As I’ve reviewed various flight school and flight instructor websites there’s one thing I’ve noticed that they all seem to have in common.
They don’t collect email addresses.
Yeah many of them have a “Contact Us” form which is great. You need to have one.
But the majority of people that land on your site aren’t going to fill out that form. And I’m going to guess that the people that do aren’t being added to any email list. I think it’s safe to say, if you aren’t collecting emails on your website then you probably aren’t doing any email marketing.
This article is going to dive deep into why your flight school needs to use email marketing and a few tips on exactly how you can use it.
Benefits to Collecting Emails
An email address is a direct line of communication with a person. To kick this off let’s take a look at a few studies which were done about email.
91% of consumers use email at least daily (ExactTarget)
Email is 40 times better at acquiring new customers than Facebook and Twitter. (McKinsey)
90% of consumers preferred to receive company communications through email over Facebook. (Nielsen Norman Group)
For every $1 spent on email marketing, the average return is $44.25. (Email Expert)
If that last point doesn’t get your attention I don’t know what will. When it comes to spending your limited marketing dollars email is a great investment.
When you have someone’s email address you are able to send them specific, targeted communication that they will likely actually see. This isn’t some Facebook post that seems to just vanish into the depths of the internet never to be seen by anyone.
An email address gives you the opportunity to connect personally with a potential customer. And it allows you to win them over and bring in new business.
Unfortunately you’re never going to see that $44.25 ROI until you have an email list. So let’s explore the process of collecting emails.
Where to Collect Emails
Building an email list can be rather overwhelming. Especially when you’re starting at zero. Let me share three simple ways you can begin to grow your list.
1. Current and former students.
As a flight school the first thing you ought to do is to put all of your current and former students onto an email list. If your school has been around for a few years this should give you a fairly decent list.
We’ll dig into why you want this group of people on an email list later on in this article. For right now let’s focus on how you can get started collecting more emails.
2. On Your Website
The second best place to begin collecting email is on your website. This is probably where most of your students are first coming in contact with your flight school.
Now you can guess that most people who land on your website are either exploring the idea of getting their pilots license, comparing flight schools, or are looking to get an advanced rating.
In each of these cases you need to collect their email address. So in 5 days when they’ve forgotten all about your flight school you can remind them that you’re still here ready to help them.
Now when it comes to collecting email addresses on your website you’ll need to do more than simply stick an email signup form on the site. You’ll need to offer some type of lead magnet in exchange for their email.
A lead magnet is essentially a piece of content that’s useful and can be digested in 5 minutes. Common lead magnets are guides, check lists, cheat sheets, and case studies.
If you’re a flight school trying to attract new pilots perhaps you’ll put together a one page cheat sheet for the FAA Knowledge test. Or you could talk to a former student and create a case study based on their experience. You could include how many hours it took them, how you prepped them for their first solo, how they were prepped for their check ride, etc.
Take some time to figure out what your target market needs help with. And then turn that into a lead magnet. Just make sure it’s something that has real value. And if your first version doesn’t seem to be attracting many people change it out for a new one.
Marketing is all about testing. Form a hypothesis and test it. Sometimes you’ll get positive results and sometimes you won’t. But as long as you keep testing and refining you’ll eventually find a strategy that works.
3. At Events and Trade Shows
Also consider collecting emails at trade shows and events. Many non pilots attend aviation events, especially air shows. This is a great opportunity to connect with potential customers. This is also a great opportunity to collect email addresses.
The most effective way I’ve found to collect email addresses at trade shows is to do some type of raffle. Give away a free discovery flight or a free flight in a vintage airplane. Make the offer something you feel would be attractive to a potential student.
After the event is over you now have a number of new email addresses that you can reach out to and 1st, thank for participating in your raffle, and 2nd, let them know about an exclusive offer just for them.
By utilizing all three of these resources you should begin to see your email list grow with time. Your email list can be a great resource in drumming up new students however you may be thinking to yourself “How?”
