Email Marketing: The Tried and True Digital Marketing Channel

It seems a new marketing method comes on the scene nearly every day. Many of those are well worth our time and effort to explore and use. But let’s not forget a method that is tried and true: email marketing.

Who still reads their email?

The short answer is everyone. Even those in Generation Z. While it might not be their heaviest patrolled social channel, Len Shneyder of MarketingLand says email is still the world’s number one method of communication – even those between the ages of 10 and 22.


In addition to the traditional audience for colleges, universities and independent K-12 schools, email is widely read by the target audience for adult, graduate and seminary degrees.


According to Hubspot, 99% of all consumers check their email every day. In addition, 73% of the Millennial Generation prefer email from business and organizations over other methods of communication.


And one more statistic to win you over — 77% of people would rather receive promotional communication through email than social media channels or SMS.


There’s another critical truth about email marketing we must address, which is how many users open and click through email content on mobile devices.

The importance of mobile-first

We live in a mobile-first world, and email marketing is no exception to that rule. More than half of emails are opened on mobile devices. When developing your email marketing campaign, it’s imperative you choose a layout and format suitable for a mobile-first view. Here’s how:

  • Imagery first: A person opening email on their phone will always be more drawn in to a visual first. It could be a static image or a video file.
  • Personalization: Statistics show that emails with personalization in the subject line are 26% more likely to be opened. Not many of us enjoy reading an email that is clearly not personalized saying things like “Dear Sir or Madame.” Using videos inside email marketing campaigns personalizes it even further. I’m a big fan of BombBomb. If you’ve never heard of it, it’s a software allowing you to send simple video to your audience in the email body itself. I’ve used it a lot recently and had excellent results. Here’s an example.
  • Most important content: Think about the inverted pyramid style of writing. The most important information needs to come at the top/beginning of your email.
  • Consider color: The bottom line is there’s psychology behind colors. While there is no right and wrong answer, it is important that your calls to action and your buttons contrast dramatically with the background color to encourage clicking through.
  • Keep content minimal: The ideal situation is for your user to either click through to your website or take some other form of action. Therefore, point them in that direction in as concise a manner as possible. According to Hubspot, the ideal length for a marketing email is between 50 and 125 words.

Know and segment your audiences

I’ve written in the past about the importance of knowing your audience when it comes to a successful email marketing campaign. Specifically in higher education, you could be emailing to prospective traditional students, prospective adult, graduate and seminary students, alumni and friends of the college or university.


When segmenting these lists for the appropriate emails, think about what questions they might be asking. And, then answer them. It’s really that simple. The power of the content in your email comes from you understanding the audience and its needs.


Since you are dealing with such a variety of audiences, take some time to tap into the departments at your school dealing directly with them each day. This will help you come up with a list of questions they’re asking. When you answer them in your email marketing campaigns, you become the expert in your field – which is exactly where you want to be.

How and when to send your emails

It matters. And, while evidence shows certain days of the week and times of the day are more successful for email reading rates, it will likely differ per college, university or independent school.


Using automation for your email marketing campaigns is a must. Be it MailchimpConstant ContactDrip, or others, the reporting aspect of each can help you be very pointed about when you send emails. And, you can bank on the fact that each of your segmented audiences will open their emails during different peak times. Pay attention to these and adjust your campaigns accordingly.

Ensuring a quality landing page

It doesn’t do much good to create a beautiful, well thought-out email if what the user ends on is not effective. They’ll just end up shaking their heads.


If you’ve taken the time to point your user somewhere, make sure it communicates exactly what you want them to do next. And, make it easy on them. Just like everything I’ve said so far, that landing page needs to be mobile-responsive and user-friendly.

Here are a couple of examples

  • You recently sent an email to alumni regarding your Fall Homecoming events. Your objective behind the campaign is to get people to sign up to volunteer. When adding a “click here” button to this email, it should point the user directly to a sign-up form to volunteer. That sign-up form should be mobile-ready and easy to fill out.
  • Another example would be when you’ve targeted high school juniors (and their parents/guardians) in your enrollment and marketing funnel. The purpose of the email is to promote an upcoming financial aid seminar you’re holding on campus. The email itself should give “teasers” about the upcoming event and should then point the user to sign up. The landing page should then have all the details of the event along with a very brief and easy-to-use form.

There’s more life to email marketing

A lot more life. If your school isn’t already including email marketing campaigns in its mix, it’s time to bring it back. If you’re already using it, it’s time to use it even more effectively.


To schedule an in-depth audit of your higher education email and digital marketing efforts, please give us a call or send us an email today!


Featured Image by adiruch na chiangmai via Adobe Stock


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Bart Caylor

Bart Caylor

President at Caylor Solutions

Bart Caylor is president of Caylor Solutions, an education marketing and branding firm in Indianapolis. As a first-generation college student, Caylor has a passion for helping schools tell their unique story through both digital and traditional marketing and communication channels.