Four Tips for Reaching College Students Through Email Marketing

Posted January 28, 2011 by

Email marketing is regarded by many as the real killer application when it comes to social networking. Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, YouTube, and the other so-called titans of social media have no where near the number of users and amount of usage as does email. It is amazing that in just a couple of decades, we’ve gone from a world where the vast majority could email only within their organizations or not at all to a world where we take email for granted.
Our biggest product by revenue for years has been targeted email campaigns. We typically deliver multiple campaigns a week and often a day on behalf of our employment and consumer marketing clients. That’s not to say that every campaign is an incredible success. Some simply are destined to fail right from the beginning. When they do, it is usually do to one of four problems:

  1. Wrong Target Audience. The best offer and creative in the world can’t overcome an improperly targeted audience. If you’re a relatively unknown, small accounting firm and you’re trying to hire accounting interns, be realistic and target the students who attend the schools in your area rather than the schools which top the national rankings. If you’re trying to sell vacation packages to sophomores and juniors, target those with the financial means to buy those packages, not those whose household incomes are $15,000.
  2. Wrong Offer. Christopher Golec of Demandbase summed this one up well when he wrote, “E-mail marketing has the most success if the message provides immediate value and personally connects to the recipient. The message should help readers either to learn through educational content, news or tips, or to gain savings of either time or money.”
  3. Poorly Designed Creative. We see this over and over again. Clients often take weeks and even months deciding whether to run an ad campaign and how to deliver it and then they throw together the actual ad and are shocked when the results are disappointing. You can’t effectively communicate without a well designed message. Your offer and call to action such as “click here to register” should be at the top of the creative and therefore within the preview pane of the message. Link only to specific landing pages designed to convert the interested users into registered users, applicants, customers, etc. Keep your subject line free from all caps and any punctuation and make the from name field the name of your organization if we or any other third party are sending the emails on your behalf.
  4. Wrong Day and Time. We have found over and over again that the vast majority of campaigns perform the best when delivered on Tuesdays followed closely by Monday afternoons and Wednesdays. Some but not many perform best on Fridays or even on the weekends but we get our big red flags out when campaigns arrive on a Thursday and the client pushes for a Friday deployment. We’ll typically ask them why they want the campaign to go out and the response is usually that they’re in a rush. Yes, but give me an actual good reason, okay? Isn’t it better to wait one business day to get twice the response rate? When phrased that way, most clients will take the deep breath they should have taken before placing the order, agree, and thank us for pushing back on them. Similarly, it doesn’t make sense for the vast majority of campaigns to push them out the door at 5pm when we could easily deliver them the next day at 1pm. And the time zone matters too. Although people on the coasts often forget that there are people who reside in the Central and Mountain time zones, don’t forget that a campaign delivered at 3pm Pacific hits people on the east coast at 6pm. That late arrival is typically the kiss of death as that email will sit overnight and be just one of dozens of emails sitting in the inbox when the recipient sits down to work the next day. What’s the easiest way to deal with such unexpected and usually not terribly important emails? Yup. The delete key.

The common theme that we see with campaigns which fail is that haste makes waste. We’ll run your campaigns and we’ll cash your checks. But we’re first going to push back and make sure that what you’re asking for is really what you want and what is best for your organization. Getting something off of your desk and being able to tell your boss that the email went out this week are typically not good enough reasons to rush through something that can cost thousands or even tens of thousands of dollars. Step back. Take a breath. Talk with us. We’re here for you.

Originally posted by Steven Rothberg

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