Email marketing for higher education… 5 top schools to shop for great examples

Email marketing: 5 schools that do an unusually fine job

Back today with the last two questions from my interview with Jens Larson, manager of student communication strategies at Eastern Washington University. Look below for 5 schools that do especially good work with email communications for student recruitment.

If you missed Jens’s advice on how to achieve “delicious” email success in the first part of our interview, that’s just a click away.

For more insights from Jens, sign up for notices of new posts on his own blog “U of Admissions Marketing.” If email marketing is important to you, plan to attend Jens’ workshop at eduWeb14 conferece: “Where Did All the Email Strategists Go? The Contrarian’s Guide to Winning at Email Marketing.”

To make it easier to start secret shopping here, each link below goes direct to an undergraduate online inquiry page. Enjoy!

4. For
people who want to do a bit of secret shopping and experience a strong email
campaign for potential students, what universities do you recommend?

  • Always start with
    competitors. Once that’s done, the following institutions can provide
    inspiration, although secret shoppers need to look beyond higher ed to find the
    cutting edge of email.
    • Arizona
      State University
      haven’t had them on my secret shopping list for a while, but they tend to keep
      emails short, often with just one clear button or link and just a line or two
      of text. Super simple. University of Nevada Reno is very similar in this
      regard, too.
    • Full
      Sail University
       It’s a
      for-profit, but they make an effort to highlight their students’ work and
    • Stephens
      level of personalization–which is remarkable in the industry–and their steady
      rate of emails keep them at the top of my inbox. At last count, they’ve sent
      several dozen emails in one recruitment cycle, and very few feel spammy.
    • University of Chicago. Their emails typically have twice as much
      text as most higher ed emails, but they also have twice as much personality.
      Interestingly, elite institutions seem more likely to showcase institutional
      personalities via email. Perhaps they have more confidence? Better strategy?
    • Wellesley
      the second all-girls institution on the list, but niche schools like Wellesley
      often have a better understanding of their audience and recruitment goals, and
      it shows in this email campaign. Their print campaign is also some of the most
      amazing copywriting in higher ed. But be nice with your info requests. Their
      print campaign is an expensive one.
  • No campaign will ever be
    perfect given time, cost, and technology constraints, but elements from those
    five schools together would be an almost unstoppable campaign.

5. What is the most
common mistake you see universities making in an email campaign?

  • The most common mistake is not valuing
    email enough
    , which shows itself in two ways.
    • First, it shows up in poor
      campaign planning coupled with desperate emails
      . Too many times the
      response to missed targets and bad planning seems to be, “Quick! Send another
      email.” By that point, it’s too late.
    • Second, it shows up in poor resource allocation. Just
      because email is relatively inexpensive doesn’t mean it’s not valuable. In
      fact, it’s often the case that it’s more valuable than nearly any other channel
      on campus. But email isn’t as sexy as social media or dynamic web interfaces,
      so it’s usually just tacked on to someone’s job. 
  • So I look at the
    positive: one institution’s mistake is another institution’s competitive
    advantage. Which is just another reason to attend the eduWeb Conference.

That’s all for now.

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