How university marketers can score a 60% open rate



“Donate now to the Senior Class Fund!"
“An urgent message from the Dean of Students"
“Join us for the big game – tailgating, ticket info & more"
“MANDATORY Hall Meeting this Thursday!"

We often say that people live in their inboxes… but today's college students are inescapably tied to them. From August to May (and even in between!), they’re bombarded with time-sensitive emails from classmates, administrators, professors, and all kinds of campus organizations competing for their attention.

So university marketers face an incredibly daunting task when it comes to finding ways to cut through the noise. 


Overcoming obstacles to reach more students

Few people know the struggle of the university marketer quite as well as Brad Thompson, the Assistant Director of Student Activities at Texas Christian University. “My team organizes over 600 university events a year. We do regular programming in all of our residence halls as well as bigger events on Friday and Saturday nights. We want to provide students with fun, safe, and healthy things to do on the weekends so it’s easy for them to make good choices.”  

Though his mission is admirable, Brad faces a host of obstacles when it comes to getting the word out about the events he organizes.

“TCU isn't like a typical college campus where people are chalking on the sidewalk, passing out flyers, and putting posters everywhere. In an effort to keep our campus clutter-free, we aren’t allowed to do that. There aren’t a lot of ways to market in the traditional on-campus sense, so it becomes even more competitive to capture our students’ attention through the digital channels we are allowed to use.” 


The solution: A smarter email program

One of the primary methods Brad’s team uses to reach students is social media, but they recently felt a need to ramp us their efforts in other areas – like their email marketing program. 

“We've definitely wanted to do more robust email marketing for a very long time. We launched a beautiful, brand new website last year that we built from the ground up, and it’s been very effective in terms of how we get the word out to students on campus. We really wanted to bolster that through email marketing and do really attractive, quality email campaigns.”



Brad’s team would send out emails that were all text…. and they would maybe, occasionally include an image. All in all, they were very limited in what they could do. So he started investigating new options for their email service provider. 



Beautiful analytics from a beautiful partnership 

Brad initially found Emma through Dasheroo, one of our integration partners.

“Dasheroo is the system we use for tracking our metrics across different areas. Having all of our data in one place has been really, really crucial for us. We use it for web analytics, social media analytics, things like that, and we love being able to pull up all of our data anytime, anywhere."

"But the big piece that we’d been missing,” Brad explained, "was that we had absolutely no email analytics. We would send out an all-campus email to 10,000 people, and everyone would tell us, 'Nobody’s paying attention that!' And we had absolutely no data to prove whether or not that was true. So the fact that we could so easily pull our Emma email analytics into our Dasheroo dashboard was a huge sell for us."

Since getting on board with Emma just a few months ago, Brad now has the hard data to back up how incredibly effective his emails really are. “We had a beautiful custom template created to match our website, and our numbers have already been very strong. We regularly get a 60% open rate, which I’ve been told is really good. But really, it just gives me more ammunition to say, 'No, people are actually reading this. They’re interested in what we’re doing, and our content really works.”




Doing better marketing now and in the future 

Brad also loves the analytics he gets through his Response page. “It’s so great to be able to see what people are clicking on, what are they looking at, what’s interesting to them. Not only does it help us improve our emails – it also helps us tailor programs to better meet the needs and interests of our students. It’s been really interesting and really powerful for our team.” 



Based on his results so far, Brad is incredibly excited to see what all his team can do to amp up their marketing efforts in the future. 

"Our students are bombarded with emails; every college campus faces this. So we’ve really tried to do less of that, send fewer emails but have them be really attractive and beautiful – something that they’ll actually want to look at. And I guess it’s working thus far!"

“It just, again, proves that the content we’re putting out there is valuable to our students.  Now we’re having a lot of student groups ask for us to feature them, and it’s pushed our brand really far forward, which has been really amazing for us."


Want to see what Emma can do for your university? Learn more here

About the Author

McKenzie Gregory is a senior content manager on Emma’s marketing team. A Nashville native, she can be found covering all things email on the Emma blog, debating hyphenation rules, and watching obscene amounts of Netflix without a trace of shame.

More Content by McKenzie Gregory

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