During this live Q&A, our in-house experts will answer your burning questions, share best practices, and show off their favorite email examples from top universities. You’ll learn: • Successful email marketing strategies across university departments • Design tips to help your emails stand out in even the most crowded inbox • How real higher ed marketers are using the latest data to build effective campaigns Hashtag: #AUAUniversities
Jamie: Okay, all right. Hey, everyone. Thanks so much for joining us today for our presentation, “Ask Us Anything: University Edition.” Before we get started, a little housekeeping, we will send a version of today’s webinar out to everybody who registered. So, if you need to hop off, or if you just want to share this with everyone in your department, feel free. We’ll be sending that to your inbox soon. Also, this is called, “Ask Us Anything.” So, we do have a live Q&A going here. You’re muted throughout the presentation, but feel free to type questions into the GoToWebinar chat modal there. Also we’ve got a ton of amazing questions at registration as well. So, we’re going to try to do a nice mix of some of those, some of the new ones. So, don’t be shy, feel free. You can also tweet along, if you’d like, @emmaemail using the #EmmaAUA, so we can hear your voice and see what you have to say.
So, to get started, who is this person, this disembodied voice talking to you right now? I’m Jamie Bradley. I’m a content marketing strategist here at Emma. And that means I get to come in every day, and hopefully, help people send better emails with the content that we produce and send out to you guys. And I’m going to introduce my illustrious panel here starting actually, not in the order that’s on your screen, but the order that we’re sitting. Julia Bray-Gregory is at first?
Julia: Yes. Hi, everyone. I’m a client success manager here at Emma. And I work on an ongoing basis with our VIP clients, improving their email strategy, and helping them grow their results. Some of the folks I work with include Duke, Vanderbilt, MIT and the University of South Carolina.
Jamie: Wohoo. And Katie
Katie: And Katie. Hi, everyone. I’m Katie Rhode. I work on the university sales team. And I help universities get up and running with their Emma account.
Jamie: Perfect. And Lauren.
Lauren: Hi, everybody. I work on the university onboarding team, which means I work with universities for the first 90 days to make sure they’re getting up and running to reach success as quickly as possible.
Jamie: Absolutely. And she does a great job. Very excited, so, yeah. Obviously, we have a lot of dedicated resources to universities. Why is that? Well, we work with a lot of them. In fact, we work with 22 of the 25 schools featured in U.S. News and World Report’s annual ranking, which is awesome. We also just internationally, and in total, work with around 820 universities. So, clearly, we have a need to have a team of people that can help you guys and answer questions for you.
And one reason that we exist, why Emma has been around is that email is and has been, for as long as I’ve been working in this industry, an incredibly powerful channel for it doesn’t matter really what industry you’re in. But specifically, what you can get with the email if it’s done properly is a huge return on your investment. So, somewhere in the ballpark of $38 to $40-ish for every dollar spent. And those are just industry averages. Those aren’t specific to universities, but those numbers are have been stable at that point for some time.
And so, in the university space specifically, it’s worth noting that we actually hear Emma have a couple of different account types. So, universities, some have one direct account with us, maybe one department just has an account, or you actually can have a parent account for the university itself with multiple-tiered sort of sub-accounts underneath per department or different schools. So, just to sort of like, if we, at any point, mentioned tiered accounts or direct accounts during the webinar, we are referencing sort of a tiered model that is appropriate for a lot of our university audiences.
And, yeah, so, just to give you guys some background there. So, now we’re going to hop into kind of a short little presentation. Before we get to your questions, though, to show you some examples, and hopefully spark some discussion that might be kind of nice, so…
Not all university emails are created equal. We know that there are lots of moving parts when it comes to marketing for a university. For instance, you on the line today, you may be in charge of everything on behalf of your school, or you might be siloed completely in your department and not have full control over the experience in totality.
So, you’re doing marketing only for… it doesn’t matter. So, I’m going to turn it over to Katie now. And we’re going to look at really the top four most common areas though of the university marketing that we do work with. And chances are, you fall probably somewhere into one of these categories. So, let’s take a look.
Katie: Yeah. So, first step is the development/alumni relations crew. So, we know, you know, that alumni relations and development teams are often working hand in hand sharing list. It’s a lot of the same people that you’re reaching out to. So, it’s definitely important for you to understand what your subscribers are interested in, and we’ll talk a little bit about this later.
But re-engagement campaigns, of course, are fantastic. We talk about that every time someone gets up and running. But there are some really easy ways to let your subscribers tell you what they’re most interested in. So, this is a really good example of that. Let’s say you have a list of alumni, we’ve segmented that by people maybe who have not yet donated. So, that doesn’t mean that they’re not interested in donating, maybe they just need a little bit of a different nurturing path. So, you send them a fundraising campaign. And by using our branching logic, you can actually automate emails to fire only when the subscribers show interest in making a donation to your school. And that’s by either opening or clicking through that fundraising campaign.
Katie: That way you can nurture interested alumni, but you’re not really bothering those people that maybe aren’t quite ready to give just yet. And you’ll actually be able to further segment your audience based on those campaign results. So, that’s always a really great way to go.
Jamie: Absolutely. And just as we start because this is the first example, another thing that this is doing is it’s a great mobile-optimized email. So, every email that leaves Emma is mobile-optimized. And that means that if it looks on a phone, it’s going to size appropriately, these two little columns at the bottom will stack on top of each other neatly in nicely, and that beautiful sort of anchoring image at the top sort of takes up that piece of real estate. Also, they’re using buttons here, which we’ll get into some more mobile design tips as we go further, but over half of all emails open first on mobile devices now. So, it’s important. So if you hear us mentioned that multiple times, or if you have specific questions about how to do that better, that’s pretty important. So, we’ll chat about that as we go through this today.
