11 Strategies of Email Marketing for Educational Institutions

Email marketing for educational institutions

Email marketing for post secondary educational institutions is for universities and colleges to engage with prospective students to enrol them into various programs. As such, higher education email marketing is no different from lead generation for any other type of business: there are prospects, leads, nurture campaigns and sales people and this article will cover some marketing strategies.

Post secondary institutions also have the need to communicate with - not market to - students, faculty, staff, alumni and stakeholders. If you're a marketer, read this article. If you're a communication professional whose job is to effectively disseminate optional and mandatory content, we invite you to check out our website. Envoke is a broadcast email software company with an emphasis on compliance, subscription management and data security. One feature that’s especially useful for post secondary institutions is the ability to manage users and contact lists for multiple faculties and departments under one central account. Over the past 15 years we've worked with hundreds of departments of various universities and colleges and have the expertise to help you with your email communication strategy.

Looking for a new broadcast email communication platform? Check the article below:

Through this article, we’ll reveal email strategies that your higher education institution can use to:

  • Enroll in and onboard new students.
  • Provide students with personalized experiences.
  • Send relevant emails that increase students’ completion rates.
  • And to engage with your alumni community.

In this guide, you’ll learn:

Let’s start!

What is Email Marketing For Educational Institutions?

Email marketing for educational institutions is setting up email strategies and delivering targeted and personalized emails to your university students, prospective students, alumni, and partners.

Email is among the best performing channels for strategic marketing for educational institutions.

It helps you personalize students’ experiences based on their preferences, data, and interaction with your educational institution.

5 Reasons Why You Should Use Email Marketing For Higher Education

Every marketing project begins with a ‘why.’ Universities use email marketing for specific reasons. Here are some of the most common ones:

1. Cost-effective communication channel

Email marketing is the top cost-effective communication channel for educational institutions.

So how much should you expect to pay for email marketing?

With an email marketing service provider such as Envoke, you can send unlimited emails to fifty thousand students under $299 (CAD) per month.

For such a small budget, email marketing provides a wide range of opportunities and benefits to educational institutions.

  • Convert prospective students to enrolled students.
  • Retain students.
  • Inform and engage, etc.

Choose a higher education email marketing software, and communicate effectively with your students.

2. High revenue on investment

According to Oberlo, for every $1 you spend on email marketing, you can expect an average return of $42.

Not for the fact that students use email. But because email for educational institution helps:

  • Create different segments.
  • Personalize communication.
  • Track email performance.
  • Make data-informative decisions.
  • Build scalable campaigns.

And that’s what makes the positive ROI possible for universities that leverage email marketing power.

3. Increase student enrollment and retention

Students worldwide are applying to colleges and universities, whether it’s offering on-campus programs, distance courses, online courses, etc.

But you’re not the only one who’s offering educational programs. Universities and colleges are continually competing to lock their market share.

While students compare different programs to decide which is the perfect fit for them, use email marketing to increase student enrollment.

In this use case, email marketing helps you:

  • Promote your educational programs.
  • Showcase your educational institution benefits.
  • Offer online consulting for prospective students.
  • Propose your academic programs, etc.

According to the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center, half of the students who enroll in college will complete a degree or certification within six years at that specific institution.

This means if you miss one student’s enrollment, you missed it for six years.

Email marketing makes it easy to increase enrolled students. With a smart strategy, the right software, and a little elbow grease, you can turn a 60-word email into thousands in revenue.

4. Promote your university

University email marketing helps you promote your institution. It includes promotional communication that covers:

  • General details about your educational institution.
  • Admission details and process.
  • Alumni relationship and community.
  • Athletic and extracurricular activities.

And what makes email the best for all these communications is automated email marketing.

You can automate your whole college email communications. This allows you to:

  • Automate repetitive tasks.
  • Make sure emails are sent at the right time.
  • Send personalized dynamic content.
  • Save your time.
  • Send triggered behavior-based messages.

