More than 85 percent of us use email. That’s why it remains one of the most effective marketing tools in the digital arsenal. Especially for institutions of higher education, email is an easy means to correspond with current, past, and future students. But bombarding a target audience with emails they don’t want can do more than just alienate the very people with whom you hope to engage; it can negatively impact your sender reputation and deliverability rates for current and future email campaigns.
How do you use email marketing? Are you flooding inboxes with spam or using drip and nurture campaigns in ways that users see as serving their needs, not yours? Here’s some information about email campaigns you should understand:
Implied and Expressed Permission for Opt-In Emails
We’ve all been there. At the checkout when we’re offered some enticement to give the cashier our email address. Sometimes, all you really want is that one-time discount. You have every intention of hitting unsubscribe at the first sight of an email from the store. But other times, you say yes because you genuinely want to hear news from the store. You want to know about products, sales, discounts, and rewards. Either way, you granted express permission.
Implied permission can be granted by different means. Sometimes you “pay” for something with your email address. It’s the cost of that coupon or eBook or whitepaper. In doing so, you grant permission for email contact. You’ve opted in and you can opt out any time you choose. But third parties also sell and share email lists. You may have said yes to one product and now you’re being bombarded by an entirely different company with products you don’t use. Or you attended a conference and every vendor seems to suddenly be hawking their wares. Implied opt-ins can be a little fuzzy.
As an institution of higher learning, it’s important that you avoid fuzzy at all costs. Especially in light of coming U.S. regulations against spam (similar to the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation law that went into effect last year and Canada’s Anti Spam legislation from 2014), you need to be forthright with all your marketing communication—including email. Don’t trick users into an opt-in they didn’t intend; give them an easy way to opt out; don’t bombard them with emails they don’t want, and have a plan to delete subscribers who don’t engage.
Drip Email Campaigns Are Time Bound
The intent of a drip email campaign is to get in touch with potential students and keep your school brand top-of-mind as they explore their higher ed options. You might educate them about the industries they could enter with a degree from your school. Or you might give them a glimpse at what happens on your campus and in your programs. The important component to a drip campaign is that it has a clear beginning and end, with a defined number of emails. They don’t require or rely upon any action from the recipient. You’ll track results after the campaign, but during, you just let it run.
Nurture Campaigns Depend on User Interaction
On the other hand, nurture campaigns rely on action—or inaction—of the user. You need to take an if-then approach to send users into buckets that offer them the most positive experience possible. For example, let’s say an early email asks what types of programs the recipient might find of interest. If they say they want to explore business, you don’t send them emails about training to become a nurse. Their behavior will help you decide on the kinds of emails that will appeal most to them. What’s also important about nurture campaigns is that if the recipient does not interact with your emails, you need to remove them from your distribution list. You don’t just want to send emails. You want to send emails that get opened and read. If users aren’t interested in your emails right now, stop sending them.
What kind of open rates do your emails currently get? At ESM Digital, we create individualized email strategies for our clients, measure the results, and revisit campaigns to continually improve. Find out how we can help you connect more effectively with your future students. Contact ESM Digital today.