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How to Win at Enrollment Marketing With Email

By collegemktgrp | June 24, 2020 | Universities

Universities are facing a decline in enrollment numbers for this fall due to the effects of coronavirus.

To make up for the loss, it’s important for university admissions departments and enrollment marketing professionals to figure out unique ways to attract students.

Social media is a popular channel for enrollment marketing. But nearly 50% of people prefer being marketed to via email than any other channel.

Email is a branded experience that you control, and comes with the power of segmentation, personalization, dynamic content, and automation. You can use your email distribution platform as a top-of-funnel CRM, tracking which contacts engage with your communications and what they click on.

Tracking this behavior is a good way to figure out who in your contact list is most likely to respond to ongoing outreach from your admissions team.

Of course, marketing emails are a dime a dozen. Standing out in the inbox isn’t necessarily easy.

But your school can get there when you prioritize strategies like maintaining brand consistency, using A/B testing on subject lines, and writing short, easy-to-read copy.

Below are our tips for how your school can be as effective as possible when using email for enrollment marketing efforts — from taking a mobile-first approach to leaning on automation to tell your story to using segmentation to speak to students wherever they are in the buyer funnel.

Keep reading to learn more about how to use email to boost enrollment.

1. Make It Mobile First

Over 70% of people check their emails primarily on their mobile devices. Gen Z is no exception.

Virtually every member of Generation Z in the world owns a smartphone, and a majority prefer using it over a laptop or desktop computer.

That means your emails need to look great and be easy to use on mobile devices. When using email to market your school to Gen Z, the mobile experience isn’t as important as the desktop experience — it’s more important.

Most email marketing platforms make mobile design easy by automatically formatting your email for mobile — especially if you use a pre-built template. These automated re-formatting tools can be finicky, so be sure to check your emails on numerous mobile devices and different email service providers.

Email On Acid makes it easy to check your email on hundreds of different platforms to ensure that you don’t miss anything before you hit send.

2. Use Segmentation

Segmentation allows you to put your contacts into different buckets so you can send totally different (or just slightly different) emails to each bucket. This means you can personalize your content to speak to each part of your audience in different ways.

For example, there are some basic segments that may exist in your list, like potential students, parents, and high school counselors. Each one represents an opportunity to boost enrollment, but their needs and interests are distinct.

Even within each segment, there may be opportunities to further refine your message. For example, potential students might be divided into domestic high school students, international students, and potential transfer students. Parents might be segmented by income level or geographic location.

You can also track user behavior to segment your list. Say you have a list of high school students who are interested in your university. The student who opens every email is likely more interested than the one who rarely interacts with your emails.

Follow up with the more engaged student with an email containing a stronger CTA (call-to-action) encouraging them to apply or schedule a tour.

Finally, you can use segmentation to tag new contacts by their position in the buyer funnel. A sophomore high schooler who signed up to your newsletter when they entered a giveaway at a college fair is higher up in the funnel than a senior who has already taken a tour of your campus.

The sophomore needs to learn more about your school and why it’s right for them. The senior is ready for a bigger push to enroll, including reminders about deadlines and important upcoming dates.

3. Start with the Subject Line

You’ve designed an incredibly slick email that looks great on mobile devices, and you’ve segmented your audience so that they each get the right message at the right time.

But if your subject line falls short, your contacts won’t even open your email, and all that hard work will go to waste.

Gen Z is savvy when it comes to marketing lingo. The simplest tip for writing subject lines is to keep them short, simple, and honest.

Here are a few specific rules to follow when writing your subject lines:

  • Be direct and avoid sounding sales-y pitches
  • Use action verbs to inspire a click, e.g. “Explore,” “Discover,” “Unlock” and “Learn”
  • Keep it short: 20 characters and 3 to 5 words makes for an easily digestible subject line that fully displays on most devices
  • Use title case (i.e., “The First Letter Of Every Word Capitalized”) to project authority
  • Include words that increase opens, such as “Your,” “Remember,” and “Congratulations”
  • Avoid words that decrease opens, such as “Introducing,” “Limited,” and “Free Gift” (Find more good and bad subject line words here > )
  • Use an email subject line analyzer to score your subject ideas before you send them out
  • Try A/B testing different subject lines to find out which ones your audience responds to
  • Look at historical open rates of your past emails and analyze the subject lines that got the most opens, replicating what works in future emails

4. Tell Your Story with Automation

With automation, you can create one or more emails that get automatically sent to users based on their behavior on your website, or their engagement with your emails.

Start with your welcome email series. This is a series of one or more emails that are sent when a new contact subscribes to your email list.

The welcome series is your opportunity to move students and parents down the funnel. It’s your chance to tell the story of your school and what makes it special and unique.

Focus one email on the history of your school, and another on highlighting your strongest programs of study. Another can show off alumni achievements, while the fourth might be all about campus life.

Whatever you say in your welcome emails, be specific. Don’t use generalizations, use details. Talk about what a day in the life of a student looks like, maybe even following a real-life student through their day.

5. Speak with Images and Video

Generation Z is used to media-rich entertainment and marketing experiences. To live up to their expectations as a legitimate and reputable institution, your emails need to include beautiful images and links to well-produced video.

Video is especially effective with Gen Z students. Over 90% of Gen Z’ers use YouTube on a weekly basis, and over 50% use it every day. On social media, video gets more engagement than any other kind of post.

High-quality, original video is a worthwhile investment, and email represents one more way to distribute your videos and connect with more contacts.

Below is an example of a fantastic promotional video for a university that can be used in a number of channels, from television ads and Facebook posts to Instagram Stories and email.

More Tips on Marketing Your School to Generation Z

Email is just one way to boost your school’s enrollment. Social media, videos, and a student ambassador program are all channels to include in your strategy, as well.

Get more tips on how to reach Generation Z with enrollment marketing >

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