5. Engage students in extracurricular activities

Similarly to public sector email marketing, you don’t send emails to  university students to convert them, but to: 

  • Inform them about new announcements
  • Engage them to university activities
  • Increase their participation level
  • Notify them about urgent matters like health and security, etc.

Email marketing for educational institutions is a significant player in promoting extracurricular activities.

Based on students’ preferences when joining the university, you can segment them and send emails that match their interest areas.

This way, you’ll make sure you put the right email in front of the right student.

3 Ways to Build an Email List for Higher Education Institutions

When starting a higher education email marketing strategy, your first step is to build an email list of prospective students.

Here are the 3 best ways to build an email list for higher education institutions.

1. Offer downloadable brochures

When prospective students visit your college website, they’re looking for a variety of information regarding your institution.

  • Subjects, classes, courses.
  • Campus.
  • City-related information.
  • Extracurricular activities.
  • Financial options.

And when you think of it, it’s challenging to fit all the information on one website page.

Provide downloadable brochures for prospective students in exchange for their email address.

This strategy helps collect email addresses for your educational institution.

  1. You collect more contacts.
  2. You deliver more information to prospective students.

Here is an example of a brochure request form used by Temple University.

University lead generation form used as part of the email marketing strategy by educational institutions

You can create similar forms that you can easily embed into your website using Envoke

You can also set up alerts for your different departments to get notified every time a prospective student downloads a brochure.

2. Display popups

Another way to collect email addresses for educational institutions is by displaying popups.

A popup is an opt-in form that you can trigger for your website visitors to convert them from visitors to contacts.

As an onsite retargeting strategy, you can display opt-in forms based on your website visitors’ behaviour.

  • Page scroll
  • Time spent on-page
  • Visited page
  • Number of visited pages
  • Exit-intent

You can offer prospective students who visit a specific course page to request a call from an adviser.

Educational email marketing startegy: University popup example

3. Embed opt-in forms and provide free consulting calls

When deciding on an education program, students hold many concerns and carry unanswered questions.

This is an opportunity to build a larger email list for your educational institution.

Embed an opt-in form to each course or program page. You can offer free consulting calls to help prospective students understand your programs better.

This strategy leads to having a larger pool of students that you can onboard and enroll in your institution. 

3 Tips to Apply When Doing Higher Education Email Marketing

1. Segment your audience

Email segmentation is a must-have email marketing technique for educational institutions.

It consists of organizing your contacts into different groups to deliver personalized emails.

  • Contact data for students: Prospective students, students, alumni, etc.
  • Administrative data: Teachers, staff, departments, directors, etc.

You can segment your institution’s’ email lists based on every field you hold on the contacts in your database, including:

  • Studies data: Courses, seniority, grades, language, etc.
  • Demographic data: Age, gender, background, financial status, family data, etc.
  • Psychographic data: Lifestyle, activities, personality, etc.

For the internal administration level, this may include segmenting based on:

  • Positions,
  • Roles,
  • Departments,
  • And other responsibilities.

To keep your data organized, use a higher education email marketing software to create subaccounts for your different departments. 

2. Personalize your email campaigns

Email personalization is the process of using your contacts’ personal information to produce more targeted emails. 

It gives an individual more personal treatment to your prospective students’ and students. Which, by the end, increases email engagement and overall email marketing performance.

Email personalization is how you translate the data you have on your contact into messages that resonate with them.

You can use simple email personalization to display information about your contacts in your emails. Information such as name, birth date, course, activities, etc.

Or with Envoke’s dynamic content feature, automatically modify the content of your emails based on contacts’ data.

For instance, you can send different programs for different students’ financial backgrounds in a single email campaign.

Dynamic content will save you a lot of time while sending the right email to the right contact.

3. Optimize emails for mobile

According to HubSpot, 35% of business professionals check email on a mobile device. 73% of millennials prefer communications to come via email.

And when doing email marketing for educational institutions, you’re targeting millennials.

And there’s no secret on how the generation Z is attached to mobile devices.

