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9 Email Marketing Trends that will Influence the Future of Higher Education

9 Email Marketing Trends that will Influence the Future of Higher Education

To shed light on the evolving landscape of email marketing in higher education, we’ve gathered insights from 9 industry leaders, including CEOs, Founders, and VPs to provide.  From the”Golden Goose Approach” of personalized emails to the immersive experience of virtual campus tours, here are the top trends these experts have noticed in the sector.

1. Personalized Emails Taking the “Golden Goose Approach”

” Nowadays, educational institutions are ditching the one-size-fits-all approach and crafting emails that make students feel like the campus’s golden goose.

By harnessing the power of data, universities are sending tailored emails based on students’ interests and study programs. This nifty move not only boosts engagement but also helps students discover relevant courses, events, and extracurricular activities.

Imagine a student named Sam, who shows an affinity for physics. Sam receives an email highlighting the latest breakthroughs in the field and upcoming physics workshops. Now that’s email marketing done right!” 

Himanshu Sharma, CEO and Founder, Academy of Digital Marketing

2. Long-Term Engagement Shaping the Marketing Approach

“The higher education sector has always had the advantage of time. These institutions have years to nurture the student segments they intend to draw in and use this time well to build solid relationships with students. 

They provide tips on the right courses and programs to help students meet their educational goals. They share news of the happenings in their institutions to keep younger students interested in them. And when the time comes, they leverage the advantages of this relationship built over time to ensure that the students look nowhere else for their higher education needs. 

This continued engagement also helps them keep an eye on changing trends and generational demands, allowing them to adjust their marketing approach to suit changing sensibilities and ambitions.”

Ariav Cohen, VP of Marketing and Sales, Proprep

3. Multilingual Content Aiming for Diverse Audiences

“In my experience with the higher education sector, one email marketing trend I’ve observed is the increasing use of multilingual email content. As the student demographics are becoming more diverse, it’s crucial to cater to a broader audience by communicating in their native languages. This approach not only enhances inclusivity but also increases engagement rates. 

For instance, our skills training business once collaborated with a university for a pan-European student enrollment drive. We implemented multi-lingual email campaigns targeting different countries. The open and conversion rates were significantly higher than our single-language campaigns, proving the effectiveness of this inclusive trend in email marketing.”

Derek Bruce, First Aid Training Director, Skills Training Group

4. Authentic Branding Through Personal Storytelling

“Authentic branding has become more prevalent in email marketing within the higher education sector. Universities and colleges recognize that their audiences, particularly prospective students and their families, are more discerning and seek authentic, genuine connections. They value honesty and transparency above overly polished or corporate messaging. 

For instance, I recently observed a university use personalized storytelling in their email campaigns, featuring real experiences of current students, alumni, and faculty. The emails were not just promotional but provided an authentic window into the university’s culture and values.”

Ryan Steinolfson, Founder, Accelerate Marketing

Strategies Shifting from Updates to Storytelling

“In the evolving landscape of email marketing for higher education institutions, I foresee a strategic shift from disassociated updates towards an integrated, consistent storytelling mechanism. This prediction stems from my experience receiving communications from globally renowned institutions such as Stanford, Harvard, and Yale.

While these institutions routinely send me information on MBA admission rounds, tips, and other updates, the emails rarely elucidate why I should consider an MBA, or what differentiates their programs.

In an era where higher education faces disruption from burgeoning technologies and the changing business environment, such as the rising startup culture, they must reconfigure their communication strategies.

The future of email marketing for higher education will hinge on providing captivating narratives that convincingly demonstrate the unique value and relevance of their programs amid the evolving educational landscape.”

Rafael Sarim Özdemir, Founder and CEO, Zendog Labs

5. Appealing to Gen Z with Trend-Conscious Emails

“Drawing from my years of experience in marketing, I foresee a significant shift in the future of email marketing for higher education institutions, especially toward becoming more trend-conscious to appeal to Generation Z. 

These digital natives are constantly connected and exposed to a myriad of evolving trends. For instance, sustainability has become a core value for Gen Z. Thus, incorporating green initiatives or highlighting the institution’s commitment to sustainable practices in email campaigns could significantly increase engagement. 

Communicating in a language they understand and relate to, embedded with trends they care about, can create more resonant and effective email marketing campaigns. It’s all about resonating with their values and the trends they follow.”

Rabea Elias, Business Head, Almowafir

6. Improving Email Deliverability

“Working toward email deliverability turned out to be one of the biggest trends of the past 12 months. Many higher education institutions realized that improving the health of their email can broaden their marketing funnel by 10-20% instantly. This means they have a shot at growing by the same percentage without diving into complex strategies or shelling out on expensive development. 

