By Jeremy Tiers, Senior Director of Admissions Services
2 minute read
This might shock you, but only 14% of high school seniors and juniors we’ve surveyed over the past year feel like the communications they received (or were receiving) from colleges and universities felt very personal.
Most emails in particular continue to have a very transactional feel – they come from a general admissions address; they use “Dear…” to begin or “Sincerely,” at the end; the language is overly formal and the information is very vague and generalized; and there are multiple calls to action and hyperlinks scattered throughout.
If any of that sounds like what you’re sending, the message will not feel personal and you’re making it harder to get their attention the next time.
Prospective students are tired of feeling like they’re constantly being marketed to. They want to feel special. They want to feel like you’re trying to understand their wants, needs, fears, and goals, and then explaining how your school can help.
In the words of one high school senior, “Reading an email that feels like someone took time out of their day to send specifically to you first of all feels good, and second of all makes me want to read more and look through future emails.”
Here are two things you can do to make your emails feel more personal:
- Change your subject line. Along with who the email is from (Hint: it should be the student’s admissions counselor), this is the first thing they see when they scroll through their Inbox. The number one goal of every subject line should be to get the other person’s attention. If you’re a frequent reader of my newsletter, or you follow me on Twitter, you know that subject lines like “Don’t leave me hanging”, “How can I help?”, and “Your dream job – what is it?” have helped numerous schools and admissions counselors increase their engagement from different groups of students. When you create curiosity, sound helpful, or ask a question, your email will feel more personal, and subsequently you’ll increase the chances of it being opened.
- Use direct quotes from your current students. Doing this not only makes your message feel more personal, but it will provide proof and validate what you’re saying. Prospective students at all stages continue to tell us that they want more of the current student perspective – not just in videos on social media or your website, but also in the emails that you send. 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 worry and wonder about the transition to college classes. So, you went and asked two freshmen about this and here’s what they told you. When you include the direct quotes, you don’t need to add in who the quote came from. Plus, I cannot emphasize enough the importance of not over editing the quotes. They need to feel authentic. Then, end your email by asking a direct question as your call to action. Encourage them to respond and tell you, as an example, what their biggest question is when it comes to college classes or even classes there at your school. And if you’re trying to come up with a good subject line, how about, “What college classes are really like”.
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And if you found this article helpful, forward it to someone else in your campus community who could also benefit from reading it.