Katie: Yeah. And so, next up is admissions. Excuse me. That’s another common area for us. And admissions are really doing a lot of different things, so from catching prospective students with an inquiry form on your website, on automating and nurturing series-based off of that form fill out, to greeting new students with a welcome to campus series. Admissions departments have a ton of opportunities to use email automation as well. And despite what you may think, you can actually get a really personalized touch with that even though you’re not directly replying to an email, tone those out.
Jamie: So, yeah. And this specific examples from the University of Alabama in Huntsville, and what they do is they send every potential grad student who inquires…who essentially fills out a form and provides their email, a three-part automated welcome series outlining nicely what the steps are along the way and really driving them through that process. So, each email is written by recruiter, Midori Maloney, and recipients are invited to reach out to Midori directly by phone or email, you know, should they have any additional questions throughout the process, etc. So, it puts a really nice personal spin on the entire experience. But she’s able to scale that in a way that she would never be able to do truly individually. And it’s gotten really huge results for them. Once they implemented this, they saw a 61.8% open rate, which fun fact is incredibly high industry averages depending on the industry and what you’re sending can be…hover somewhere between 20 and 30% for opens? And, of course, that can change depending on who you’re targeting. But yeah, a really hyper-targeted personal, well-segmented and automated email can get some crazy results. Yeah. And directly attribute to, in this case, more applications, which was awesome for them. Student Life Department.
Katie: Student life has a little bit different of a feel.
Jamie: It does. Yeah. And this is why we wanted to sort of show all of the spectrum here. Obviously, when you’re, you know, marketing to students versus parents or faculty. The design can be a huge asset to really set the tone and get in front of your audience in the right ways.
So, getting students actively involved in campus activities is critical to ensuring that they have a great college experience and that people want to keep coming to your college, right? So Student Life Departments, they have so many things going on at once, especially during those first few weeks of school, and those inboxes are crazy crowded. So, what I love about this is the design is great because it’s very image heavy.
And also for, Generation Z, and millennials, and all that stuff, by and large, they’re not reading. It’s the Instagram generation. And the majority of people are not reading an email word for word, they’re merely scanning. And so, this is a great example of sort of taking what we know about how humans are interacting, they’re on their phones.
And also recall is better. I can remember things better when text is paired with images. So, I’m going to remember Anjelah Johnson’s name. How can I forget that name? Because it’s layered right there and it’s right by your face and I’m seeing it. One thing that’s important to notice if you are going to layer a text over images in this way, make sure that if you size that image down on onto a cell phone, and you can do this, just test it look at it on your own phone. That’s easiest way. If you size it down, make sure that text is still legible, they’re still able to read it.
Also make sure that if you are going to design an email like this, you’re using alternative text, which means if all these images are blocked, which could have a higher chance of happening maybe in a university setting. Make sure that there’s text back behind that image so it says, “Picture of Anjelah Johnson. Buy a ticket.” Or it says something and the meaning isn’t lost and those images get stripped out, so…
Katie: Yeah. So, another big area for us is athletics. And Julia, I’ll let her jump in a little bit here as well since she works directly with Duke. But design, of course, is super important. I love this one because it’s really pretty simple, but yet it’s really powerful. So, that hero image right up at top, I absolutely love that. Of course it links out to the most important things that we want those subscribers to do, which is to check out the schedule and to purchase tickets.
Julie: And what I love about this is that Duke has so many really great and recognizable personalities across the campus. So, using those football players and the coach below it’s going to really resonate with the audience across the Duke subscriber base.
Jamie: Totally. And it’s important to note to this is just their template. So obviously, you see it says main headline style and it has some fake text here. So, this is what that email looks like. Now this template stretches too much, fit all of their content. And there’s some really cool stuff going on in this mailing.
First and foremost, we’ve got that, again, awesome graphic at the top with these recognizable figures. We’ve got some different sort of bulleted items there that really help break up that content. And again, people are skimming and scanning. And those buttons, as Katie noted, are just… they’re always there. That’s the most important thing. When you scroll down, the first thing you’re going to see are these great buttons. It’s also interesting to note that buttons are much more tappable on a mobile device. So, calls to action in button form get a higher response rate than just a text link.
So that’s kind of fun. The other thing is that they’re using video. So, one of their image, or actually, all four of those images are video. And as you can see, the staff there, including video in an email can increase your click rates by 300%. So, you should do it if you have videos. And it’s important to note as well, these are just images with play buttons layered over them that click out to a video on the page, preferably page where you could also buy tickets. So, this video is not playing. It’s nothing too fancy. It’s just a picture to a video, so pretty cool.
So, we’ve already been talking about design, but we’re going to talk about it some more, because it’s vitally important. Really here at Emma, we do believe that the first order of business, typically, once Katie’s done chatting with somebody, once they’re chatting with Lauren about how to get started, one of the first stops a lot of our new customers make is to our design department to get something like you saw from Duke or TCU. So, we’re going to look at some of our favorites now because it can really make or break the interaction and engagement that you have going on in these inboxes.
So, right out of the gate, Tufts School of Medicine. This is optimized for mobile. The res…obviously, here on the left, is a zoomed in version so you can see the content. Over on the right, that’s the entire mailing. And so, gone are the days of being afraid to have a longer mailing. What they’re doing really well though is that they have a focused sort of story that they’re telling. This is a newsletter. They really only have a few main articles they did. They’re not… It’s a nice one-column design as well, and they’re not linking out to too many things. There is a lot of text in this email. And I think that’s important to note that these are things that you learn by testing. This amount of text might not work for every audience. However, the Tufts University School of Medicine, it doesn’t hinder their rates. And so, it’s okay. We have a lot of clients across other industries, publishing industries where people read, perhaps these doctors at Tufts is actually reading this mailing. But they are also still clicking out to more information as well. So, it’s just a good example. And again, don’t be afraid to kind of embrace the scroll if you will, in those mobile environments.
