June 26

5 Things To Do Before Your Higher Education Email Marketing Launch


Email marketing is the workhorse marketing channel that’s been producing results for colleges and universities at a much lower cost than traditional media for decades. But as with everything, the way you start out will have a huge impact on how well it performs.

Here are 5 important steps to launching your email marketing efforts the right way from the start.

1. Lay out your organizational goals and prioritize.

I’m sure I don’t need to lecture on the need to begin every marketing endeavor with clear goals, but because email is so cheap and fast, many higher ed marketers fail to take time to lay out their goals for their email marketing.

This is a big mistake.

Without clear goals set at the beginning, you’ll waste precious time creating email campaigns that don’t get you any closer to where you need to go.

Here are some sample goals to consider for your email marketing:

  • Increase the number of new student applications
  • Move prospects to next level of admissions funnel
  • Boost the attendance at on-campus events
  • Raise awareness of your brand
  • Expand your brand’s thought leadership
  • Improve your annual fund campaign performance

For some schools, launching email campaigns for every goal may not be feasible due to budgetary and staff constraints.

But even if you’re a small shop, you can still get big results out of your email marketing.

Once you’ve laid out your goals, prioritize them and begin your email marketing with the goals that have the most chance of driving results for your organizational plan.

2. Understand your audiences.

Higher education marketing has several default audiences:

  1. Prospective Students,
  2. Current Students,
  3. Alumni,  
  4. Donors, and
  5. General Public

It’s essential to understand these audiences and their content needs. In other words, what questions are they asking that you are uniquely suited to answer?

Make a list of potential questions that each of these audiences would have and keep them readily available as you and your team come up with content ideas in the future.

Content marketing is only as strong as the content you create — and the power of your content will come from voicing the questions your audience has and creatively answering them.

3. Create marketing personas for each email list.

In this step, you’ll look beyond the questions to the questioner. Take whatever stats you have and make some educated guesses as to who your audience is.

Creating marketing personas is a powerful way to humanize your content and make it hard for your audience to resist.

4. Create marketing milestones or “funnels” for each department.

Collaborate with your colleagues in each department from which you’ll be sending your emails to lay out the milestones or funnel they’re leading their audiences through.

Create audience lists for each of these milestones in your email service provider (ESP) so that you’re sending timely content to your audience that is relevant to where they’re at in their relationship with you as an organization.

The emails you send out to your audience should be designed to get your audience to click through to the content you’ve handcrafted for them in their “student’s journey.”

As individuals move on to the next marketing milestone, move them to the next list so you can continue to send them relevant content.

An example of the milestones for admissions:

  1. Initial Contact
  2. Signed up for Campus Visit
  3. Scheduled an Interview
  4. Applied for Admission
  5. Admission Accepted

5. Choose an email service provider (ESP).

Before you launch your email marketing strategy, you need to take a moment and think through which email service provider you should use.

First off, email clients such as Outlook and Apple Mail are out of the question. These are great tools for office communication and one-to-one email, but they are not designed for email marketing.

ESP’s offer the features that you’ll need to be successful in your email marketing like delayed scheduling, marketing analytics, subscription management, opt-in forms, etc.

And thankfully, they come with a low price tag.

My recommendations are that you begin your search with industry leaders like MailChimp, Emma, or Constant Contact.

Take a look at each one and see if they have all the features and price point that you need.

Another important consideration is to make sure they’ll import/export data easily with the various CRM databases that each department uses.

Plan for success, or settle for failure.

Launching your college or university’s email marketing efforts is a smart move that will produce results for your organization well into the future.

The technology is easy, instant, and remarkably cost-effective.

However, don’t let the low barrier to entry fool you into not planning your email marketing launch well, or you’ll end up spending the most valuable asset you have — your time.

For help with your email marketing efforts, please contact us today to get your free consultation right over the phone.

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