Email marketing strategies for educational institutions involve more than sending a note or promoting a specific class. It’s a challenging environment where colleges and universities must enroll or onboard new students, provide personalized experiences, and engage the alumni community.
Students have numerous options to consider after graduation or completing a GED. Even after earning an undergraduate degree, pursuing higher educational opportunities is sometimes necessary.
Email marketing strategies, when properly implemented, allow your institution to get noticed when a student is looking for a place to learn.
What Are the Best Email Strategies Educational Institutions Should Use?
When creating an email marketing strategy for universities and colleges, it helps to think about how you’ll manage engagement while focusing on enrollment.
It’s not just the students who will read or receive these emails. Parents are also highly interested in what you have to say and offer.
That’s why the following strategies are excellent examples of how you can evolve your educational email marketing efforts.
1. Handle Each Message with Care
The college admissions process is a highly stressful time for many students and their families. It can feel like the entire future rides on the decision to accept enrollment. That’s why each email must have empathy and be sensitive to the reader’s feelings.
Most educational emails take one of four approaches when contacting students or families.
- It is a congratulations message because the institution decided to enroll the student.
- There is news about a scholarship program, including an opportunity to apply for funds.
- Accepted students might receive emails about what the expectations are for class attendance, personal conduct, and other rules.
- It is used to communicate various deadlines, including when assignments are due.
When composing your email, think about who will read the article. Businesses often create fictional personas to represent users or customers. Colleges and universities can do the same with students.
Brainstorming the struggle each reader potentially faces makes it much easier to brainstorm ways to solve problems.
It also helps to think about what questions the reader might have when reviewing the email. If you can provide proactive answers with a straightforward tone, your point will come across with more accuracy.
2. Segment Email Lists
Email list segmentation is crucial for educational institutions because there needs to be a separation in the message types sent.
Students might want to see email reminders about on-campus events, midterms or finals, and expectations for different classes.
Parents are more likely to want information about different application deadlines, special events on campus, and cost expectations.
Educational email marketing lists might include prospective students, guidance counselors, high school teachers, school administrators, and others. Each group comes from a different background, has a unique household income, or wants to enroll in various majors.
The only way to keep each group happy and provide value through email marketing is to personalize the messages. By segmenting your list to personalize communications, you’re more likely to increase the number of applications and enrollments.
You can take these steps to start segmenting your educational email marketing lists right now.
- Send surveys or quizzes that provide information about what each reader wants to see with your communication efforts.
- Review your metrics and analytics, including the open and click-through rates, to determine what messages receive the most engagement.
- Separate people and households with geographic location data to ensure the information is relevant to the reader.
- Review the past interactions of readers with your institution, including purchases, applications, and communications, to spot patterns that can deliver potential insights.
Although segmenting won’t create a one-on-one communications channel because you’re still sending emails to each list, taking steps to focus on specific demographics helps readers to see that you’re interested in who they are as people.
3. Get the Subject Line Right
When adopting email marketing strategies for educational institutions, the subject line selected for each message is arguably the most important content you create.
If the subject line doesn’t invite someone to open an email, you’ve already lost the opportunity to engage with readers.
It doesn’t take long to see that overdoing the subject line with emojis, capital letters, and highlights often sends a message to the junk or spam folder. You don’t want that outcome!
Here are some proven ideas that can help your messages stand out, avoid spam filters, and generate clicks.
- Keeping everything short and straightforward. If you don’t get to the point right away, your subject line will either feel boring or make your institution seem unfocused. When it is too long, the information can even be cut off on the reader’s screen.
- Use action words whenever possible. The goal should be to inspire the reader’s curiosity with the subject line. Terms like “discover,” “explore,” or “review” increase the probability that you’ll earn a click.
- Think about the preview text that displays for some readers. The information should be relevant and engaging to encourage people to read the entire message.
Inboxes get very crowded these days. Many of the people on your educational email lists receive 100 or more messages daily.
If you want your email marketing efforts to stand out, you’ll need to cut through all that white noise. These ideas to improve the subject line can do just that.
4. Think About the Call to Action First
What do you want readers to remember after reading your email? Far too often, the call to action is the last thing created during the composition process.
Try shifting the focus to build each email around the call to action you’ve created first.
Every email should have a call to action. The best method is to use direct, command-orientated sentences that leave no room for confusion.
People have already clicked to read your message if they’re seeing your call to action. You don’t need to sell them again! What the reader needs is an instruction that lets them take the next step.
Here are a few essential tips to keep in mind while crafting this part of your email marketing strategy for universities and colleges.