Katie: I love this email because it’s a really great example of a general use template and it’s a really great place to start as you come on board. And as you build out your communication strategy, you can really start to customize this and really make the layout personalized based on how you are messaging. And if social is a huge push for you all, I love that at the footer they have that built-in hashtag so that that’s always going to be at the forefront for every single message.
Jamie: It’s personal and professional. It’s nice. Yeah. So, here we have the University of Michigan Medical School Office of Admissions. And this is their template, or one of their templates. As we just saw, the last example was kind of that general use. This is something a little bit more specific.
So, built right into the template is a sign off from Carol Teener the director of Admissions. And they are just setting expectation that every time you receive this message, it’s going to be from her, it’s going to have her face on it, and it’s signed in that piece of it is already taken care of. They don’t have to build that out every single time, and it just creates some nice consistency in the inbox that’s also really great if you’re sending really targeted types of mailings that are from a specific person.
And Oklahoma City University School of Law. I love this because this is the template style that, honestly, we love here at Emma on our marketing team. We send out a newsletter, actually, bi-monthly called “Good News” that has lots of different articles in it. And we sort of follow a really similar format. So, right here at the top, you’ve got the nice anchoring logo. It’s the first thing that I see. You’ve also got these great big buttons at the top that are always going to be there, they say, “Home, Give, Alumni.” Those are the three places that they want you to obviously go. Those are the most important.
And then they create some nice hierarchy with their stories. So, they’ve got a feature story that takes up all the space and that sort of hero image area. And then down below, they’ve got some four little wells for smaller bits of content. And again, on a mobile device, all of the stacks really, really nicely, and kind of creates that one-column effect because kind of gone are the days of sending out an email that has three, four columns like a paper newsletter from days of yore. So, moving towards one column, if you can, is the wave of the future. So, this is just a great example.
All right, so those were some of our favorite designs. But now we’re going to look at just different types of mailings and different types of campaigns that we recommend that you should be doing or that we see a really popular with our university audiences.
So, what we’re looking at here, because it was too difficult to show you how many emails are in this series. This is a screenshot from the University of Virginia School of Law, and they have a 13-part welcome series. So, when we talk about welcome emails, so a welcome email is just that first automated touch that someone gets when they give you information. A 13-part one is pretty ambitious and pretty awesome and has a lot of moving parts to it, but it’s totally possible. And for them, it works.
Most people who send a welcome series of emails might do three or four as we talked about University of Alabama Huntsville, they only have three in that, touch points from Midori. But a welcome series, if one email can increase long-term brand engagement by as much as 33%, a series just keeps fostering that. So, it also allows you to only have really one bit of data, which is an email address at minimum, to have a strategic touch points that are completely automated and preset and do something really powerful regardless of what department that you represent. So, series are great. We recommend them, and we are happy to help people set those up.
Katie: Yeah, so another really popular campaign type is a re-engagement campaign. So, I’m talking about this almost every day with new customers. So, some people come in and they say, “We have a really large list, but we really don’t have that much information on them, the people that we’re sending these campaigns to.”
So, a great thing to do when you’re getting up and running is to start out and send out an email that says, maybe even just saying, “We’ve switched providers, here’s why it’s going to be better. And here’s why it’s important for us to have that additional information on you.” So, you’re basically asking them to give you fields of data that tell you what they’re interested in. So, Duke also does a really great job of targeting their audience based on some of the information that they’ve gathered on their end, and this is a really good example of that from their Iron Dukes program. So, they see some really great engagement rates just in general, but specifically, when they target people in a specific way, they’re seeing some really great open rates and clickthrough rates.
Jamie: And obviously when we looked at a newsletter a moment ago, but newsletters… people ask all the time, they’re like, “Oh, should I only send one targeted mailing?” Newsletters are definitely not dead, but I do think the way that you do them should come into the modern age. So, this is a really great one from the University of Minnesota Golden Gophers, which I just love. And again, one-column design, some hierarchy. The most important thing, “We’re going to the Final Four,” that’s big news. goes up at the top. And then they’ve selectively included just a few articles, they go underneath that.
And it’s important to note, too, with this example, though they only have one big button that’s a call to action, I love the other call to actions that are text links. And it’s important to note that those are text links, even it’s those are okay to use. But just make sure that they’re sized up at least 16 pixels, if not more, maybe bolded. You see, they put an arrow beside the “Read More” and “More Info,” ” Watch now.” They’re using nice actionable language. And again, newsletters are great, but just think of how to sort of bring them into the mobile age.
Katie: Yeah, I really like this one, too, because you see they have a couple of different self-selecting areas there where it says, “More Info,” Read More,” or “Watch Now.” So, those might not seem like super important clicks to watch, but if somebody is consistently saying they’re clicking the “Watch Now” button, or maybe you start to create a segment of people, if that becomes a big audience that is more image-based or a more video-based. So, it allows people to just kind of self-select what they’re interested in and you can use that data.
Jamie: Absolutely. And that is a great thing to also do in a welcome series, you can… Your third or fourth email can actually feature something like this that has multiple paths. And based on what people click, you can start to, like Katie said, put them into different segments and start really figuring out how to target them, especially if you don’t have very much information about those people. So, it’s a very good point.
