tips on applying to college as well.
                              • A graduating senior's mom shares tips about how to make the most of a college visit
                                • Suggested delivery: Have a Mom produce a written, audio or video “checklist” that could be shared on the blog, website or on YouTube/Vimeo. Include notes from the graduating seniors as well.
                                • 5 characteristics of a “Kingdom Athlete”
                                  • Suggested delivery: Have a coach give you what the perfect athlete looks like at your school in terms of leadership, quality of play and spiritual maturity. This could be in video, written or audio format.
                                  • 7 Tips to Choosing a College
                                    • Suggested delivery: Ask your guidance counselor to provide tips that could be produced in a written blog post. In addition, have the Head of School offer thoughts in audio or video format.
                                    • Disturbing Things High School Girls Are Doing with Snapchat & Ask.fm
                                      • Suggested delivery: Work with social media expert to provide written or video presentation that can be shared on the blog, your website as well as in a local community presentation sponsored by the school.
                                      • Credit Card Danger: Preparing Your Child for College Finances
                                        • Suggested delivery: Ask your parents, teachers and local financial experts to offer helpful tips on this topic. While a written blog post could be sufficient, consider adding video or audio testimonies from families who either made good financial choices or individuals who made poor credit card choices and have turned their financial life around.

Now that we have people subscribed what do we send them that will encourage them to sign up for our camp? 

We need to create a set of emails (start with 4 or 5 but consider editing your list and adding more emails every fall.  There is some fascinating anecdotal evidence that increasing the number of emails exponentially increases the number of sales) that you can write and add to the automation.

Here is an example Marketing Automation campaign for Summer Camps

(This is a camp-related version of a list created for Private School marketers by Brendan Schneider. Read more: http://www.schneiderb.com/lead-nurturing-for-schools/#ixzz3KNVgxno8

  • 0 Day – Initial Inquiry. If you've used a lead gathering incentive (something you offer for free in exchange for their email) send that now with a short welcome email. Build anticipation for the next email and the rest of the sequence. (End with a PS like: PS: If you had one question about improving your child's _________, what would it be?  Email me your question and I'll try to help you out.)
  • 2 Day Delay – Send your Camp Video.
  • 7 Day Delay – Send your 25 Questions to Help You Evaluate a Summer Camp for your Child (pdf).
  • 5 Day Delay – Send the answers to all 25 questions for your camp (pdf).
  • 5 Day Delay – Send out a collection of essays written by your Director reflecting on Your Mission and Core Values (pdf).
  • 5 Day Delay – Email them a link pointing them to your Program Chart  (what activities you have) driving them back to our website. Your purpose is to educate them to the life-long lessons of the program areas (perhaps 21st Century Skills) as well as get them back to your website.
  • 3 Day Delay - a quick email to request they follow the link to edit their MailChimp profile.   The goal at this point is to make sure they've checked off the boxes with their interests (Day Camp, Overnight or School Year)
  • 7 Day Delay – Send a link pointing them to a series of blog posts explaining your Daily Schedule on your blog. Your purpose is to educate them about your daily schedule as well as introduce them to your blog.
  • 7 Day Delay – Send another link. This time pointing them to your series of blog posts answering the Parent Pathway questions.  You want to educate them about the amount of thought you have put into preparing families for summer as well as reinforce that your blog is a valuable source of education on many topics.  Bonus points if you send them to your YouTube playlist where you've answered these questions in short videos.
  • 7 Day Delay – Finally, send a link pointing them to your Meet the Directors page on your website highlighting your own camp story and why you think the camp experience is valuable to children & youth.

The call to action within each email is to call to ask any questions and to schedule a visit.

Do you have an questions about email marketing summer camp?   Please ask in the comments below!