When considering studying with your institution, prospects are actually “buying” three things: the career, the institution, and the program. This means that, when searching for alternatives and evaluating your offer, they have 3 sets of questions:
- Is this the right career for me?
- Is the field growing? Will there be opportunity?
- What’s it actually like to work in this field?
- What are salaries like?
- Will there be opportunities for advancement?
- Is this the right program for me?
- Does it cover the topics and skills I want to learn?
- Is it recognized by employers?
- Who teaches the courses in the program? Are these people I want to learn from?
- What’s the approach to teaching and learning?
- Is it offered according to the schedule and delivery method I want?
- What do other students say? What kind of career outcomes have they gotten?
- What’s the tuition?
- Is financial aid available?
- Where is this institution located?
- What is its reputation?
- Is it for people like me? Does it fit with my identity?
- What type of people attend and will I fit in?
- How do they help me succeed?
To effectively attract students into your funnel, you need to provide information to all of these questions. Why? Because if you don’t, students don’t take action as they feel uncertainty, and people who feel uncertain don’t act. They avoid, make excuses and disappear.
Why Email Marketing for Schools Still Matters
Email is still a powerful way to reach students with an intelligently designed flow of strategic communications that grab their attention, answer their top questions, calm their concerns and show them why your program and institution is the right choice for them.
But younger generations don’t use email you say… Well, yes and no. Investing in email does depend on who you are trying to recruit. If your students are adults, then you definitely need a strong email strategy. If they Gen Z, should you invest in email? Yes you should! Why? Because you’re often marketing to the students and their parents. So alongside your WhatsApp or SMS messages to students, send emails that they can read if they choose and, more importantly, forward to their parents.
In evaluating the analytics of hundreds of email campaigns, we consistently see that the majority of conversions come from email. Why? Because when users click on your ads and visit your site or landing page, they’re usually not ready to make the decision to enrol. It’s a big decision and prospects need time to learn about the career, the program and the school before they feel certain enough to apply or register. That’s why email plays such an important role. By receiving relevant, well-written and well-designed emails, you create another touchpoint that gives the prospect the opportunity to engage, learn more, and act.
Why the Right Calls-to-Action Are Key
But having the right call to action in your email is key. Your first email needs to follow up on the promise made on your landing page, providing the brochure they requests for example. While you might want to put “Apply Now” in that email, it’s not likely the prospect is ready.
In my view, what we want email to is what we want much of marketing to do: sell the career, program and institution as powerfully as possible to minimize the amount of work your recruiters do. When you have an awesome email campaign and a CRM that can score leads, your recruiters can focus on the very best candidates and save time and energy. Also, the emails can do a great deal of the selling job so your teams gets more applications and registrations while needing to call fewer leads.
Auditing Your Email Marketing Campaign
But what if your emails don’t seem to be working? Look at the analytics. I once evaluated an email campaign that wasn’t getting results. What I noticed was that the first six emails in the campaign weren’t getting opened. That meant the subject line was missing the mark in all six email. But email seven was getting opened like crazy! So we moved that subject line to email one and updated the email content and angle based on what prospects found so interesting. And boom, registrations jumped now that our emails were getting attention and getting read.
In another example, a school I worked with was extremely motivated to increase enrollments in a specific program. The program’s academic coordinator said they’d be more than happy to speak to potential students, give them information and help them make a decision, so we added an email to the automated email campaign. This email came near the end, after all the other emails about the career, the program, the curriculum, the approach to learning and teaching, the faculty, and the message from the Dean about the school.
As the school didn’t have recruiters, we let the emails do their work without a human being involved. Then we added an email with the offer or meeting online with the Academic Coordinator. In the email we put her photo to create a personal connection and a personal message from her about the program and how to book a meeting. She wrote me to say she was delighted with the number of meetings booked from extremely motivated students who were at the bottom of the funnel but had some final questions. Those prospects had been reading the emails, they knew about the career and the program, but they just needed a little “nudge” to take the next step and this email gave it to them.
Is Your Email Marketing Up to Par?
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Director of Business Development