As we all know, email is an important marketing tool for higher education to increase student enrollment.

It’s the perfect channel to re-engage with aspiring students and inform, educate, and entertain.

Besides that, it’s also one of the only channels you truly own.

Other platforms can change overnight, and the results can be shockingly different because of an algorithm update.

With email marketing you know what you have, it barely changes and you control a big part of the process.

And with no surprise.

With all our education partners, email marketing delivers the most significant chunk of enrollments and revenue.

Moreover, institutions should focus on the latest email marketing trends to reach marketing goals.

So if you are an university or college and want to increase your marketing effectiveness, email marketing should be at the forefront of all your efforts.

Like every marketing tactic, it’s important to figure out the email marketing strategy that works for your higher education institute.

Can you do something different?

Something that sparks interest and gets engagement. Something your aspiring students will talk about. Or even better, share with their friends.

In higher education, email marketing will help you to:

  • Re-engage with your aspiring students without paying for it again
  • You can educate, inform and entertain them and tell a story
  • Engage with different students in the buyer (student) journey
  • Point prospective students in the right direction (enrollment)

Chase Dimond says in the best possible way.

Now that we know the value of email marketing, let’s dive into some fun and unexpected facts.

  1. Videos Make Emails Click: Putting videos in emails can make many more people click on them, as much as 300% more​​​​.
  2. Keep It Short: Emails usually have about 434 words, but keeping them under 300 is better. Short emails keep readers happy and interested​​.
  3. So Many Emails: Every day in 2022, people sent and got over 333 billion emails! And this number is going to grow even bigger​​.
  4. Big Money Returns: For every dollar spent on email marketing, you can get back $40. This shows email marketing is a great way to earn more from what you spend​​.
  5. Personal Touch Works: When you add someone’s name or something personal to an email, more people will open it, about 50% more​​.

10 Email Marketing Strategies For Higher Education

Email marketing for higher education is setting up email strategies and delivering targeted and personalized emails to students, alumni, and partners.

1. Build a High-Quality Email List Using Opt-In Forms

The email list is a list of individual email addresses to which you have permission to send emails. It can be built in a number of ways, including:

  • College fair
  • In-person campus visits
  • Sing up forms
  • Subscribing university emails

Think about placing opt-in forms on your website to appeal to visitors with quality content when and where they need it. Keep it simple: ask for their name, contact details, and courses they are interested in.

For example, the University of Miami Business School landing page integrates an opt-in form in the header. It is strategically placed to make it visible to visitors and increase their chances of obtaining information.

What it does well:

  • It has a CTA in the headline
  • A 4-step form to get more information
  • The fields ask relevant questions
  • It provides plenty of details
University of Miami Business School landing page

Source: University of Miami

Moreover, you can boost the number of emails collected by telling students they’ll receive an incentive. Here’s what you can offer:

  • Downloadable content, such as detailed academic program brochures, the latest university magazine, or a small information pack about their chosen field of study.
  • In exchange for an email address, offer a call from the admissions or career counselor for a one-on-one conversation.

Moreover, to refine your email list further, you can add a drop-down field for the recipients to choose what they’re most interested in learning about.

It will enhance the impact of your email marketing campaign and help boost your student enrollment numbers.

2. Engage Students with Short and On Point Email Messages

Compelling content is how you’ll keep prospective students interested in what you say.

Instead of sending emails full of text, make them short and cover the most relevant information. For this, you must create a student journey and relevant content to meet their needs at each step.

For example, a student in the conversion stage may not be looking for academic program information but rather for financial aid options available.

Most importantly, simple emails are the key to maximizing outcomes.

Explore our ready-to-use higher education email templates to attract and retain students. The PDF includes:

  1. Admission announcement template
  2. Scholarship announcement template
  3. Webinar announcement

Personalizing Email Content for Recipients

Small changes will make students feel that these emails are written specifically for them and they are being valued.

Here’s an example of Charles Sturt University, where the email’s subject line and opening lines read ‘Dear [student’s name], personalizing each email with an individual student name and tailoring content to their interest or past interactions.

charles-sturt

Source: CSU

47% of email recipients open an email based on the subject line.

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Create Visually Appealing Content

Have you ever received an email where you couldn’t read the text due to low color contrast?

Color is a great communication tool, but it should be used mindfully.

Consider using high-quality images and infographics to make complex information look simple.

Moreover, avoiding accessibility barriers might prevent someone from viewing or understanding the message.

Engage Reader with Storytelling Content

Use storytelling to create an emotional connection and show why your college or university values resonate with prospective students and how they can transform their future.

When attracting Gen Z, higher education marketers must note that they gladly support brands representing their values.

According to Forbes, Gen Z has a standard for diversity, inclusion, and belonging. They are more vocal, value-driven, and individualized in their approach. Hence, storytelling will build trust and credibility in the long run.

3. Segment Your Email List Based on Past Interactions

Segmentation is important for dividing your audience into the appropriate lists using the data points. This, in turn, will increase click-through rates and conversions.

