The Essential Email Marketing Guide for Higher Education

The Essential Email Marketing Guide for Higher Education

In fall 2023, the university enrollment rate increased for the first time since the pandemic hit. While this is good news for universities, institutions now must consider how to attract students, given the ever-changing student base. How can your intuition stay ahead of the pack and reach potential students?

The answer is targeted email marketing campaigns.

Email marketing has existed for decades and is still a crucial tool for businesses, including higher education institutions.

Why Email Marketing Matters in Higher Education

Unaffected By Algorithms

One of the main reasons why email marketing is still relevant and important in higher education is its directness. Unlike social media, where algorithms determine which users see your content, emails are directly sent to a specific audience. This ensures that your message reaches the right people, thus increasing the chances of conversion.

Personalized Communication

Email marketing allows for personalized communication with potential students. By collecting information such as interests and academic programs of interest, institutions can tailor their emails to individual students. This customized touch helps attract and retain potential students by making them feel valued and understood.

Cost Effective

Another advantage of email marketing is its cost-effectiveness. Unlike traditional advertising methods such as print or TV ads, email marketing is much more affordable and has a higher ROI (return on investment). This makes it an ideal tool for institutions with limited budgets and resources.

5 Best Tips For Effect Higher Education Email Marketing

How can higher education institutions effectively use email marketing? Here are some tips to get started.

Build A Targeted Email List

Unlike in businesses, a university email list is not a lifelong asset. Students graduate, change their email addresses, or lose interest in the institution.

Nonetheless, growing and maintaining a targeted email list is important. It increases the chances of your messages being seen by people interested in your offerings.

To build a list, offer incentives for students to provide their contact information, such as newsletters or free resources. Collect information from potential and current students, such as their interests, academic program of interest, and stage in the enrollment process.

You can then use this information to send relevant and to your audience, increasing engagement and retention rates.

Segment Your Email List

Segmenting your email list involves dividing your list into different categories based on data like academic interests, demographics, or stages in the enrollment process. Segmentation enables targeted and personalized communications, significantly enhancing engagement and conversion rates.

Your institution can tailor its messages to each group with a segmented list. For example, you could send prospective students information about campus tours and application deadlines based on their enrollment stage.

You can also build lists for alumni, faculty, and staff to communicate with each group separately for more effective messaging. This strategic approach ensures that each recipient receives content most relevant to their needs and interests, fostering a stronger connection with the institution and increasing the likelihood of continued involvement and support.

Consistent Branding

One area where higher ed institutions need to improve in their email marketing efforts is consistent branding. Lack of consistency can confuse recipients and dilute the institution’s overall image and message.

Maintaining consistent branding across all marketing channels is crucial in establishing brand identity and recognition. Establish guidelines for all departments to follow to ensure consistent branding in your email marketing. This may include using approved templates, colors, fonts, and images that align with your institution’s brand identity.

Ensure that your institution’s logo, colors, fonts, and tone of voice are consistent across all platforms to create a cohesive and professional image. This consistency also helps build credibility and trust with your audience, making them more likely to engage with your institution.


Personalized emails have been found to have higher open rates and click-through rates than generic ones. Include the recipient’s name in the subject line or salutation to grab their attention and make them feel valued.

Also, tailor the content of your email to their interests and needs. Use data from previous interactions with your institution to personalize the messaging. For example, if a prospective student has shown interest in a particular program on your website, you can send them an email highlighting that program’s benefits and success stories.


Test your campaigns before sending them out to ensure they are error-free and visually appealing. This includes checking for broken links, spelling and grammar errors, and proper formatting across email clients and devices.

A testing method like A/B testing will help you determine which subject lines, images, or call-to-actions work best for your audience and improve future campaigns.

Remember that email marketing is an ever-evolving strategy, so continue testing and adjusting to what resonates with your recipients.

Final Thoughts

With its high ROI, email marketing is a great addition to your institution’s marketing strategy. That said, you need to follow several best practices to ensure its success. These include creating a targeted list, segmenting your list, testing, and maintaining consistent branding across your emails.

Need help preparing and launching an effective email marketing campaign? The Hoyt Organization has helped numerous organizations achieve their marketing goals through email. Contact us today to engage with your audience effectively.

Leeza Hoyt

~Leeza Hoyt