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3 Tips for Higher Education Marketing

by: Christine Lake (@IBMforMarketing)
04 May 2016

Higher EducationFor many businesses and industries, email has become the go-to communication form, but perhaps none more than higher education. For colleges and universities, email marketing can deliver wonderful results for a fraction of the cost of traditional marketing and broadcast methods. It’s often used for everything from recruiting potential students to sharing university updates or even safety alerts.

In this post, we’re excited to have guest blogger Jasper Saunders (@jaspersaunders), a leader in enterprise technology at Georgetown University and the newly elected chair of the IBM Marking Cloud — Higher Education Advisory Board, share a few tips on increasing email communication effectiveness in the higher education space.

Saunders’ work was recently recognized as the nominee recipient of the World Technology Award at the 2015 Technology Summit in association with IBM Watson. Check out his three higher education email tips:

Jasper Saunders1) Timing is everything.

Don’t forget about your audience when sending out emails. Most students are in school during the day and are engaged in extra-curricular activities in the evenings, so they typically check their emails during daytime breaks. In higher education, we have to be aware of the timing of these emails since many students are on other campuses across the country or global online students.

Timing your emails is especially important if you’re asking prospective students, current students, faculty or staff to RSVP for an event. Be sure your emails reach out-of-state and international students in plenty of time for them to read and respond.

2) The “From” name should remain consistent. 

This will often affect your click-through and open rate even more than the subject line. The university community frequently decides whether they want to open an email based on whom the email is from. Two items to keep in mind:

  • Continuity is important. Send the email from a department or group rather than a specific person. That way, if someone is to leave that position, your email “From” doesn’t need to be changed continuously.
  • There are exceptions. Consider sending from an individual when his or her “From” name is someone recognizable to your audience and will increase opens. 

3) Avoid sending too many emails. 

With emails inboxes flooded with organization events, registration information, dorm activities, cafeteria updates, weather notices and much more, many students suffer from what I like to call “email fatigue.” All those daily emails can often result in students marking you as spam or unsubscribing from your list. Again, two pieces of advice:

  • Don’t send unless you have content your recipients will find valuable. Also, try not to send multiple emails that could have been combined into one.

  • Try to limit word count and aim to keep readers engaged with fewer words. Generally, you have a much better chance of grabbing audience attention by providing useful information in a smaller email.

Email marketing in higher education is an excellent way to communicate with students, faculty or even the general public. In addition, communication staff members can tap analytics and reporting tools to test new ideas and see what’s working for the department and the university as a whole.

About the IBM Marking Cloud - Higher Education Advisory Board

This newly established board will provide an opportunity for IBM Marketing Cloud team members to connect with experts in the higher education community and optimize their collaborative efforts with IBM and industry leaders in the areas of marketing, communications and information technology.

The board will cultivate relations between the IBM Marketing Cloud and the higher education community to assist with leveraging expertise to make a difference on campuses around the globe while sharing ideas and best practices across the nation’s leading campuses. In the near future, IBM Marketing Cloud higher education customers will be notified with opportunities for participation if desired.

Learn More About Email Marketing:

1) Tip Sheet: “Transactional Emails: 10 Tips for Driving Value and Engagement

2) Blog: “Silent Email Subscribers: How to Approach Them

3) Tip Sheet: “7 Tips for Getting Started with Behavioral Marketing


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