Some recommended ways to segment your higher Ed email list include:

  • Location-based
  • Academic areas of interest
  • Past interactions
  • Demographics
  • Enrollment journey stage

We’ve curated a sample of email segmentation lists and categories to help you further understand and implement them in your higher education institution.

The best way to segment is by using an email segmentation tool, such as Sender, a powerful email marketing platform that lets you manage and segment your email list with an advanced contact management system.

It allows for more targeted and personalized marketing campaigns.

4. Automating Email Campaigns with CRM

With automation integration, higher education institutions can now send emails at more optimal times, analyze data for valuable insights, and personalize content with minimal effort.

This could be an automated welcome message or any other information sent to the prospective students.

For example, with an AI chatbot integrated into your university website, information will be recorded and used as an insight to send personalized follow-up emails.

Some automation capabilities that are useful for institutions include:

  • Segmenting lists
  • Automated email scheduling
  • Customized email templates
  • Personalization features

You need the right supporting technology, such as an email CRM system, to do this.

Constant Contact is a great email automation tool that helps higher education institutions create automated messaging paths to engage potential and existing students over time.

The automated email series triggers a specific email when a contact engages, such as opening it, clicking a specific link, or clicking any link.

It is a great option to automatically send relevant follow-up emails to students interested in the university or college.

5. Ensure Higher Email Deliverability by Avoiding Spam

Your emails can’t be opened or clicked unless they get delivered first.

Email deliverability is the actual ability to get emails into the inbox. It measures the number of emails that didn’t bounce and impacts the effectiveness of your email campaign.

According to the 2023 Email Deliverability Benchmark Report, 1 in 10 emails are not accepted by receiving mailbox providers (MBPs). The deliverability at MAGY (Microsoft, AOL, Gmail, and Yahoo) global MBPs is 86%, higher than the global average.

So, how do you make sure your email gets delivered?

Consider the following best practices:

  • Authenticate your email domain
  • Maintain proper IP allocation
  • Optimize the opt-in process
  • Write non-spammy subject lines
  • Provide a preference center
  • Email list segmentation
  • Avoid spam traps

Today, several tools, many of them free, allow you to build a proper email deliverability test.

Higher education institutions must use tools like Snov to boost campaign results with tailored advice on improving engagement, eliminating bounces, and getting more replies.

This tool helps you get the following:

  • A deliverability score
  • A complete technical setup check
  • Content audit to spot spam-trigger elements

The average open rate for marketing emails sent by educational institutions is 35.4%.

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About only 35 people out of 100 will open your email, and only three will click through. Student enrollment funnel strategy can drive beat the averages and improve email open rates.

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Email deliverability checklist

When it comes to determining what a good email deliverability rate is, the answer is not straightforward.

Here’s an email deliverability checklist containing all the aspects and best practices to maximize impact.

6. A/B Test Your Emails for Better Results

Don’t stop tracking and testing. You should always test your emails to determine what works with your audience and what needs improvement.

The trick is analyzing specific data points, such as open and click-through rates, and discovering how to improve each in future campaigns.

You may choose to A/B test the content of your subject line, use call-to-action buttons, or even use the layout.

It will help you understand valuable insights into what resonates best with your audience. 

So, the longer you run the test and gather data, the better it is, as it allows for more accurate and reliable outcomes.

Tools like Mailtrap help higher education institutions test email campaigns before deployment, ensuring content accuracy and layout consistency.

It analyzes email performance metrics, such as open and click-through rates, facilitating data-driven decisions to enhance communication strategies.

7. Use Email + LinkedIn Integrations for Lead Generation

Integrations for email are like augmentations. It is not only that your target audience wants to see your brand across different channels, but you need to maintain consistency. 

Trying to find emails from LinkedIn?

Simply add social media (LinkedIn) sharing and follow buttons to your emails to expand the viability of your content, increasing opportunities to generate new leads.

When driving traffic from email to websites and landing pages, include links or call-to-action buttons that direct recipients to specific landing pages or relevant website sections.

Moreover, a content marketing strategy is effective when combined with an email marketing strategy, but only if you know how to do it effectively. 

It should help your email marketing approach in two ways:

  • Create content to capture leads for email marketing
  • Create content to nurture leads and convert them into enrollments

8. Keep Students Engaged with Retention Emails

So, what’s your next priority? You want your email list to grow, not shrink.

At this stage, you must deepen the relationship with the prospective students, build loyalty, and make them more interested in your university or college.

To keep students engaged in reading email, ensure the content you send provides value for them. Offer them incentives and rewards such as access to webinars, online resources, or career counseling sessions.

Maintaining a clean and healthy email list is also essential for retaining subscribers.

Segmentation in retention emails helps tailor messages and content to their needs and interests.

Universities must craft more personalized and impactful emails by categorizing students into segments based on academic interests, career goals, and campus involvement.

Here’s an example of Arizona State University, where they gently remind students to start thinking about academic planning while encouraging them to enjoy their summer break.

happy-summer-from-asu

Source: ASU

40% of email users have at least 50 unread messages in their inboxes.

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Not all emails are considered important for recipients. They prioritize certain emails over others, leaving the less critical ones unread due to several factors.

