8 Email Workflow Tips for the College Admissions Process

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Alexandra Ritter
Alexandra Ritter




One of the key elements of inbound marketing is the use of automated workflows because they allow you to better engage leads through a set of targeted emails, while saving time by automating the process. Workflows can be a helpful addition for any industry, but especially for higher education.

The college admissions process is a perfect use case for automated workflows, as they can be used to move a potential student along the buyer’s journey to an end goal – in this case, to apply to your institution. 

Workflows can be used to help nurture potential students through their buyer’s journey with your institution. They might enter the workflow after their first interaction with your institution and end it with full knowledge and a desire to apply.

The series of emails can help tell your institution’s story while building a relationship with the students, from the initial introduction about your school and the exciting open house event coming up to downloading checklists or the application.

Workflows are also a great way to promote content up front without having to do one-off emails every week. This frees you up to spend more time on strategizing other ways to reach your potential students.

In order to have the most success with workflows, you need to tie them into your overall marketing strategy. Begin by brainstorming what it is you want the workflow to achieve. General awareness? Greater number of applicants? Then, consider the messaging that would best speak to your target audience. Once you have that figured out, plan out how you want the workflows to run and what content each one will contain.

Take these 8 tips into consideration when thinking about setting up an automated workflow for the college admissions process:

1) Use the "Submit a Form" Trigger

Use a workflow for the application correspondence. Instead of having admissions counselors follow-up with each student who has started, but hasn't yet submitted, an application, they could set up a workflow to automate this process. When a student creates an ID or login for the application, they could get enrolled into a workflow that gently reminds them of their application and provides tips and contact information if they need help.

Students who do submit an application would get enrolled into a different workflow that provides information on the next steps, like filling out financial aid and putting down a deposit.

2) Be Timely

Use fixed date workflows in the college admissions process to help with timeliness! Set up workflows around certain dates for things like FAFSA deadlines and ACT or SAT dates.

Make sure to back track and set the trigger date several weeks before the deadline so you can provide helpful tips and reminders beforehand.

3) Consider the Graduation Year

Many high school students begin the college search and application process their junior year, but some do it their sophomore year, while others wait until senior year. Adding a field for "graduation year" to your forms could be the starting point for a standard workflow.

If the student graduates high school in 2016, he or she is most likely a senior and would enter the senior, more specific workflow. If the student graduates in 2018, he or she is probably a sophomore, so they would enter the workflow that has more top of the funnel information.

Either way, be strategic and use the buyer's journey as your guide for email content. Begin with introductory, basic content in the first few emails and segue into more personalized, deeper content for the last few emails.

4) Don't Forget the Parents!

The majority of parents help with the college application process, and many of them want to be just as involved as the student. Creating a workflow for the parents, based on self-selection, will provide them with helpful information alongside what their student may or may not be receiving.

5) College-Specific CTAs

When planning your workflow content, make sure to include a call-to-action (CTA) in every email. Common CTA examples include a link pushing them to your site to learn more, a checklist to download and use for their campus visit or an application to fill out.

These CTAs should drive them take an action with your institution. The information they fill out to receive a checklist or other pieces of content will help you learn more about them and better understand where they are in the buyer’s journey.

6) Consider Additional Email Blasts

Don’t overload your potential students with multiple emails per week. That’s the quickest way for them to tune out everything you send. Instead, make a schedule that includes both workflow emails and one-off emails.

Set the workflow delays to work alongside the other email blasts, making sure both schedules are coordinated before you hit send.

7) Segment Your Lists

Set up multiple smart lists for different buyer personas, or potential student groups. An example of this could be students identifying which major or department they are interested in, and subsequently being pulled into the corresponding smart list.

Then, you could build workflows around each major or department, and place each list of students into the appropriate workflow.

8) Use Multiple Workflows Together

In some cases, it can be beneficial to use two workflows in conjunction with each other. Let's say you have a general workflow that provides top of the funnel information to students about your institution.

Once a student takes an action, they can get taken out of that workflow and pushed into an additional workflow that is more middle or bottom of the funnel. This can be done by creating a smart list that would be used as the goal list in the first workflow and the starting list of the second workflow.

Utilizing automated email workflows for the college admissions process is a no-brainer. It is a simple way to have consistent contact with potential students while moving them closer to your end goal. Additionally, workflows can work alongside blog posts, social posts and additional inbound marketing activities to achieve the greatest outcome for your institution. Download our white paper to learn more about using inbound marketing for the college admissions process.

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