Email’s Not Dead in Higher Ed! Plus, Tips to Revamp Your Strategy


Stamats 2020

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Today’s students still prefer to communicate with colleges via email on their mobile devices. But many organizations follow a generic or less-than-strategic approach.

For example, in this Reddit post, a high school senior shared insights on the sheer volume of messages prospective students receive. He sorted his inbox for every email higher education institutions sent to him, and the results were staggering:

  • Emails from 115 different institutions.
  • 2,175 unsolicited messages. That’s almost 19 unsolicited emails per school!
  • “Custom application” or deadline extension emails from 17 colleges
  • “Urgent” messages from 6 colleges
  • Subject lines like “Am I reaching [First Name]?” or “Is this your email address?” from 9 colleges

It can be easy to forget, but students may be receiving 30 to 40 emails per day from schools, who may even be using a canned template to create and send messages. This could mean 30 to 40 emails using the same subject lines, P.S. sections, and even email bodies. Is this the message you want to send?

Generic messaging suggests you don’t know them or aren’t actively pursuing them in a meaningful way. With 93% of students expecting college admissions to use personalized communications during the search and application process, you need a data-driven and strategic approach to make email marketing work for you, not against you.

At the Stamats 2020 Conference, I’m hosting a session on how to better personalize your emails to reach 2020’s college students. Join me! Register for the Stamats 2020 Conference now.

5 Tips to Make Your Messaging Memorable

Follow these easy steps to take to better connect with prospective students through email.

  1. Know the student’s email activity and segment accordingly. Robust CRM technology can help you discover what actions a student has or has not taken. If you need to put that little caveat in the email to ensure it applies to your recipient, then you probably shouldn’t send it to begin with!
  2. Lose the generics. Conditional logic, like including information based on their interests or needs, makes them more likely to feel known. We need to evolve beyond the tired {{First Name}} field to make students feel special and sought after.  
  3. Make sure to exclude students from receiving duplicate messaging. Repetitive content can cause a negative impact on a student’s perception of a school. Reporting and cross-filtering can be your best friend in this scenario.
  4. Deadline extensions or gimmicky application discounts are unlikely to elevate your institution’s brand. Students read between the lines and may perceive a deadline extension or “sale” as an act of desperation. Even if you’re struggling to hit your application numbers or planned on extending the deadline from the very beginning, don’t make this obvious or you’ll be met with skepticism.
  5. Subject lines are important. Make sure to come up with thoughtful and descriptive email subjects. Create unique subject line variations pertaining specifically to the student’s journey, your school’s brand identity, and the campus culture.

Above all, remember we’re in the business of serving students—not spamming them. Approach recruitment efforts with a goal to support their search. Highlight why they’d be a good fit at your institution. This strategy demonstrates care, thoughtfulness and, most importantly, helps you stand out from all the noise.

Learn how personalization will revolutionize college messaging in 2020 and beyond at my Stamats 2020 Conference session. Register now.

Guest Contributor and Stamats 2020 Conference Speaker

Hayley Wolf

Hayley Wolf

Account Executive, Target X


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