We <3 our customers

(and they love us, too)

I tell my franchises, ‘You don’t have to use Emma, but you’d be crazy not to!'


After teaching lessons in a music store, School of Rock founder Paul Green quickly realized something: His students didn’t want to learn scales and theory out of some boring old method book – they wanted to jam with other musicians! So in 1998, he started his own music school where they did things a little differently, teaching students of all ages and ability levels to play by putting on real shows at real venues.

Since then, the original School of Rock has become a franchise of over 165 schools located all over the world. Along with its dedicated staff of teachers and talented musicians, School of Rock is home to some seriously top-notch email marketers – we’re talking an astounding 54% average open rate across all of its franchise locations. That’s why we were super excited when we got the opportunity to chat with Sam Dresser (School of Rock’s Senior Director of Information Strategy) about their marketing strategy and how email helps them reach more prospective students.

What’s your role at School of Rock?

My job is to ensure that all the technology and systems we use are effectively supporting our 165-plus schools and helping transform more people through performance-based music education. It’s all about leveraging technology to empower our users and make them more productive, efficient, and effective.

Instructor teaching student guitar

What originally brought you to Emma?

We went through a major platform migration last summer and had the opportunity to evaluate a couple of different email marketing tools at that time. It quickly became clear that Emma’s powerful franchise model, along with its many user-friendly tools, were a perfect fit for our franchise business.

What are your primary goals when it comes to your email marketing?

At a very high level, the main audiences that we market to can be broken down into two categories: people who are our customers and people who aren’t. The people who are our customers want to stay informed and engaged with what’s happening in their schools. This is primarily done through newsletters and other similar tactics. We want them to be happy, stay for a long time, and tell all their friends about us!

The other audience is people who aren’t our customers, either yet or anymore. What we’re trying to do with them is to leverage things like automation and dynamic content to personalize our messages in a way that’s relevant and timely. We want them to get an email that hits them at the exact right moment and convinces them to pick up the phone, or drop into the school, and sign up.

How has the franchise platform helped make your marketing efforts easier?

I tell my franchises, “You don’t have to use Emma, but you’d be crazy not to!” The tools that Emma provides us as a franchisor are excellent. I can log in at anytime, and in a single dashboard, I can see all of our campaign activity by school – what’s working and what isn’t. I also have the flexibility to bill the schools based on our business, either centrally or by having Emma invoice the school directly. And the schools love it because we can build templates and assets that are specific to our business, with our branding, and share them instantly.

What email marketing tools are most helpful to you?

Truth be told, it’s the integrations that make Emma so incredible for us. The primary integration that we leverage is with Front Desk. Front Desk is the tool that all of our schools use to manage their billing, scheduling, and memberships. The Emma integration is very robust, and it syncs all sorts of useful and relevant data about our customers right into Emma, allowing us to segment and target to exactly the audiences that we want.

Our email recipients expect relevant, personalized, and timely content in their inboxes, and if we aren’t providing that, they’ll unsubscribe. With features like automation, and now dynamic content, we can ensure that the right content is delivered to the right people at the right time. However, these features can only be leveraged if we have the data and events to support them.

Three phones showing dynamic content

School of Rock used Dynamic Content to serve their recipients images based on the instrument they play.

Thankfully, Front Desk knows a lot about our customers: how long they’ve been enrolled at one of our schools, what instrument they play, when their last lesson or rehearsal was, and even their birthday! This gives us all the information and tools we need to deliver more timely, personalized, and effective email communications than ever before.

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