College recruitment strategies: Automated email marketing increases enrollment by 12%


High school juniors and seniors are constantly bombarded with college recruitment mailings. How can a university break through the clutter?

This was our challenge from the University of Minnesota, Crookston (UMC), a four-year college near our Grand Forks office, SimmonsFlint.

We created an automated email marketing campaign that spoke to prospective students – in their voice, in the preferred environment (online), at the right time.

Opening the dialog

If there’s one thing high school students can’t live without, it’s social media (and maybe Justin Bieber). These kids love talking about themselves and the things that are important to them, so we thought, “why not let them talk to us?”

Our team developed a landing page and used a variety of marketing tactics – from direct mail to email to print ads – to drive potential students to it. Once there, students became part of a personalized approach to their college search, including an interactive survey where students shared information, such as their program interests and concerns and excitements about college.

Using information gleaned from the online survey, we sent them personalized, relevant and timely communications from admissions counselors and current students.

For example, if someone indicated they were interested in studying English, we sent them an email from a current English major, pulling in dynamic content like the prospect’s name and planned enroll date. If they were nervous about being able to afford college, we’d send them information about financial aid. If they were interested in campus activities, we’d supply content about student organizations.

Even the calls to action (schedule a visit or apply now) were dynamic, based on students’ interests.


Nearly 27,000 people visited the landing page, and about 1,800 filled out the survey. Of those that completed the form, 75 percent requested information and 30 percent applied.

Now here’s the kicker: Enrollment went up by 12 percent from the year before. More than half of the students who enrolled were influenced by the automated email marketing campaign.

Better data for better insight

Marketing automation was a great tool not only for UMC’s marketing/recruitment team, but also for its admissions counselors. The campaign gave these counselors actionable data to better serve incoming students, such as what programs students were interested in and how they wanted to learn more about UMC (i.e., take a tour, stay overnight, talk to a current students, attend a sporting event, etc.).

The University also learned about its target demographic, such as the number of transfer versus traditional high school prospects and aspects of college that potential students were most concerned about.

See more college recruitment strategies we’ve worked on with UMC.

Want to learn how your business can benefit from marketing automation? Let’s chat.

Ericka Olin

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