Do you ever wonder about the one that got away? When working to recruit a new class, mulling over what to do about the prospective students who have stopped engaging with emails may bring to mind lyrics from The Clash, or maybe lines from Shakespeare. All things considered, the lyric “Should I stay, or should I go” and the line “To be, or not to be” resemble the real question you’re trying to answer, which is: “Should I email, yes or no?” 

And, as with most things in life, the answer to that question is much more complex than a simple yes or no.

Before answering, there are two things you should analyze.

Step 1: Review your communication flow.

  • How many total emails have you sent?
  • How frequently are you emailing?
  • Has there been a change in overall performance?
    • Open, Click, and Click to Open Rates
    • Marked as Spam Rates
    • Unsubscribe Rates
    • Bounce Rates

Step 2: Review your non-responders.

  • Have they engaged at all?
  • How long have you been communicating with them?
  • When was the last time they engaged?

The more emails you send to prospective students who do not engage, the higher the likelihood your overall domain reputation will suffer. To compound matters, if your spam, unsubscribe, and bounce rates rise at the same time, it can hurt domain reputation even more. At that point, many senders find themselves blacklisted or getting a Bad reputation in Google Postmaster. If that happens, all of your emails start going straight to the Spam folder.

Here are a few things you should do to ensure your domain reputation stays High:

  • Do your best Santa Claus impression: Check your list. Check it twice.

Validate all email addresses before sending the first email and repeat this process annually. You’ll probably find that prospective students have multiple email addresses. Each email address has a specific purpose, and sometimes students stop using or monitoring them. With Apple Mail Privacy Protection, prospective students even have the opportunity to hide their true email address. There are multiple services available that validate email addresses. Consider trying multiple services to find the one you prefer. 

  • Take it for a test drive.

Prior to adding an email to your comm flow, run it through a Spam tester to determine inbox placement.

  • Proper preparation prevents poor performance.

Has your email program ever warned you that they “could not verify the identity of the sender” or “The actual sender of this message is different from the normal sender”? Did it keep you from opening the email? Given the volume of identity theft and email spoofing, most people hit the Delete key. To keep this from happening to your emails, make sure DNS records for SPF, DKIM, and DMARC are in place for all of the marketing platforms you  use.

  • Be ever vigilant.

Constantly monitor your domain reputation on Google Postmaster, and monitor your domain for blacklisting while your comm flow is running.

If you have everything in place to maintain a High domain reputation and you really want to send emails to the prospective students who aren’t engaging, create a specific landing page and a short 3- to 5-email series to try one last time to get them to engage. Instead of automatically including all non-responders, consider choosing those with at least some engagement within the last 3-6 months for maximum effectiveness.

The good news is, you still have options available and tools to prevent a non-responder from becoming “the one that got away!” You may have the resources in-house to effectively recapture the attention of these elusive prospects using some or all of the channels listed below: 

  • Have a counselor call or send a text
  • Send direct mail
  • Use Google advertising
    • Allows you to upload a customer list under 18 and find matches
    • Run PPC ads with generic terms to this audience. If a prospective student on your list enters one of the generic search terms, your ad will appear at the top.
    • Run Discovery image/text ads that appear on YouTube, in Gmail, and in the Discover app.
  • Run digital advertising and social media advertising to non-responder households
    • Display, Native, and Pre-roll campaigns
    • Connected TV with Retargeting Display campaigns
    • Facebook/Instagram, SnapChat, TikTok

What’s more, FUEL is always ready, willing, and able to serve as your partner, support, and wingman in your efforts to recapture “the one that got away” as you recruit your new class!