ESM Digital's Higher Ed Marketing Blog

Don’t Buy Student Email Lists; Create Them

You’re not the only institution that still buys lists. The College Board sells tens of millions of names to more than a thousand colleges across the country every year.1 At 42 cents per name the practice not only represents huge profits for the nonprofit College Board and ACT testing services; it can cost colleges significantly.

But is your investment worth it?

For most schools, the answer is a lukewarm: maybe. Unless you’re among a few dozen top tier schools that probably don’t need the lists anyway, those names can only take you so far. If you continue to see your enrollment yield dip, you will need to do more to remain competitive.

But what?

Use social media to nurture relationships with your current stakeholders. That includes students, faculty, alumni, donors; anyone who cares about what’s happening on campus and off, and your institutional vision. Studies have continuously shown that the more students are engaged, the more likely they are to succeed in college. In the digital landscape, the use of social media allows you to connect early and stay connected throughout a student’s time at your institution. It also allows you to reach out to future students to give them insight into what your school is all about and attract them to your campus for visits. Gather their info at every touchpoint and create an email list of people who actually want to hear from you.

Use your own data to determine what success looks like. You probably have decades of evidence that will tell you who the students are who are most likely to enroll, succeed, stay, graduate—and go on to be brand advocates for your institution. Mine that data and create email lists to stay in touch every step of the way.

Use the power of digital media targeting to find potential students who will be a likely fit to your school’s majors, programs, and culture. Whether on social media channels like Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn, or across the Google Display Network, digital marketing allows you to target at a granular level. Targeting settings allow you to hone in on a host of options including geographical locations, demographics, income and educational levels, job titles, associations, and overall browser habits. You can target your ideal students and offer them ads and content that speak directly to where they happen to be in their enrollment journey. Once they engage online, send emails that encourage them to contact Admissions, visit campus, or connect with alumni and students.

Building the right contact list is only part of successful email marketing. You also need to understand the kind of messaging that will appeal to the right students for your school. Want to find out how? Contact ESM Digital and we will set up a discovery call.

~Linda Emma

1 http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/07/education/edlife/07HOOVER-t.html