It's 2023 and we have a plethora of options when it comes to communicating with the world around us. We could, for example, use our phones to call and SMS each other or messenger platforms like Slack to send instant messages. But when it comes to communication between colleges and their students, email is still widely used.
In this article, we'll look at 10 email marketing best practices for higher education that you can use to boost your school's marketing efforts.
Email list segmentation is important for those in higher education because your subscribers base will likely run the gamut. You'll have email addresses from prospective students, current students, parents, high school guidance counselors, etc. Furthermore, each of these people will come from different backgrounds, have different income levels, want to study different subjects.
The only way to keep all of them happy and to, ultimately, increase the number of enrollments your school obtains is to segment your list and send more personalized email communications.
When emailing your list, we also suggest taking the student journey into account. Every potential student goes through the same stages before enrolling. They have an initial curiosity regarding your college, they seek more information, they fill out an application form, and finally, they enroll and show up on campus to learn and obtain their degrees.
The thing is, students will require different messages at each of these stages. So we suggest segmenting your subscribers based on their lifecycle stage and any other important criteria that you might use to personalise.
When it comes to actually sending messages, it could be argued that your email's subject line is the most important part. After all, if it isn't enticing and nobody opens your communications, what's the point? Here are a few tips to help your emails stand out in crowded inboxes:
Follow these three subject line tips and you'll quickly boost your email's open rate!
Subject lines aren't the only thing that should be kept short and sweet. Your actual messages should also err on the side of brevity. Remember, your recipients are busy. They have plenty of other emails in their inbox to read. If you send them an essay, they'll probably decide it isn't worth the trouble and delete your message before reading it.
Feel free to include all relevant information. But, at the same time, don't add unnecessary details just for the sake of it. Say what you need to and then bid your subscribers ado.
We've already talked about a few different personalization techniques: email segmentation and considering the student's journey for each of your subscribers. But we want you to personalize your messages even more! You can do this by:
If you haven't noticed, your students love their phones. In fact, studies show that more than 70% of people read email on their mobile devices. Which means you need to optimize your communications for mobile. If you don't, your messages simply won't get read.
Email may be one of the more "old school" marketing strategies out there but that doesn't mean you can't spice it up with eye-catching imagery. Appealing visuals grab attention, engage students, and will help your university promote its unique brand. Use them
Just remember to include alt text. Not every email provider will render your images, but your recipients will at least know what the image is supposed to convey if you use alt text.
What do you want your subscribers to do after reading your message? You need to tell them! This is what's known as a call-to-action, AKA the CTA, and every email should have one.
You could include a CTA asking a subscriber to take an action such as start or finish their application, register for an event, or download some additional content.
Here are a few CTA tips to keep in mind:
Technology continues to progress and it would behoove you and your university to take advantage of it as much as possible. You can do this in your email marketing efforts by implementing automation.
Automated emails are messages that are pre-programmed to send when specific criteria is met. For example, you could automate a welcome message to send whenever someone first signs up to your application portal or a series of personalised messages when a prospect downloads a programme brochure on your institution's website.
Email automation is important because it will allow you to deliver the communications you need to on autopilot, saving you time and making sure that each of your subscribers is taken care of.
Finally, successful email marketing is entirely predicated on testing and optimization. Even the greatest marketers in the world don't always get it right on the first try. The trick is analyzing specific data points like open rate and click-through rate and discovering how you can improve each of them in future mailings.
The easiest way to test your emails is through a strategy called A/B testing. Here's how it works:
A/B testing is a straightforward and proven way to improve your email campaigns. We encourage you to use it on a regular basis.
Email marketing is still one of the best ways for universities to communicate with their current and prospective students. But your college must go about it in the right way. Fortunately, you now know 10 email marketing best practices for higher education to guide you as you craft future email campaigns and attempt to connect with your institution's subscribers. Good luck!
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