University Email Marketing: The Key to Boosting College Admissions

University Email Marketing: The Key to Boosting College Admissions

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This post was updated January 29th, 2021


All colleges and universities need to attract students in order to survive. 

That’s why such institutions often embrace social media marketing. While this can be effective, it’s important not to overlook how important email marketing for colleges can be. Once you’ve acquired their address and use an email verification software (to make sure they don’t bounce!), you can begin your university email outreach on the right foot.

University emails work because they reach a vast number of potential applicants that all share a similar feature: they are about to enroll in a college. 

When executed effectively, university email campaigns can boost admissions and retention, while supporting advancement efforts

How to Implement an Effective University Email Marketing Strategy


In Fall 2019 alone, the top 10 colleges with the most applicants each received over 85,000 applications. Make sure you’re reaching this growing applicant pool the right way through university email marketing. 

Not all prospective students will have social media accounts, but virtually all of them will have an email. So to ensure your higher education email marketing is a success, keep the following three points in mind:

1. Understand the Process of University Admissions

The final goal of any higher education email marketing campaign is simple: get a person to enroll in a particular institution. 

The process of reaching that goal, though, typically involves several steps. Breaking the process down into these stages makes it easier to send the right emails at the right time.

Let’s start with a high school student contacting the university to request information about an academic program:

  1. At this point, you simply want to entice the student to set up an interview or complete their application. Send emails from the university explaining how they can do so.
  2. Once they set up the interview, send more emails to help them prepare. 
  3. Then when a student has applied, there will be a lull period as they wait to learn whether they’ve been accepted. During this time, if you send emails, they should consist of updates, letting a student know their application is still under review.

If an application is accepted, your university email campaign content should not only point out the many benefits your institution has to offer; it should also offer practical advice on the enrollment process.

2. Implement CTAs in Your Emails

Every university email you send to a prospective applicant should move them closer toward a step in the enrollment process. That’s why calls-to-action (CTAs) are especially important in regards to email marketing for colleges.

A CTA (usually included toward the end of an email) encourages a reader to take a specific action. For higher education email marketing campaigns, CTAs might urge readers to schedule a visit or interview, complete their application, or finish the enrollment process.

Your emails shouldn’t merely serve to highlight the types of experiences students have at your university; they should also prompt some sort of action. 

Don’t send any emails until you’ve determined what type of action you would want a reader to take, and what CTA you’ll include to ensure they do so. In fact, it may be smart to draft your CTA first, then develop the rest of the email’s content.

3. Maintain Your Brand

A brand is your university’s personality and identity. Having a strong brand identity also makes your emails feel more genuine. When your image is consistent, it makes your university emails feel more familiar to prospective applicants. 

They begin to associate certain emotional experiences with your messages. Over time, they may develop a genuine connection with your brand that makes them more likely to apply to your university.

Elements of a brand include: 

  • Tone of your emails (enthusiastic/compassionate/friendly/etc.)
  • Types of images you incorporate
  • Benefits and experiences your emails highlight 

When planning out your university email marketing strategy, develop ideas for how you will both communicate and maintain your brand. Remember, remaining consistent is essential.

Putting Marketing Ideas for College Admissions to the Test


While social media can be helpful, email marketing for colleges remains one of the most effective ways to reach a large number of potential students. 

But don’t forget to test your email campaigns before sending them out! A/B testing helps you measure and understand what resonates with your readers — and you want to get it just right.

Plan your campaign wisely, and you’ll make your institution look much more attractive to them.

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