This is awesome as well. This is just an invitation and this is a template that we created. But oftentimes people, I think, do kind of overlook that email is a fantastic place to do that, or they think they need to use some other system. And this is just a great way to take all the awesome data that you ultimately will gather and have in your email account, and combine that with just a great experience.
And we really, really loved, structurally, it… Again, you see that big button, “See The Hotel Block.” And then I love the, “3 Things All Great Alumni Do,” little 1, 2, 3 section at the bottom. And I believe that’s just built in all the time into this template. So, no matter what they’re sending, no matter what they’re inviting someone to, they’re able to have this kind of fun listicle, if you will. That sort of tells you what, give us some money. That’s what good alumni do, right? They get involved, they show up. So this is a great example.
And we just included this one because I like an email with a hot cocoa in it. And again, it really just illustrates that you can send something. I mean, this still feel so much nicer, you’ve got this the text layered up with the image in a really smart way. It’s got a little opaque or semi-opaque squares so that you can still read it. And it’s just a nice sort of tasteful way no pun intended to welcome people back to school. So, it’s a good email.
All right, so this transition, bear with me here, no, The Escape Game is not taking applications or admissions to school, but this is a nice point to sort of chat through. Katie?
Jamie: There’s a lot chat through, what we are seeing here.
Katie: Absolutely. So, we typically like to give a lot of university examples, we’re doing demonstrations, and talking about getting you set up for success. But ultimately, what you’re doing is competing with a student’s entire inbox. So, a lot of times that’s retail, if it’s anything like my inbox. And ultimately, retail is doing the absolute best, and their goal is always going to sell you something. And that’s just a call to action that they kind of have to have. So, they’re really, really focused on email marketing and doing that really beautiful and really well. The Escape Game, in particular, has this really locked in, and they do some fantastic things with dynamic headers and that type of thing that Jamie can chat through a little bit.
Jamie: Yeah. So, what you’re seeing here, they’re just using our dynamic content feature, essentially, to create one email, so, it’s efficient, with three different headers, essentially, and three different wells of featured games. You see that those do change slightly depending on the location. And for them, it’s just location-based. This is a really easy thing. I think they could translate into the university space. And this could be different schools within your own university. This could be different campuses entirely. And you know, that this is just sort of built into this one mailing. The other thing that I love about this as well is that it’s really easy to scan, it’s really easy to… really not read this email and still gather what they’re wanting you to do.
And so, specifically, not only is this dynamic content that they’re employing, it was also automated. So, once someone attended or I guess escaped, assuming they made it out, they received an email from The Escape Game that basically is asking them to book again. So, a way that this could translate to the university space perhaps it’s about giving, giving back. If someone makes a donation, then perhaps they’re very engaged and you want to ask them to do a secondary thing, but maybe you want to do that in a separate mailing. There’s probably tons of different ways that you could employ the same mechanism of automating a process. If someone submits something, then you follow up to get them to do that, that action again, buy tickets again.
And since implementing this workflow, they’ve actually gotten around a 40% open rate for these, and they’ve seen over 200 repeat bookings and this has only been live for about a month and a half. So, that was their goal. And it’s just a very focused way to get those in boxes. And again, to Katie’s point, you’re not competing with other universities, you’re competing as…especially once they’re there, once they’re in and paying, you’re really competing with The Escape Game, and Macy’s, and whoever else is sending me messages.
And our last example before we hop into the Q&A is also not a university, and you’re probably really competing because I’m just daydreaming about going back to Hotel Havana, where I went over the holidays. But on the left-hand side, what you see here, these are different hotels. And I was enticed and clicked on the picture down there at the very bottom of Hotel Havana. This is a great email example as well again, sparse texts, letting the images really sell me on the experience. Universities, you guys, a lot of you have a wealth of, especially a Student Life and those kind of services, you have amazing visual assets to play with. And so, use those.
And so basically, I clicked on Hotel Havana, and then a few days later, it sent me a reminder saying, “Hey, it’s still available. You still haven’t booked.” And so, this is a very simple click-based automated trigger that we don’t, unfortunately, see a lot of our university partners doing, but I think that it could be a really powerful tool. There’s countless ways that that you could do this at your university.
Katie: And if any of that’s intimidating, if the dynamic content piece of it feels like too much, there’s people like Julia that are experts in this that can help out and help get you up and running with these types of triggered events and things like that.
Jamie: Yeah, absolutely. And to that point too, The Escape Game that was something. They came to us with a goal and that was completely a conversation that they had with a services specialist on our end, and a designer, and multiple people. So, we’re all in this together, you guys. All right. So ask us anything. Here we go. You guys are ready?
Jamie: All right. I’m just going to jump right in because we didn’t cover this in the content. Courtney wants to know, “What are some of the latest trends that you guys are seeing in just writing effective subject lines? Are there things that are different in the university space that might not be true… might be different from non-university subject lines?”
Katie: I have seen a lot of emojis in subject lines, which I know we talked a lot about. One of our recent mailings that went out from Emma contained one and I really loved it. I was into it.
Jamie: One where this was split test. And that one won by an overwhelming majority, actually. So, fun fact.
Katie: And there you go.
Lauren: Inside scoop?
Katie: Yeah. So, I’ve seen a lot of trends in that, keeping it kind of simple and almost having the call to action in that subject line so that people know what they’re reading about, especially if you’re starting with kind of a big master list that hasn’t sort of self-selected their areas of interest. That’s always really important.
