6 Email Marketing Tips to Boost Student Enrollment

Do you want to attract and retain a larger number of high-quality students to their school than you did last year?

Often, a few tweaks to your email marketing strategy will be enough to make that happen in a significant way.

In this article, we’ll teach you six email marketing tips that will lead to more inbound leads, email engagement, and registered students.

These best practices include optimizing your subject lines, using clear calls to action, leveraging email automation, and more.

Let’s delve deeper into each one.

Optimize Your Subject Lines

A quality subject line increases the likelihood of potential students and their parents opening and reading your marketing emails, and joining your program.

First of all, a good subject line is a short and concise one. According to research, the optimal size is 41 characters, or seven words.

Source: Campaign Monitor

If your email content is interesting to your target audience, the best subject line will often be a short phrase hinting at or summarizing the email.

In other words, make the subject line a preview of what’s to come once they open it.

For example, if you sent an email promoting a webinar about an engineering program, an effective subject line could be “Majoring in engineering? Watch our webinar!”

When writing a subject line for an email, perhaps in a marketing campaign, that many people will see, it’s important to follow a process to ensure it comes out solid.

First, think about the purpose of the email. Is it to educate the student about financial options?

To promote a webinar? To tell them a story about one of your most successful students?

Determining the purpose of the email will help you come up with a subject line that previews the email and is compelling to the right people.

It’s important to know that not everyone is going to open your marketing email.

If you’re promoting a webinar on financial aid, make it appeal to those who actually need help paying for school.

Tell them they’ll get financial aid information if they click on your email.

Second, think of an incentive that will convince the recipient to click on your email. Perhaps that means mentioning that you’ll give them some free information that they need.

Or maybe the incentive is a sense of urgency.

For instance, “How to get straight As” gets people to open it by suggesting that the content of the email will help them ace their classes.

And “Time’s running out to register” evokes the fear of missing out.

The third step is to write out multiple subject lines. This not only gives you options, but it also kickstarts the brainstorming process, and gives you subject lines to test against each other.

Often, you’ll find one subject line that captures what you’re trying to say but is unfortunately too long.

In that case, rework it, play with new word arrangements, bring out the thesaurus, and keep trimming until you have it short and to the point.

Even after all that brainstorming and editing, you still need to A/B test your subject line variations to ensure that the one you end up choosing really is the best option.

Source: Benchmark One

In sum, creating compelling subject lines that get people reading your emails is a crucial part of marketing your school and increasing student enrollment.

Focus On Your Value Proposition

For educational institutions, email marketing can be thought of as a way to provide the recipients with a sort of education on the school’s value.

Most of your emails should teach students and parents about what your school can offer them.

Enrollment occurs when the student and their parents are wholly convinced that your school will provide them with a better return on their investment than your competition.

That said, it’s important to come up with a value proposition, a promise of value that meets the needs of your target audience and separates you from the competition, and to remind your potential customers of it regularly.

For example, a tech-forward private school’s value proposition might be “where future scientists are made”.

The school might then use their emails to talk about their state-of-the-art laboratories, the impressive credentials of their teachers, and several students who went on to do something great in the scientific community.

Below are some best practices for communicating your school’s value in your emails:

Focus on impressing your target audience. What do your prospective students and parents want? Figure out the answer and use your emails to prove to them that your school will satisfy these desires.
Highlight your key differentiators. Tell prospective students how your school is different from others in the space, and why these differences are important to the success and happiness of your student body.
Give evidence to support your value proposition. Share stories about students whom you helped attain their goals and more. Link out to footage of your campus or interview videos with alumni who support your claim.

When you define your school’s value and how it differs from competitors, then use email to spread the word, you’ll see significant boosts in your student enrollment numbers.

Feature Your Successful Students

A good way to demonstrate your school’s value to potential students and their parents with email marketing is to share success stories.

Create an article or video detailing the adventure of one particular student, sort of like a human interest story, and then promote it via your email.

In your email’s body copy, provide a preview of the student’s success story and include a link that recipients can click to see the full story.

For example, Lower Columbia College has an entire page on its website dedicated to that kind of content:

Source: Lower Columbia College

This allows prospective students to see firsthand how someone like them benefited from your school’s services, facilities, and teachers.

And with social proof, they’ll be more likely to enroll at your school or convince their parents that it’s worth the money.

You can also tell success stories that involve multiple students.

For example, if your school’s math team performed exceptionally well at a math tournament, write about that, as the Marist High School does on its website:

Source: Marist

Parents especially love to see stories about you helping students get into top colleges or high schools, so showcase those when you have the chance.

As an added benefit of this strategy, hyping up your students in emails shows prospective students and parents that you care about your students’ success and well-being.

Add Clear Calls to Action

A call to action (CTA) is a written statement that tells the email recipient what you want them to do next.

