Digital Marketing

5 Ways to Help Your Email Campaigns Avoid Spam Filters

News flash from the future (aka 2020): email campaigns are still one of the most effective components of a college’s admissions marketing strategy. In our GenZ Labs user testing sessions, prospective students point to email as the most trusted form of communication from Admissions offices. But they also report that their inboxes are flooded with messages and they quickly determine the good, the bad and the “hit the spam button!”

Whether you rely on a sophisticated CRM or a more basic email software to reach them, prospective students are acting as real live spam filters. Fortunately, they’re candid about what turns them off or earns their focus. Combine their insights with tried-and-true best practices for email campaigns, and you’re on your way to open and click-through rates that sing “ROI!’

1. I’ll pass on a weak subject line. Both your recipients and spam filters begin with the subject line of your email to judge its worthiness. Choose your words with care — you want concise subject lines that are personalized in a natural-feeling way, relevant to the student’s expressed interests and offer a compelling reason to open. Keep spam filters happy by avoiding all caps (WHY ARE YOU SHOUTING?), excessive punctuation (…, !!!, and ???), and overly “spammy” words and phrases (free, act now, guaranteed, be amazed, etc).

2. Make it personal and keep it simple. While spam filters can be triggered by an imbalance of images and text or excessive links in email content, prospective students have their own criteria. Emails that are generic, obviously cut-and-pasted, too “salesy” or simply irrelevant to their actual interests are a big turn-off. “Generic cut and paste. Ewwwww.” Students feel the same about complex or confusing content that isn’t quickly consumed. Whenever possible, focus on the recipient’s known interests, speak to them by name, and make it clear how they can learn more with a singular call-to-action. Simple, visually interesting content is far more likely to achieve high click-through rates – use it to gain their trust and keep nurturing!

3. Don’t be redundant. These digital natives move quickly across media (email, websites, social media, texts, chatbots, instant messaging) and devices (smartphone, laptop, tablet, desktop), all in one day during their college search. They pick up on and are turned off by repetitive messaging, so make sure yours is varied. Consider decreasing your planned push communications – a less is more approach – and be sure to exclude students from receiving duplicate emails.

4. Let me unsubscribe. Offer a link to opt out of future emails and honor unsubscribe requests within 10 days – it’s a good practice that will keep you compliant with the Federal CAN-SPAM Act.

5. I get a ton of emails – are you even sure I’m getting yours? Test your emails to ensure deliverability. There are various tools to help you pull a report on how email providers view your IP address, and ensure deliverability. Knowing where you stand will help you focus on what needs to be improved.

Quality is King! Having the most highly qualified leads available is the foundation for creating the most compelling – and spam-proof – communications. We’d love to show you how! Contact and schedule a demo to learn how the CustomViewbook platform will help you capture leads that are 4.5X more likely to become enrolled.

Reduce Print Costs: Striking the Balance Between Print and Digital in Higher Ed Admissions’ Marketing

The trends vary. While every institution has their own take on the strategic use of print pieces for prospective students, each grapple with the same considerations. What is the right balance between print and digital? Where in the recruitment cycle? What kind of pieces? Does Generation Z even look at print? Is it really just for parents?

In our Gen Z Labs user testing sessions, the students are pretty adamant. They only prefer print pieces:

  • if they asked for it
  • if the information is specifically relevant to their interests
  • if it’s brief, factual – not too ‘salesy’
    *Oh, and they like stickers, too.

Our CVB Clients tell us that print is here to stay, though how they use it is evolving. Many are shifting away from expensive, one-size-fits-all print viewbooks. Instead, they start the recruitment cycle with inexpensive print pieces (postcards, tri-fold brochures) inviting prospective students to create their own CustomViewbooks. Once more qualifying information about the prospective student is captured, a targeted print piece is sent, with content relevant to the prospect’s interest. For many of our clients, this streamlined approach has resulted in reduced print production costs.

“CustomViewbook has played a significant role in reducing our print costs. We don’t use very much print anymore, and are making our main piece even smaller. Our bigger main piece is for out-of-state. Our smaller bread-and-butter pieces are driving students to create their own CustomViewbook. When we have VIP visitors to campus, we print out the Viewbook itself.”

“Print is here to stay but its purpose is changing. Because there is a big shift to digital, we use print pieces as something special and extra-personal to get. We use them less often.”

“There are shifts happening but not as quickly as you’d might expect. People are still using quite a bit of print, maybe shorter pieces and not as frequently.”

We get it – print and digital communications should work hand-in-hand!  CustomViewbook has two customizable print designs available for our clients, (a hand-out piece and a self-mailer), each working to build awareness and drive prospects to create their own CVB.  And, we can help clients track the effectiveness of these print campaigns with specific source URLs.

Want to learn more about how CustomViewbook can help make your print strategy more effective? Contact Mary Pannullo ( and schedule a demo, now.