“Much unhappiness has come into the world because of bewilderment and things left unsaid.” - Fyodor Dostoyevsky
We believe that communication with customers is one of the most important thing when running a business, but this rule doubly applies when running a training operation. Whether you're a higher education institution, commercial training provider, or a trainer that primarily does in-house and on-site instruction, communication around the classroom is just as important as within. Still, communication is time consuming, expensive, and fraught with operational headache, so many of us don't spend nearly as much time on it as we should.
But what if you could reclaim hundreds of hours over the course of a month, or even dozens of hours each week and communicate better? By automating most of the routine communication they have with their students, many of our customers have done just that! And while saving time is great, most are now able to deliver a superior service by increasing the amount and frequency of information that is delivered to their students and staff in a timely manner.
Two Types of Email
Most of our customers can separate their email communications into two groups: those that have to happen no matter what according to a schedule, and those that are in response to specific questions. The first group of emails can be extremely time consuming to manage and can create a lot of stress for your organisation if you've got lots of students attending lots of courses. We're interested in helping our customers solve the first issue - routine emails delivering the same information to different students should not be a drag on your daily schedule.
Email Still Dominates
Email remains the dominant form of communication and is preferred over other methods by customers, particularly for important emails like course invoices, registration confirmations, and joining instructions. If you're not leveraging this channel today, you're at a disadvantage!
Are You Using the Right Tool?
For most training organisations, sending emails to students (and staff) is difficult and extremely time consuming, mainly due to not having the right tool for the job. Most email tools on the market today focus on email marketing, not repetitive email communications with customers. These marketing tools are focused on "one-to-many" communications where the same exact email goes to everyone in the group as opposed to "one-to-one" communications where the same email template goes to an individual, with their specific details filled in.
This leaves training providers in a bind - they provide (or should provide) lots of communication to their customers around a standard service. In order to get these messages out, most training providers spend lots of time on manual mail merges, or worse, manual effort spent on sending each individual email!
Automated Email Triggers from Administrate
"I'm a great believer that any tool that enhances communication has profound effects in terms of how people can learn from each other, and how they can achieve the kind of freedoms that they're interested in." - Bill Gates
This is why we've spent time to build the right tool for the right job, what we call the "Communication Triggers" within Administrate, designed to help you setup template emails according to a schedule, automatically send them with the right information automatically filled in, and track their delivery.
How Much Time Could You Save?
How much time could you save by automating your course related emails? It could be dozens of hours each week, or hundreds of hours every year. If this sounds like a lot, keep reading to see the breakdown of time required to manage routine training emails.
Are You Manually Sending Emails?
Lets imagine a normal training operation, running ten courses per week, with ten students each. We recommend that training providers touch their customer five to seven times while delivering education.
- Booking Confirmation - "Thanks for Booking!"
- Invoice with Payment Confirmation - "Payment Successfully Processed!"
- Joining Instructions - "Your Course Details"
- Course Reminder, Week Prior - "Reminder: Your Course Next Week"
- Course Reminder, Day Prior - "Details For Tomorrow"
- Certificate Delivery - "Here's Your Certificate!"
- Certificate Expiration Checkin, Upon Expiration - "Your First Aid Certificate is About to Expire!"
Sometimes trainers combine some of these emails or skip one, but in general you can separate your responsibility into three phases: confirmation, reminding, and followup. All three of these phases are critical to making your operation successful!
Back to our example - if you send these seven communications to each student you encounter, the time can really add up. Below we've worked out two example, one that assumes you can send an email every three minutes. Remember, even if you're really organised, you still have to get through the following workflow in just a couple of minutes:
- Remember to send the email (difficult unless you set a lot of reminders or run a lot of reports)
- Dig out your template you've saved (you have one, right?)
- Fill in all the blanks from your CRM or excel spreadsheets
- Grab the correct email address, copy and paste to avoid making mistakes!
- Quickly double check for errors
- Send the email (lets hope it doesn't bounce!)
Could you do all of that 700 times, and average under 3 minutes per email?
- 10 Courses x 10 Students X 7 Emails X 3 Minutes = 2,100 Minutes (35 Hours)
- 10 Courses x 10 Students x 7 Emails x 1 Minute = 700 Minutes (11+ Hours)
Are You Using Mail Merge or Mailchimp?
Many training providers use a mail merge or email service provider like Mailchimp to send their emails out. Don’t get us wrong, these tools are great for the odd email send or for your marketing activities, but they’re not the best tools for sending lots of personalised emails on a predefined schedule. Email service providers are designed to send the same email to everyone, and mail merges can provide specific personalised information to a group, but can’t be sent automatically or according to a schedule!
Just like above, here's a typical Mail Merge or Email Service Provider workflow:
- Remember to send the email
- Dig out your template, with merge codes or tags already filled in
- Assemble the required data in an excel spreadsheet, and double check to make sure everything looks right
- Perform the merge, and send the email (hope nothing bounces!)
We think it’s not unreasonable to expect to spend at roughly fifteen minutes per mail merge (or mail chimp) email, including the time spent testing how things will look and making sure you’ve got the right list from your CRM.
- 10 Courses x 7 Emails x 15 Minutes = 1,050 Minutes (17+ Hours)
- 10 Courses x 7 Emails x 10 Minutes = 700 Minutes (11+ Hours)
There's a Better Way - Automate Your Emails!
Our customers use Administrate to handle all of this for them. Our training management software never forgets to send an email, always follows the defined template, and even lets you know if something goes wrong!
The way it works is simple:
- Customers setup email templates for the emails they want to send. Templates can be fully customised using HTML and you can include standard attachments if you'd like.
- They define a delivery schedule. For example, they can define that course reminders are sent 2 days before the course is scheduled to start.
- Administrate sends the emails and tracks the receipt, whether the customer opens the email, and whether they click on any links you've included. If you've ever used email marketing software, the same kind of tracking information is available through Administrate! Any errors that occur during delivery are shown, and you can edit and resend emails as necessary if an email address is wrong, for example.
Many of our customers have setup automated email triggers that provide more information to their students than they did before now that they don't have to worry about the time impact. This provides better visibility to their customers, saves time for the training organisation, and improves the overall experience relative to other trainers in the marketplace. Today Administrate helps send over 50,000 emails each month on behalf of our customers, and as more embrace this feature, we're delighted to see a steady increase in usage!
Our customers have taken the time to design email templates that look nice, work well on mobile devices, and include much more information that they would have previously contained now that the entire system is automated.
The automated email feature is included as part of the normal Administrate product offering. Our training management system is designed to help training administrators save time and deliver a better experience for their students, and we're proud of how our communications triggers help our customers. To read more about this feature, check out our blog post announcing the arrival of our communication triggers or our support documentation, and if you'd like to see our software first hand, make sure you sign up for a free trial!
Download 10 Training Management Emails You Should be Automating!
Want to get automating but not sure where to start? Down our free guide to find out the 10 training management emails we think you should be automating!