Top 12 Email Marketing Practices for Higher Education

As a student, you’re likely inundated with promotional emails daily. From campus discounts to housing offers to free beats headphones, it seems everyone is vying for your attention (and money).

All of these emails can be overwhelming and, at times, downright annoying. But what if we told you that, when used correctly, promotional emails can be a precious tool for your education?

In this post, we’ll share 12 email marketing best practices for higher education. By following these tips, you’ll be able to create effective and engaging emails to help you achieve your academic goals.

What Is Email Marketing?

Email marketing can be described as the process of sending commercial messages to a group of people via email. It’s a valuable tool for higher education institutions because it allows them to stay in touch with their alumni, donors, and other essential constituents.

To make the most of your email marketing campaigns, it’s essential to follow best practices. In this article, we’ll discuss fifteen of the most important ones.

The Benefits of Email Marketing

Email marketing is a great way to keep in touch with your students and promote your higher education institution. It can assist you in creating relationships with your students, boost enrollment, and keep your alumni connected to your school.

Here are the top advantages of email marketing for higher education:

  • Email marketing is an effective way to reach your target audience.
  • Email marketing helps you build relationships with your students.
  • Email marketing can increase enrollment rates.
  • Email marketing helps you keep alumni connected to your school.

The 12 Best Practices

There are several email marketing practices that you should keep in mind when sending out emails to your students, prospects, and alumni. Here are the fifteen best practices to follow:

1. Segmentation

One of the things you can do with your email marketing is to segment your lists. Segmenting your email lists enables you to send more relevant content to your subscribers, which will, in turn, boost your open and click-through rates.

There are different ways you can segment your lists, including:

  • Location
  • Age
  • Gender
  • Interests
  • Occupation
  • Level of education

2. Timing

Now that you understand the fundamentals of email marketing, it’s time to talk about timing. When it comes to email marketing, timing is everything! You want to ensure you’re sending your emails at the right time so they’ll be the most effective.

Here are a few tips on when to send your emails:

  • Newsletters should be sent regularly, preferably once a week.
  • Promotional emails should be sent shortly before or after an event or deadline.
  • Thank-you emails should be sent as soon as possible after someone has taken action or made a purchase.
  • Engagement emails should be sent sporadically, but not too often.

3. Personalization

Personalization is vital in email marketing. After all, who doesn’t love feeling special? Personalizing your emails with the recipient’s name and other relevant information can make them feel like the email was sent just for them. And trust us, that makes a big difference.

There are a few different ways to personalize your emails. You can start using the recipient’s first name in the subject line or opening sentence.

You can include their city and state in the message or reference their recent purchase or interaction with your brand. Whatever you do, make sure the personalization is relevant and meaningful to the recipient. They’ll appreciate it!

4. A/B Testing

In email marketing, there’s no such thing as one-size-fits-all. What works for company A may not work for company B. That’s why it’s essential to test different variables to see what yields the best results.

A/B testing is the surefire way to do this. It involves sending two different versions of an email to a small subset of your audience and then measuring the results to see which one performed better.

This helps you determine which elements of your email are most effective and which ones need more work.

There are several different factors you can test with A/B testing, including:

  • Subject line
  • Headlines
  • Images
  • Layout
  • Call to action buttons
  • Text

5. Mobile Optimization

When it comes to email marketing, it’s essential to ensure your messages are optimized for mobile devices. After all, more and more people are checking their emails on the go, and you don’t want them to miss out on your important announcements and updates.

Here are a few tips for improving the mobile experience of your email campaigns:

  • Use a responsive template: This will ensure that your email looks good on any device, regardless of the screen size.
  • Keep your messages concise: Shorter emails are more likely to be read on a small screen. Avoid cramming too much info into a single message.
  • Use large fonts and easy-to-read text: Make it as easy as possible for people to read your emails on the go.
  • Use images sparingly: Too many images can slow down the loading time of an email, and they may not be appropriately displayed on smaller screens.