- Avoid using passive language and grammar in the call to action. Although it isn’t always avoidable, you’ll encourage subscribers to click because the active voice encourages people to be in the present. Passive language describes the past.
- Turn your call-to-action solution into a button. People are accustomed to clicking on these items when they’re seen, so you’ll be feeding into that subconscious habit when your message feels valuable.
- Use contrasting colors to have your call to action stand out from the rest of the message. That helps it to get noticed, remove possible confusion, and encourage progress through your conversion funnel.
Your call to action doesn’t need to have a sales emphasis. Your emails might ask prospective students to finish an application or review a list of potential scholarships.
You can even use email marketing strategies like this to encourage more engagement with online lessons and classroom interactions.
5. Automate the Campaign
You’d send a letter to each student and family on behalf of the educational institution you represent in a perfect world. These personalized notes build trust, form relationships, and encourage positive emotions.
In our world, you don’t have the time to send out hundreds or thousands of letters each day by email.
That’s why it is essential for automation to be part of all email marketing strategies for educational institutions.
With automated emails, you have pre-programmed messages to send when readers meet specific criteria. One of the best options in this category is the welcome email.
If someone downloads a brochure or other information on your institution’s website, you could have your email marketing campaign send a note of thanks.
These messages don’t need to be overly complicated. When you deliver communications that respond to specific actions, it allows subscribers to feel like they’re part of your community. Most people don’t choose colleges and universities for one reason. They want a place that feels welcoming, offers a degree program they need, and delivers additional perks.
When you create responses that automatically go to an inbox, you’ll begin the trust-building process that can win people over.
6. Create Responsive Emails
About half of all Internet traffic occurs through a mobile device today. When you look at the statistics for how people read email, that figure rises to over 70%.
No one knows what device someone will use to access your email. It could be a 10-inch tablet or a four-inch smartphone.
The reader wants the email to be readable on whatever device they have in their hands. If it is difficult to read because the formatting isn’t responsive to their screen size, they’ll likely stop reviewing your message.
Even if the reader is interested in the information you’ve sent, an email that is challenging to read is often deleted.
Investing in high-quality email software and services simplifies this process enormously. You can focus on creating a subject line, message, and call to action that stands out to the reader when you know the responsiveness is already taken care of for you.
If your institution doesn’t take that path, there are still a few additional ways that you can send responsive emails to your subscriber lists.
- Choose an HTML email template from a safe website. Have your browser check the safety ratings of each site before downloading anything. It helps to work with recognizable names whenever possible to avoid installing a malicious file.
- Use coding to create a responsive email from scratch. This effort takes more work, but it also enables additional personalization options that display well on virtually any device.
- Some apps offer the option to send responsive emails from content you’ve composed within them.
Emails that load faster and look better on the screen size of each mobile device encourage more clicks. It also makes your institution look more professional because you’ve taken a little extra time to be considerate of the reader.
7. Add Relevant Images
People decide to read information because it offers a value promise. It’s the same reason you might pick up a book from one author, but not another. You want the story to be intriguing for the reader.
Although text delivers relevant information, it isn’t the best attractant to what you hope to share with your educational email lists. Humans are a visually driven species. That means your messages will receive more attention when they offer relevant images.
When visual graphics or photographs appeal to readers, you’ll get higher engagement levels. These visuals can even help your college or university promote a unique brand.
Each image in your marketing campaign should contain alt text. If an email provider doesn’t render the image, this information lets the recipient understand what was supposed to be there.
Here are some tips to ensure that your alt text makes positive contributions to your email marketing strategies for educational institutions.
- Describe what the image conveys without editorializing the material. Write what you see and nothing else.
- Don’t use the terms “picture of” or “image of” at the beginning of the alt text. If you have multiple images and someone uses a screen reader, imagine how frustrated that would be to hear the same term repetitively! That irritation would transfer over to their perception of your institution’s reputation.
- Use keywords minimally in the alt text. A top keyword or two is fine, but don’t stuff it. When text is part of the image, it helps to transcribe it as the description unless it forces you to repeat yourself.
A Final Thought on Educational Email Strategies
Once you’ve implemented these steps, don’t forget to test your emails to ensure that your readers receive the correct message. Optimizing them to be specific and accurate will help your click-through rates rise while encouraging more interactions with students, families, and industry professionals. Email marketing strategies for educational institutions are an effective communication avenue if your college or university goes about it in the right way. By implementing these ideas in ways that make sense for your school, you’ll be on a path toward creating a future campaign that gets your point across.