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Case Study: Coming Full Circle with Crescent City Schools Newsletter

Challenge

Crescent City Schools, a charter school network in New Orleans that began working with Online Optimism’s Social Media department reached out to our Search + Content department for an improved email marketing strategy that encapsulated all of their charter schools: Harriet Tubman Charter School, Akili Academy, and Paul Habans Charter School. Previously, Crescent City Schools’ newsletter updated subscribers on what was happening across the network, but they did not have the bandwidth to send the newsletter consistently. CCS wanted to create an updated template to utilize each month and make sure the newsletter audience was also seeing the organization’s social media posts. 

Woman uses laptop to view CCS' newsletter

Insights

Previously, the organization’s email marketing efforts featured several in-depth articles in its monthly newsletter that collectively provided insights about each of the network’s schools. Although comprehensive, this content strategy was difficult to consistently maintain. 

Our approach included a Did You Know section in each month’s newsletter to make subscribers aware of unique factors about the schools, students, staff, and CCS network as a whole. These highlights included interesting tidbits, such as CCS schools continuing to function as community feeding sites during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Blue Tubman building being on the national register for historical places, and updates about regional fundraising events such as GiveNOLA Day. Each campus was highlighted in the newsletters to familiarize subscribers with all campuses over time. 

Solution

We published 8 newsletters with 3 campaigns utilizing a re-sending technique through the partnership between Crescent City Schools and Online Optimism, which re-sent campaigns to subscribers who did not open the initial email newsletter.  We also utilized subject line A/B testing to determine which subject lines worked best with the audience and gauge what information they wanted from the newsletter. 

With a consistent schedule alongside a branded template, Crescent City Schools could highlight happenings at their schools that subscribers did not previously know. The newsletters included quotes from CCS scholars and teachers, updates to campus projects, and teacher and board member spotlights. 

Our team’s time, dedication, and branded template proved valuable in updating subscribers on the network’s COVID-19 policies and in-person learning plans. The newsletter’s new format also connected subscribers with valuable resources such as the organization’s education conversation series and recorded school events. 

Phone mockup of CCS newsletter "Did You Know?" section

Results

Due to scheduled email marketing, the open and click rates, number of subscribers, and level of subscriber engagement all grew organically. 

In the first nine months of the campaign, we achieved the following results:

Crescent City Schools' email newsletter open rate (23.7%) was higher than the average open rate of non-profits (20.3%) and of all industries (18%)
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CCS Open Rate
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Non-Profits Average Open Rate
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All Industries Average Open Rate

Re-sending the monthly campaign 2 days later to subscribers who did not open the initial email contributed to an additional 23.1% opens, which totaled 448 opens.

Phone mockup of CCS newsletter "Featured Stories" section

We also cleaned the audience during this campaign to remove inactive subscribers and reached the following results: 

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Highly Engaged Subscribers
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New Subscribers

From the Client

It has been a pleasure to work with Online Optimism on Crescent City Schools’s monthly e-newsletter. Online Optimism keeps us on schedule in terms of content creation, and their team keeps the ball moving when our staff’s bandwidth is limited. OO is accommodating whenever we need to modify our plans or approach, and their team genuinely celebrates with us in our successes.

Nicole Escarra

CCS Director of Development

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