The last year has made many of us feel pretty insecure about a multitude of things...whether it’s personal or professional, there has been a lot “in flux” and many of the traditional things that have been counted on for eons are now a bit less certain. If you work in enrollment management, your email comm flow might be one of the things you feel uncertain about. This might be a good thing.
Having been a part of several email comm flow builds throughout the course of my professional career, they are often treated like a set it and forget it strategy.
Personal Disclaimer: Before we go too far down this trail...you need to know that -- personally and professionally—I AM NOT change averse. I LOVE CHANGE. I like moving things around, experimenting, and testing the ideas that spring into my head. I have been fortunate enough to work in industries that, likewise, enjoy this kind of behavior. However, I also know that many professionals in higher ed need to have a consistent process to feel good.
So, maybe the REAL question is this: Is it ever OK to treat email like a “set it and forget it” strategy? Well, I suppose that is debatable (especially if your institution is ALWAYS adding a new content channel with updated copy). This hasn’t been my experience in higher ed over the past 15 years. But, generally speaking...in the world of marketing and enrollment...nothing is evergreen and there is always room for performance improvement. Yeah, not the answer you were looking for, I know.
Email is still very important to an integrated communication plan...it’s cheap, it’s used by many (including Gen Z), and it’s in your locus of control (meaning, if you can afford the time, you can change it and test it as much as you want). It carries a lot of influence...maybe not as much as 10 years ago...but still a lot. So here are 3 recommendations to help you feel more secure in your the email portion of your communication plan:
1. Understand when it’s time to update the plan
2020 was a year when many institutions updated or pivoted the email communications plan. It was needed because of the changes in the enrollment cycle. However, as we get closer and closer back to “normal” the time is now to take a DEEP DIVE into the story that your emails are telling. If you cannot afford to dig into this yourself, it might be time to hire an outside company to help you with these recommendations. You cannot afford email that doesn’t provide lift.
2. The devil is in the details
I never really understood the slogan that “the devil is in the details”—but if I think about this relative to email, I have to think that it would apply to broken links or misplaced (or missing) calls to actions. Make sure before EVERY message that gets sent out includes links are working, CTAs (primary and secondary) that are well placed and MAKE SURE the message is going to where you want (need) them to go.
Straight from the DD Agency 2021 Enrollment Marketing Benchmarks Report: Including more primary calls-to-action in content promotion emails directly correlates to improved click engagement. Prospects are more likely to click through when these emails include multiple different ways to click through to the primary offer.
It seems like a small thing, but if a student takes the time to check their email, open your email, and click on a link, and then they’re sent to a 404 error message or if they find a link to something that doesn’t apply to the email content—it’s bad news. It only takes a minute to check your links...and that might make the difference between a one-time-only visit and a repeat visitor.
3. Students like a diverse range of channels to consume content
Over the past 15 years, email has become a burned medium and colleges/universities have been a big part of inundating inboxes of prospective students. For this reason, students like a diverse range of channels to consume content (and, for what it’s worth, the better your content on all channels, the more likely they will be to come back). As previously stated, email is still important, but supplementing this channel with appropriate social copy, blogs, downloadable content, videos, podcasts, and more is the best way to reach the audience. Just like in your personal 401k, you should be diversifying your efforts to get the best results.
There is a pretty high likelihood if you have read this far in the blog, you are probably feeling some sense of email insecurity. You’re wondering if the channel is strong and lifting your institutional enrollment efforts as much as you need them to. I hope that this article has been helpful, but there is so much to better understand when it comes to understanding ROI and what tactics work best.
To dig deeper into this, download the DD Agency 2021 Enrollment Marketing Benchmarks Report and jump to the section about email marketing.