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Email marketing can work on many levels for higher education. You can use it to boost enrollment, connect with alumni, answer questions from incoming students, and market your school—all with one channel.

That being said, creating an email marketing strategy isn’t as simple as writing and sending mass emails whenever you have a new campaign to promote.

Here are a few strategies to help your school or university reach your marketing goals with email marketing. Keep reading if you want to learn more, and give us a call at 888-601-5359.

Turn site visitors into applicants

If you’re looking for a way to transform strangers into students, email marketing is the perfect way to reach out to potential applicants. Traditional forms of marketing are beginning to fall by the wayside and Internet marketing is becoming increasingly popular.

If you want to stay at the forefront of potential students’ minds, an email marketing campaign is an extremely effective way to do so.

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1. Build a list of subscribers

Before you start your email marketing campaign, you need to have a strategy for collecting potential students’ email addresses and getting their permission to contact them about your university. Otherwise, you could appear as spam or an annoyance to a user that never signed up for your emails.

Here are some strategies for collecting contact information:

College fairs

Did your school just attend a college fair and leave with pages of contact information from potential students? You’ve already got your first batch of emails!

These email addresses will act as your top-of-funnel contacts—or ones that you’re just starting to draw into your university.

Social media

71% of teen’s ages 13 to 17 say that they use more than one social network. Given that your target audience is likely still in this demographic, marketing on social media is a genius ways to attract new students.

In order for social media to help your email marketing campaign, post content that leads potential students to your website. Content could include anything from high school senior planning or how to know what school is right for you.

You should provide links to email subscription landing pages in each of these posts, so that upon entering your website, users can subscribe to your newsletter or other emails.

The more contacts you can collect, the better! These are the users that you have permission to contact via email.

2. Write compelling content

It’s no surprise that content is one of the most important parts of an email. It’s what will either make or break your goal to successfully inform and convince potential students to choose your university.

In order to reach your goals with email marketing, there are a few tips you should keep in mind:

Keep it simple

Deciding on a university is a stressful time, so emails should relieve, not increase, stress for potential students.

Instead of sending emails with walls of text, make your point with shorter, condensed emails that only cover the most important information.

However, try to make each email as useful and informative as possible, so that you aren’t sending several emails on the same topic. Too many emails will annoy your recipients rather than help them.

For example, if you are sending a welcome email for students that are coming to take a tour of your university, wait until you have all the details finalized to send out the email. That way, the recipients have all the information in one place, and they don’t receive ten different emails– each with a single piece of information.


If you write all your emails with an opening line that reads “Dear Student,” that’s a good way to make potential students feel like they’re just another drop in the bucket.

Try personalizing each email with individual students’ names. Although it’s a small change, this helps students feel like your emails are written specifically for them, and that they have a special place at your university.

3. Optimize for the best results

Once you’ve collected email addresses and started sending information to potential students, you may think you’re finished creating your email marketing strategy. However, there are still a few things to keep in mind.

Optimize for mobile

55 percent of emails are opened on mobile devices, while only 19 percent are opened on desktops. This makes it crucial for you to optimize your emails for mobile.

If the email doesn’t work on any device, the recipient may not be able to view your message, which could cause frustration. This means that a large portion of your subscribers may never see your emails at all—especially if their smartphone is their only way of viewing email.

Test and improve

One of the best ways to understand how your email marketing campaign is working is to test and improve.

To do so, you should run A/B tests on your emails, in order to understand what elements are successful and what elements you could improve.

For example, you could perform an A/B test on your subject line in order to decide what promotes a higher open rate.

You could also perform a test to see whether pictures should be placed at the top, or end of an email.

When you take time to test the elements of your emails, you’ll be able to pinpoint the one that will promote the most opens and conversions.

4. Respond

There’s nothing worse than not getting a reply to an important email.

If you’re going to take the time to email prospective students and want them to attend your university, you should also make sure that you reply to their responses in a timely manner.

A late email could send the message that you don’t care, or don’t have time for questions, which is a huge turn-off to students that need answers.

Are you ready to start email marketing your university?

If you’re ready to start marketing your place of higher education, WebFX can help.

We know universities, and we know email marketing—and combined, we have all the tools and resources to help you develop an email marketing campaign that will attract more applicants to your school.

Contact us today for a free quote!

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