At Folderly, we’ve seen this trend play out with our own eyes. We have several clients from the higher education sector, and they are over the moon with the results. They’ve shared that their emails are reaching more inboxes than ever, which directly impacts their success. 

So, if you’re in a higher education institution, I strongly recommend adding email deliverability software to your arsenal; it’s a simple yet game-changing move for effectively reaching your audience and opening up new possibilities.”

Vladislav Podolyako, Founder and CEO, Folderly

For a deeper look into Folderly’s email marketing efforts, read “From Days to Hours: How Folderly Streamlined Email Campaign Production with Beefree and HubSpot.”

7. AI Integration Becoming The Future of Email Marketing

At Beefree (but really all of the tech industry), AI has been a huge focus of 2023. We kicked off our first beta round of AI integration back in April allowing users to use an AI writing assistant to help create copy and beat writer’s block.

Since then we have been slowly making improvements and enhancements to transform the Beefree AI Assistant into a go-to solution for everyday email and page copy use.

According to Khris Steven, Owner and Marketer of KhrisDigital “it is only a matter of time before higher education institutions fully embrace AI integration. With the rampant use of AI among students, universities and other learning institutions can only mitigate this by also using AI tools to detect such usage. 

Ariav Cohen, VP of Marketing and Sales at Proprep further supports this sentiment and shares, “the combination of AI tools, high-tech automation, the creation of dynamic content, and deep behavior analysis and adjustment to trends has already begun to transform the email marketing landscape. 

Balancing Email Responses Between Speed and Quality

Francesca Fitzsimmons, Content Marketing Specialist, Keystone Education Group shares the importance of speed in email marketing.  “Through our annual student surveys, we are seeing a growing need for universities to reply faster and faster. In our 2023 survey of 23,000 students, 62% of students said they expect universities to reply to them in 24 hours or less. 

How can universities maintain a high quality of email marketing, versus replying as quickly as possible? 

According to Francesca Fitzsimmons,  “AI is one option, using AI to draft responses and create email templates. The other is ensuring the content of your response is good enough so that students won’t mind too much if it takes a bit longer to arrive in their inboxes. 

For high-quality responses, think ahead to what students will want to know. Whether it is student success stories or a link to a YouTube short showcasing your campus, pre-empt the questions that will come next.”

Read more: AI in Email Marketing: One Step Closer to Democratizing Content.

8. Interactive Features Boosting Engagement

“Interactive content, such as quizzes, surveys, and videos, is becoming more popular in email marketing and will continue to shape email marketing in the future. This type of content can help to engage recipients and increase click-through rates.”

Aquibur Rahman, CEO, Mailmodo

Virtual Campus Tours Providing an Immersive Experience

Matias Rodsevich, CEO, of PRLab shares that “a distinctive trend observed in the higher education sector’s email marketing landscape is the emergence of virtual campus tours. 

Educational institutions are leveraging immersive technology and interactive multimedia to create virtual experiences that bring the campus to prospective students’ fingertips. Students can explore campus facilities and attend virtual lectures. This provides a convenient and accessible way to showcase the campus and gets people excited.”

Joe Troyer, CEO and Growth Advisor, Digital Triggers shared that his very own university clients have incorporated the interactive virtual campus tour within their email campaign that Matias Rodsevich shared about above.

The results?

As stated by Joe Troyer “This inclusion saw an impressive improvement in click-through rates and significantly bolstered enrollment numbers. In my opinion, the trend of interactive elements will continue to revolutionize email marketing in higher education.”

9. Emphasizing Career Outcomes in Emails

“As the owner of a marketing agency specializing in email marketing, I’ve noticed that emphasizing career outcomes has become a significant email marketing trend in the higher education sector. This is largely driven by the increasing need for a tangible return on investment in education. 

Prospective students and their families want assurance that the significant time, money, and effort spent on education will yield promising career prospects. A specific instance I’ve noted is universities highlighting alumni success stories in their email campaigns. These aren’t just generic successes, but detailed narratives highlighting how the university’s programs directly contributed to their alumni’s career growth. 

This effective strategy offers concrete evidence of career outcomes, increasing the value proposition and making the university more appealing to potential students.”

Josh “Snow” Elizetxe, Founder, Customer Feedback

Start implementing these Trends with Beefree

Implementing new strategies and staying ahead of the trends doesn’t have to be hard. Beefree offers users the latest features to ensure your higher education email campaigns are optimized for conversion, stay on brand, and never get boring. With access to 1,500+ customizable templates, AI integration, and a drag-and-drop editor that makes it easy to insert interactive elements, Beefree is the go-to email marketing tool for higher education. Don’t take our word for it, watch our latest webinar with the Minnesota State University, Mankato on why Beefree has become their tool of choice.

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Emily Santos
Emily Santos

Emily Santos is a Content Specialist with experience as a Brand Strategist and Designer.