Jamie: Cool. All right, so there you have it. And also just being mindful of the link, the girl that cried mobile optimization. But you want to make sure that your subject line is going to look on mobile devices. It’s not gonna get cut off, and iPhones can cut off somewhere between 32 and 34 characters. So, just be mindful of the length of your subject line. It’s more about what you have to say not how much you have to say in that subject lines space.
Lauren: You also wanna make sure you’re not just being super generic. If you’re talking to students more and more often, I would lean toward the emoji. If you’re talking to faculty of the medical school, maybe talk about it in a different way. But be specific to the audience you’re talking about. And the less generic, the more they know exactly what they’re gonna be getting when they open the email, the more likely they’re going to open the email.
Julia: Yeah, and I think pre-header text can help with that as well. Just a little bit of the tease of content. A lot of people don’t use that. And I think it’s a really powerful tool.
Jamie: Yeah. And just for those of you who may not know, pre-header text is that sort of lighter gray text when you’re looking at a mobile inbox that shows up underneath the bolder subject line. So, it’s those kind of three to four lines that supplement the subject line. And we often audit our own customers, when they come on board and sort of advise them to sort of make sure that doesn’t say, “If you’re having trouble viewing this email,” or some other bit of information, that’s kind of stock and doesn’t add value to that experience in the inbox.
So good stuff. All right, let’s look at a new question. Let’s see. Let’s take a live one. Let’s see. Let’s look. “Can the panel address the use of the forward to a friend feature? Are there…is there a large use case to…are people forwarding email to a friend? Does that something that commonly as wanted to do or done?
Katie: Yeah. So, Julia can probably speak to what people are doing from here on out, and I talked about it quite a bit on the frontend. And specifically, when you’re thinking about people that are actually kind of doing your marketing for you by using that forward to a friend feature or share to mobile, really kind of taking that audience out, and maybe sending them a thank you note, or coupon to the bookstore, or something is a really great idea. I mean, they’re doing your job for you.
Julia: And I think what’s important is if that is a priority and a strategy for you, then make sure that the content that you’re providing is really relevant and speaks to that person so that that’s a really shareable piece of content that they want to market on behalf of your company or university.
Jamie: Yeah, absolutely. And actually, we just got a question from Lisa who wants to know, “What kind of designs do you find most effective for Generation Z?” Oh, I feel so old, I’m like, “We’re Z now? That’s crazy. “
Julia: What’s next?
Julia: I know. And I can kind of, this is Jamie, I can kind of take a lead on that. When it comes to design, I think that TCU example that we showed that Student Life example, those sort of bold colors, more images with text layered over them, not a ton of copy generally. Everything’s just sort of right-sized and fun and fluid. And you’re seeing that more and more again, and I said sort of the Instagram generation, all that I’ve read about design for generations is really look at the places where they’re spending time. They’re on Snapchat. I mean, it’s…they’re on Instagram. They are places that are image only, almost zero text, or it’s like meme text that’s four characters.
So, really taking cues from where that generation is spending their time and airing on the side of images, animated GIFs, again, video, all of those things are proven just generally, regardless of generation, to lift clickthrough rates and engagement with your mailing. So, I would say those would be my tips to get to the kids.
All right. Ah, so this actually, this reminds me of kind of where Lauren was going earlier. So, Karen asked, “I put together a faculty/staff newsletter and have a hard time getting faculty to read it. Our staff members read regularly though. Would appreciate any tips to better hook the faculty audience.” So, what do you guys think about sort of the staff versus faculty breakdown? What can Karen do or try?
Lauren: I mean, I think that it’s a really important question to think about. Again, within Emma, you’re using our tools to segment your audiences. So you can segment separately faculty and staff. I’ve got friends that work at in Student Life at Vanderbilt and they’re reading differently than my sister who is a faculty member at the University of Washington Tacoma. So, she’s not looking for animated GIF, she’s looking for research articles. So, you want to make sure that your content is different, that you’re segmenting based on who you’re sending to, and be really specific, and using specific subject lines to gather their attention.
Katie: And I think that’s where testing comes into play a lot, too. So, medical school example we had earlier was very lengthy. Clearly, they had tested their audience and determine that that’s something they’re actually going to read all the way through. So, if you’re looking at your response data, and maybe you’re seeing that kind of heatmap to show clicks, if they’re making it all the way to the bottom of that, well, then that works. So, just continue to test that out, kind of those short blurbs with the Read More links versus those longer content pieces can be really helpful as you’re deciding what to send.
Lauren: And really do pay attention to your response data for the emails that you’re sending out, because you can check and see who is clicking on what, and you can look at a specific link in your response data, and build a segment from that.
Jamie: Absolutely. And I think that’s great advice, I mean, testing and really look… We didn’t get into response data too much. So if you have more questions, please lay them on us. But it is such a vital piece of a healthy email program. You’re not sending the stuff for your health. A lot of you, unless you work in Student Health Services, that it’s for their health. But you’re sending these emails, every email should have a goal, and it should be really clear. And so, that’s the thing too, your calls to action, what the mailings purposes should be really clear before you ever hit the send button. And really, everything else kind of will fall out pretty easily from there, like the subject line, and the audience, and all that jazz.
So, Matt has a question, is kind of long. You guys also I’d love to point out, the university audience, you guys have been most articulate Q&A submissions I’ve ever read. I should not be shocked, but it’s fantastic. So, Matt wants to know, “I was wondering what advice you have for colleges that have to disseminate a lot of information from a lot of different sources. I work at the undergraduate college and we’re communicating about academics, social initiatives, professional development, global opportunities, service opportunities, university-wide events, etc. I notice MSNs are very short, single-action targeted emails. Our approach has been streamline as much content into one email newsletter, so we don’t overwhelm our students inboxes. But I wanted to ask your advice on how to handle communicating about different types of content to varying audiences. Thanks so much.” So, yeah, Go ahead, Katie.
