Before we wrap up this series on the Top 10 Homeschool Marketing Practices, I want to quickly review the first eight practices; then we will dive right into the final two. I’ll also link each of these to the full article online, so you can quickly reference, if needed.
#1: Email Acquisition Strategy: We begin with the vital component of growing your email list. We’ve covered the 30% annual shift in the homeschool audience and how you’ll need to constantly be focused on growing your email list if you’re going to stay current with the market. I also shared the best ways to grow your list and the best lead magnets to create!
#2: Email Awareness Sequence: Once you have those emails, it’s important to send your brand awareness email sequence. This not only educates the market about the problems you solve, but it saves on your marketing budget! I shared step-by-step instructions on the best way to craft these emails.
#3 Social Retargeting Schedule: Following a natural course of action, you’ll want to use social media to address your unsubscribes and the subscribers that have not been opening your emails. I explain the best course of action with suggested time frames.
#4 Email Conversion Approach: With a growing email list in hand, you’ll want to create a year-long calendar of emails. I share scheduling suggestions and the top 5 types of emails to send, along with suggestions on how to craft each one.
#5 Friendly Website Interface: Getting the attention of a homeschool family is the start, but conversion happens on your website. I walk you through each area of your site, giving practical, standard, and helpful tips to keep your site performing best for the homeschool audience.
#6 Easy Checkout System: We walked through what it looks like to do a quick review of standard checkout practices and helpful ways you can limit abandoned carts!
#7 Email Follow-Thru Sequence: Once your customer clicks the order button, it’s time to launch a 4-part sequence that allows the customer to have the best experience, leading to retention.
#8 Email Retention Schedule: With the unique sales season in the homeschooling market, you can maintain contact with your customers, helping them throughout the year, leading up to retention strategies for the following year. I share five common sense retention emails that any brand can use!
By following these first eight practices, I guarantee you will see results. But I’m always looking for better results. In that spirit, we will dive into the last two practices which are similar in their goal but use two different platforms to convert.
Remember how I mentioned that 90% of all purchases in the homeschool market are based on a review from another homeschool mom? This is mostly friends asking friends, but it’s also homeschool mom reviews. The goal for both of the last two practices is taking that information and developing an email list growth strategy through your existing customers and subscribers.
Note: If you’re a small business with limited budget or manpower, you’ll want to focus on numbers 1-5 in the practices above. This will give you the ability to grow both your budget and manpower to begin tackling numbers 6-10! I know this, because it’s what I’ve done. I started out as a one-woman show. But over the years, with growth, I now have an amazing team to help me implement all of these strategies.
One more piece of advice about manpower. In my organization, I am the best at marketing, so I hire out other areas of the company. But if you struggle to understand the practices we’ve been going through, I would focus on your strengths and look to hire a marketing director or freelance this department. That being said, you’ll want to make sure you know enough about marketing to hire and manage the person you hire. You’ll also want to hire someone who can readily grasp the unique nature of your company. Otherwise, you can be easily taken in by the so called “marketing experts” that seem to know a lot about selling themselves but rarely understand the homeschool market or your brand.
Email Sharing Offers
Let’s get back to the last two practices. Starting off with email sharing offers, I want to first clarify what this is NOT. It is NOT sending emails to your subscribers and asking them to forward to their friends. There’s no benefit for the homeschool mom to help you grow your list. And that is the key: you must incentivize your subscribers. A good email sharing offer is technically called a referral program. You can simply call it a referral program, but it’s best to come up with a snazzy name that relates well to your brand and homeschooling families. More common names are ambassadors or advocate programs, but get creative! Make the homeschool mom feel special!
Only recently have referral systems been developed that integrate into an email service provider. If you’ve not heard of this before, it’s simply brilliant, especially since homeschool moms love to be the “expert” on matters. Remember, they’ve done the hard work of using products with their students. Add to your email service provider the API to connect your shopping cart and your referral program, providing you instant access to review the ROI of your referral program and the most popular products through this program.
The easiest and yet most advanced referral system by far is Sparkloop. It’s a free tool if you’re a Convertkit Pro Creator subscriber, and it’s worth every penny of the subscription! The cost of a new email lead through a referral program can be lower than purchased eblasts or social media ads. Let me show you how.
After you’ve come up with a snazzy referral program name, you’ll want to take the time to develop the rewards. I found it best to have a reward for referrals as low as 3 but as high as 1,000. Developing your rewards program well, you could easily get social media influencers to recommend their followers join your list.
For the remainder of this article, I’m going to be referencing specific functionalities that I use within SparkLoop. These may or may not be available in other referral programs.
Two things to consider when developing rewards. First is how you will reward your subscribers. You can choose to reward for every 3 new referrals or incrementally from 2 to 1,000. Better yet, you can use both simultaneously. In this case a person can earn a reward for the first 2 referrals then another reward when they hit 3. When they hit 15, they could have 2 rewards at the same time.
For simplicity, we will focus on the incremental reward system. When developing your rewards, keep in mind that rewards grow. So if a subscriber gets 3 referrals, they get a reward. Once they reach 5, they get another reward, and so on. (They don’t save up the three to get to the five). With this in mind, I highly recommend creating an incremental reward system that starts with digital rewards and eventually physical rewards.
