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Elevate Your Email Campaigns to Increase Student Recruitment

StudentBridge Staff March, 6, 2020

Email is one of the most effective tools admissions teams have to reach prospective students. Email communication gives your team a direct line to a student's inbox, which allows you to curate the information you want them to see, without the additional noises and distractions typical of social media outreach. But unless it's used strategically and executed well, email communication is not a foolproof student recruitment tool. An outreach email is unlikely to be opened unless it demands a prospective student's attention. And if it isn't opened, the email you've so carefully crafted is never even read. By creating effective email subject lines, you can prevent this from happening. Great subject lines are more likely to reach prospective students, opening a line of communication that allows you to showcase the many unique features and offerings at your university.

In the marketing world, it's common knowledge that the effectiveness of subject lines can make or break an email campaign. Smart admissions teams use this knowledge to contact and connect with more potential students. From there, they can recruit students by sending them targeted information tailored to their interests. With effective email subject lines, you can begin your student recruitment process with an initial email contact. Read on to discover how to improve the rates at which recipients open emails from your admissions team.

Why It's Worth Investing in Email Marketing

High school students indicate that receiving emails from a college or university is one of the most influential information sources they engage with during their college search process. StudentBridge's conclusions from a 2019 student survey revealed that:

  • 98% of students will share their email addresses with your university admissions team.
  • 63% of high school seniors will reach out to a college or university via email.
  • 51% of high school seniors find their way to your .edu site via email links and calls to action (CTAs).
  • 52% of prospective students expect emails to be personalized, to anticipate their needs, and to offer relevant suggestions.

Email continues to be a powerful way to reach prospective students. Admissions teams should, therefore, prioritize marketing outreach that encourages students to provide their email addresses to your university. CTAs featured in outgoing emails and CTAs included on landing pages and in social media posts ensure that prospective students can easily get in touch with your admissions department. 

Furthermore, directly emailing students is efficient and cost-effective. Email is 40 times more effective at acquiring new customers than social media posts. In the higher education world, in particular, social media is great for spreading brand awareness and establishing low-commitment engagement. But email marketing aids in student recruitment by establishing ongoing connections with students that allow admissions teams to personalize the information that students receive. And email is especially cost-effective. One dollar spent in email marketing equals a $38 return on investment.

Effective Subject Lines Increase Open Rates

According to MailChimp, email marketing is particularly effective because it forces the user to take some kind of action; an email will sit in the inbox until it's read, deleted, or archived. To ensure that your admissions department emails get read, use the following strategies:

Personalize the subject line

Including the recipient's name in the subject line and/or greeting increases the likelihood that it will get read. By using social media to invite students to landing pages where they can register their email, you'll get a list of names to use in your subject lines.

Create a sense of urgency in your subject line

If your recipient perceives that the information in the email is time-sensitive, they're more likely to open it. Words like "urgent" and "important" increase open rates, but only when used sparingly.

Include announcements and invitations in subject lines

A new opportunity presented in the subject line of an email piques interest. Your institution regularly holds information sessions, tours, and social events, and your admissions team should use this marketing tool.

Say "thank you" in the subject line

Open rates increase when subject lines include a "thank you." Your admissions team can thank students for signing up for an email list, attending a tour, or showing up for an information session at their high school.

Crafting Student Recruitment Emails That Work

After your admission team has crafted the subject lines that get recipients to open your emails, you'll need to ensure that your emails themselves are effective at recruiting students and convincing them to apply to your university. StudentBridge's higher education marketing experts have advice for that, too. Craft each email to compel students to take a specific desired action. Actions should lead the recipient to a specific part of a website or information source, with the ultimate intent of moving them down the funnel toward applying. Before you begin, consider the following questions:

  • What is the purpose of this email?
  • Who is the recipient of this email?
  • Will this email be relevant to the recipient?

Your team must ensure that your email not only looks good and transmits useful information, but that it's crafted for the specific person and purpose you intend. Your email marketing strategy should be thoughtful and strategic. Now that your emails are being opened, ensure that they result in conversions. 

Every email should include a single CTA. Too many marketing emails contain an overwhelming amount of information and multiple CTAs. By specifying a single action that an email recipient is asked to take, you make it more likely they'll follow through with that action. Sending too many overly generic emails works against you; this is a sure way to convince a recipient to stop opening emails from your institution. Instead, your admissions team should send a moderate number of personalized, highly targeted emails that include well-crafted media. Emails from your institution should seem worthwhile.

How StudentBridge Can Help

Our student recruitment experts have experience in both the higher education and marketing worlds. We partner with your admissions team to ensure that your efforts to reach prospective students result in conversions. Each month, StudentBridge hosts webinars focused on the many ways marketing tools can play an important role in the higher education industry. Our webinars offer valuable insights for higher education professionals who want to improve their student recruitment practices and increase conversion rates. One such webinar focused on how to create effective emails for student recruitment. These are the kind of concrete and actionable offerings that StudentBridge offers institutions seeking to market more effectively to prospective students. StudentBridge can partner with you to develop an email marketing strategy informed by decades of experience in the higher education world. 

StudentBridge has translated its more than 20 years' digital storytelling experience into award-winning virtual experiences for educational institutions. Our solutions are powered by a robust, technology platform supporting personalization, content management, analytics, security and compliance, and systems integration. Connect with StudentBridge today, and see how we can help. 

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