Here are seven tips to consider when designing your responsive email:

  • Use a short subject line.
  • Add an email preheader.
  • Write brief and straightforward content.
  • Break up the text.
  • Optimize the images.
  • Keep CTAs centered.
  • Preview and test emails before hitting send.

Now let’s see 11 email examples to help you get inspired.

11 Best Email Strategies For Educational Institutions

When doing higher education email marketing, it is essential to think of how you will manage students’ enrollment and maintain their engagement.

Here are 11 higher education email strategies along with examples that you can learn from.

1. College admission email example

You should treat college admission emails with extra care as they’re considered a sensitive matter.

Landing a college admission email in the spam folder can lead to a student missing an important deadline or important information.

Wow, that’s a tough one.

For this, you must use a reliable higher education email software to make sure that every email is delivered to students’ inboxes. 

Here is an inspiring college admission email example that:

  • Congratulate enrolled students.
  • Present a scholarship program.
  • Set the right expectations.
  • Communicate a deadline.
College admission email example to help with educational email marketing strategy

2. Announcement email for students

Send announcement emails to university students to tell them about a new program, recent update, or an upcoming event.

The following college email template is sent from Texas A&M University to announce their new website and other updates.

Email marketing example for universities and colleges

3. Motivate social engagement and donations

As the world struggles to deal with challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, many Syracuse University students are facing unfortunate circumstances.

Syracuse University sends the following email to motivate contacts to make a donation that would help students going through hard times.

Personalized email example used by a university as part of their email marketing strategy

4. Increase enrolled students for online courses

Your email marketing is your number one most valuable asset when it comes to online courses and education.

Once you have a wide-ranging list of contacts, structure your emails to encourage as many course sign-ups as possible.

Here is an online course email sample to inspire you.

Email marketing example for higher education institutions about online learning

5. Invite students to events

There’s no better way to reach an audience and maximize your event attendees than through email marketing.

Here is an event email example sent to university students.

Original copy, simple design, with a clear CTA that stands out.

Educational email strategy example email for activities on campus

6. Onboard new students

Onboarding email for higher education institutions helps you guide admitted students and explain the next steps to take.

NYU congratulates newly admitted students and provides them with a clear next step. 

Don’t forget to communicate deadlines, important dates, and actions in your university onboarding email.

University admission email sample as part of the email marketing plan for higher education institutions

7. Engage the Alumni community

Take this example from the Wisconsin Alumni association.

A stunning responsive email design to engage their alumni and share with them the most recent highlights.

This example will inspire you for your next alumni relations email campaign.

Email marketing idea to engage your alumni community

8. Send holiday emails

Higher education email marketing is not only about essential updates and campus news.

You can take the edge off during holidays and send an email to your students to wish them a merry Christmas or a happy holiday.

It makes your students feel relevant and recognized.

Holiday email example sent by a university as part of their email marketing strategy

9. Raise students’ awareness

Similarly to nonprofit email marketing, email marketing is a powerful tool to increase your students’ awareness.

Your email marketing for educational institutions campaign can spread your mission to a broader audience through a tailored email sample.

Arizona State University sets up the bar pretty high with a catchy email on Earth Hour.

Educational email example to raise student awareness

10. Engage your community with weekly newsletters

Stevenson High School does a great job of keeping its community informed with their weekly newsletter.

When doing email marketing to high school students, it’s preferred to reach one to students’ parents or guardians.

Large, bold images, separate paragraphs, and scannable headlines make it easy for parents to find what’s in it.

Student engagement email example

11. Send university summer email

For educational institutions, the summer period is not only about admitting new students. 

Preparing your freshman student for the next level is a part of the included responsibilities. And nothing better than email marketing to do so.

In the following email, ASU provides students with a summer checklist as preparation for the upcoming academic year.

Email marketing example for students to help with your email marketing efforts

Choose a Higher Education Email Marketing Software

Your institution’s email marketing success partially depends on choosing the right email software.