Katie: Yeah. So, there’s a couple of different things here, Matt, well, and everybody else.
Jamie: It’s a great question. It covers a lot of ground.
Katie: It does. It covers a lot of ground that Jamie can talk to you just kind of how what Emma sends out and why we maybe do that kind of single-action targeted mailing. But there’s a couple of different, I think, ways that you could set this up. So, whether it’s managing those different initiatives like social initiatives, professional development, as different groups within your audience, and maybe sending a little bit more targeted messages all the way up to separating those out into separate accounts, or in Emma, would be separate sub-accounts underneath one umbrella. That way, if somebody signed up to receive some more information about professional development and global opportunities, and they no longer want to talk about global opportunities, they could opt out of that, but remain on that professional development list. So, it allows you to separate those out a little bit.
Another feature that’s also really helpful, of course, is using a kind of calendar view of what’s going out. So, if you don’t want to try to cram all of it into one mailing so as not to overwhelm, you can kind of space those out, schedule your mailing so that there isn’t a ton of overlap, and especially if you’re working with a team of people, you know, everyone has a little bit of visibility into that calendar so that we’re not doing too much to these people in process, but also sending them relevant information that they’re interested in.
Jamie: Absolutely. So, Betsy has a question and I can kind of take a stab at this. “So, I’ve always been told that it’s better not to layer text or images in case the students have their images turned off in the email client, can you comment on this?”
So in that TCU example, the one that I keep referencing, the Student Life example, that’s why it’s vitally important. So, absolutely, if those images are blocked, you want to make sure, again, that you have alternative text. In Emma, if you’re creating the email in our editor, that’s actually an option the moment you upload any graphic no matter what it is. If you upload a picture, there’s a little text area where you can just directly type in and hit save, and it’s done for you. So, if those images do not show up for some reason, they’re going to be able to see them.
I would also say though, my guess would be if the student is engaged and looking at emails they probably have already, if they’re looking, let’s say in Gmail, they’ve probably already said, “Yes, I’ll accept images from the sender.” So, you also… You guys, I feel like I have a great advantage with your audiences, because it is such a direct relationship both mentally, financially, physically, they’re on your campus, that kind of thing. So, I think you got leg up.
Julia: And I think that’s another opportunity to just be really transparent with the audience that you’re sending to. So, when we talk about re-engagement campaigns, or if you switch providers and you kind of want to a little bit of a refresh, you could even say, “This is kind of what you’re subscribed to, and for best experience, you know, click this little turn on images,” or whatever it might be.
You’re able to see in the response data in Emma opens by client. So, you’re able to see, “Oh, there’s a ton of Gmail openers.” So, maybe you want to send a message that targets that audience in particular. So, I think it’s okay to be really transparent and especially as you’re doing some of that re-engagement opportunity.
Jamie: Totally. So, Catherine has a question, she says…or she has statement and followed by a question. “I put it together a student newsletter that goes out to every student on campus twice a week. How important do you think it is for us to personalize certain sections based on a student’s preferences, major, grade level, etc? We usually provide general campus news reminders and deadlines, but I wonder if more personalization will help boost engagement on campus.”
Katie: Personalization, I feel like that’s kind of have been a common theme throughout this whole webinar, is making sure that the content that you’re sending out is incredibly relevant to your subscribers. So, there are definitely different opportunities where you can use features in Emma like the personalization tag, or you can get really sophisticated with dynamic content and display different images and call to actions based on what your student is in the process of their major or their grade level. You can also just send different emails if the content really is varying based on those different…that their lifecycle within the university.
Jamie: Totally. And sort of piggybacking on that, Jonathan wants to know, “Are personalized tags and subject lines also effective?” What are your thoughts there?
Julia: I think they’re really effective. I’m sure there’s, you know, I know there’s stats behind that. But even just for me in my own personal inbox that stands out. I mean, there are days where I’d forget to check my Gmail and all of a sudden I’m looking at 30 different subject lines. Well, if one of them has my name in it, I mean, it’s not necessarily a trick, but I’m thinking it’s from a friend. Let me jump into that. There might be something that’s more important than this J. Crew pair of pants. I don’t know. I’ve never bought pants from J. Crews. I don’t like the way they fit. But yes, I mean, I think that definitely helps to jump out ahead of all those things in the inbox because there can be so much at times.
Jamie: Absolutely. And I was going to say, too, I feel like what we’ve seen is that obviously adding personalization tags in the subject line can be effective. As Katie said, it’s sort of like someone yelling your name in a crowded room, but I think also we just sort of organically thinking of, “Here’s a segment, what’s a subject line that’s relevant to this entire segment?” So, taking it even beyond just name personalization and really making that subject line match the content, and that content is matching the person, you know, having all those things kind of work together. We’ve gotten to Julia’s point like so far in there being multiple ways to personalize one email from top to bottom.
Julia: One thing is just make sure that your data is up-to-date, you’re gonna be using it.
Lauren: Yeah, on that note, make sure your data is up-to-date. Also, make sure if you’re using personalization that you’re using a placeholder just in case the information is not there. And another thing to think about is…I get a lot of questions on my onboarding calls about, how do you think X, Y, or Z is going to do something?
Think about how you would want it done. Speaking sort of to Katie’s point, like, if something’s going to work for you, it’s probably going to work for other people. There is psychology behind it. There is personal interactions with people. So, just ask questions of your recipients, send out emails, look at your response data, and just continue to be really vigilant on what you’re doing, and paying attention to the specific tactics that you’re using.