Possible CTAs could be “Read our article on the student admissions process,” or “Fill out the form below to register for our school tour.”

Here’s an example CTA from Vanderbilt Law that tells potential students to go to a specific webpage to learn about the application process:

Source: Vanderbilt University

A strong CTA is one that is clear, succinct, and desirable. In addition to knowing your request, recipients should also want to comply with it.

To make it desirable, it often helps to include a benefit in the CTA, so instead of “Register for our course!” you could say “Register for our course and learn to program!”

Within your emails, it’s also crucial that you make your CTA stand out from the rest of the writing on the page.

To do that, you can make it a different color, underline or bold it, or create a CTA button, which encloses the words of the CTA within a colorful shape.

In the example below, the CTA button is the green rectangle that says “Read the full story”:

Source: Campaign Monitor

Campaign Monitor found that using CTA buttons instead of text links got them a 28% increase in click-throughs.

Buttons work better than text links primarily because they’re more visible to the scanning reader: they’re colorful, distinct, and surrounded by white space.

Tools like Bulletproof Button (shown below) can help you quickly create well-designed CTA buttons for your school’s marketing emails.

Source: Campaign Monitor

In sum, give your prospective students a nudge in the right direction, whether that’s to a web page or a phone number, by including prevalent and clear CTAs in your marketing emails.

Design Mobile-Friendly Emails

It’s likely that a large portion of your prospective students and their parents check their email using a mobile device.

It’s something to do to pass the time while waiting in line or sitting on public transportation.

Therefore, you need to make sure that your emails are mobile-friendly and look good when someone opens and reads them on their phone.

Otherwise, people will simply click out of the email.

Poorly formatted emails are a headache to read and your prospective students won’t put up with it, especially when they’re so used to properly formatted emails.

Not to mention, sending emails that are messy is going to make your brand seem unprofessional or behind the times, which is a bad look for educational institutions.

Below are some best practices for designing mobile-friendly emails:

Leave plenty of white space. Big blocks of text look extra scary on a mobile device, so use short paragraphs and leave space between them.
Use short subject lines. Keep subject lines to around 40 characters. Anything more and part of the subject line might be hidden. If it has to be longer, put the most important words first.
Optimize images for mobile. Make images width 600 px, choose high-quality photos, and follow other mobile image guidelines.
Center your CTAs. Put your CTAs towards the upper middle portion of your email so that the recipients can see it even without scrolling down.
Serve the 3-second reader. Many of your mobile readers are going to spend no more than three seconds reading your email, so put the key info near the top and use a prevalent CTA button.

As an extra precaution, test your new emails, especially those going out to lots of people, by first sending them to yourself and a few colleagues, preferably those who have different types of phones.

Following the above best practices and proper testing should lead to more enjoyable customer experiences and a boost in student enrollment.

Take Advantage of Email Automation

Email automation software enables you to send a greater number of personalized emails to your prospective students.

It ensures that students get emails at the right time, even if you aren’t there to write them and click send.

With registration software like Regpack and trigger-based automations, emails will be sent automatically to students or parents when they take a predefined action.

For example, the user below has created an automation that triggers the sending of a specific email to all people who call their company back.

Source: Regpack

With this functionality, you can do things like make it so that every student who submits a registration form instantly receives a welcome email with critical information about the next steps.

And, thanks to pre-designed email templates, the email will also be personalized to the individual student.

Smart fields like {Student Name} or {Grade Level} will auto-fill with the respective information about the student, provided that it’s in your registration software.

Here’s an example of a smart email template in Regpack:

Source: Regpack

This allows you to be personal without having to spend hours every day crafting, personalizing, and sending emails.

Therefore, you can spend more of your time doing the creative and strategic aspects of student enrollment management, like planning recruiting events or investigating the causes of decreasing retention rates.

There may be some emails that you don’t want to automate but that you do need to remember to send at the right time.

For those cases, Regpack enables you to set email reminders that will notify you to send the email when it’s time, whether that’s two days before a registration deadline or a day after a payment due date.

In short, pre-designed templates, trigger-based automations, and payment reminders help you create a more scalable and less time-consuming email marketing strategy.


Email marketing is one of the best and most cost-effective ways to communicate with potential and current students, build relationships, and improve student enrollment for your school, provided that you’re doing it correctly.

Some email marketing best practices include celebrating successful students, highlighting your school’s value proposition, and designing mobile-friendly emails.

If you want to learn other great ways to market your school aside from email marketing, check out our article on marketing strategies to increase student enrollment.

About The Author
Asaf Darash
CEO and Founder of Regpack

Asaf, Founder and CEO of Regpack, has extensive experience as an entrepreneur and investor. Asaf has built 3 successful companies to date, all with an exit plan or that have stayed in profitability and are still functional. Asaf specializes in product development for the web, team building and in bringing a company from concept to an actualized unit that is profitable.

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