For many years, I was down on email. I still think it works better when it is combined with mail, but for many years, I was worried that email was going to die before it really got started.I’ve always preached the importance of the mail moment. The cornerstone stat that remained constant for me for years was that 98 percent of Americans have a moment each day—a special time where they pause and let their world be interrupted by mail.. This always rang true for me. Mail is a big part of the equation when trying to move people. Mail was really starting to win the favor of many as THE way to get to those who were building walls around what they allowed to get in.

For marketers, this has always been a phenomenal behavioral characteristic. But what also helps mail be effective is that it has staying power. We see mail produce inquiries sometimes a year later. Email’s lift is usually limited to the day that it is transmitted—nothing more. Mail, on the other hand, hangs around on the kitchen table or behind the souvenir magnetic palm tree on the refrigerator. It’s the gift that keeps on producing Student Search inquiries long after the mail has arrived.

So, while mail was thriving, email was struggling…it served, and still does, as a gentle nudge about the mailer that is still hanging around in the home. But it had baggage.

I also hated email because many of my competitors often confuse their clients and count opened email as responses in the prized, “response rate” statistical derby wars. This had many enrollment leaders comparing themselves to others—never a good thing. I would hardly call an opened email (or even two) a responder, but that’s a whole different blog conversation altogether.


Spam filters were making it difficult to get through to some homes. And many students simply gave their mom’s email address when completing their test taking registrations, the very origin of most data lists producing the names of future students. Then, parents were making things worse because they didn’t realize that little Brittany said it was okay for colleges to send her email. E-mailers would get gray listed…and then black listed, and on top of this, email was the stepchild in the sexy web html world. It was simply harder to make emails look good. I could continue…

So why am I starting to give email another chance? Two reasons.

First, the smart phone world and a design term called Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) have made emails relevant. Smart phones are making emails worthy again. Over 70% of all emails are now read on a phone. This number climbs each year. Emails can now be animated and interesting. Keep your ears tuned for the word “kinetic” emails in the future. Kinetic means energy. Emails have new energy.

Try emails in the future that say less, but offer more animation. You may be surprised with your results.

My second reason for being intrigued with email’s future is hinted to above. It is that kinetic emails tend to get “clicked on.” In today’s world where visualization and animation are welcomed for busy smart phone users—this is good. And, I’m not talking about click through rates. I’m talking about future analysis like that provided by tools like enrollmentFUEL's  clickCAPTURING.

I’m not suggesting that you should move forward with only email; I think multiple channels are necessary to create convergence—and get your message heard. Email, mail, pre-targeting banner ads, nurture sequencing, scoring…they all work together.

But, I think it’s worth revisiting email if you were becoming a doubter like I was.

Mike Wesner is the founder and majority owner of enrollmentFUEL—one of the fastest growing companies in the world of higher education communications and consulting. You can reach Mike by email at mike.wesner@enrollmentfuel.com