By Jeremy Tiers, Director of Admissions Services
Improving email open rates is something that has come up a lot during my conversations with admissions and marketing professionals these last few weeks.
Too many counselors (and some admissions leaders) are convincing themselves that teenagers don’t read emails anymore. I can tell you that a lot do, if your emails follow the framework that works for them in 2019.
An important part of that framework is your subject line. Writing those can be time consuming and a little stressful, I get it. That’s why today I’m going to give you some quick tips for that, most of which come straight from your target audience via our ongoing survey research.
First, let me remind you that while your emails are being sent to large groups of prospective students at different stages, the students receiving those messages are all unique individuals. Your subject lines must reflect that fact if you want to increase open rates and engagement. As I explain when I lead a staff training workshop, this generation can sniff-out mass messages in an instant.
So far this year we’ve asked over 3,500 students the following question – “Was there anything specific in an email subject line from a college that got your attention and made you more likely to open it?”
Here are keywords and phrases that a large majority of those students suggest you use:
- Financial Aid
- Student life
- Next steps
- Admissions information
- Using the student’s name in the subject line
- Using your school’s name in the subject line
And here are five more important email subject line tips:
- Say something that sounds exciting or interesting
- Ask an open-ended question
- Put something in all CAPS
- Give them something that’s clearly helpful (Ex. This could be your college tie-breaker; What it’s really like living on campus at <School name>; Helping you figure out where to apply for college; Fitting in when you go to college)
- Do anything that feels personal (Ex. How <School name> will prepare you for life after college; I want you to come to this event; Helping you find scholarships; Here’s what <School name> students told me to tell you)
I’ll end today with three things to caution you against…
- Be careful using the word “free” as well as $$. Both have quickly become spam trigger words. Instead, consider a phrase like, “Ways to make college cheaper for you.”
- If you’re considering using an emoji in your subject line in the hopes it will make students more likely to open your email, don’t. We also ask in surveys, “If a college used an emoji in the subject line of an email, were you more likely to open it?” Currently the total for no is an overwhelming 80.7%.
- Don’t repeatedly use the student’s name or your school’s name in the subject line. Make sure you’re mixing it up. If you use the same headline every time, there’s a good chance you’ll see a noticeable drop in open rates.
If you have any questions about this article feel free to reply back and we’ll talk about it.
And if you’re looking for even more tips to help you improve your emails, check out these other articles I’ve written on that topic. https://admissions.dantudor.com/category/e-mail-admissions/