3 Rules for Successful Email Marketing
to Prospective Gen Z Students

Do Prospective Students Even Read Email Anymore?

You’ve asked it. I’ve asked it. In fact, I would probably beta shiny quarter dollar that every recruitment and enrollment marketer has shouted at the ceiling in frustration at least once:

“Do prospective students even read email anymore?”

Contrary to popular belief, and even seemingly counterintuitive to everything we know about Gen Z, the answer might actually surprise you. While infamously too impatient to enage well with long form content like email, Campaign Monitor who recently published a marketing guide on Gen Z proving the opposite to be true:

      “While most marketers think Gen Z only cares about social media and thus focus their marketing efforts there, our study shows that Gen Zers remain active email users.”

And according to another marketing guide by Snap Agency:

      “Although newer marketing avenues have their perks, only a few of them can match the proven reliability or profitability of email marketing.

So there you have it. The power of email communication is undeniable, even among the fast-paced Gen Z. This is good news for those of us tasked with recruiting prospective college students. Since much of the current higher education marketing lead capturing strategies still rely heavily on e-communication strategies for enrollment and university marketing, it would seem that you're not dead in the water just yet.

If you want your college enrollment and recruitment campaigns to be successful with the up and coming generation of prospective students, you need to evolve your strategies accordingly. It’s important to note emails are being used and perceived very differently than they were in their traditional form.

Here are 3 rules to follow so you can maximize your enrollment marketing email campaign’s potential for conversion among prospective Gen Z students:

    Rule # 1. Stand Out From the Crowd – Show Value and Spark Interest

    According to a recent article about email marketing, most Gen Zers check their emails only once a month. Given that the average Gen Zer has an attention span of about 8 seconds, figuring out how to make your college or university email stand out in the clutter is a big challenge.

    Think about how many emails you receive on any given day and imagine if you let them pile up for a whole month before opening your inbox. Yikes! Your email’s success is going to rely on your ability to crafting a subject line that grabs their attention, and content that is engaging, immersive and interactive in an authentic way.

    Colleges and universities often make the mistake of sending lengthy, text-dense email messages that read like our viewbooks and brochures. This practice is guaranteed to cause you to lose an incredible opportunity to recruit your reader – which brings us to our second rule.

    Rule # 2. With Gen Z It’s Not Just “mobile-first” It’s “mobile-mainly”

    When was the last time you saw a Gen Z student without a mobile device in hand? Refuel Agency’s proprietary Gen Z Explorer Study showed that 64% of this demographic uses their smartphones for most of the media they will consume on any given day.



    So, what does that mean for recruitment and enrollment marketers? If you want any chance of successful engagement with prospective Gen Z students, your email messages must be designed with the size and experience of a mobile device in mind.

    In short, when conceptualizing your email strategy, ask yourself:

    • How many times will the user have to scroll before reaching the call to action?
    • Is the content within the email easily scanned or does it have a lot of dense text?
    • Am I authentically linking to my website and/or landing pages within the email content?
    • Am I directing to social media and other lead generation channels?
    • Am I effectively using video and / or other multimedia content to engage my intended readers?

    To paraphrase George Berkeley, “If a stand-alone email is opened on a phone and then quickly deleted, will anyone convert?” Ok, so that’s not exactly what he meant – but the point still stands. Without a mobile friendly approach, you won't have an effective email strategy. Furthermore, if your enrollment marketing strategy doesn't have a cohesive omni-channel approach, you won’t be able to track what't working and what's not.

    Rule # 3. Cohesive Marketing is the Key to Maximizing Campaigns

    To capture digital natives, you must first go where the digital natives are. Even if you craft the most engaging email ever created and include the most enticing multimedia messages; that in and of itself isn’t going to fill your enrollment funnel. Your email marketing strategy will not succeed if it’s not well integrated and your conversions aren’t being properly tracked to ensure maximum efficacy.

    When marketing to Gen Z students, syncing your email campaign across several media channels is essential to keep the engagement and dialogue moving; whether it’s registering for an event, filling out an inquiry card, or driving website visits. Not completing this step is a critical error all too commonly found in college marketing strategies.

You Cannot Effectively Market to Gen Z Alone

Unfortunately, most college and university enrollment marketing teams are stretched incredibly thin. They simply don’t have the time, and frankly the resources, to create an engaging mobile friendly omnichannel marketing strategy. Often, even if the person responsible for creating and implementing recruitment emails hits it out of the park, their counterpart in social media management, lead generations, or data analytics remains unaware of the success – let alone how to leverage it.

That’s why having an experienced strategic marketing partner like Thinking Cap Agency can give colleges and universities a competitive edge in the dog-eat-dog world of higher education marketing. With over 20 years of experience and proven success across the nation, Thinking Cap Agency acts as an extension of your in-house marketing team and will help your institution meet or exceed enrollment goals.

About Thinking Cap Agency
Thinking Cap Agency is the higher education sister company of Refuel Agency. With over 25 years of higher education marketing experience, Thinking Cap is a performance and digital-driven agency that has mastered the student recruitment process from awareness to enrollment. Thinking Cap Agency serves institutions nationwide with headquarters in New York City, and offices in Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, CA, and Princeton, NJ.

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