Thought Leadership

3 Tips for Welcome Email Campaigns

A blue neon sign that reads "Hello."

September is here, which means another new school year begins — along with another recruitment season. With fall recruitment efforts in full swing, you can expect an influx of new leads from your various event registrations, student search efforts, and paid media campaigns. Now is the time to ask yourself, are your welcome emails up-to-date?

If not, consider this your official reminder to review this crucial first touchpoint when a lead enters your CRM system.

What is a Welcome Email?

Your welcome email—or a series of welcome emails—can help your university make a solid first impression with new prospects. A “good” first impression in the email world involves introducing new leads to your university’s mission, values, academic programs, offerings, and overall message.

Ideally, this should be sent within 24-48 hours after a lead “requests information” to maximize its efficacy, and meet user expectations.

Why Do Welcome Emails Matter?

Your first email to a prospect is your most important, so you might as well make it count. The longer you wait to send this email, the colder your lead will be. Intentional welcome emails see a much higher open rate in comparison to general newsletters.

Depending on how complex your email segmentation is (based on academic majors, programs, or courses) there could be a huge range in the volume, cadence, or personalization that a prospect receives. By implementing a welcome email or series as your first set of touchpoints, you are creating a cohesive, consistent, and standardized experience for all new leads.

Whether you choose to make your welcome campaign a standalone email or a series of several short bursts, here are some surefire tips to make them count.

Thank Them and Confirm Interest

It might seem like a no-brainer, but the first email should include an acknowledgement of the action your new lead just took. Thanking them for signing up for your mailing list closes the loop and puts the prospect at ease.

For RFI (request for information) forms that ask for mailing addresses or serve an entire school/college with multiple academic offerings, I recommend pulling their form responses into the email for their review (consider this a “verify your info” checkpoint). You should also include a link for the prospect to update their information should anything change.

As a best practice, your email should include a double opt-in.

Let Them Know What Happens Next

Once you thank them, let them know what they should expect. The welcome email is just the introduction that lays a broad strokes foundation, and hopefully, you’ve got a separate nurture email campaign waiting in the wings that is specific to their academic interests. If you know that they are paced to send once a week, call it out. Will the entire flight end in a month? Reference it in the email. This is your chance to set the stage for how you will communicate with them moving forward – both in frequency and in tone.

In general, it’s best for welcome campaigns to be evergreen for the cycle; however, they should still be actionable. Which leads me to my next tip.

Provide Them With Resources To Continue Engaging

This probably goes without saying, but when someone completes a “request for information” form, they’re looking for — you guessed it — information. Ideally, they’re looking for information today — not two weeks from now. While I am confident that your email nurture campaigns are full of thoughtfully curated program details and calls to action, prioritize any immediate action items that leads can take in your welcome emails.

Do you have a hero video that highlights your university, or includes helpful application tips? Include it! Is there an FAQ page that is a top performer? Link out to it. One of the biggest missed opportunities for universities is the assumption that because someone completed the RFI, they’re following them on social media. This is often not the case.

Don’t just rely on your email footer – call out your channels intentionally and explicitly within the body of the email. After all, this is one of the fastest and easiest ways for your new leads to join the conversation.

You Only Get One First Impression, So Make It Count

Follow these simple tips, and you’ll be well on your way to making a solid first impression with new leads in your system. Welcome emails are an important piece of your lead nurture efforts. Above all else, make sure that whatever messages you choose to include in your welcome email or series continue to support the rest of your email campaigns moving forward.

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