Niche Advertising/Audience Targeting


Third-Party Branded Email Drives Interest From High-Intent Prospective Students

December 1, 2020 Sarah Cavill

Shutterstock_1740400265 Man use computer laptop with screen of video conference of course online attended by people from many places

It is crucial for higher education institutions to reach prospective students across a variety of channels, especially now that on-campus visits and in-person engagement may be more limited because of COVID-19. Along with social media, virtual events and live chats, email remains an essential point of contact for colleges, universities and other higher education institutions. A recent report by Litmus found that more emails are likely to be sent by marketers in 2020 than the prior year, despite the growth of other channels.

Robust email campaigns offer the benefits of personalization, measurement and optimization, often driving increased enrollment volume from prospective students. Additionally, schools that leverage third-party partners to scale their branded email campaigns reap the benefits of email, while accessing large third-party databases that can generate high-intent prospects now and for future enrollment periods.

Third-Party Branded Email Gives Higher Education Institutions Control Over Messaging And Tone

Branded emails sent by external, third-party partners look like they are coming directly from the college advertising. Branded email creative executions can include college logos with creative elements and messaging specific to the school and their predefined campaign goals. 

Branded emails sent by an internal college marketing team are sent only to emails housed within the college’s database or to purchased email lists. Third-party branded email campaigns let colleges reach larger audiences, because they are sent to lists owned by the third-party emailer.

Third-party branded email campaigns usually drive traffic to college-branded landing pages developed specifically for the email campaign. Typically, these landing pages are where parents or prospective students will find registration invites for events like virtual tours, links to applications or general forms for requesting further information. Schools control all the messaging, content and creative on landing pages. And, when prospective students submit their information on these landing pages, it becomes first-party data owned by the college.

The Benefits Of Running Branded Email Campaigns With Third-Party Partners Include Scale, Customization And Rigorous Compliance

There are several benefits for higher education institutions working with third-party partners on branded email campaigns.

Third-Party Branded Email Campaigns Produce First-Party Data That Enhances Internal Databases For Future Campaigns

Third-party branded email campaigns are sent to databases owned by third-party partners, meaning the campaigns reach new prospects. Data generated from third-party branded email campaigns – such as prospective students that take desired actions, like filling out request forms – all belong to the college that is advertising. As a result, inquiries generated from third-party branded email campaigns can be added to internal databases for future nurturing and outreach campaigns.

Third-Party Branded Email Campaigns With Prioritized Compliance Let Colleges And Universities Focus On Higher-Level Strategic Initiatives

When higher education institutions work with third-party email partners that prioritize compliance, the college marketers are able to leverage the expertise of providers with vast knowledge of email rules and regulations. Third-party branded email partners typically use tools that eliminate emails being sent to schools’ existing databases and opt-out lists, setting the stage for generating high-intent, brand new prospects.

Third-Party Branded Email Uses Customized Messaging To Provoke Action From Prospective Students

Third-party branded email campaigns for colleges and universities can be customized and offer personalized content, with schools maintaining full control over the user experience. Personalized emails often have higher click-through rates, and properly executed creative can generate excitement for prospective students and drive actions like registering for tours or meet and greets.

Performance-Based Third-Party Branded Email Delivers Cost Efficiency For Colleges

Many third-party branded email campaigns, like those offered by DMS Education, use pay-for-performance models, which means colleges and universities only pay when specific actions, like completing an information request form, are completed. Performance-based models are a cost-efficient way for higher education institutions to broaden their reach to new prospective students while only paying for desired results.

Tested & Optimized Third-Party Branded Email Campaigns Can Boost College Enrollment Rates

Shutterstock_1543726172 New email alert on laptop, communication connection message to global letters in the workplace.

A/B testing and optimization are recommended for all email campaigns, including third-party branded email.

Optimized Email Creative: Regular testing of design, including images, headlines and calls to action (CTAs) can build on successes and identify potential ways to improve, allowing for iterations that increase conversion rates. Many third-party providers will frequently run A/B tests to identify the most impactful creative elements.

Optimized Landing Pages: Landing pages that are well-designed and clear about intent are typically the most effective at driving desired results. Optimizing landing pages based on A/B testing can increase conversion rates.

Performance Feedback: Colleges should be in regular contact with third-party email partners with regard to campaign performance, including key milestone metrics, like contact rates and application volume. Performance feedback at the lead level allows third-party email partners to know what is working so they can make continued optimizations. 

Email Is More Essential Than Ever, And Third-Party Branded Email Campaigns May Be The Key To Reaching More Prospective Students

It hasn’t been a normal year for anyone, especially soon-to-be high school graduates wondering what their next steps will be and adults who are looking to further or change their careers. Higher education institutions that are able to authentically connect with prospective students, using personalized, targeted email are likely to increase engagement and enrollment volume. Branded email campaigns with third-party partners allow colleges and universities to offer effective one-on-one messaging with significant reach, letting the institutions connect with more prospective students than they likely can on their own.

Are You Looking To Connect With Prospective High-Intent College Students At Scale?

A thought leader in education and adtech-enabled digital media distribution, DMS EducationTM uses unparalleled proprietary email technology for branded email campaigns, while prioritizing operationalized compliance, delivering peace of mind and results for higher education institutions. Through support of traditional and for-profit colleges, trade schools, community colleges, boot camps, continuing education providers, OPMs and agencies, DMS Education has seen it all. Led by industry veterans, DMS Education provides predictable, scalable and reliable education advertising.

Contact DMS

About the Author

Sarah Cavill

With more than 20 years of writing, editing and reporting experience, Sarah Cavill brings to Digital Media Solutions (DMS) a fine-tuned and diverse set of skills. Her work has been featured in notable publications including The Daily Muse, CBS Local, Techlicious and Glamour magazine. Sarah has a passion for current events and the deep-dive research that goes into the content development and brand identity of DMS Insights. In her role as Associate Content Manager, Sarah contributes to the pitching, researching and writing of multiple stories published each week surrounding digital and performance marketing innovations in pop culture, news, social media, branding and advertising.

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