Digital rewards can be anything from an exclusive membership to a newsletter or a Facebook group to a download, an online course, or a coupon. With coupons, there’s the option to use generic or custom. I highly recommend custom because homeschool moms share a lot! There are times when you can create a physical product that is so small it can be shipped at a very affordable first class rate. In that case, I would sandwich a physical product between a download and an online course, making sure the reward grows in value with each step.
For physical products, there’s a calculation you can do to make sure you’re rewarding well. If a subscriber brings you 100 referrals that would have cost you between $1.5 and $8 each on social media, they have saved you $150-$800. They should be rewarded well! And remember, these are VERY valuable referrals, because your subscriber has been able to convince her friends to sign up for your email.
For any referrals of 100 or more, you should be giving great coupon offers or incredible freebies. I’ve also discovered that the rewards you create for those higher referral numbers should be exclusive to the subscriber who is advocating for you. I develop three items each year that are only for my top purchasers (those who buy over a certain amount) and my referral program. This adds a layer of exclusivity to the referral program.
Social Engagement Strategy
Last on our list of top homeschool marketing practices is the social engagement strategy. Again, this strategy is similar to email sharing because it’s founded on the truth that homeschool referrals are the gold standard in homeschool marketing. This strategy is possibly the easiest to implement, and it can help grow your social platform, ultimately growing your email list.
When you develop your social media strategy, you’ll want to make sure to include 1-2 posts a month that have a three part purpose. First, you want to create a post that will cut through the noise of social media and grab your followers’ attention. Secondly, you want to ask your followers to tag their friends. Finally, the third purpose is to drive those tagged to follow your social account or, better yet, to click to a landing page and enter their email! Developing a post with this intention has to be well thought out. It’s not easy to get a busy mom to stop and remember her friends’ specific social media names!
Because this post is all about getting the homeschool mom to engage, you’ve got less than 3 seconds to grab her attention. This also means the value of this post is worth more than any of your other posts. Putting time and thought into it – and even hiring a graphic designer, animator, or illustrator – is well worth the investment.
Here are a few post ideas that tend to get traction with tagging.
Remember that initial email acquisition strategy where you created a lead magnet? You can use that same lead but create a solid post that draws attention, like an animated gif or comical graphic. Develop ad copy around the idea that every homeschool mom needs this download, then ask readers to tag the friends they think need it most. Making it fun or even funny will make this go a long way.
Remember your audience! Homeschool moms love to talk about how many kids they have, where they live, or how long they’ve been homeschooling. Create a simple post (with a stellar graphic) that ties in the topic of having more than three kids and then includes this simple statement at the end: “Tag your friends with more than 3 kids!” You can even make this post about a product or article that works well with large families. Either way, make sure you have a landing page
Giveaways are probably the number one way to get friends to tag, especially if you make it a requirement for entry into the giveaway. When you double the entries when followers post pictures of your product in use, your post will reflect brand awareness to those who have been tagged. It’s a great 2 for 1.
Relate To This
Because homeschooling is a lifestyle, posting funny images representing things that happen in the day in the life of a homeschool mom can generate a lot of buzz. These pictures provoke an emotional response and get moms engaging. Be sure to give clear directions: like the post if you can relate and tag a friend that can relate. The more likes, the more your post will show in feeds.
Tag, You’re It!
Games are a great way to include tagging, but they can often go much further with website visits and scrolling through your social feeds. Use riddles and puzzles to drive traffic, and be sure to include instructions to tag a friend as part of the game. Make sure there is a prize worthy of a busy mom’s participation!
Again, this is a bit techy, but we are here to help. If you want to learn how to do this, feel free to reach out to Shawn at 716.867.6600 or firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
As you can see, some of these posts are much more than a simple graphic and text. You may need to develop custom artwork, landing pages, forms, sequences, and more. That’s why it’s better to have one stellar post a month asking for tags than to have one mediocre post a week.
One final note about tagging posts: be sure to create posts that can be reused. Remember how homeschooling changes 30% each year? You should also remember that homeschool moms are super busy and they don’t always see your posts. It’s ok to recycle every 3-4 months.
The ideas above only represent a few things you can do. But by being creative with your brand, you can come up with unique posts that bring brand awareness, fun, and more followers.
We’ve covered a lot of ground today, and there’s a lot more to go over. But in the meantime, if you need help with your marketing goals, feel free to reach out to Shawn at 716.867.6600 or email@example.com.
Now for the challenge. Take time to investigate and learn more about referral programs and see if your email service provider connects to one. If not, please check out Convertkit. I know changing email service providers can be a task, but the folks at Converkit make it easy and quick.
As well, take time to think through your brand and your audience on social media. What types of posts can you create that will generate buzz? Create a step-by-step plan on how you’d create these posts!
And folks, that’s it. The 10 top homeschool marketing practices. This list is comprehensive but effective. Don’t try to start all at once; build one upon the other. Once you have a great lead magnet developed, start the awareness sequence. Once you’ve tweaked your sequence, allowing it to run a few months to see the response, then proceed to the next step. One by one, day by day, you’ll be amazed by your growth in subscribers and customers in just one homeschool sales cycle.
Stay tuned, I’ve got much more to cover in other topics related to homeschool marketing. Until then…
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With over 35 years experience in the home education industry, Home Educating Family staff are continually innovating products and services for the homeschooling family.