How to convert more Applicants into enrolled Students

    How to create and maintain an email list

    How universities can create an opt-in email list to yield better marketing results
    Last updated:
    December 3, 2021

    Email remains as important as ever in inbound marketing, and is the most common digital activity among millennials when it comes to B2C marketing: making it a crucial medium for universities to contact prospects, enrolled students and alumni. But no one wants to be spammed with unwanted messages, and contacting people who haven’t expressed a desire to hear from you – or ‘opted in’ – can be damaging for your university. The list of contacts you send emails is very important.

    Creating and maintaining a database of opt-in contacts yourself can be quite daunting: it does require a lot of effort. Getting prospects to enter their emails online or write them down at events is time consuming, and inputting them into a database is also labour intensive. And that’s to say nothing of the ongoing maintenance to make sure the list is relevant and up-to-date.

    Many universities gain email contacts by buying a pre-prepared list. Lots of vendors sell or rent lists of qualified leads who are actively looking to pursue a degree. Providers tailor lists to demographic and/or psychographic information, and you generally pay every time you send an email using that list.

    Although convenient, these lists ultimately lead to a poor ROI. That's not to say they shouldn't be used: but they're most effective if combined with a bank of contacts who have opted-in to messages from your university and are genuinely interested in hearing from you. Read on for a list of tips for creating an opt-in email list.

    This cat is unimpressed by spam email

    Building an opt-in email list: 11 tips

    • Set up a simple email sign-up form on your social media channels. Add an engaging opt-in message encouraging contacts to confirm their subscription, and promise to remove all contacts who don’t respond
    • Encourage current email subscribers to share and forward your content
    • Use landing pages and relevant content that attracts visitors to your website where they actively sign-up or subscribe to receive more email updates directly from you
    • Send emails at least once a month to remain an active presence and make sure subscribers don’t forget about you
    • Collect email addresses from your in-house event registrations and also at recruitment fairs. You can always send a welcome email first confirming if they want to opt-in
    • Add a QR code to your printed brochures so prospects can simply scan to subscribe
    • Run contests with desirable prizes at stake: make sure customers have to sign up to your newsletter to enter
    • Create gated assets such as ebooks, podcasts and videos which can only be accessed if contacts opt-in to your newsletter. Promote them on your blog, social media channels and by email
    • Segment your email communications to ensure you’re emailing the right people with the right message
    • Analyse your email campaign results including bounce, delivery, CTR, open, unsubscribe and conversion rates
    • Make sure you regularly clean your email list by removing withdrawn contacts or people who aren’t engaging


    Have you produced an email list for your university? Have any tips we’ve missed out? Add a comment to join the discussion or tweet us @fullfabric.


    This blog post is part of series about how to send better emails. Keep checking back for more essays and tips about higher education, technology and marketing, or subscribe to receive updates by email.


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