How to marry online enrollment management with email marketing

Higher education marketing is constantly evolving. You’re not only trying to recruit potential students to enroll in your school, but you’re also trying to convincing them that attending a university will positively affect their future. Between trying to mold young minds and meeting the institution’s bottom line, high ed marketers have a lot of pressure on their shoulders.

In the fall of 2018, 19.9 million students were enrolled in American universities and these numbers are expected to increase by 2020. How can marketers help streamline the process to effectively reach prospective students better? 

Marrying the efforts of email marketing with online enrollment management can help provide multiple touchpoints to help ensure you’re meeting yearly recruitment goals.

If you’re wondering how you can combine the two strategies to create a cohesive campaign, we’ve got you covered. In this post, we will be discussing what online enrollment management is and how email marketing can help higher education marketers reach students more effectively.

What is online enrollment management?

First things first, you need to understand what online enrollment management is. Enrollment is a term used in higher education that describes the strategies implemented to meet admission goals. Such tactics often include marketing, admission policies, retention programs, and financial aid which often help influence the prospective student’s opinion when selecting a university. 

Goals of online enrollment management often include:

  • Increasing inquiries and applications

  • Increasing net revenue

  • Increasing demographic diversity

  • Increasing retention rates

Enrollment management helps to serve the other institution departments like admissions, financial aid, and other student services to increase admission. Similar to any marketing strategy—an enrollment plan will test different methods to analyze which yields the best results. 

Higher education marketing is competitive—therefore quickly learning what works and what doesn’t helps maximize your time and budget to ensure your strategies are converting.

Why is it important?

If you’re looking to increase enrollment for your university, utilizing online enrollment management is crucial. Over the past decade, institutions have needed to evolve their enrollment programs to not only connect with prospective students with their preferred communication methods but to also stay competitive. 

Online enrollment management allows universities to focus in on multiple pain points a student may feel—financial situations, online classes, educational needs, etc.—and help cater to them individually. In this digital era, it’s more important than ever to develop personal touchpoints to reach students and recruit them to successfully enroll in your university. When students have their pick of universities across the country, consider how you can stand out with an online enrollment strategy.

6 innovative best practices for online enrollment management

Between student demographics, financial circumstances, and technology advancements, universities have to continue to evolve their online enrollment strategies to stay competitive and meet the needs of prospective students. 

Does this sound intimidating? It shouldn’t! Enrollment management provides you an opportunity to use these changes as an advantage to recruit and retain students.

To use online enrollment management correctly, follow these methods for the best results. 

Set realistic goals

It’s easy to lose track when setting objectives for your enrollment strategy. What are your goals? Who is involved in them? Does your university support them? Every enrollment manager should have an answer to the questions to avoid making only projections. Focus on attainable so you can develop an action plan and make improvements along the way.

Develop your resources and execution plan

When setting goals, you also need to determine what resources are needed to develop a three-to-five-year enrollment plan. Understand what it costs to recruit and retain students currently at your university, the competitive cost in your market, and what is the new ‘price tag’ of students you want to recruit. 

These numbers will help you define your marketing and recruitment strategy which should outline daily tasks, monthly goals, and 90-day action plans you want to meet. Your plan should extend into three to five years so you can analyze long-term growth and improvement.

Focus on student retention 

It’s true, recruitment is often the focus for online enrollment. However, demonstrating a high retention rate not only shows you have a successful university, but it’s also more cost-effective. Identify where your students need assistance so you can help them succeed at your institution and graduate. This could include actively engaging with students, setting expectations, and identifying new programs.

Utilize data to build your recruitment pool

Healthy data is one of the most important aspects of your online enrollment management. Ensure you’re collecting and segmenting your data depending on the initial inquiry and where the student is at in the enrollment funnel.

Determine your marketing channels and create unique content

With email marketing, print, search ads, social media and more—it can be difficult to decide how to communicate with your students to achieve maximum results. First, you will need to identify the different enrollment stages—inquiry, applicant, and admittance—that each student takes and how you can progress them to the next step. 

For example, hosting an impactful website and complementary social media channels is crucial to building an impression with prospective students. But, once the student enters your funnel—they are better suited to receive 1x1 personalized email messages that discuss the value and benefits your university will provide. Likewise, supplying enrollment and deposit updates through email tends to yield better results than direct mail.

Even in online enrollment—content is king! Ensure every stage of your enrollment funnel provides unique, eye-catching content that actively engages your students. In this digital age, students are used to traditional marketing tricks. Go beyond the traditional methods to impress your prospects with killer content.

Monitor and analyze your activities

As with any strategic initiative, it’s crucial to constantly monitor your results to determine where you can improve future campaigns—especially on a strict budget. Determine what metrics you need to track so future decisions can be guided by this data and adjusted accordingly. 

How to combine online enrollment and email marketing strategies

When determining which marketing strategies you should implement with online enrollment, email marketing is one of the most affordable and effective tactics available to universities. Email is 40x more effective than Facebook or Twitter when it comes to attracting new students—especially the Gen Z generation. 

In fact, 91% of Americans under the age of 24 utilize email—and that number continues to grow.

An overwhelming majority of Internet users under the age of 24 use email.

Source: Statista

Email marketing campaigns help ramp up a university’s overall enrollment and retention because you have the opportunity to develop personalized communication for your student body, alumni, and even their families. Additionally, email marketing saves you time thanks to automated workflows.

Online enrollment management consists of various touchpoints throughout the process—but with email marketing—you have the ability to set up triggers to ensure each prospective student receives the right email at the right time. For example, consider sending the following emails:

  • Welcome emails: Introduce students to your values, culture, and expectations of what they can anticipate from enrollment. Include call-to-action buttons that prompt students to find course information, an application, etc. 

  • Lead nurturing emails: Earn your subscriber’s loyalty by sending multiple emails that discuss school events, community involvements, testimonials, and more. These will help influence a student’s decision before applying.

  • Transactional emails: Update students on the status of their application, payment process, and more. Transactional emails typically have a higher engagement rate because you are providing important information that is highly relevant to the individual.

As a general practice, each email should include digestible content, a call-to-action, and be mobile-responsive for all devices.

Captivating content is how you’ll keep readers interested in what you have to say. Not only does it have to be interesting, but it must also be relevant to the reader.

Source: Really Good Emails

This example from Arizona State University (ASU) is an exemplary example of how you can combine open enrollment management and email marketing together. ASU provides relevant copy about what the student—and their family—need to prepare for as a freshman on campus. It’s also addressing a pain point—financing a college education—and how the university can help. To move the student further into the enrollment process, the college includes call-to-action prompting them to apply for financial aid and confirm other preferences. 

Takeaway: Send emails that are relatable to all students, while also providing a solution about how your university can help.

Wrap up

While online enrollment management takes a cross-promotional strategy to increase applicants, email marketing is a fantastic way to help nurture prospective students before they make the final decision. Emails help provide valuable information that showcases the university’s culture, values, and expectations of what their life will be like post-graduation.

Higher education marketers are busy—always trying to stay above the competition and finding the best ways to recruit new students. With email marketing, not only does it help streamline valuable time and resources, but you’re also able to create cutting-edge content on a strict budget.

Are you a higher education marketer looking to add email to your online enrollment management? Emma has helped more than 500 universities grow in recruitment and retention. Sign up for a demo today and see how Emma can work for you.

About the Author

Emma Email

Emma is an email marketing platform that gives you all the tools you need to send campaigns that really connect with your subscribers. Unlike other email providers, Emma puts their customers first. It's email marketing that works for you.

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