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How Your Clothing Brand Can Reach College Students Through Email Marketing

By collegemktgrp | February 22, 2022 | Brands/Advertisers

College seniors about to graduate are looking to hit the ground running. That means they’re also looking to dress for success and stand out in interviews and at career fairs.

As the fashion preferences of Gen Z continue to shift, you’ve got to stay nimble in how to advertise your clothing brand to them. 

Email marketing is an integral part of any marketing strategy — especially among Gen Z, who are now entering the workforce. Fifty-eight percent of them check their email multiple times a day.

As you create your brand’s email marketing campaign, consider how to capture college students’ attention and stay ahead of your competitors. 

From building your email list to implementing SMS marketing and tapping into college trends, we’ve got you covered with effective email marketing tips for reaching college students this spring.

Build Your Email List 

You may design a highly appealing email campaign, but if you don’t have a large enough list, it’ll fall flat. 

Growing your list is key to gaining new customers and holding onto your existing ones. From segmenting your list to encouraging shares, there are approaches you can take to send the right message to the right person, at the right time, and ensure that you’re keeping the attention of who’s on your list.

1. Segment Email Lists Based on Personas

Like every other demographic, college students are more likely to click through emails that speak directly to their interests. 

When you build out an email campaign, consider how to target a specific audience. Creating segmented lists based on your buyers’ personas — an imagined representation of your ideal customer — increases the likelihood for higher clickthrough rates and conversions.

Start by deciding what your personas are. What are their goals, challenges, and lifestyle characteristics? 

For example, college students nearing graduation are looking to freshen up their wardrobes with professional clothing that can impress their future employers.

Spend time with this specific persona to determine their goals, challenges, and general demographic information. Knowing these important elements will allow you to start sending more targeted content.

2. Encourage Sharing by Your Subscribers

Every marketing email you send out should have a dedicated space for including social sharing buttons and an “Email to a Friend” button. 

Create content that will get your audience excited and inspire them to share with their friends and family. Knowing your personas will help you understand the type of content that’ll resonate with their interests. 

Offer discounts or sales on professional clothing that their peers may also be interested in. Incentivizing them to share by offering a special discount after their friends have made a purchase is another opportunity to get the word out.

As your current subscribers share your email, you can discover new leads within this demographic to market to, and expand your contact list. Be sure to include an option for new readers to easily subscribe to your emails so they’re on your email list.

3. Reinvigorate Your Email List

If open and click-through rates are down [or lackluster], it’s time to revise your email list. Start by crafting an intriguing message to encourage unengaged audience members to reengage with your brand.

After you send your re-engagement campaign email, remove contacts who don’t bite. By trimming contacts from your list who don’t engage with your brand, you’re actually improving your deliverability rate. 

Think of it like you would a plant — when you prune its limbs and leaves you help it grow. You’re not doing your email marketing strategy any favors by keeping people who are disinterested in what you’re sending them.

Learn more about how to build out and maintain your email list >

Optimize Your Email Content

Making the most of your email content and paying attention to first impressions is key when optimizing your campaign content. Discover what your customers want to see and how to best get their attention in the sea of emails they get daily.

1. Tap Into College Student Trends

Young people have always been the drivers of cultural trends, and that’s especially true of today’s college students. When you reference shows, books, movies, or clothing trends they’re into, you build trust and engagement. 

Marketing to college students involves showing them you know what they want, what they’re interested in, and that you understand their experience. For effective email marketing in the spring and summer of 2022, this could mean mentioning Euphoria, The Boys, or Stranger Things. 

Staying on top of what’s trending on TikTok will help you stay current with this demographic, as it’s become one of the most popular social media platforms in use by college students.

What’s trending with college students goes beyond entertainment. This group is informed and opinionated about a variety of topics, including body positivity. 

When Aerie launched their “REAL” campaign in 2014, they rebranded themselves as a company who works with diverse members of the community, does not airbrush their models, and focuses on body positivity. Since then they have seen consistent growth and paved the way for other clothing brands to embrace a similar approach.

Read on for more ideas on how to optimize your email content >

2. Write Killer Subject Lines

An irresistible subject line can be the difference between your email being opened or being deleted. 

Bold subject lines cut through the clutter that can build up in college students’ inboxes. Consider your brand’s voice, campaign goals, and the persona you’re sending your email to. 

