Creating Great Email Campaigns for College Recruiting


By: Jarad Petroske Sep 24, 2018

Creating Great Email Campaigns for College Recruiting

Email campaigns can be one of the most cost-efficient ways of connecting with prospects but if your emails are missing some key elements and your efforts will be dead on arrival.

Whether you need an email campaign to generate new high-quality applicants or need a way to keep current students engaged, EducationDynamics can help with industry leading marketing campaigns. Learn more today.

Students want quick communication from schools they’re interested in. A well-crafted email can be a great first touch and makes it easier to reach your prospects in that crucial 24-hours after they’ve inquired. Let’s take a look at what goes into creating an effective higher education email marketing campaign.

Define Your Goals

Are you courting new prospects who’ve filled out an interest form or engaging with students who’ve already applied but haven’t committed? Depending on your goals, your email campaign can take many forms, from a drip campaign with frequent contacts to a campaign to rewarming old leads. Knowing what your trying to accomplish is the first step in creating an effective email campaign for college recruiting.

Develop Copy with Special Attention to Subject Lines and Sender

The content of your email has lots of work to do. It has to grab a reader’s attention, establish your authority, and deliver a persuasive message that will convert your readers into admissions.

Let’s break down each element and focus on best practices.


Emails that are sent from a person have higher open and click-through rates than those sent from anonymous accounts. Students want to feel a sense of familiarity, even if this is the first email they’re receiving. A good example would be: “John from Smith University.” A less effective example looks like “Smith University Admissions.”

Subject Lines

Keep your subject line short and action-oriented. “Read Five Reason to Apply Today” or “Apply Now, Start Next Month” are both short and tell the reader what they can expect from the email. Research has shown that subjects under 50 characters have a 12.5 percent higher open rate and an astounding 75 percent higher click-through rate than longer subject lines.

Preview Line

Most email clients will let you craft a short preview line that readers will see before clicking into the body of an email. Again, keep these short and build on the expectations you’ve created with your subject.


In general, the shorter the email the better. The sweet spot for maximizing your click-through rate is about 20 lines of text and three images plus a call to action button.

Of course, that’s not a hard and fast rule. Some emails will warrant more text, while others will be briefer and more to the point, which takes us to the next point: tracking your emails and their open and click-through-rates will help you discover what method is working best for you and your prospects.

Track & Test

Studying the results of your email campaign can quickly become an all-consuming obsession. Email campaigns can extremely useful for recruiting students, and the reams of data email generates make it possible to be constantly fine tuning your approach.

Here’s what you should focus on to make sure you’re understanding the big picture trends without getting too far into the nitty-gritty details.

  • Open Rate – this refers to how many of your emails were opened, including repeat opens by the same recipient.
  • Bounce Rate – the number of emails that were undeliverable.
  • Click Through Rate – we’ve already touched on this, but this refers to whether your prospects are clicking links in your emails and taking the desired action.
  • Unsubscribes – the number of contacts who have chosen to no longer receive emails from you.

You’ll want to check whether your emails are being delivered (so you know you have good contact data), and that emails are being opened (so you know you’re sending emails at appropriate times, and your subject lines are grabbing attention), and whether you’re getting click-throughs. If you’re lagging on any of these areas, your email campaign will need a shot in the arm to get back up to speed.

By following this guide to make sure your emails pack a punch and get readers hooked you’ll be able to get more students reading and opening your emails. A solid plan for your email campaign can take your recruiting efforts from a base hit to a home run.