Jamie: Awesome advice. So, Alyssa [SP] has a question. “If we could devote resources to just one thing…” I love the way this is written by the way, it’s like a multiple choice question or an essay. I hope we pass. “If we could devote resources to just one thing, then which of these should we work on first? A, more emails to keep our name in the prospect’s mind, B, better content to feed personalized emails, e.g. major or interest-specific, or C, bolder visuals, e.g. animated GIFs, infographics. What are your…what’s your hot take there, guys?
Katie: Can I put that on a priority list?
Jamie: Yes, please.
Julia: Because they’re all important.
Katie: Yes, they’re all important. I would start with better content. I mean, content marketing these days is absolutely necessary, [crosstalk 00:44:28] especially if you’re talking to students. They are exposed to so many different pieces of content, and the more relevant you are, the more impactful you’re going to be. So, start with better content, and then probably from there, work down to the bolder visuals like animated GIFs and infographics because that’s just going to make your emails that much more engaging and beautiful. Who doesn’t like that? And then the more emails thing is kind of tricky because more emails doesn’t exactly equal better engagement. So, just keep an eye on your frequency and you can track that using the compare mailings feature in Emma. And just make sure that the frequency matches the expectations that you want out of your open rates.
Jamie: Absolutely. All right, so Jill has a question, “We’re careful about the language were using and our image-to-text ratio, but we’re experiencing spam issues. We are getting filtered into spam folders, even our own. What are some tips for reducing the likelihood of getting filtered into spam?”
Katie: I would definitely start, if you’re sending internally, one thing that I… the first thing that you need to do is whitelist. That way that your internal servers are recognizing that while, yes, your email address is technically from your university, it’s coming from Emma’s server and domain. So, just make sure to send whitelisting information over to your IT department to get that going.
Jamie: Absolutely. And let’s look here. Oh, here’s a good one. This is just sort of a poll, I guess, “Out of the universities that you work with, are many of them integrating Emma with their CRMs? Is that common? Do you see that becoming more common?”
Julia: Yeah. So, I can speak to that a little bit. We definitely do see a lot of people using integrations. We like to talk on the frontend about what’s important. Most of the time, it’s just a time management thing. So, we can help you with the system that we have called Client Connect, pass that information from your CRM over to Emma. Sometimes that’s the single source of truth, several people are pulling information from that list. So, we can definitely help you do that if you don’t have the IT resources on your side. We’re happy to make that connection.
But, yeah. I think a lot of people are doing that. Like I said, people are marketing, communication teams, a lot of times they’re helping you to maintain that information in the CRM, may be dropping some of their own information in it. So, if that’s where you’re pulling your list from, of course, it’s always really important for that to be up-to-date in Emma so that you can personalize your messages based on that information you’ve gathered.
Jamie: Awesome. And Crystal wants to know, “What do you think is the most common reason emails get low clickthrough rates? One of our biggest challenges is having our audience alumni register for events even though we have a decent open rates.” So, the classic… It’s hard to keep them both. It’s like you get a great open rate, maybe your clicks go down. You get a great click rate, maybe your opens are low. So, how do we help Crystal with better click rates for her alumni?
Katie: If you’re asking your folks to register for events, I think the number one thing is making sure that you are localizing that content. So, if it’s a local event, you want to make sure that they’re aware that it’s in their city and they don’t have to travel. That’s probably a big reason why people might not want to register for an event.
But also what I would recommend is you may think that you’re getting low clickthrough rates, but what you should do is baseline that low clickthrough rate, or the click rate that you’re currently seeing, and continually work to build on getting higher clickthrough rates. So, things like bringing the call to action button higher up in the design, or testing the different ways that you’re asking for people to register for your event.
Jamie: And, well, and even just the language. First and foremost, if you’re not using calls to action or call to action buttons, and you have an email with 100 small text links like that’s an easy place to start.The same thing with like some of the visual hierarchy. When you view this, is it apparent that the most important thing is to register for this event? And even just the language that you use, maybe on that button, is it actionable? Is it direct? Is it in the first person? If you read it, it’s not just, “Sign up.” It’s, “Do this,” like, “Get get my tickets now,” something like that that might be a little bit more enticing. And those are great tests to try out to.
Katie: Yeah, I think we just keep going back to test, test, test. But really, when you’re looking at maybe, not just for these event emails, but for just your emails overall, finding that one thing that really is resonating with people. So, I keep going back to videos, those tend to really resonate with just about everybody.
And actually, we’ve seen some stats in repositioning your call to action buttons around some of those most popular links. So, if that is videos for you, or whatever other piece of content you have, maybe just including that in the event registration as well, and then positioning the call to action button there. But for sure testing those things side by side, you may see just a tiny bit of an increase and you can iterate off of that.
Lauren: It’s also important to think, again, through your response data. I really like response. Looking at the people who are consistently not opening your emails and either are suppressing them, or frankly, removing them, that’s okay. It’s okay to manage your list in a way that’s going to help you get the best results.
Katie: Yeah, I think that’s a really great point. And Julia might have some more info on this. But using the suppression piece of it just to give people a little bit of a break. If there’s a really low clickthrough rate, and maybe a subscriber hasn’t clicked at all, or stopped opening, something like that, creating a segment for that and then suppressing that segment is always a really good idea.
And again, with the transparency falling back up and saying, “Hey, we’ve noticed that you haven’t clicked on the specific link, or whatever it is. And then just making sure they’re still interested in giving them an option to manage their preferences with this is a really great idea.