6. Keep It Short and Sweet

When it comes to email marketing, you don’t want to waste your recipients’ time by sending them long, drawn-out messages they’re not going to read. Instead, keep your content short and sweet while still delivering on the crucial points.

This way, you’ll be able to grab your readers’ attention and hold it until the end. You’ll also be able to keep your messages relevant and on-brand. After all, who has time to read a long email when they could be doing something else?

7. Write a Catchy Subject Line

A catchy subject line is integral to getting your email opened. After all, if your subject line doesn’t peak the reader’s curiosity, they’re not going to bother opening your email.

So, what can you do to create a subject line that stands out?

Here are a few ideas:

  • Include a list: People love lists, so why not include one in your subject line? This is an ideal way to tease the content of your email and get people to open it.
  • Use numbers: If you want to stand out in a crowded inbox, using numbers in your subject line is a great way to do it. People are drawn to lists of numbers, so they’re more likely to open an email with one.
  • Play on people’s emotions: If you can evoke an emotional reaction with your subject line, you’re more likely to get people to open your email. Try using words like “urgent,” “breaking news,” or “important.”
  • Be creative: Sometimes, the best way to come up with a great subject line is to be creative and think outside the box. Try using humor, puns, or even rhyming words.

8. Use Images and Videos

Adding images and videos to your email campaigns can effectively engage with your audience and boost your response rates. Not only do they break up the text and keep readers interested, but they can also be a powerful tool for conveying your message.

When sourcing images and videos for your emails, it’s essential to make sure that you use high-quality content that your audience finds relevant. Also, be mindful of the copyright restrictions associated with any content you use.

If you’re unsure where to find high-quality images and videos for your campaigns, several resources are available online.

Here are a few of our favorites:

  • Pixabay: A free, community-sourced database of copyright-free images
  • Vimeo: A video-sharing platform with millions of copyright-free videos
  • Vine: A social network for sharing short, looping videos

9. Define Your Audience

Before starting any email marketing campaign, you must first define your target audience. Who is your campaign meant for?

Once you know your target, you can begin to craft your message accordingly. What do you want your audience to do? How can you best appeal to them? Knowing your audience is key to effective email marketing.

10. Use Active Voice

When it comes to email marketing, it’s essential to use an active voice to engage your readers. Active voice is more direct and engaging, which will help keep your readers interested in what you have to say.

In contrast, passive voice can be confusing and uninteresting, leading to lower open and click-through rates.

To use an active voice in your emails, avoid using too many adjectives and adverbs, and focus on getting your point across concisely and straightforwardly. Use strong verbs to convey the message you want to send, and make sure your sentences are easy to follow.

11. Use Calls to Action

When it comes to email marketing campaigns, using Calls to Action (CTAs) is a must. CTAs are phrases or buttons that urge your subscribers to take a specific action.

There are things to consider when creating your CTAs. First, make sure they’re action-oriented and easy to understand. For example, rather than using a vague phrase like “click here,” try something more specific like “download our white paper.”

Also, be sure to use different types of CTAs throughout your email campaigns. For example, you might have a CTA at the beginning of the email that encourages readers to learn more about your school, while another CTA near the bottom could invite them to sign up for a free consultation.

12. Monitor Your Results

Now that you’ve put all your effort into your email marketing campaign, you’ll want to ensure that you’re monitoring the results. This means checking your open, click-through, and conversion rates to see how well your campaign is performing.

You can also use analytics tools to track how people interact with your emails. This will give you valuable insights into which parts of your campaign are working well and which ones need improvement.

Make sure you adjust your strategy accordingly so you can continue to see success with your email marketing campaign.


Now that you know the email marketing practices for higher education, it’s time to implement them!

Each of these practices can help to improve your open and response rates, as well as help you to connect with your students and faculty in a more meaningful way.

But don’t take our word for it – try them out and see how they can benefit your unique institution.

About the Author!

Bernard Williams is a retired professor and digital marketing enthusiast. As an online ClassTaker, Bernard is passionate about helping students who feel stuck in their studies. When free, Williams can be found fishing or hunting.

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