Most companies use email to stay connected to their customers and prospects throughout the education marketing cycle. Some do it well; others don’t.

We all recognize the hallmarks of a “bad” email when we see them:

  • Trying to communicate too many messages in a single email
  • Focusing solely on self-promotion
  • Using too many images
  • Including too much text
  • Not branding emails appropriately, thus creating an ambiguous sender
  • Not optimizing messages for mobile viewing

What do all of these email “don’ts” have in common? Poor planning and design.

10 Email Template Design Tips

Good design is essential to email marketing success. When the reader opens your message, you want the email to capture their attention — in a good way. Once engaged, the design should guide readers to instinctively click through the call to action (CTA).

All major email clients and marketing automation software offer drag-and-drop email templates. No matter what program you use to design your templates, follow these best practices to ensure your emails stand out.

  1. Brand your email template. Make sure your company logo has a presence “above the fold.” Adopted from newspapers, this term refers to the first screen a reader sees before scrolling to read more.
  2. Use plenty of white space to help focus the reader on your core message.
  3. Place your CTA above the fold as well. If a reader has to scroll to find the CTA, this diminishes the response. Better yet, include two or three CTAs in each message that all lead to the same action.
  4. Keep your copy clear and concise. It should be immediately clear what the purpose of your outreach is whether readers choose to skim the email or read the entire message.
  5. Images are important to overall design, but plan for filters to block them out. Prepare for this by adding alt text that appears when an image isn’t available. Also be aware that too many images may trigger spam filters.
  6. More and more educators are keeping up with emails on their smartphones and tablets. Keep small screens in mind when designing, and make sure the template is responsive on mobile devices.
  7. Create your most important messages in HTML and text. This ensures that readers can see and understand your message even when filters block images out.
  8. Test email formats against one another to see which garners the most positive response. Then use that format consistently to create easily recognizable messages.
  9. Personalize your emails. You may be able to do this on a granular level through personalized URLs (PURLS) that customize messages with a reader’s name, geographic location, custom images and more. You also can add a personal touch simply through your choice of pronouns. Use “you” and “your” to seem as though you’re addressing the reader directly.

For more email marketing tips, download Agile's Email Marketing Best Practices guide.

This is the second installment of an article based on a webinar presented May 18, 2016 by Jenny House of RedRock Reports and Steven Rowley of Acumen Partners. Read Part 1, here. The new Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) will have a profound impact on how federal education funds will be distributed. Its specific impact on federal Title funds is detailed below.

Title IV, Part A

One of the most important ESSA funding changes is the creation of a new Title fund: Title IV, Part A for Student Support and Academic Enrichment. Although the fund is new, the money itself isn’t. The federal government collapsed and consolidated 49 small programs to create this nearly $1.7 billion fund. Title IV, Part A is of particular importance to education vendors because there is flexibility in how these funds can be spent.

Teacher Spending Survey 2016 infographicAgile and SheerID partnered again for our third-annual Teacher Spending Survey. Compiled from the responses of more than 500 PreK-12 teachers across the U.S., our 2016 survey gives education marketers an insightful look into teacher spending habits. The results are in: Teachers still have tremendous purchasing power. Marketers just need to know how to tap into it. 

View Infographic


Teacher Spending Remains Stable

Our survey revealed that teachers spent an average of $487 out-of-pocket to purchase items for their classrooms during the 2015 – 2016 school year — only a slight $3 decrease since last year. The number of teachers who spent $200 or more increased 6% over the previous year to 77%. A majority of the money teachers spent went toward purchasing classroom supplies and instructional materials.

Email Marketing Earns Respect

When researching how to spend those personal dollars, teachers looked to a variety of resources. Email, however, has become a highly valued source for product and program information; 66% of respondents trust email communication for information about classroom-related items. It trails behind word-of-mouth only as teachers’ most-valued information source.

When it comes time to make purchases, digital channels also prevail. More educators made classroom purchases online than in actual stores, with most making those purchases on computers, followed by tablets and smartphones.

Discounts Lead to Loyalty

Marketers can use that valuable email platform to reach teachers in the education marketplace. Even during the summer months, 81% of teachers checked email at least weekly, with some even visiting their inboxes as frequently as every day.

Email also is a great way to offer exclusive teacher discounts, which educators appreciate. An overwhelming 84% of respondents said they are more loyal to brands that offer teacher discounts. But that discount must be worthwhile: 74% said discounts need to be 20% or more to be considered worthwhile.

Many thanks to our partner SheerID and to our respondents for making the 2016 Teacher Spending Survey another success.


This article is based on a webinar presented May 18, 2016 by Jenny House of RedRock Reports and Steven Rowley of Acumen Partners. In it they shared their insight on the likely impact of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), specifically regarding changes to federal school funding and the ramifications for education companies.

Shifting Funding

The implications of ESSA are still evolving due to the profound changes in accountability at the federal, state and local levels. Central to ESSA are massive changes in how funds will be allocated to districts. The federal government will transfer accountability and funding back to the states, essential removing themselves from funding and accountability roles.

With this shift, companies must begin to look to every state as each will be designing its own unique accountability program. Once those are established, districts will work collaboratively with states to determine spending and accountability plans.

Despite these changes, there is something that remains the same: The federal government will continue to be in charge of allocating funds that have been approved by Congress. However, now it will be up to each state to provide a plan for how that money will be spent. The state plans will be evaluated through a peer-review process, and the federal government will appropriate the money based on the quality of each plan.

Evolving Implications

It’s important to know that nothing is set in stone, and that the outlook is constantly shifting as details of the transition from No Child Left Behind (NCLB) to ESSA emerge. It is safe to describe the new federal role as “light guidance” as it helps states develop their tools.

The success of your marketing hinges on understanding K-12 purchasing habits. Who’s buying what, when? And how are educators finding out about products and programs?

Our May 2016 survey revealed important insights into where educators research purchases, what purchases take place at the school and district levels, when purchases are made throughout the year, and more.

Take a look at the results

Download a PDF of the infographic.

Teacher Purchasing Survey Infographic

Agile can help you navigate the K-12 education market and make sure your marketing is reaching the right people at the right time with the right message. Let’s talk.

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About Agile Education Marketing

We're the go-to people to build brand recognition and generate leads. Using our comprehensive EdConnect™ database of early childhood, K-12 and higher education institutions and personnel, Agile Education Marketing helps you reach educators at school, at home and online.