Jamie: Totally. And Ellen has a question, and I think that it fits nicely with what you just said. Ellen’s a little fuzzy on what the difference between groups and segments. And this is a bit of an Emma-specific question, but I also think that it can be more generalized regardless of what you use. So can we… She said, “We seem to be creating and saving a lot of segments and downloading groups continually. If a group is updated, does the data in a segment also update?” So, just lots of questions there. So, how do we distinct…like determine what’s a group and what’s a segment and when should you use them, basically?
Julia: Sure, I can kind of speak to that a little bit. So, groups you’ll think of, and again, this is probably just a nomenclature thing across platforms. But groups you’ll think of as those bigger kind of static lists, so, Class of 2014, School of Pharmacy, that type of thing. And then segments are dynamic, and those will update automatically. And those are based off of any field of data that you’ve brought into Emma through your CRM, or just a simple upload, and they’re also based on response data as well. So, you can get really granular with this in Emma, and you can say, “Okay, show me everybody who’s in the class of 2014, their favorite color is green, and they’ve opened an email within the last six months.” So, it allows you to be really, really targeted in that way. And again, those are dynamic. So, those will update as people are being added into that. You have frequently open segment or last-opened email, what have you.
Katie: Also something else that’s important about segments is that while people are also they’re being pulled in if they fit that criteria, people will also be pulled out if they no longer fit that criteria, which is great.
Jamie: And then that speaks to having that clean data that allows you to do really cool stuff and test.
Lauren: And speaking of the last part of the question here, if the group is updated, does it update the data in the segment? Each email address has its own unique contact record. And so, that exists in your account only one time regardless of how many groups or segments that person is in. So, yes, as you add information to a specific person, that’s going to be everywhere in the account for that person.
Jamie: Awesome. Perfect, that was a nice refresher for myself.
Julia: Jamie, you can use her Emma account for awhile.
Katie: One other thing I just wanted to add to that really quickly, if I can. One thing that I’ve seen a lot of universities get up and running with after just being with us maybe even a couple of months is asking our services team to do a performance workshop with them. So, and Julia’s done these too, I’m sure, with her customers as well. But taking a deep dive into the strategy, what response data you’ve seen, and offering areas of improvement. So, that’s really kind of changed the game for people that maybe just have been kind of mass blasting, it’s Jamie’s favorite word, out to their audiences. So, that’s always an option as well if you need a little bit of help there.
Jamie: Absolutely. And so I think we have time probably for one more question. And I like this one, so I’m going to ask it because I’m asking the question. So Neil wants to know, “How much should you integrate email campaigns with social media, i.e. repeating email content on Facebook, for example? Would that kind of redundancy be a good thing?” So, what are our views on repurposing content?
Katie: I love it. Your audience might not be the same across your email list and in your Facebook followers. So, Emma makes it really easy for you to share that content with the emails that you send out. So, posting that on Facebook could actually even encourage more email sign ups, and sharing that content across multiple different platforms. So, I think the more, the better.
Julia: Yeah. I think that’s great. So, when you go to send and for Emma users, this will be familiar for you, but you do have that option to post to a social feeds. So, that links a online version of that mailing, which kind of operates like a landing page.
And then, of course, at the bottom of that, just like your mailings, there’s a signup form option. So, if I’ve shared that with my social follow, and Lauren sees that, she has an opportunity to go on there and actually sign up right from that as well. So again, people are doing your marketing for you. And I think that’s repurposing that content is really great.
Lauren: So also I would think about the redundancy, like, think about, you’ve seen commercials 1 million times, and you have song that’s stuck in your head. If I see it in the email, and then I see it on your Facebook, and then I see on Twitter, I’m going to continue to see this thing, then I know it’s going to stick with me and it’s something that’s important. So, I would lean toward being redundant.
Katie: Yeah, it helps to build a little bit of brand consistency as well. So, when you’re thinking about universities that have multiple departments, and they’re all kind of siloed doing their own thing, what’s nice is you can kind of bring that all together. So, you want to have that consistent brand feel across athletics, and alumni, and kind of everywhere that I may engage with the university.
Jamie: Absolutely. And as someone who produces content, it would be awesome if I knew that everyone listen to and read every word that I write and say, but the fact of the matter is they don’t. And the skimming and scanning, that’s not just happening in inboxes, that happens everywhere. So, I think the more [inaudible 00:56:23] everyone sort of made this point, but the more you can take a great piece of content that you spent time on, especially if it’s something that is, you know, it needs a guide or it’s something that is took some effort, of course, you want to put that in as many places as possible.
And also, you could take one piece of content and let it live a much longer life, send an email one month and then do the sort of other campaign a few weeks later or a month later. So, you can definitely sort of cross-post, and I think it’s A-okay.
Katie: Yeah, absolutely. And I think that, to Jamie’s point, if I’ve maybe gotten the email in the middle of my work day and I just deleted it or scanned it really quickly and deleted it. But then maybe later when I’m at home being lazy, and I’m on Facebook, and I see it again, and I think, “Oh yeah, there’s that. I didn’t read through that.” So, it allows you to dive a little bit deeper even if it’s something you’ve actually kind of already glanced over.
Jamie: All right. Well, we are out of time. Again, we will send a recording out to all of you guys. So, thank you so much for participating. Thank you to my lovely panel here.
Katie: Thank you, Jamie.
Jamie: Great, great answers. And again, if you have any questions, you can reach out to us at email@example.com. If you’re a customer and you’re interested in implementing any of the things we talked about email firstname.lastname@example.org and we can gauge to the right person. So, yeah. So happy to have you guys on board with us, and we will hopefully chat soon.
Julia: Thanks you all.
Katie: Thank you.