2 min read

Emerging Trends in Email Marketing

Though few people in the world of enrollment management have heard of Gary Thuerk, we have all followed in his footsteps because Thuerk is credited with sending the first email marketing blast.[1]

It happened in 1978 when he was an employee of Digital Equipment Corp. To boost computer sales, Thuerk wrote an email and sent it out to approximately 400 recipients. It resulted in $13 million in new sales, and the rest is marketing history.

Today, email marketing is a standard part of every Student Search campaign. It’s a crowded landscape, and enrollmentFUEL is always looking at ways to stand out and engage Gen Z digital natives. Here are four trends to consider for your next email campaign.

One: Embedded Functionality

Clicking a link within an email and being redirected to a separate website is now old school. Today’s trend is embedding functionality directly into an email.  That could mean your future students fill out forms, request information, or take a survey without leaving the original message. Eliminating additional steps is a smart strategy for increasing conversion.

Two: Carousels Capture Interest

Curiosity drives us as human beings. Carousels use rotating content, like images, information, and offers, to capitalize on curiosity. Employed in the right way, adding carousels to email marketing campaigns can boost reader involvement and extend the length of engagement. For example, the carousel experience could give a mini-tour of campus or showcase experiential aspects of your institution.

Three: Emails that Mimic Microsites

More and more emails mimic microsite functionality by including “hamburger menus.” This term refers to a common icon known as the hamburger (☰) which is most often found in the upper right corner of a website, or now, an email.

Norm Cox designed the Hamburger Icon for the Xerox Star, the world’s first graphical user interface. In the creator’s own words, “Its graphic design was meant to be very “road sign” simple, functionally memorable, and mimic the look of the resulting displayed menu list.”[2]

When you see this icon in an email, clicking takes you to a menu with expanded choices. Incorporating this element adds categories of relevant information, and this tactic can increase engagement by adding information value to an email.

Four: Made You Look Design Strategies

When it comes to email, there is a lot of experimentation happening in the creative community. Designers now include GIFs, cinemographs, and animations. There are monochromatic layouts, bold contrasts and color blocking, as well as innovative fonts and unusual type treatments.

While every school has brand standards, think about how you can push those boundaries to grab attention.

Last Thoughts

In 1978, Gary Thuerk hit send, sold more computers and changed marketing forever. When schools first began to use email marketing, any email that landed in a student’s inbox was rare enough to get attention. Today, engagement results when your institution combines innovative templates, interactivity when it fits, compelling design, and messaging that “feels” both personal and relevant.

Looking for more information on email marketing? Check out two Octane articles:

If you want to share ideas or have questions, please contact Linda Bishop, enrollmentFUEL’s Marketing Strategist, and she will be happy to answer them.

[1] Towerdata (https://www.towerdata.com/blog/history-of-email-marketing)

[2] Placeit Blog (https://blog.placeit.net/history-of-the-hamburger-icon/)