Graphic with the phrase Email Marketing for Higher Education

Email Marketing for Higher Education: Tips and Best Practices

Curious about how email marketing for higher education can boost your college or university’s recruiting efforts? Consider a recent survey by Mailchimp that found education-related emails have a 24.42% open rate. That’s a pretty impressive stat that you can’t afford to ignore.

If increasing engagement and enrollment is a priority for your team, maybe it’s time to create and implement a higher education email marketing plan. This post will walk you through the best email practices in higher education and features of an effective plan, including:

  • The importance of email marketing for universities and colleges.
  • Why you should optimize your email marketing efforts for mobile.
  • The importance of brand consistency.
  • How images and videos boost engagement.
  • Reasons for segmenting your email campaigns lists.
  • The benefits of automating your email marketing campaigns.
  • Personalization tips.
  • Email marketing software designed specifically for higher ed.

Taking the time to strategize and structure your college email marketing plan correctly from the start will not only give you better results, but provide you with a roadmap for future email marketing campaigns.

The Importance of Email Marketing for Higher Education

Modern high school students are digital natives, spending up to nine hours a day on their mobile devices. However, according to the 2021 E-Expectations Trend Report, email continues to be one of the preferred ways prospective students communicate with colleges, and 53% of students say that they will contact a school via email. In fact, the closer students get to the application process, the more they will reach out to admissions officers with questions.

According to the 2019 E-Expectations Trend Report, 98 percent of students are willing to share their email address with you.



Email is also the easiest way to reach parents and donors, so don’t forget to target email marketing campaigns specifically for them.

Mobile-Optimize Everything!

As the web evolves, so do the devices used to view content. That’s why mobile responsiveness should be a given for your college or university’s higher education marketing strategies. Just think—some students will stop working on their computers to look up information on their phones! Your email marketing campaigns must be easily read from any device, or you will lose your targeted audience.

Mobility begins with a quality content management system (CMS) that supports mobile responsiveness. If your CMS lacks this essential feature, maybe it’s time to switch, especially if you want to leverage the benefits of the SEO for higher education.

Make the switch: Schedule an Omni CMS demo today!

Emphasize Brand Consistency

When designing email marketing for educational institutions campaigns, remember that they should reflect your school’s branding. Strong brands have as much recognition as the name of the product or company, so if you want your college or university email marketing campaign to garner as much attention as possible, stay brand consistent. Elements to consider:

  • Exact color matches
  • Tagline and logo consistency across media
  • Content style and tone, or the way you relevant content
  • Design elements on web pages
  • Fluidity between print and online media
  • Placement of ads that reflects similar values and goals of your brand

Branding is a project unto itself, but one that will ultimately benefit your efforts with email marketing campaigns.

Use Images and Videos When Appropriate

Students surveyed for the 2021 E-Expectations Trend Report indicated that emails with a visual component are much more effective than emails with straight text, so you should leverage this as part of your email marketing strategies. Email has added benefit of serving as a vehicle for other forms of content, such as video. Email with personalized video content has been proven to improve attention, retention and conversion rates. Be choosy with photo and image selection. It’s better to use images that target a specific audience rather than a general image.

Students prefer emails that incorporate images and graphics that accentuate the message.

Students prefer emails that incorporate images and graphics that accentuate the message.


Segment Your Email Lists by Interests or Demographic Information

Segmenting your email list into groups based on characteristics and interests is a great way to target specific audiences, and it is part of email marketing best practices.

For example, donation emails for new alumni should have a different ask than emails sent to longtime alumni donors. The same goes for prospective students. Seniors will have different needs and interests than sophomores who are just beginning to research colleges. To save time, write one email as a template, but then tailor it to meet the needs of your specific audience.

A quality email marketing tool that integrates with your CMS will allow you to specify how you break down your lists for specific campaigns. It can also help you regenerate new lists and reports as well as track and view analytics to understand how effective your email campaigns are.

Automate Different Email Campaigns

Another timesaver is to automate your email marketing campaigns. This includes any follow ups to responses from your emails and “drip” emails that nurture prospects through the enrollment funnel. When your software automatically follows up and sends thank yous and requested information, you don’t have to worry about a prospective student or alumni slipping through the cracks.

Personalize Your Emails

Just because you’re sending emails in bulk doesn’t mean that you can’t still personalize them. A quality email marketing tool will have templates you can personalize by importing names and areas of interest into the text of emails so that they are tailored to specific audiences who have specific needs and interests.

The 2019 E-Expectations Trend Report highlights email insights that will help in your email marketing campaign effectiveness.

The 2021 E-Expectations Trend Report highlights email insights that will help in your email marketing campaign effectiveness.


Use Higher Education Email Marketing Software

The right email marketing tool will make your email marketing projects so much easier—especially if you choose one designed specifically for higher education. Besides personalization, a quality email marketing tool that integrates with a CMS like Omni CMS will allow for A/B testing to see what emails and corresponding landing pages are most effective, delivery optimization that can detect anything preventing your emails from being delivered, analytics with customized report features to gage performance, and list management so that you can manage, segment, and create targeted lists with all the email addresses you have. 

With enrollment numbers decreasing, communication is more critical than ever. Establishing an effective higher ed email marketing plan can go a long way in recruiting and maintaining contact with prospective students.

Get started to boost the ways you engage students. Schedule a demo of Omni CMS and Email Campaign Manager to see how higher education email marketing software can increase your recruitment efforts.

Karam Singh

Karam Singh

Karamjeet Singh Khosa is a Content Marketing Manager at Modern Campus. With more than a decade of progressive professional experience, he has a thorough understanding of content, marketing, technology and the education industry. Prior to joining Modern Campus in 2022, he worked with leading technology enterprises, like Google, and leading education services and products providers, like Pearson Education. A digital nomad with a Master’s degree in English literature, Karamjeet loves to read, write, travel and trek.

Connect with him on LinkedIn:

Get a demo


Student Experience Enrollment Growth Website Content Management

Last updated: May 15, 2023


We use cookies on this website to enhance your experience and improve our services and our website’s functionality. By continuing to use our website, which includes remaining on this landing page, you consent to the use of cookies and agree to our Privacy Policy.