The value of making those all-important first connections with prospective business school students should never be understated. Email marketing continues to be an efficient means of creating and strengthening these digital connections—but what makes a winning email marketing strategy?
In our GMAC Connect Presents webinar series, we asked this question to our panel of industry experts. Our guest speakers include Christa Johnson-Perkins, Product Director of Marketing Solutions, GMAC Connect, and Jay Schwedelson, President and CEO, Worldata Group.
Results of GMASS’s Candidate Research
GMASS is our 565k-strong global database of prospective business school students. From managing a constantly evolving database comprised of candidates at various stages of the application journey and pipeline, we’ve learned a thing or two about how to understand our early leads.
“Early leads are those who are new to GMASS and are likely to be engaging with official prep, or simply looking for information,” says Christa. “They might be testing the waters, but they also might be considering the application process.”
To find out more about these early leads, we recently surveyed them and asked, what information would help you take the next step to pursue a degree? This presented us with some interesting findings. One being that this group had similar interests to leads further up the candidate pipeline. The early leads group were interested in areas further down the decision-making process, such as scholarship information, what degree they should pursue, curriculum, learning styles, and which schools to consider.
We then asked them whether there are certain schools they would like us to introduce them to. “It was surprising to find that there wasn’t any concentration in region or tier,” says Christa. Overall, this showed us that these early leads are actively looking for information to help them decide around choosing a program or school. “Many of them don’t have a clear path and so they are highly influenceable,” says Christa.
Tip #1: Changing the time of your campaign can result in an increased open rate of 17%
Within the higher education space, over 80% of all email campaigns are sent out on the hour. This results in 70% of all email traffic occurring within the first 10 minutes of every hour. “What ends up happening is that all these email campaigns show up at the same time,” says Jay from Worldata Group. He recommends simply changing the time of your campaign so that it doesn’t get caught up with other email marketing. This can help you gain an increased open rate of up to 17% among people using a consumer email address.
Tip #2: Sending out an email on the day of an event can increase the attendance rate by almost 30%
If webinars or online events are part of your email marketing strategy, don’t forget to send out an email on the day of the event. This email should ideally be sent around four hours before the event begins. Jay recommends avoiding dull language such as ‘here’s a reminder’ and, instead, focusing on the event itself by highlighting the key points or areas that the audience will miss out on if they fail to show up.
Tip #3: Test out sending your campaign on a Friday
Fridays are usually the day when most people have more time in their work schedule to browse their email or sign up for events. “It’s not the weekend but it’s also not a day where [people] are being super productive,” Jay says.
Tip #4: Events that are promoted as 30 minutes or less have a 31% higher show-up rate
In a fast-paced digital world where average attention spans, particularly among Generation Z, are getting shorter and shorter, you need to optimize your events to meet the demand for speedy content. Promoting your event as lasting 30 minutes or less can have a huge impact on the attendance rate, advises Jay. “Somebody can give you 30 minutes, they don’t want to give you an hour,” he says.
If you’re promoting content rather than an event, try out lists such as the ‘5 things you should do before applying’ or the ‘3 things you should know about our business school’. This makes your content far easier to digest, particularly for the oh-so-common skim-readers.
Tip #5: Take advantage of AI and ChatGPT
Artificial intelligence (AI) tools such as ChatGPT can speed up onerous tasks and boost your email marketing performance. One example of how you can utilize the language processing model is by asking ChatGPT to re-write the subject line in fewer characters, form it into a question, or make it more suspenseful. It’s as easy as that. You could also try using ChatGPT to re-write your call to action (CTA) box to make the language more engaging. Call-to-action buttons that state the benefit versus the commitment (such as ‘register to download’) have a 24% higher average click-through rate.
Remember that crafting a winning email marketing strategy takes time and patience. Avoid testing out all the different suggestions at once and instead focus on trying out simple and small changes one-by-one and over a given period. This will help pave the way for an email marketing strategy that’s intentional and, most importantly, reaps the results you want.