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Technology & Development, Marketing & Recruitment

Higher Education Email Marketing: Tips and Best Practices

Curious about how email marketing can boost your college or university’s recruiting efforts? Consider a recent survey by Mailchimp that found education-related emails have a 24.42 percent open rate. That’s a pretty impressive stat that you can’t afford to ignore.

If increasing engagement and enrollment is a priority for your team, maybe it’s time to create and implement a higher education email marketing plan. This post will walk you through features of an effective plan, including:

  • The importance of email marketing for higher education.
  • Why you should optimize your email marketing campaigns for mobile.
  • The importance of brand consistency.
  • How images and videos boost engagement.
  • Reasons for segmenting your email campaigns lists.
  • The benefits of automating your email marketing campaigns.
  • Personalization tips.
  • Email marketing software designed specifically for higher ed.

Taking the time to strategize and structure your email marketing plan correctly from the start will not only give you better results, but provide you with a roadmap for future email marketing campaigns.

Download the 2019 E-Expectations Trend Report for more information about email and other ways to attract the attention of prospective students.

 

The Importance of Email Marketing for Higher Education

Modern high school students are digital natives, spending up to nine hours a day on their digital devices. However, according to the 2019 E-Expectations Trend Report, email continues to be the preferred way that prospective students communicate with colleges, and 98 percent of students say that they use email at least once a week. In fact, the closer students get to the application process, the more they will reach out to admissions officers with questions.

According to the 2019 E-Expectations Trend Report, 98 percent of students are willing to share their email address with you.

Email is also the easiest way to reach parents and donors, so don’t forget to target email marketing campaigns specifically to them.
 

College and University Email Marketing Tip: Mobile-Optimize Everything! 

As the web evolves, so do the devices used to view content. That’s why mobile responsiveness should be a given for your college or university’s higher education marketing efforts. Just think—some students will stop working on their computers to look up information on their phones! It is imperative for your email marketing campaigns to be easily read from any device or you will lose your targeted audience.

Mobility begins with a quality content management system (CMS) that supports mobile responsiveness. If your CMS lacks this essential feature, maybe it’s time to switch.

Make the switch: Schedule an OU Campus demo today!

College and University Email Marketing Tip: Emphasize Brand Consistency

When designing email marketing campaigns for higher ed, remember that they should reflect your school’s branding. Strong brands have as much recognition as the name of the product or company, so if you want your college or university to garner as much attention as possible, stay brand consistent. Elements to consider:

  • Exact color matches
  • Tagline and logo consistency across media
  • Content style and tone, or the way you phrase content
  • Design elements on web pages
  • Fluidity between print and online media
  • Placement of ads that reflects similar values and goals of your brand

Branding is a project unto itself, but one that will ultimately benefit your efforts with email marketing campaigns.

College and University Email Marketing Best Practice: Use Images and Videos When Appropriate

Students surveyed for the 2019 E-Expectations Trend Report indicated that emails with a visual component are much more effective than emails with straight text. Be choosy with photo and image selection. It’s better to go with images that target a specific audience rather than a general image. Likewise, juniors and seniors like compelling graphics and images of the quintessential college campus with classic architecture.

Students prefer emails that incorporate images and graphics that accentuate the message.
Students prefer emails that incorporate images and graphics that accentuate the message.Source: 2019 E-Expectations Trend Report

 

College and University Email Marketing Tip: Segment Your Email Lists by Interests or Demographic Information

Segmenting your email list into groups based on characteristics and interests is a great way to target specific audiences with your email marketing. For example, donation emails for new alumni should have a different ask than emails sent to longtime alumni donors. The same goes with prospective students. Seniors will have different needs and interests than sophomores who are just beginning to research colleges. To save time, write one email as a template, but then tailor it to meet the needs of your specific audience.

A quality email marketing tool that integrates with your CMS will allow you to specify how you break down your lists for specific campaigns. It can also help you regenerate new lists and reports as well as track and view analytics to understand how effective your email campaigns are.

Higher Education Email Marketing Tip: Automate Different Email Campaigns

Another timesaver is to automate your email marketing campaigns. This includes any follow ups to responses from your emails and “drip” emails that nurture prospects through the enrollment funnel. When your software automatically follows up and sends thank yous and requested information, you don’t have to worry about a prospective student or alumni slipping through the cracks.

College and University Email Marketing Best Practice: Personalize Your Emails

Just because you’re sending emails in bulk doesn’t mean that you can’t still personalize them. A quality email marketing tool will have templates you can personalize by importing names and areas of interest into the text of emails so that they are tailored to specific audiences who have specific needs and interests.

The 2019 E-Expectations Trend Report highlights email insights that will help in your email marketing campaign effectiveness.
The 2019 E-Expectations Trend Report highlights email insights that will help in your email marketing campaign effectiveness.Source: 2019 E-Expectations Trend Report

 

Use Higher Education Email Marketing Software

The right email marketing tool will make your email marketing projects so much easier—especially if you choose one designed specifically for higher education. Besides personalization, a quality email marketing tool that integrates with a CMS like OU Campus will allow for A/B testing to see what emails and corresponding landing pages are most effective, delivery optimization that can detect anything preventing your emails from being delivered, analytics with customized report features to gage performance, and list management so that you can manage, segment, and create targeted lists.

 

OmniUpdate’s Email Campaign Manager allows you to easily create, send, and manage your marketing emails directly within the CMS.

 

Conclusion

With enrollment numbers decreasing, communication is more critical than ever. Establishing an effective email marketing plan for higher ed can go a long way in recruiting and maintaining contact with prospective students.

Get started with boosting student engagement. Schedule a demo of OU Campus and Email Campaign Manager to see how higher education email marketing software can increase your recruitment efforts.

Schedule a demo today!

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