direct mail back to school

September 29, 2015: Direct mail is a familiar marketing channel choice for many schools looking to attract new students. From pamphlets to postcards to booklets touting the benefits of attending various universities, many juniors and seniors in high school are inundated with mail intended to influence their college choice decisions.

So how can your school use direct mail in the most effective, cost-efficient way? Here are some ideas:

  1. Refresh contact lists. If you’re receiving a lot of undeliverable return notifications, it’s time to clean up your mailing lists. Cross- compare your list with the National Change of Address (NCOA) database, and update your contacts. According to USAData, “educational institutions also have the ability to overlay more than 300 categories of demographic and psychographic information to the students or alumni in their database. This information helps them have a better sense of the key characteristics they have in common so they can find new students more efficiently, and positions them to communicate on a more personal, one-to-one level.”
  2. Synch efforts across channels. Make sure you’re combining marketing efforts across digital channels. Running your messaging across social media and via online content hubs can help reach students, parents, and alumni. For example, including links/QR codes on your mailings can help lead desirable people to a form or landing page where they can take further positive actions.
  3. Test, keep track of metrics, and improve. Test different elements of your mailing so you can measure your success. As you get feedback from each mailing, you can begin to home in on the elements — for example mail piece colors, word, layout– that work best.  Keep in mind the elements that will help your mailing more attractive.
  4. Target more qualified prospects. Analyzing your database of current or prospective students can help you better target your efforts. Develop personas that you wish to target with your marketing messages. Determine key attributes such as interests, income, geographical location, etc. that can help you determine the likeliest to enroll. Perhaps these are the students that you send follow-up offers or larger packages in order to further pique their interest.
  5. Personalize. Personal web pages or personalized URLs will encourage receivers to respond. Customizing your piece for each person can help your mailing to stand out, as well as to help you track response rates.