Is This the Death of Enrollment Email? Google’s New Block Sender Feature

Google just announced a Block Sender feature in its Gmail service. This certainly will affect higher education marketing. How much remains a question.

For years now, email providers have been giving users power over their email inboxes. In 2013, Google announced a feature that allowed users to segment certain senders into tabs like “Social” and “Promotions.”

With Google’s new Block Sender function, if a student finds that an email address is being disruptive, she can flag the email so that she never sees email from that sender again.

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This service began yesterday on the web and will roll out on Android over the coming week. Once a sender is blocked, all subsequent emails will go to spam. Additionally, Google is adding an unsubscribe function to Android so that students can unsubscribe from a list directly in the app.

What does this mean for Higher Education Recruitment?

Based on our database, 60% to 75% of Inquiry campaign email addresses are Gmail accounts.  That’s a pretty significant number of potential students that can now specifically request to never receive email from your school.

Every fall, colleges and universities fill up student inboxes with email addresses acquired from ACT, NRCCUA and other providers. To say that it’s overwhelming, is an understatement. This new feature could significantly affect response rates.

What Can You Do To Increase Your Response Rates?

There are a few things that you can do to keep your response rates up as well as increase enrollment.

First, use a multi-channel strategy. Add content marketing, remarketing and PPC to your mix to expand your inquiries at the top of the funnel.  Manage your lead generation sources like a portfolio of stocks. Students who opt in online are more like to respond to visit emails from a school that they have specifically requested information from.

Second, wrap your entire campaign in social media. Throughout the enrollment funnel, it is important to build excitement and a relationship with prospective students. Relationships matter. Use social media to maintain an ongoing conversation throughout the student enrollment cycle.

Google will continue to give inbox power to users so that they can control their content. It’s up to higher education marketers to adapt and give students what they want.

 

6 Ways Social Media Can Improve Your Next Campaign

Trying to increase enrollment? Of course you are!

Social media can help you do just that and it’s a tool that every institution should include in its digital marketing arsenal.

But how are you supposed to get the most out of it?

You want to connect with your audience where they are. Over 84% of your high school prospects are on social, and 71% of them are active on multiple social platforms. Over three-quarters are highly active on their phones, as they send an average of 30 text messages per day. If that’s not enough, Facebook is now the most popular mobile app in America.

Ok so if your students are all online, does this mean print is dead? Well, not quite. While digital is playing an exponentially larger role, it just means the landscape is changing. And as marketers, we need to adapt or get left behind.

On the groundswell of mobile and social media usage, we need to take a 360 degree view of the print and digital experience. Teens switch between both digital and physical worlds easily. Institutions of higher learning, in turn, must think from the social handset up, and provide a stellar real world experience.

Here are some of the benefits of social and how you can integrate it into your next campaign to help supercharge your results.

Response Speed

There are plenty of steps in the recruitment funnel, and throughout the process, students have plenty of questions. The quicker you can respond, the longer you can keep them engaged, and social allows you to do this immediately.

Keeping a sense of humor and honesty about everything helps as well. They might even share your conversation – turning what could have been a negative interaction into a positive that could not have been possible on any other medium.  In the exchange below, the Bradley University social media manager, kept the conversation about Search emails light, human and honest.

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(Reference: Uversity, Chegg, 2014 Social Admissions Report Webinar)

Monitor Perceptions and Activity

The beauty of social is you can see in real-time what students think about your school – from a wave of excitement about the school’s big win in the NCAA tournament, to a single disgruntled student upset about his lunch that day. Knowing what people are saying about you will keep your finger on the pulse of your audience, and can help you adjust your strategy accordingly.

Monitor Your Competition

Similarly, you can monitor what your competition is doing as well. Whether you watch from afar as their latest hashtag sinks, or want to imitate one of their more successful campaigns, it can help you gain an edge in the crowded field.

Personalized Communication

If you want to stand out in the competition to enroll the best students, you have to separate yourself from the pack. Prospective students are overwhelmed with mail pieces and social is the perfect way to rise above the clutter from other schools – pretty literally. Personalizing your approach through social can go a long way in recruiting the best talent.

Support Other Marketing Efforts

With all the preaching I’ve been doing on social media, I still don’t believe it should be the only medium you should use in your strategy. However, it should complement your marketing efforts to create an integrated campaign that can be translated across multiple channels – including mobile, desktop, tablet, and yes, even print. Integrating a social element instantly provides the opportunity to expand the reach of your campaign. Adding a hashtag for users to follow, or encouraging students to create their own content can produce significant results for a relatively low amount of effort.

Drive Traffic to Your Digital Properties

You certainly can’t click on a link to a website on a piece of paper. But with with social, it makes driving traffic to your site seamless – and that’s what your audience is looking for. Want to get prospects to sign up for your next recruiting event? Social can help. Want to drive students to your shiny new landing page? Social. Want to encourage them to deposit and enroll? Social can even help there.

 

No matter what your digital strategy looks like, social media can and should be an integral part of your campaigns. Use its features wisely, and watch your enrollment numbers rise.