Break through the digital clutter with personal messages
Did you know that the average working adult receives 121 emails per day? But the average click through rate is 3.1%* — meaning that people tend to only read through and take action on about 2-3 emails per day. Not to mention, many are only viewing those emails on a 2-3″ wide phone screen. So, in a world where spam is dominant and your leads are prioritizing what they choose to read, it’s your job to differentiate your communications with personalized email. And if you are an educational institution, it’s likely you are not just competing with spam/work/personal messages, but also other colleges or universities your prospects are exploring.
Just because a prospect requests more information from your school, it doesn’t necessarily mean they are going to open and respond to all of your emails, calls or texts. Let’s examine what makes communications appealing and how to disrupt the system with personalized content.
It all starts with what you capture
As part of your website and digital marketing strategy, you may already be using a form (or many forms) to capture leads. The information you gather here is often your first and only opportunity to gather relevant information from you leads.
Short forms, which are typically used as a means to quickly capture info on a landing page or social campaign, often have 3-4 fields: first name, last name, email and sometimes phone number. Although brevity wins in digital campaigns, you may consider adding one more field that is aimed at a personal preference such as: field of work or years of experience. This additional field doesn’t have to be required and may appear as a dropdown menu. But having it there can increase your chances of gaining more personal information you can then use to personalize communications.
Longer forms that may live on your site offer you more room to ask your leads about what matters most to them. Here you can often find out their career goals, anticipated start year and why they are pursuing an advanced degree. The data you mine here is “gold.” It will allow you to create and segment emails that match up to the personas you’re using to generate content. We’ve found that layered forms perform best, and lead to the most information being shared by prospective students.
As your leads move down the funnel and turn into prospective students, they are looking for more and more information about how your program fits them. They are also looking for a lifestyle “match” and want to know that you care about them as a person. Although automated email campaigns simplify and streamline communications, sometimes you can run the risk of sounding impersonal. Here are some ways to tailor your emails, even as part of an automated strategy.
- Use personalized subject lines. Many CRMs offer the ability to start email subject lines with the lead’s first name, i.e. “John, join us at Preview Day this weekend.”
- Use a real name as the sender. Even if you are sending automated emails, try varying the sender when you are loading the campaign into your CRM. Instead of always listing the sender as your school/program, try using the name of your recruiting director or admissions counselor.
- Send an actual personal email. Although arduous, using a personal email to check in at various stages can make a difference. Try checking in just before you’ll be traveling to their city, or right after you met them at an admissions event. This works well with prospects that are further down the funnel.
Personal messages via Calls or texts
If you have phone numbers, try calling a handful of your most promising leads right before your next on-campus Preview Day. Even if you are just leaving a message, or the call comes from one of your staff members, a real person’s voice on the other end will cut through the clutter.
Although texts are becoming a preferred method of communication for some, the one caveat is to make sure the texts don’t come across as spam or salesy. People can tell the difference and they may opt out if they sense it’s not authentic.
If you need more ideas on how to personalize communications for your leads and prospective students, contact GPRS today. We can help you develop intriguing content that fits within your strategy and budget.