Is your marketing department struggling to connect with prospective students? Competition is on the rise, which could be part of the problem. For every interaction you have with a prospect, they could also be interacting with two or three other schools.

How can you make your college or university stand out to increase applications and enrollment? And, how can you ensure that the prospects you are connecting with will improve the academic quality of your school?

Surprisingly, these hurdles can be solved by implementing the right email strategies. By building a comprehensive, effective email marketing strategy, you can reach students at each stage of the recruitment funnel and nudge them closer to the finish line – YOUR finish line.  

Breaking Down the Recruitment Funnel

It’s important to fully understand the recruitment funnel in higher education email marketing. By getting a clear picture for this funnel, you can visualize the content you need and when. Let’s explore.


The top of the funnel holds prospective students. These are students who may be interested in attending your school next year. Email content should be appealing, relevant, and engaging. At this stage, prospects enjoy learning about the basics of programs and their unique qualities. Apply catchy subject lines as well – you want people paying attention to you!


Next in the funnel is your inquiries. These students have expressed interest in your program by filling out an online form or subscribing to your email list. Your content should be informative, as your goal is to keep prospects in the funnel. Continue sharing information about your programs and increase engagement with interactive content, such as live streaming Q&As, tuition calculators, or interactive timelines from your school’s history.


Now come your applicants. Current applicants are those who have submitted an application to your college or university. These students need to be nurtured by emails as well, otherwise, you could lose them to another school. Content should be focused on information relevant to new students such as placement rates, intramural sports, and internship opportunities.

Admitted Students

At the bottom of the funnel sits admitted students. Admitted students have been accepted into your program. They deserve compelling email content just as much as top-of-the-funnel contacts. Email content should be focused on spreading your school’s message. Topic examples include move-in dates, reminders for classes, and “what to expect” news.

To keep students moving through the recruitment funnel, you need compelling content to align with each stage. This requires planning and preparation along with segmented lists and enticing subject lines. The effort you put in will be worth it, especially as you incorporate your emails into a triggered campaign for less effort and more results.