ESM Digital's Higher Ed Marketing Blog

[First Name], Are You Personalizing Your Emails? You Should Be!

No one wants to feel like a tracking number or a nameless lead – so why would you treat your subscriber or prospective student like one? You want your future students to feel like the content you provide is relevant to them: you want to personalize it. Now, this doesn’t mean you plug in your subscriber’s first name and call it a day. Nor does it mean you abandon the idea of large marketing campaigns. It means you take a good look at who your audience is and what they want from your school.

In order to execute your personalized campaign you first need data, lots of data. You’ll want to build a list that contains a great deal more than just a name and email address. Thankfully, you likely already collect a lot of great data on prospective students such as name, location, program of interest, campus of interest, the high school they attended, where they are in the application process, or whether or not they’ve scheduled a campus tour, and likely even more. All of this information is a great place to start designing a personalized email campaign.

Next, you need to put all that data to work by developing student personas and creating targeted segments. For example, you could send the same templated admissions campaign to all of your prospective students but maybe note the name of their high school. Or you could create different emails with information about the academic departments they might be interested in. Or maybe you have specific admissions officers assigned to certain students? Then, have the personalized email come directly  from them.

As higher education marketers we can’t exactly replicate what big retailers like Amazon and Netflix have been able to accomplish with their personalization and product/video recommendations, but we can learn from it. We can shape your school’s story so it resonates well with future students.  We can tell a story that speaks to their individual needs as a student and their desires for the future.  We can show them how your campus life can expand their horizons or make them feel at home. We can walk them through the admissions process or show them the success they can achieve with an education from your institution.

Creating such segmented and personalized email campaigns might mean a little more work, but it can also mean better results. Research has shown that personalized email can improve open rates, click rates and overall engagement, which will ultimately lead to more enrolled students. Moreover, it’s what people – your future students -expect to see in their inbox. Attention spans seem to be getting shorter and shorter every year while inboxes are getting busier and busier, so no one has time for irrelevant, poorly crafted emails. Take the time to be impactful and relevant.

If you want to learn how you can create a more targeted and personalized email experience for your prospective students, contact our email experts today!

~Marcy Ansley