At Capture Higher Ed, we look at a lot of emails, and not just our own. We look closely at emails that other universities (ones who are not yet our partners) send out to engage students. Emails that seem long, to our mind, give us pause. If we were young, would we be willing to give this email, which demands that we even scroll down, our attention? Will it be worth it? What’s the payoff?
Despite the well-known fact that Generation Z has grown up inundated with media — commercials, pop-ups, spam and, most importantly, social media posts — what a prospective student needs to be convinced is not more content but less. Just because they’re used to being bombarded doesn’t mean marketers should resort to that to engage students.
Students want specific information from a university or college: Information about their location, the kinds of degrees offered, and cost, of course. Marketing to engage students, whether by emails or letters or phone calls, should be succinct. Answer their questions or risk being ignored. If there’s one thing you can say about today’s high school student, they are suspicious of being sold to. They have little patience for marketing.
Troy Burk, writing a few years ago for University Business, points out six simple points that will increase engagement by prospective students.
1 – Brevity; after all, today’s incoming freshmen are used to the short blast of Twitter, the compressed status update of Facebook.
2 – Content need not be overly “creative”; content need be only “concise and relevant,” says Burk.
3 – Web pages should load quickly. Burk cites KISSmetrics, who state simply that loading time “is a major contributing factor to page abandonment. The average user has no patience for a page that takes too long to load, and justifiably so.” Page abandonment, their statistics show, increases with each second — a full 25 percent of viewers are lost at the four-second mark.
4 – Long forms need to be shortened by eliminating unnecessary questions. No one wants to spend what they perceive as too much time.
5 – Keeping track of communications and measuring their success is important — know what is “too much or too little,” says Burk.
6 – Simply avoid too much content, which is to say “quality not quantity.” By specifically addressing each of these points, we lower our risk of a prospective student clicking in the wrong direction.
Sean Hill, Senior Content Writer, Capture Higher Ed