By Jeremy Tiers, Senior Director of Admissions Services
3 minute read
This might surprise you, but only 13.7% of incoming college freshman and high school seniors that Tudor Collegiate Strategies has surveyed over the past two years say the different emails, letters, texts, and phone calls they received (or are receiving) from colleges and universities felt (or feel) very personal.
One student put it this way – “So many colleges contact you multiple times a week and the emails usually feel like spam or junk mail. They say our names, but don’t really feel personal to us.”
If your emails start with “Dear…” they won’t feel personal.
If your emails are sent from an email@example.com account, they won’t feel personal.
And if your emails don’t show emotion and talk with the reader, not at them, they won’t feel personal.
Prospective students are tired of feeling like they’re constantly being marketed to. As a result, the acceptability of weekly emails from colleges has declined from 81% to 45% over the past two years among high school juniors. That’s according to a survey conducted earlier this year by our friends at Niche.
This generation, like many of us, wants to feel wanted and special. They want to feel like you’re trying to understand their interests, wants, goals, and fears, and then sharing relevant/helpful information about your school based on the feedback you received.
When you personalize your communications from start to finish, students take notice, and it oftentimes increases their interest level in your college or university.
With all of that in mind, here are three additional things you can do to make your emails feel more personal:
- Come up with a better subject line. When students scroll through their Inbox a good subject line will be the attention grabber. Furthermore, according to TCS survey data over the past 18 months. 29.2% of students told us the subject line is the number one thing that got them to stop and open a college related email. Using their first or preferred name is definitely a nice touch, but be aware that the current trend among colleges and universities is to do that almost every single time. Meaning it’s less impactful when a student scrolls and sees nothing but their first or preferred name in every single subject line. Besides using keywords like ‘important’, ‘urgent’, ‘reminder’ or ‘scholarship’, I encourage you to get creative. Your subject line is more likely to stand out when you ask a question, create curiosity, sound helpful, or saying something exciting or unexpected. Successful examples that we’ve recently created for our college partners include, “What our students like most”, “You will feel supported here, <First or Preferred>, “Something fun for you”, and “You’ll want to read this.”
- Incorporate direct quotes from your current students. Including them in various emails not only provides a point a view that prospective students want and need, but it makes your message feel more personal when you connect the dots for the reader and let your current students explain the why or how behind some aspect of your student experience. As an example, if you want to make the value point that your professors care, craft an email where you explain that a lot of students wonder about the transition to college classes. So, you went and asked a couple of first-year students about this and here’s what they said. When you include direct quotes, you don’t need to add in who the quote came from. Plus, and I cannot emphasize this enough, do not over edit quotes from current students. They need to feel authentic.
- Change your call to action and ask a direct question. Asking or encouraging a prospective student to visit, apply, or submit their deposit is fine – but do it in moderation. Your emails will feel personal if you substitute a direct question as your call to action. Encouraging a student to engage makes them feel a part of the conversation, and that their opinion is valued. Your question could, but doesn’t have to be, related to the topic of the body of your email. Using the earlier example I mentioned about professors and college classes, your question might be, “What’s the biggest thing you’re wondering about when it comes to college classes?” Or, “What are some of the things you’re looking for when it comes to your college classes and that learning environment?”
If you’d like to talk more about something I said, feel free to drop me a note at firstname.lastname@example.org
And if you found this article helpful, forward it to someone else on your campus who could also benefit from reading it.