Humor goes a long way for many brands. Groupon is especially known for their entertaining and quirky subject lines. Their subject line, “The Best of Groupon: The Deals That Make Us Proud (Unlike Our Nephew, Steve)” has landed them on a number of lists recognizing them for their creativity. 

You can also run A/B tests to identify your highest-performing subject lines. Send out two versions of the same email with different subject lines to a small population of your target audience. Look at which one performed the best with open rates, and send that version to the rest of your list. 

Explore other ways your brand can optimize emails >

Optimize Your Welcome Automations

A series of welcome emails is an essential component of capturing college students interested in your professional clothing brand. 

When someone opts into receiving your marketing emails, send follow-up messages so they know what to expect next.

These emails encourage your new subscribers to move from considering a purchase to making one. Offer them a special discount (more on this in a bit!) for recently joining your mailing list — chances are they signed up because they saw an item they want to buy. 

Automate your welcome emails to go out immediately after your new subscriber has opted in. Use an actual name as the sender and not a “no-reply” email. This will help build trust and make your new subscriber feel welcome by your brand.

Include a message of encouragement for your subscriber to visit you in-store to further connect. Or maybe they would appreciate some outfit inspiration — showcase user-generated content that features your products being worn by current customers. 

Offer Discounts in Your Welcome Series

Ongoing brand loyalty and customer retention are important. Make sure your brand has a plan in place to keep college students engaged and interested in your products, even after they’ve moved onto the workforce.

1. College Students are Loyalists

Gen Z college students today are loyal to the brands they believe in. 61% of students say they’d carry their loyalty with a brand that offers ongoing discounts, even after graduation. 

After you’ve sent out your initial welcome email, continue engagement with a series that further prompts students to make a purchase with you. Discount programs are especially effective in gaining brand loyalty from Gen Zers. 

ASOS is a brand who offers students discounts on every purchase they make. All students have to do is sign up with their school email address and they immediately have access to a personal code they can use over and over again. 

If you want to get noticed for your discount program, advertise your brand on Student Beans, a website that highlights companies of all industries who offer student incentives. 

2. College Students are Brand Enthusiasts

Once you gain college students’ loyalty, you gain built-in brand ambassadors. Gen Zers love to share products they support. 97% say they use social media as their top source of shopping inspiration. 

Through your welcome email campaign, encourage students to tag your brand in their posts by offering small incentives like discount codes. This can help build an online community with your customers while boosting your presence among new viewers. 

You can also create a special hashtag to go along with your brand can emphasize your brand’s special identity.

Never Fully Dressed, a female fashion retailer, initially found success through Facebook Ads, but maintain their hold on the market through brand enthusiasts. The clothing brand implements user-generated content as part of their marketing efforts as well as their website content. Customers get to see themselves as part of the brand, not just a consumer.

Discounts are a strong starting point, but loyalty is what pays off. 

Explore more on why your brand should offer college student discounts >

Reach Students via SMS Marketing

Living in a country where 54% of Americans say they’ve never gone longer than 24 hours without their cell phone, SMS marketing should be an important part of your marketing strategy. In comparison to email marketing, this is still a rather untapped strategy.

It’s a direct line of communication between you and your customers, whether they’re new or established. 

SMS messages are great for reminding your customers to return to an abandoned cart, sharing product recommendations, and promoting special sales or discounts. By providing a link directly to your website, you make shopping more convenient and streamlined.

Urban Outfitters takes it to the next level with their SMS marketing. Through a series of message options, users can check the status of a recent order or speak to a customer service agent. 

Another takeaway from Urban’s SMS strategy is how they test their SMS recipients. By breaking down their mobile strategy and determining who should be receiving which texts (remember segmenting?) they’ve found their SMS strategy to be more effective than ever.

Capture More College Students This Spring

Effective email marketing strategies take time and effort. It’s important to meet college students in the digital space where they communicate, learn, and live. Take time to connect with them and encourage trust in your brand.

We understand that managing a robust college student email marketing strategy demands know-how and perseverance. And if you’re a busy business owner, you’ve got plenty on your plate. 

Contact College Marketing Group to take the reins for you! 

Contact us for a free college student email marketing consultation >


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