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Recruiting Intelligence

Email Marketing is Still Not Dead

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We don’t know who needs to hear this, but email is still alive and well. Thriving, in fact. And while all things social media are the marketing darlings of the moment, email, like the quintessential, foundational website, is an indispensable tool for your student recruitment. Some of you don’t believe us, we know. 

Consider this statistic: by the end of 2024, there will be nearly 4.5 billion email users worldwide—that's over half the planet's population. Chances are your target markets are among this crowd. What’s more, four out of 10 emails are opened through mobile apps (per Statista), putting your highly connected prospects just a notification away from your next message. 

“Sure,” you say, “But you’ve provided no age breakdown with those stats.” Mmm-hmmm. We hear you. 

The Intead team is gearing up for some amazing presentations and we hope you can join us. 

  • NAFSA 2024 Annual Conference and Expo in New Orleans, May 28-31, 2024
  • GMAC 2024 Annual Conference in New Orleans, June 19-21, 2024
  • 2024 EducationUSA Forum in Washington, DC, July 30 - August 01, 2024

Let us know if you’ll share a cup of coffee and a conversation about all things global and digital (info@intead.com) 

Why should you place bets on email campaigns when prospective students are so enamored with hugely popular social media platforms and never (never?!?) check their email? For one, email has an unparalleled direct line to your audience. And, unlike other more entertainment-focused social platforms, messages delivered via email are not competing with a third-party algorithm – you send them, they receive them. Plus, emails tend to be easier for your audience to hang on to than say a TikTok post, giving these messages a longer shelf life.   

Essential to this discussion: at what point in your recruitment comms do you use email? To be clear, use email as part of your lead nurturing strategy, NOT as an initial attraction effort. Capture their attention and inquiry using other channels (fairs, social media, counselor referral, etc.). Email is just one element of your effort to deepen the engagement.  

Interestingly, 58% of Gen Z check their email multiple times a day, 23% check it at least once a day, 12% a couple times a week, and 5% once a week, per Campaign Monitor. So, the idea that email is a vintage, washed-up medium is truly a nonstarter. Email is mainstream and will be for the foreseeable future. Including it as part of your recruitment efforts just makes sense.  

Yes, social media is a must-have recruitment tactic. Should anyone on your team need a refresher on the importance of taking an omnichannel approach to marketing, check out this post. 

In the meantime, read on for actionable tips on how to improve your email marketing game to boost, and prove, your student recruitment metrics. It has SO much to do with your content choices... 

There are countless ways to make your email marketing campaigns better, depending on your specific goals and the audience segments you are targeting. Here are a few suggestions that will help you level-up your email game to boost your ROI.  

It has everything to do with segmenting your lists and developing authentic, engaging content that deepens your relationship. Trite and standard will earn you the oh-so-frequent delete-finger-flick we know so well. 

Use Lead Magnets for Target Audience Email List Building 

Emails are only as strong as the addresses to which they are sent. In your attraction ads, landing pages, and recruitment activities, entice students to provide you their real email addresses by using lead magnets – valuable offers you give prospective students in exchange for their email addresses. The offer can be anything, so long as it’s meaningful to your audience. Think original downloadables like “International Student Survival Guide to Studying in the US” or “Checklist for Getting Your F1 Visa” or even an interactive quiz like “Find Your Ideal US Degree.”  These are basic. Your team's creativity and a quick brainstorm with your current students will get you where you need to be.

Think career-focused: “What do entry-level architects really do?” Think environment: “Can environmental careers really save the planet?” Think social justice: “Seeking an actively involved campus community.” Your marketing team should be all over this stuff. If you need more help, this is us: info@intead.com 

Incorporate Strong Hero Images 

For your email templates, good visual content can increase an email recipient’s willingness to read content by 80% (per HubSpot). Plus, images can evoke emotions, tell a story, and create an overall more immersive experience that adds a layer of authenticity and quality to your institution. You want that audience resonance. So, top your emails with a compelling image that helps convey the essential message of your email quickly, effectively, engagingly.  

Pro Tip: Image sizes between 100 to 500kb help ensure quick loading and avoid any potential frustration due to slow download speeds. Also, using alt and title text is crucial in case images are not displayed and to meet basic accessibility protocols. 

Employ a Mobile-First Strategy 

Forty percent of email users access their email via apps (a stat that rises to 75% when looking only at Gmail users). So, it just makes sense to optimize your emails for mobile viewing. Some tips for doing just that: 

  • Use responsive templates to ensure your email design adapts to screen size.  
  • Stick to a single-column layout that flows smoothly on a small screen. 
  • Use a font size that’s easy to read on small screens without zooming – generally a minimum font size of 14px for body text and 22px for headlines. 
  • Design large, finger-friendly CTA buttons at least 44px by 44px. 
  • Be sure all links and navigation are easily tappable (and work!).

Make It Personal 

Personalizing emails ups the ROI for any email marketing campaign. For instance, emails with personalized subject lines can improve email open rates by 50% (per Oberlo). Personalized emails deliver 6x higher transaction rates than non-personalized ones (per Campaign Monitor). Personalizing is no heavy lift, either. Use the student's first name, reference their interests, or comment on recent interactions with your institution. Tailor your message so it feels like a personal invitation to join your community. 

Catch More Click-Throughs with Interactive Elements 

Adding videos to emails has been shown to increase click-through rates by 300% – not bad. Interactive content in general escalates email click-through rates by 73% (per SocialPilot). Even the simple inclusion of social sharing options within an email can boost click-through rates by 158%, pointing to the value of integrating social media with email marketing efforts. 

Basic examples of interactive elements prospective students may find valuable:  

  • Virtual campus tours 
  • Infographics on student outcomes 
  • Student life polls (think BuzzFeed) 
  • Animated emojis (they are just fun and eye-catching)  

These types of elements invite interaction, making your email a two-way conversation – which is exactly what you want. 

Use Clear, Easy-to-Understand Language 

Know what you want to say and say it using clear language that is easy to understand. This is especially key when addressing non-native English speakers. Make your call to action clear and valuable enough for the recipient to act on. Clear language also builds trust as students feel more confident when they understand the recruitment information and criteria. Plus, the clearer the language, the less back and forth required between your office and the student.

Oh, and don't overload the email with too much information. One idea per email, not the long list of info on housing, campus life, dining options, and all the other stuff. One engaging idea per email. Engage them and get them to come to you for more information.

Help is Just an Email Away 

Email marketing has evolved over the years. We consider it an essential marketing tactic further down the recruitment funnel. If you’re seeking an external audit of your current methods, drop us a line at info@intead.com. We’d love to get (and read) your email. 😊  

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