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Email Marketing Strategy: Try These Tips for More Effective Emails

Shane Kehl

Who are you emailing? 

Why are you emailing them? 

What do you want them to do? 

An effective email marketing strategy starts here. If you can’t answer these three questions, do not hit send! These may seem like very simple questions with obvious answers, but many enrollment marketers pull the trigger on emails without really thinking them through, which leads to a disengaged email list. 

“Just show me good emails, dude.” Fine, here you go!

“Make my emails better for me.” Try these quick tips for more effective emails!

Who are you emailing?

If you’re one of those “email all the people, all the time” marketers, we’re about to turn your world upside down. Prior to sending an email, you need to think about where in the enrollment funnel (below) your email recipients are so that you can tailor your email to meet their needs and speak to them in a relevant way. 

If you’re emailing prospects and your main call-to-action is to get them to start their application…do you see how big of a jump that is? What’s even worse is if you’re emailing prospects and inquiries the same email trying to get them to start their application. Segmenting your audience – by program, enrollment funnel stage, and term of interest – as granularly as you can is the key to creating relevant emails. 

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Why are you emailing them?

You’ve got your email list narrowed down to computer science inquiries who are interested in an academic cycle one year away. You want them to start their application, but they have plenty of time so you can’t press them too hard or it’ll seem desperate. What does desperation look like over email? 

This might be somewhat of an exaggeration, but I’ve seen a few emails that aren’t too far off from this. 

Staying at the forefront of a prospective student’s mind is important, though, because you don’t want them to forget about you. That’s why you should send them something that will help build brand affinity. Wait, what, you can email someone without pushing them to apply? Correct! 

Transactional emails will not take you very far, but applying the content marketing approach to your email strategy will nurture your prospects in an organic way that feels like it’s more on their terms.

What do you want them to do?

Obviously you want them to start (or finish) their application but that can’t be the only thing you ever offer them. Your email marketing campaigns need to have variety and relevance in order to move prospects through the funnel. 

Each email should have a primary call-to-action, which is the main thing you want them to do after reading your email. I shouldn’t have to tell you this should not be “apply now” for every email again, so this is my last mention of it. 

Your marketing emails should be just that: marketing, not selling! Provide links that talk more about faculty members, your awesome facilities, cool places where alumni are working, or anything else related to your school’s unique value proposition. You want prospects to think you’re the best thing since sliced bread so give them a reason to believe that and they’ll reward you with that precious app start later!

Looking for some cool emails? I got you!

Here’s an example from Cornell University’s MPA program (see the full email here): 

This is Baylor University’s School of Social Work highlighting a content resource they created (see the full email here):

Kent State University put together a great email promoting their in-state tuition discount (see the full email here): 

How do your emails stack up to these? Need some help? Keep scrolling! 

Want to improve your emails?

First, you need to diagnose the problem, and I’ll be playing McDreamy – minus the good looks, saving lives, and charm. 

Bad open rate?

It’s your subject lines and preview text! Try split testing what you’re currently doing with more engaging and less specific copy. When you give away all the info in the subject line, there’s no reason for your recipients to open the email. Give them something to think about and they’ll be much more likely to open the email out of curiosity.

Bad click rate?

Getting prospects to open your email but not generating the clicks you want is a downer. In order to boost your click rate, try adding a variety of hyperlinks to different content. See the Cornell example linked above for a perfect example of this!

Bad conversion rate?

You’re getting your email subscribers onto your website, but they aren’t going through any of the forms you’ve been pushing them to. This is a classic scenario that has a variety of potential hiccups for your prospects, but on the email side of things, it’s likely that the hyperlink they’re clicking on doesn’t accurately describe what they’re about to do. In that case, when they get to the page they’re left confused and then navigate somewhere else. To prevent this, make sure you’re clear about what prospects will get out of every click.

Need a second pair of eyes? Let’s Chat

Have questions or just want to run your emails by someone? I’d be happy to chat, give your emails a quick review, and then provide some actionable insights. 


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Topics: Enrollment Marketing, Email Marketing

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