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July 10

The 7-Step Email List-Building Formula for Colleges & Universities


by | Jul 10, 2017 | content marketing, Blog, Featured

It’s hard, time-consuming work. But there are few investments as worthy of your time and effort as building your college or university’s email list.

Do you remember the time you realized that renting an apartment wasn’t necessarily the best way to accumulate wealth? Or at the very least, it isn’t the most effective way to get your net worth out of the red.

While renting has its advantages—and can be beneficial at times to getting you closer to your goals in life—over the long-term, renting just isn’t usually the best financial practice.

This logic applies just as much to marketing as it does to personal finances.

In the digital world, there are only a few things that you own—everything else you rent.

Your social media profiles (like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and SnapChat) and all the information they hold are things you rent. They’re all owned by a tech company like Facebook or Microsoft. And they have the right to “evict” you and your higher education institution from their property by shutting down your profile.

Sounds a bit drastic—but it’s true.

More than likely, though, they will simply throttle your reach so as to force you to pay them to get your message out to more people in your friends list.

Sounds unfair? Not really. It’s good business.

They need to make money, and they’re going to make that money from the people who are “renting” their space: Marketers like you.

But let’s not get cynical here. You know that I’m a big fan of using social media marketing.

In fact, here are some articles I’ve written on it:

But while I have a healthy appreciation for the power of social media marketing, you can’t “rent” your way to marketing success.

Thankfully, there are digital assets that you can own.

Your website, your content on your website, and your email list are all digital assets you own.

In this sense, they truly are assets. They generate value for your organization year after year, and no one can arbitrarily shut them down.

All three of these assets are essential for any digital marketing strategy. But so many higher education institutions stop after they’ve created their website and content. Why is that?

Because building an email marketing list is a long-term strategy.

Properly executing a higher education website takes months to conceptualize, draft copy, design, development, and deploy.

Creating exceptional content can take anywhere from days to several weeks to produce.

But building an email list with enough subscribers to generate results for your college or university takes years of consistently applying a list-building strategy.

The strategy isn’t complicated or difficult. It’s applying that strategy over and over again through the years that’s so darn hard—and frustrating!

But you can do it. And you must do it.

  • Over 3.6 billion people have an active email account.
  • The average person spends almost half of a their time on their mobile device checking email. Social media gets a paltry 10%.
  • Over 43.5 million people check their email daily.
  • Email is cheap.
  • Email is personal. No matter how many people are on your email list, each person receives the email as if it were straight from you to them personally.
  • Email is a dependable, proven channel. Sure, things go wrong every now and then, but comparatively speaking, email is “Old Faithful.”

For all of the above reasons, your email list is probably the greatest marketing asset you have.

You could lose your website, content, and social media profile today in a freak stroke of really bad luck. But if you kept the names on your email list safe, you could be back in business tomorrow!

Here’s the simple strategy that will build your higher education email list and bullet-proof your digital marketing strategy.

  1. Decide how subscribers will opt-in to your email list. Creating an email list is not the same as asking the prospective students to request more information, nor is it the beginning of the application. Which means that you can’t just throw in the names and addresses of students you’re prospecting on to your email list unless they’ve given you permission to do so. Building an email list is one of the tools you use to build trust and earn the right to take the relationship to the next level. Even if you do ask some qualifying questions as part of the opt-in, be sure to only to ask for the information you need at that moment to add them to your list and no more.. Bob Johnson illustrates a great way of limiting web forms to the needs of your prospects.
  2. Create email newsletter opt-in forms and place them strategically on your website. Place opt-in forms in such strategic places as sidebar widgets, landing pages, free download pages, at the end of blog posts, and in your header or footer.
  3. Create email newsletter pop-up forms. These are opt-in forms that can appear however you design them to. They can appear when a visitor lands on your homepage, when they try to leave the page, or after having been on your page for a set amount of time.
  4. Offer your visitor something of value in return for signing up for your email list. Create a piece of content your visitor would find helpful such as a college buyer’s guide, dorm life survival manual, or a financial aid reference to help them find the money they need for college.
  5. Encourage subscribers to share your list. Use fun strategies such as contests to win a prize like an iPad, or you can give away a digital item such as an ebook to all subscribers who get their friends to sign up for your newsletter.
  6. Continue creating and publishing great content. Don’t let your email list grow cold by neglecting to send them content that answers the questions that they’re looking to you to answer.
  7. Don’t believe that purchasing a search list and adding it to your email list is the same thing. Your email list is a sacred list, and those individuals have chosen to give you permission to send them quality content. Remember that, and honor the trust.

This seven-step approach is simple, yet highly effective for building your college or university’s email list.

If you would like to know more about higher education digital marketing strategies, like email list building, contact us today for a free consultation!

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