Recruiting students will involve a communication plan for both prospects and applicants. And looking at communication channels, email remains to most preferred and most effective. In fact, in a recent survey, 66% of student respondents indicated email alone was their preferred method of communication.

That makes the HTML email one of the most powerful tools in your arsenal. These visually appealing and interactive messages can captivate the attention of potential students, showcasing your institution in its best light.

Here are 5 tips to help you create compelling HTML emails for post-secondary recruitment.

1. Understand Your Audience

Before crafting your email, understand the demographics and interests of your target audience. Are they students in grade 10 or 11 who are a few years out from applying? Or maybe graduate students interested in a particular program? The most important takeaway here is to be relevant. In a recent survey, 85% of prospective students said that relevance was important or very important when receiving information from a school.​ In the age of social media and hyper-targeting, students expect to receive only the information that’s applicable to them.

By tailoring your message to students’ needs and aspirations, you’ll improve your chances of getting their attention.

2. Be Clear and Concise

Keep your content focused and to the point. Rather than trying to jam everything into one email, send multiple emails that focus on the unique aspects of your institution, such as academic programs, campus life, and career opportunities. Use persuasive language to convey the benefits of attending your school and why it’s the perfect fit for the recipient. For ideas on what to communicate to students, check out this list of important topics.

The optimal email is around 80-120 words, and should employ formatting such as bullet lists, short paragraphs, and hyperlinks to break up the content and make it easy to digest.

3. Consider Frequency

You don’t want to overload students with daily emails, but you may be surprised at how many emails students are open to receiving.

Roughly a third of students told us that one email per week is okay, and a third told us that they were okay receiving email “whenever there’s something important to share.” Our takeaway: as long as you have important, relevant content to share, once a week is okay. If you have extra-important content (like deadlines or an event), you can ramp it up to more than one per week.

4. Remember Subject Lines and Preheaders

Don’t forget your subject line and preheader! The subject line should be 5-10 words long. If you can include your recipients’ first name, it’ll help improve open rates.

Preheader text can be a bit longer (up to 150 characters) and should complement the subject line. The preheader will show up in the email underneath the subject line, and will also help increase open rates. Here’s an example:

Subject:[FirstName], join us at our Spring Open House on Saturday, April 6th!
Preheader:Explore Algonquin College at our open house! Meet with faculty, tour the campus and residence, learn about programs and more. Plus, learn how you can enter to win up to $5,000 towards your tuition!

Finally, be sure to make your email mobile responsive — 69% of students will open your email on their smartphone.

5. Consider Plain Text Email

While splashy, eye-grabbing emails can be a good strategy, 49% of students say they’d prefer a mix of branded HTML emails and plain text emails.

Branded HTML emails build brand recognition and legitimacy, while plain text emails from a member of your recruitment team can help add a more personal and genuine touch to a student’s interactions with your school.

What Does a Good HTML Email Look Like?

While plain text emails should be peppered into your email marketing strategy, the HTML email is still an important component. The most effective ones focus on one topic, have clear branding, and include content that is useful but straight to the point.

Here are the ingredients:


By following these guidelines, you can create HTML emails that resonate with prospective students and inspire them to explore all that your institution has to offer. Remember, the goal is not just to inform, but to inspire action and ultimately drive enrollment. With creativity, personalization, and strategic planning, your recruitment efforts will yield impressive results.

You’ll find additional resources here: 

To learn more or to get help with designing and planning your email campaigns, email us at info@schoolfindergroup.com.

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