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9. Using Student Journey Maps to Personalize Emails

User journeys map prospective students’ timelines and key decision points. Continuing to offer value and relevance will create a positive experience.

Understanding what your university or college should present at every stage of the student’s journey toward the desired conversion is essential.

Journey mapping helps you get inside the heads of your potential students. It improves your understanding of what they think, how they feel, and why they make certain decisions.

Spending some time developing this content and setting up workflows will take the stress out.

We’ve created a comprehensive enrollment journey with personalized email templates for higher education institutions to boost their brand and drive conversion at different stages.

Make sure your workflow emails are adequately spaced out – you don’t want to risk overwhelming prospective students.

Moreover, email personalization tools such as Mailchimp help higher education institutions personalize the journey by tailoring communications to individual student interests, facilitating transitions from prospect to enrolled student.

10. Event Email Marketing and Workflows

Generating curiosity and interest in your event through email campaigns can be done effectively. It is the best way to engage prospective and existing students.

Universities must inform and inspire students about upcoming events, from academic seminars to social gatherings and everything in between.

For example, here’s an email from Arizona State University for Earth Hour event promotion.

This email clearly and concisely highlights all the details, such as the event’s date, time, location, and purpose.

Including visually appealing graphics and facts related to the event can also make the email more engaging. (click to zoom the image)

sun-devils-prepare-for-earth-hour

Source: ASU

Technology is progressing faster than ever. Email marketing trends are constantly evolving, which is why it’s so important to keep track of the new updates.

Here are the top four latest trends in higher education email marketing.

In-person Insights

A one-on-one session with admission counselors is far more influential than a university’s social media during student recruitment.

But where does this fit into email marketing?

The insights gathered during these interactions with prospective students can help deliver targeted messaging that resonates with each recipient.

Use personalization techniques to utilize the information to target prospective students better and make your emails more engaging and relevant.

According to Statista, 65% of marketing professionals sent out more than half of their e-mail marketing campaigns with subject line personalization.

Accessibility

Accessible email ensures inclusivity and accommodates potential students with disabilities, such as visual impairment.

It enhances user experience, facilitating engagement with content for all recipients regardless of their abilities.

Here are email design best practices to create more accessible emails:

  • Use clear and concise language
  • Provide descriptive alt text for images
  • Ensure proper heading structure
  • Maintain sufficient color contrast
  • Use descriptive hyperlink text
  • Avoid using tables for layout
  • Include a text-only version for screen readers
  • Ensure buttons and links are easily clickable
  • Test emails with accessibility tools
  • Provide options for resizing text

Moreover, according to the Bureau of Internet Accessibility, Gen Z doesn’t think accessibility is something extra.

Therefore, as younger people care about inclusivity, your outreach materials must be accessible to increase response.

Diversity and Inclusion Campaigns

Diversity and inclusivity in email ensure messages resonate with diverse audiences and demonstrate a commitment to equity and respect for all individuals.

Diversity and inclusion tips for implementing in your higher education email:

  • Use inclusive language and imagery
  • Highlight diverse student experiences and achievements
  • Include diverse perspectives in content
  • Offer resources for underrepresented groups
  • Ensure accessibility for all recipients

According to Forbes, Gen-Z views diversity, equity, and inclusion not as mere corporate buzzwords but as non-negotiable pillars that define the essence.

Personalized Emails

Personalization matters more than ever before. Personalized emails resonate with students by addressing their interests, needs, and preferences, developing connection and relevance.

Tailored content demonstrates care and understanding, increasing engagement and trust.

According to McKinsey & Company, 71% expect personalized marketing, and  76% get frustrated when it’s not there. Personalization is especially effective at driving repeat engagement and loyalty over time.

Frequently Asked Questions:

What are some best practices for crafting compelling email content?

  • Keep subject lines short and simple
  • Use the preheader text
  • Avoid too many special characters
  • Provide useful insights
  • Include personalized information
  • Test and optimize your email
  • Include CTA

What are the benefits of automating email campaigns?

Benefits of automating email campaigns:

  • Saves you time
  • Cost saving
  • Reduced potential for errors
  • Generate relevant traffic
  • Lead generation
  • Personalization

What strategies can I use to retain and engage email subscribers?

6 strategies to retain and engage email subscribers:

  1. Dynamic content
  2. Powerful subject lines
  3. Visually appealing emails
  4. Personalized approach
  5. Segment your email list
  6. Automated email workflow

Conclusion

An effective email marketing strategy can help your university drive student engagement. With detailed email segmentation and compelling content marketing, you can hit the mark and increase enrollments.

Automate engagement with prospective students to ensure timely follow-through with a personal touch, create consistent communication, and integrate with social media to cross-promote your campaigns.

Having the right tools can simplify your email marketing and give you the option to create large-scale campaigns.

Email marketing software helps you expand the market and gain access to a pool of prospective students you couldn’t have reached otherwise.

Moreover, if you’re routinely reviewing your email metrics, you’re off to a great start—and even better.

If you continue to monitor email performance and provide personalized communication, you’ll figure out how best to engage and attract students to your institution.