Are you wondering how to prevent prospective students from dismissing your emails as “trash?” Wonder no more because we are here to give you the 411 about email marketing.
We know what you’re thinking, “Woah, slow down. What even IS email marketing?” Simply put, it is an email sent out to build loyalty, create interest, and stay connected with your students and alumni. By using email marketing successfully you can quickly reach target markets (e.g. prospective students or disconnected alumni) without the hassle of print, television or radio time that come with high production costs. Statistics from Capterra Sales & Marketing Tech Blog show that email marketing is almost 40 times more successful in acquiring new customers than other popular social media channels such as Facebook and Twitter.
We are here to tell you what email marketing practices will keep your emails out of the dreaded trash bin (gasp!). Here are a few things to keep in mind when drafting your emails:
- Design. Check and make sure the design of your email is visually appealing. If your email isn’t formatted in an attention grabbing manner, the trash is a likely place for it to end up.
- Language. Be sure to use language catered to your specific audience. Don’t use confusing industry words that prospective students or far-off alumni won’t understand. Instead, use language your audience can relate to -- this will help give your school a relatable personality, ultimately building a relationship with students and alumni.
- Calls-To-Action (CTAs), landing pages and links. Include links to your website and CTAs to your landing pages in the email. These calls to action could be the difference between a prospective student simply opening the email and nurturing a relationship. If those potential students or disengaged alumni have taken the time to read the email, they’re probably interested. So be sure to give them a place to go by supplying a link to your website or a CTA. That way, they can learn more and you can build that relationship.
And a few things to avoid:
- Don’t go overboard with personalization. Let’s be honest, you probably don’t actually know these people, so making your email too personal could scare them off. Include basic personalization by including their name and catering to their general interests, but don’t get too specific or you could wind up freaking out all those potential students.
- Avoid the cc: function at all costs. Sending ONE mass email with a million different people attached is a huge no no. It is never a good idea to share others’ personal email addresses with the world. We repeat: avoid the cc: function!
- Do not Embed Flash or other rich media files into the email message. Here’s the thing with rich media files embedded in emails, they sometimes take ages to load and when that happens something else happens. Can you guess what? It’s that your message is put in the trash before it even loads. Millennials (aka potential students) thrive off of instant gratification, so be sure to show your college can provide that.
Basically, an email should be appealing enough for your audience to deem it worthy of opening, and be interesting enough to compel them to respond to your CTA or move on to your website. But if you don’t catch student or alumni attention in those first initial seconds, you might as well send your email straight to the trash.
Now that you know the general guidelines to follow (and avoid) when drafting your marketing emails, here are a few important steps to follow to ensure email marketing success.
Only send to people who subscribed to your list or voluntarily gave you their email in one form or another. 93% of consumers get at least one permission based email daily, so be sure to get permission before invading inboxes. Don’t be creepy and somehow hunt down the emails of prospective college students. Without getting permission to add them to your mailing list your relationship could get awkward before it even begins.
Establish your target audience. The same sort of info won’t interest the prospective student millennial crowd AND the 50+ alumni crowd. Don’t be lazy. Figure out whom you are aiming to market toward and roll with it. To put it plainly, do not send your current students and your alumni the same email. These are completely different audiences with completely different need and interests and should be treated as so.
Decide what you want to market. Don’t cram multiple subjects into one email, instead focus on one topic and stick with it. If you have info to relay about events coming up as well as notable community members and students, decide which subject is more urgent and send that information in it’s own email. You also don’t want to send multiple emails in one day (can you say annoying?) so wait until the following day (at least) to send the other information.
Create a sending schedule. Lay out a timetable for when certain info should be sent out to maximize customer return rates and traffic to your website. Email frequency is important to keep your college fresh, especially in the minds of your alumni. Staying relevant is the only way to get your school from going out of style as fast as gaucho pants did, ouch.
By following these steps you will set up your college with a successful email marketing strategy. The point of all this is to give your university a relatable personality through your email marketing to help build relationships with prospective students and disconnected alumni. Building a relationship with those groups means turning them into incoming students and loyal alumni who support your college. It’s an effective way to nurture vital relationships at a low cost...what could be better?
Want to learn more about the magic of email marketing? Check out our ebook on how to create email newsletters that don’t suck!