The Best (and Worst) of Recruitment Communications

For Professional and Continuing Education Leaders

Unfavorable demographics and a difficult economy will require undergraduate enrollment managers to abandon one-size-fits-all recruitment communications. In order to benchmark current undergraduate recruitment communication practices, we secret shopped 133 colleges and universities — of which 127 bothered to respond. What we found was a lumbering follow-up process with an overreliance on email that was often poorly conceived and executed, and few attempts to actually respond to our prospective student’s interest. Of 1,120 emails and print materials we received, only 41 messages were specifically tailored to our shopper’s stated academic interest. And while print letters were signed by real people, we found just 41% of the more than 800 emails we received contained an identifying signature, and only eight percent were sent from a real person’s email address.

To compete for student mindshare going forward, it is time for colleges and universities to use technology to increase personalization and relevance and reject one-size-fits- all “unique” messaging. Underlying this approach should be a focus on helping prospective students make decisions and developing a supportive and coordinated cross-channel conversation plan.

In this research report, discover the best and worst practices of undergraduate enrollment managers and marketers today, study the anatomy of bad email, and discover our recommendations to break the bonds of irresponsible email marketing.

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