Well let’s take a look.
How to Use An Email List to Find More Flight Students
Now that you have a few ideas on how to grow your email list let’s take a look at how you can use that email list to grow your business. We’re going to examine 4 ways to use your email list to find more flight students.
1. Sell to Former Students
One of your greatest assets is all of the students who have come through your school. These people have spent time at your school, learned from your instructors and hopefully had a great experience doing so.
Many of these students probably only received one, maybe two licenses from you. Then they either stopped training or went to another school.
Well rather than let these former flight students drift off into the world, get their email address. Once a month send them some type of communication. This can be a company newsletter, a “what’s happening at the airport,” or a simple “Hope you’re doing well” email.
Just enough communication that they remember who you are and are accustomed to seeing your name every once in awhile. This will help your company stay top of mind in case they decide they would like to add on a new rating.
It would be best if you grouped your flight students into different lists.
- One list for pilots with just a private pilot’s license.
- One for those with two ratings.
- One for those with three ratings and so on.
Then on occasion you can send these groups customized promotions inviting them to add on a new rating to grow their flying capabilities.
This is a really simple way to use your email list to upsell former flight students on new ratings. You can also use this list to remind students when it’s time for their biannual flight review and invite them in to do it with one of your instructors.
I’ll admit this will take a bit more work to do but if you are planning on sticking around for a while this is a great way to show your students you’re invested in their long term success as a pilot.
After a student receives their pilot’s license setup a reminder in your Google Calendar to remind you a month or two before their biannual review. When that alert pops up email all of your students who have a review that month and invite them to schedule their review with you.
You could also offer a discount if you feel that will increase the likelihood of them using your flight school for the review.
2. Run an Affiliate Program
This is another great way to use your former flight students to try and find new students.
Send out an email to your former students announcing your new affiliate program. In this program your former students will receive an affiliate fee for each friend they bring down to the airport that gets their pilot’s license.
You’ll have to determine the reward based on your own school’s financial position and how much you make off of each new private pilot. However, make sure it’s an attractive offer. Offering up $5 to people probably won’t get you very far.
You could also offer former students free hours towards their next rating based on the number of new students they bring in.
3. Coupon for Discovery Flights
Another simple way to utilize former flight students is to send them a special discount code for a discovery flight. Ask them to forward the email on to a friend who they think would like to take a discovery flight.
If you really want to step up your game you’ll include a link to a landing page with more info about the discovery flight and testimonials from former students about how much they enjoyed learning to fly.
When the recipient of the email sees all of this coming from one of their friends they’ll be much more likely to click that buy button and come on down to the airport.
4. Gift a Discovery Flight
The last technique we’ll talk about today concerning your former students is to send them an invitation to gift a discovery flight to someone they know.
Remind them to think back on their first experience flying and how much joy flying has brought them. Give them specific instructions on how to buy the discovery flight and how to gift it to someone they know.
5. Prospective Flight Student Emails
With a lead magnet on you site you’re ready to collect email addresses. But the emails you send to these potential students are going to be very different than the emails you send to former students.
The first email you’ll want to send to the people that sign up on this list is a “Get to know you” email. Tell them a little about yourself and a little about your flight school. How long have you been around? How many hours do you have instructing? What types of planes do you have available? Keep it short. Then ask them to send you their questions about flight training.
The goal here is twofold. One, you want to begin to build some trust. This person may not be ready to start flight training yet but they may be in the future. And you want to be the first flight school they come to. The second goal is to engage in a conversation. You probably won’t have too many people respond to this email but those that do are far more likely to come in for a flight.
A few days after you’ve sent this welcome email you’ll want to send them a second email inviting them to come in for a discovery flight. Now it’s up to you if you want to offer them a discount on this flight. You can. Or you can send them the first invitation at full price. If they don’t respond you can send them a follow up email a week later offering a discount. It’s up to you.
Once you get them in for the discovery flight it’s up to you to get them to sign up for a second flight.