To help you decide, here are three higher education email marketing software to use.

1. Envoke

Envoke is a Canadian compliant and secure email marketing software to engage and connect with your audience.

As a leading higher education email software for Canadian universities and colleges, Envoke offers advanced automated CASL compliance and all the necessary tools to send emails to your students:

  • Contact management and segmentation.
  • Compliance and consent management (CASL, CAN-SPAM, GDPR, etc.)
  • Drag & drop email editor.
  • Higher education email templates.
  • Dynamic content.
  • Users and permission management.
  • Customizable opt-in forms.
  • Email automation, autoresponders, drip campaigns.
  • Informative dashboard.

From the internal educational institute perspective, you’ll set up different subaccounts under the main account, assign roles, control permission, and manage your communication team.

Here is a preview on Envoke’s user roles management.

User role and permissions management for email marketing software

By creating subaccounts in Envoke, you’ll separately manage communication with:

  • Students
  • Staff
  • Alumni
  • Partners

This would help you keep your data and reporting separate. And most importantly, keep your data safe.

The powerful segmentation and contact management make Envoke reliable email software for educational institutions.

You’ll be able to create different segments and send emails to students, alumni, prospective students, etc.

Regarding the data and security, Envoke is a security-conscious tool with data in Canada and end-to-end encryption.

Lastly, Envoke offers flexible pricing plans.

  • Monthly subscription: Pay for the number of active contacts and send unlimited emails. Starting at $49 (CAD) for 5000 contacts.
  • Pay as you go: Store unlimited contacts and pay for the number of emails you send. Starting at $150 (CAD) for 5000 emails sent.

2. Mailchimp

Mailchimp is a popular email marketing platform. Its’ primary function is to send newsletters and automated emails to grow your business results. 

It lets you connect with your subscribers, engage with them, and build meaningful, long-lasting relationships.

Mailchimp gives you the ability to:

  • Create opt-in forms.
  • Create and manage mailing lists.
  • Send newsletters.
  • Setup automated campaigns and more. 

As an easy-to-use email software for higher education, Mailchimp lets you have control over your email marketing efforts.

It gives you access to an array of email marketing tools, all conveniently located in one place.

Because the software is destined for small and medium businesses worldwide, Mailchimp doesn’t provide advanced consent and compliance tools suitable for Canadian higher education institutions.

Mailchimp stores data in the United States.

3. ActiveCampaign

ActiveCampaign is an email marketing automation software. 

With ActiveCampaign, you’ll be able to:

  • Create automated marketing and sales processes.
  • Manage and segment your contacts.
  • Send more personalized and relevant messages at the right moment.

ActiveCampaign is a marketing automation software for creating, managing, and extending your email marketing & autoresponder campaigns.

Dynamic content allows you to change the content of an email based on who a contacts’ data.

With tools to manage cross-departmental processes, you can manage:

  • Students’ enrollment
  • Orientation
  • Alumni relations, and more.

ActiveCampaign provides multiple plans with a monthly pricing model based on how many contacts you have and features.


Educators and educational institutions can achieve a lot by applying the tips and examples covered above. It helps develop relationships with students, facilitate new students’ onboarding, and communicate effectively.

Now the ball is in your court.

You’ve seen examples, tips, and what software to use for your higher education email marketing. Now you do your craft.

Don’t forget to:

  • Segment contacts.
  • Personalize content.
  • Choose a subject line wisely.
  • Send responsive emails.
  • Test and track your performance.

Envoke helps educational institutions enroll new students, sustain existing ones, and build stronger alumni relationships. Start your free 30-days trial and explore it yourself.

Share this Article


Join our list to receive our monthly “practical tips and best practices” emails.
Unsubscribe any time.

View our newsletter archives to get a glimpse of the kind of messages you’ll be receiving.

Start a 30 day trial

Start a fully loaded trial account

30 days free access:

Let’s discuss your requirements to establish or rule out a fit.

Trial accounts include full support and all functionality.