by Dan Christensen, Tudor Collegiate Strategies
Do kids even use email anymore? That is a question I get all the time when we do on-campus recruiting training workshops.
The answer is yes, they do. In our focus group research, athletes tell us they absolutely will read emails, and even respond to them.
The “catch” is the emails need to be written well. And by that, I mean written in a way that gets the attention of a teenager and makes sense to them.
There are a variety of reasons why your emails don’t catch a prospects attention or make sense to them. Here are two:
1) It doesn’t sound sincere
Just like you, your prospects get a ton of emails. And so many of them are junk. Whether they are ads from companies they don’t care about or mass mail messages from college admissions departments they’ll never consider, so many emails these kids get don’t sound like they’re coming from a real person.
Because your recruits get so many of these insincere, mass mailings, they are very good at sniffing out when an email is junk mail or a real message from a real person.
Now, whether you’re sending your emails out in a mass format or doing them individually, if they sound similar to the junk email these prospects are getting, it’ll be unlikely your recruit reads and responds them.
A few key things that tip off your prospects that your email is not sincere include:
- Starting the email by using “Dear”. It sounds way too formal.
- Not including their name.
- Trying to heavily sell your school in the message.
- Using admissions/recruiting jargon that won’t be familiar to a teenager.
- Adding several web links in your message.
Instead, write your messages using conversational language. Make it sound like you’d talk. If you’re able to make it read like a real conversation, your prospect will be more likely to actually engage with it.
2) No clear action wanted
If we want recruits to respond to our emails, we need to let them know that. Some examples of phrases that do not encourage action include:
- “Feel free to respond”
- “Give me a call anytime”
Why don’t these work? They tell the recruit to respond, right?
The problem is that neither of these statements give clarity as to exactly what you want the recruit to do and why.
“Feel free to respond” is conditional. You’re only asking a recruit to respond if they feel free. So, if they don’t feel free to respond, they don’t have to.
Also, if they did feel free to respond, what should they respond with? What if they respond back but they don’t respond in the way you want them to? They don’t want to risk that mistake and so their decision is to not respond at all.
If you tell them to “give me a call anytime”, very few teenagers will take you up on that offer. Most kids don’t love to talk on the phone, let alone with an adult they don’t really know. And even more so, they won’t want to call because they have no idea what you want them to say on the call.
At the end of your email, ask the recruit to respond. But beyond that, tell them how to respond and what to respond with.
Something like, “Sarah, after you read this email, reply back to let me know whether or not you’ll be at the Big Basketball Showcase this weekend. That way I can know to keep an eye out for you!”
If you’re having trouble getting prospects to respond to your emails, make sure you do a good job with these two aspects of the message. If it sounds sincere and personal, and provides them with a clear call to action, your chances of getting a response go way up!
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