The internet and digital communication impact virtually every facet of modern living. Groceries can be ordered from and delivered to the comfort of home; friends, family members, and even strangers can be contacted in seconds; and a seemingly endless collection of information and entertainment is available for all to learn from and enjoy. In short, little has been left untouched by the rise of modern technology, the internet, and digital communication.

But it’s the latter area—digital communication—that has arguably had the most profound and far-reaching impact on society generally. As was said, anyone can be contacted and spoken to in no time at all; text messages, phone calls, emails, and more make instantaneous dialogue commonplace. And as the way people reach one another has changed, so too has the way companies, organizations, and entities reach people.

Email marketing is one of the most obvious and viable options for reaching potential customers, clients, members, and students. To be sure, the vast majority of marketing today is conducted via email, both because it’s affordable and because it’s highly effective.

For higher education institutions, specifically, email marketing is an alluring option for attracting qualified and motivated students. Candidates can be informed of what a particular school offers and why it’s a good fit, all for the ultra-affordable cost of free. Instead of wasting university officials’ and prospective students’ time, as premature visits do, email marketing provides a detailed, but not quite hands-on, look at what a school is all about. The practice is fantastic for pairing students with the best possible school for their needs.

Or so email marketing proponents in the educational sphere claim. Others hold that the form of marketing brings with it ample drawbacks and cons, which outweigh its merits.

To help those who specialize in admissions and/or marketing at a university, let’s take a look at the pros and cons of email marketing for higher education!



As was briefly mentioned, emails are free to send; outside of the costs associated with designing and writing the text for marketing emails, there are virtually no expenses to speak of. This is a major benefit of email marketing over more traditional means of reaching students, such as through the mail.

Numerous Potential Students

Because emails are so quick and affordable to send, a multitude of potential students can be contacted and informed of a school that could be right for them. Every college in the world can benefit from having qualified, eager-to-learn applicants try to gain admission, and for universities that suffer from smaller-than-desirable student bodies, this perk could prove invaluable.

Just the Right Amount of Information

Marketing emails allow universities to showcase just the right amount of their establishment’s key information. Marketing efforts sent via traditional mail, because of inherent size constraints and printing-cost considerations, don’t usually contain a satisfying number of details; on the other hand, websites can be overwhelming in scope.

When students have five or more colleges to consider, receiving just the right amount of information—an amount that allows for the boasted mood, amenities, and opportunities to be detailed—through a marketing email could open the door to admission.

Projects an Aura of Adaptability and Cutting-Edge Methods

At this point in the game, emails can hardly be considered a cutting-edge means of communication. With that said, emailing is certainly more efficient and “in” than simply mailing, and by emailing instead of or along with mailing, universities can demonstrate to applicants that their campus has adapted to modern conventions.

Many higher education institutions today struggle with identity. A large portion of this struggle can be attributed to being “behind the times.” And one of the best ways to prevent a school from being relegated to “behind the times” is to reach future alumni via a means of communication they grew up with, as opposed to one their parents are accustomed to.


Potential Loss of Individuality

Even if a student’s name is auto-inserted at the top of a marketing email, it’s hard to pretend that the communication is truly personalized and tailored to the individual at-hand; proponents understand and agree with this point, arguing that the method is a preliminary means of finding interested individuals.

Thus, some schools, especially smaller institutions, may be negatively impacted by marketing emails. If personalization is an integral component of a university, it may be best to forego the form of contact, opting instead to offer more student-specific communication.

Difficulty Highlighting an Institution’s Best

The marketing email is a high-stakes endeavor in the sense that it can be tough for an institution to highlight their best qualities within the allotted text. Potential students need to know about culture, extracurricular activities, offered classes, and more; it’s impossible to fully account for each of these things in a single email’s body. Accordingly, marketing emails can be difficult to craft because determining which information should make the cut and which information should be omitted is easier said than done.

Towing the Line Between Persistent and Overwhelming

In today’s competitive higher education landscape, universities as well as students need to show what separates them from the pack; they need to showcase their positive attributes while making their interest clear to potential students. Universities send marketing emails often; to only send a single message would indicate a lack of interest (and could cause the message to be overlooked as other colleges send multiple inquiries), while too many messages could be perceived as “desperate.”

Higher education institutions have to tow a fine line between showing that they are serious about attracting qualified candidates and allowing students room to make an informed and personalized decision. Striking the perfect balance between the two can be hard.

Trouble Making an Impression

As was said, more and more universities are turning to email marketing. As a result, some prospective college students simply wade through their inboxes without particular focus; there are often too many messages present for them to read each carefully and with full attention. Because of this increasing popularity, email marketing could have trouble making a lasting impression on potential applicants, with the ultimate result for universities being less interest and fewer received applications.

Email marketing is common today—most businesses, institutions, groups, organizations, and schools put the practice to use. With that said, it doesn’t come without drawbacks and potential cons. Moreover, while these cons may not prevent many higher education institutions from foregoing email marketing altogether, they may affect the way emails are composed and sent. To show off all a college has to offer, marketing and admissions professionals have to consider a variety of important factors before hitting “send.”

Thanks for reading, and here’s to successful email marketing!