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How to Get Students to Open Recruitment Emails

May 8, 2018
Min Read

Rae Steinbach of Taktical Digital offers expert tips on higher education recruiting through email.

It may seem like email has been around forever. That’s partly because even with its ‘age,’ it remains one of the most heavily utilized and effective methods of contacting and keeping in touch with people from around the world. Email has morphed from something used to send simple notes between family members to so much more. Now, it’s one of the most powerful tools you can use when looking to connect with an audience. The millennial population has proven to be the group most likely to follow a CTA from an email, with 52.7% of those surveyed looking at their email accounts at least ten times per day. Gen Z is no stranger to email, either. Higher education institutions can take advantage of the technology by sending informative and engaging content directly to potential students. Building this connection is an effective way to ensure that your school is interacting with the largest number of students possible. It’s also important to stick to the tried-and-true steps of an email campaign, like verifying email addresses. In addition to the foundational strategies, here are other ways you can get students excited about your programs:

Make a Personal Connection

Gone are the days when you could build a single email template and send it out to your whole list. Today’s student body is diverse, with a wide range of interests and criteria for their higher education. Segmenting your email list is an easy way to increase opens and make prospective students feel like you care about them. Mailchimp found that segmenting lists resulted in 14.31% higher open rates and an over 100% increase in clicks. These statistics are important because they indicate that altering emails for your audience based on one or more factors—like location, interest, and how far they are into the recruitment process—will likely lead to an increase in enrollment.

Be Straightforward

It’s hard to capture someone’s attention on the internet. With the wide range of content available, you need to make sure you create engaging, quality content that will keep your audience reading. Capture their attention with an exciting subject line. Keep it truthful, though: clickbait headlines will alienate prospective students and make your institution appear dishonest.Don’t send an email just for the sake of it. Think about what you want your reader to know about you, and what sets you apart from other schools. Include resources like links to student networks, blog posts, or featured profiles on students or professors.

Optimize for Mobile

Mobile email has overtaken desktop in popularity. The chances that a potential student will read your message on a mobile device is high. That means you need to make sure your content will look professional and polished across all platforms. Keep any graphics to a minimum, as you don't want to make the screen look overly crowded. You should also keep the body text brief. While you may be quick to capture a reader’s attention, easily digestible content will make them happy to read your message. A short, direct email will have them more likely to respond positively to your note.A helpful resource to look to is a guide for email marketing design practices, which can also be applied to mobile platforms. Following these practices will keep your recipients engaged, while staying on brand message and applying the correct format.

Test and Track Metrics

Tracking the accomplishments and failures of your email campaign will allow you to increase your success down the line. Pay attention to metrics like open rate, clicks, and conversions. These will show you whether your emails are engaging and enticing people to learn more about your services.A/B testing is an easy way to see how a simple change affects your rates. Changing subject lines, graphics, or your CTA will help you see what works and what doesn’t with each audience. Bear in mind that you shouldn’t change all of these at once. Be patient and study one aspect at a time so you can build the best email possible.

Email is Valuable

Keep a close eye on your student email campaign, and you will reap the rewards. By forming a personal connection, reaching them where they are most likely to want to interact, and cutting to the chase, your campaign can achieve its end goal and recruit student more efficiently.

About the Author

Rae Steinbach of Taktical Digital

Rae Steinbach is a graduate of Tufts University with a combined International Relations and Chinese degree. After spending time living and working abroad in China, she returned to NYC to pursue her career and continue curating quality content. Rae is passionate about travel, food, and writing (of course).

Email marketing is an important communication tool for many higher education institutions. Click below to learn more how to improve your emails!


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