Email Campaigns for Higher Education Marketing: Are They Effective?

Email Campaigns for Higher Education Marketing: Are They Effective?

Interesting question. Some institutions are going to say yes, some are going to say no. It’s the same in any business sector. So, why are email campaigns effective for some, but not for others?
Before answering that question, consider the typical reason given for a negative response:

We tried an email campaign before. It didn’t work.

If They Have Been Effective for Others, Why Hasn’t Yours Been Effective?
The issue is not really if email is effective in higher education marketing. It is if email is being used effectively in higher education marketing. If it is not, there has to be at least one reason, but there could be several, or even many reasons. Some of the reasons email campaigns are not effective include:

  • Failure to have developed a sound strategic approach.
  • Failure to have defined reasonable expectations.
  • Failure to have established metrics.
  • Failure to analyze results for the purpose of improvement.

A Sound Strategic Approach
It is important to understand the goal. If it is recruiting students, the campaign must be directed to people who are prospective students, whether they are high school students or adults wanting to learn a new vocation.
It should also be designed to weed out those who are not in the target audience. This is significant because a sound strategic approach should include a predetermined flow that initially reaches a broad audience, with the designed-in approach of continually reducing the field (and the volume of emails) to include only bona-fide potential candidates. The best strategies continue to refine the list down to specific curricula of interest, each with its own unique flow of emails.
Another critical aspect of an effective email strategy is timing. This includes everything from frequency to coordination with other marketing efforts.
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Reasonable Expectations
It is a human tendency to expect too much. When that is the case, we measure effectiveness against unreasonable expectations. If our expectations are unreasonable, our conclusion will be that the campaign is ineffective. Before launching a campaign, study proven strategies, not only to learn what works, but what to expect. Set expectations accordingly.
Established Metrics
Campaigns unfold in phases. The success of each phase needs to be measured against those reasonable expectations. Measuring only at the end of a campaign does not allow any room to take corrective actions during the campaign to immediately improve effectiveness based on lessons learned at each phase.
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Analysis for Improvement
Analysis is not just about measuring the effectiveness of a current campaign. It is the cornerstone for building the next campaign. When a campaign has been deemed to be ineffective, there are still lessons to be learned so that the next campaign can be effective. Even when a campaign has been effective, the analysis should be studied to determine what can be done better in the future.
Are email campaigns effective? They can be. They are for many. Are they effective for higher education marketing? They can be, and they are for many. The facts keep saying that email campaigns can be effective. When they are not, logic tells us that the problem is not in the email approach, but in the campaign design.
Creating, implementing and analyzing effective higher education email marketing campaigns is one component of the expertise of the Tribeca Marketing Group. Schools don’t have to become email campaign experts. We can be your experts while you focus on education. We have an incredible staff with both educational and marketing expertise. If your email marketing campaigns have not been effective, contact us. We can fix that. If they have been effective, we extend the same invitation. We can help you make them better.
Lou Gutheil writes about a wide variety of subjects, including investments, immigration, technology, NGOs, and, of course, higher education marketing.