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Subject Line Tips for Your Next Email Campaign

Email Marketing for Higher Education

We conducted a qualitative analysis of the open rate of email campaigns to prospective students according to the subject line, grouping them into categories based on their tone and content. Here are our top-performing approaches to subject lines for international student recruitment email marketing campaigns that we hope will help increase your open rates:

Ask a question

Although not many universities have used this approach with thoughtfully. ‘’Do you know what to study next year?’’ and ‘’(Student name), are you an entrepreneur?’’ were the most successful opening lines and show how questions in the subject line can be used to successfully target a broader or narrower audience.

Promote Scholarships

Aspiring international students respond well to opportunities to earn scholarships abroad. This may be unsurprising as hunting for scholarships in a new country can be a daunting prospect. However, advertising scholarships as a first-contact to the global student market is a comparatively underutilized tool with only 13% of direct emails on using the tactic. Interestingly, open rates were largely the same between full scholarships and partial scholarships.

Program + Degree Type + Location

This classic formula delivers an above-average open rate, and is most often used by universities that do not feature a well-known state or city in their name. This direct approach also had the least amount of variation between individual mail-outs, indicating that it is a difficult to botch subject line.

Emphasize Study Abroad

Play up the sense of adventure and freedom that can be found through an international degree. These subject lines usually begin with phrases like “Explore the world,” “Pack your bags” or “Start your international journey” and conclude with the name of the university or name of the program. Although these subject lines are typically utilized by universities who aren’t pushing a certain program, the response rate for program-targeted and broader email campaigns performed equally well.

Career Aspirational

Either appealing towards achieving a career goal or emphasizing how an international degree will give students a global edge in the job-market, these subject lines vary from “Become a (job title)” to “Start your international career” and typically end with the degree type or location.

Want to learn more about marketing strategies for international student recruitment? Download our cost-free higher education report for 2017.

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Last update: 18 Jun 2018

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