I recently recorded a podcast episode with Mariah Hughes, Marketing Coordinator at Eastern Maine Community College. We discussed some unique ways in which she is leveraging email to improve her college’s awareness and engagement. This got me thinking about some other ways that colleges can better leverage email, and in today’s video, I’m going to go a step further and share three ways for you to utilize email automation. 

There are many, if not infinite, ways for you to utilize email automation, but I’m going to touch on three fairly simple ones that you can have up and running in a matter of days or even hours, depending on your experience and comfort level.

#1: Drip Campaign for New Prospects

Depending on your marketing campaigns, and how your website collects prospects’ info, there are many ways for a prospective student to make the all-important initial contact with your college. Regardless of the method (open house RSVP, campus tour request, financial aid question, beginning application, etc.), each of these presents an incredible opportunity for you to immediately begin helping them understand the benefits of enrolling at your college.

Don’t assume that just because a student initiated this first interaction that they’re going to swiftly enroll! You need to nurture them.

Whenever someone makes this initial contact, they should instantly be entered into a drip campaign automation. Some people refer to these as “autoresponders,” as the prospect is automatically getting a response. I want to refer to this as a drip, as one isolated email may not make much of an impression on them. I want you to send them a pre-created series of emails, or a drip.

The first email thanks them for completing the action they took, and provides helpful, relevant info about that action. If they RSVP’d for an open house, include directions, parking instructions, and other helpful info.

Then, over the coming days, they’re getting an automated series of emails from you that progressively introduce them to more and more aspects of your college. This could be program info, student facilities and benefits, success stories of past students… The possibilities are endless!

What you’re doing is keeping your name and helpful content in front of them for an extended period of time. It is so easy for prospective students to get distracted or to simply forget about enrolling, so make it harder for that to happen. 

#2 Drip Campaign for Event/Interaction Follow-Ups

If you have events, such as an open house or campus tour, then you need to follow-up with each attendee, and with those that didn’t attend. This can quickly become an incredibly time-consuming task, so leveraging automation can simplify it and handle the logistics for you. 

I recommend creating two drip campaigns: one for those that attended, and if this second group is large enough, one for those that didn’t show up. 

Those that attended should be sent clear follow-up calls-to-action that reinforce what they saw and heard, and encourage them to take the next step. 

Those that didn’t attend should be sent details on the next event, some of the info that they missed, and perhaps even connect them with your admissions office for 1:1 help. The fact that they no-showed doesn’t necessarily mean they’re no longer interested in your college; perhaps they just couldn’t get off of work, or they couldn’t get a sitter. Don’t give up on them!

#3 Re-Connecting with Prospects from Last Semester

I recently did a webinar on this subject, but all too often community colleges are ignoring their prospects from last semester that never enrolled. 

Create a drip campaign that is sent to these prospects leading up to registration for next semester. You can create these emails once, and reuse the entire campaign for many years! Just update your list each semester, and you’re done. How easy is that?

As I discussed in the webinar, this list is where you should start your recruitment marketing each semester.


As I said, I could talk for weeks about this subject. There are truly so many unique ways that you can leverage email automation to save yourself time—and get incredible results—simultaneously. Almost all of these emails can be created once and reused for years. 

Oh, and by the way… I specifically referenced only email today, but here is a pro tip: everything I’ve discussed can also be done with automated text messaging! You have to be a lot tighter with your content and messaging, but it can certainly be done, and can be very advantageous.

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