Are You Using Email Effectively to Nurture Prospective Students?

Are You Using Email Effectively to Nurture Prospective Students?

You know you need effective email sequences to meet your school’s enrollment goals.

You know how important it is to align marketing content with a student’s personal journey.

But how effectively is your institution using email to nurture prospective students? 

In MindMax’s years of experience as a trusted partner and advisor to many of the nation’s top universities, we’ve found that while many of our clients understand the importance of nurturing prospective students with targeted email sequences, they struggle to know where and how to begin.

Understanding the Framework for the Student Journey 

First, let’s get on the same page with what it means to talk about the student journey. The full student journey maps every interaction a prospective student takes from “cold lead” (never heard of this school or program before) to fully enrolled student.

Email marketing is just one of many tools used during the student journey. Part of what makes our efforts so effective is the ability to coordinate multiple tactics in full-funnel marketing engagements. 

There are different ways to approach the student journey framework, but these are the phases we use at MindMax: 

  • Awareness. The prospective student is doing research to clearly define and understand their need and/or problem. They’re identifying institutions with programs they’re interested in and learning more about those particular offerings.
  • Consideration. The prospective student is now evaluating the various methods or approaches to solving their need and/or problem. Using the information they’ve already provided, the objective is to deliver personalized content focusing on the programs they’re interested in. This phase of the journey is arguably the most important, and makes up the core of MindMax’s lead nurturing initiatives.
  • Decision. The prospective student is now actively producing a solution strategy and ready to enroll in a program. During this phase of the journey, we may bring in our sales team, and will ultimately transition the prospective student to our enrollment services team. 

Important Considerations for Your Email Sequence 

Email marketing can stretch from the awareness all the way through the decision phase. The prospective student is being nurtured as they make their decision (which often takes several months) about whether or not to enroll in a particular program. 

Before building out an email sequence, you’ll want to take some time to plan the overall strategy, with a focus on these elements:

  • Number of emails. We typically recommend 8-10 emails per sequence, though the exact number can vary depending on the details of the campaign. It may seem like a lot of emails, but the goal is to spread them out over approximately 3 months.
  • Timing and frequency of emails. It’s important to be courteous of a prospective student’s inbox. Some of the initial awareness emails should go out within a few days of each other, but once you get to the consideration emails, aim for 7-10 days in between. That allows prospective students to receive an email from your school approximately every 1-1.5 weeks. When you reach the end of a sequence, increase the spacing to 15-30 days to give prospective students time to make their big decision.
  • Point in student journey. Some prospective students will be part of the entire email sequence, while others may enter or exit the sequence midway through. If, for example, a prospective student enrolls before the sequence is complete, we’ll want to move them to an enrolled student sequence. Don’t worry—you won’t need to manage this process manually. Using intelligent marketing automation, you can create rules to manage and track the sequence. 

What Does a Standard Email Sequence Look Like? 

The email sequence itself will vary depending on the objective of the campaign, but here’s an example of a 9-sequence email we’ve used before at MindMax.

The sequence begins with the awareness phase. . . 

Email #1: General introduction to the program thanking prospective students for their interest.

Email #2: Additional information about what to expect from the program, including program
benefits, course requirements, and information about instructors and program directors. 

Email #3: Student testimonials to help prospective students visualize themselves in the program. Don’t forget to include a picture of the person giving the testimonial! 

Now we’re entering the consideration phase. . .

Email #4: Personalized, text-based email from an advisor checking in to assure prospective students that they’re there to answer any questions and help them make a decision. This email should include the advisor’s direct contact information.

Emails #5-7: General nurture content pertaining to the program, such as offering a link to a webinar, white paper, or other relevant content. Be sure to ungate this content so prospective students have one less obstacle to consuming it. They’re already a lead in your system anyway at this point. 

In this final phase, we’re driving the prospect toward a decision. . .

Email #8: Follow-up from the enrollment advisor who reached out previously, including fast facts about the program (e.g. no application fees, quick registration process).

Email #9: Keys to success in the program field, general program advice, program statistics, and final reassurance that you’re there for prospective students to help them be successful in their career.

By the end of the email sequence, any prospective students who haven’t enrolled in the program can be placed into a long-term drip program, also known as a recycled sequence, with monthly touchpoints to keep them engaged. 

Successful lead nurturing programs are cyclical, in that they continue to nurture prospective students in the awareness and consideration phases until they make a decision to join the program or opt out of the marketing process.

When you’re ready to develop a customized email sequence to nurture prospective students into enrolling in your program, MindMax is here to help. Contact us today to discuss how to increase enrollment at your institution.