Higher Education Needs to Focus on Re-Recruitment

Month: April 2024

Originally posted by our Jenzabar colleagues

Consider the following scenario: You’re a business-to-consumer company marketing your product in an extremely competitive field. But once your customers have made a purchase from you, you stop marketing to them. This is all but unheard of in the B2C marketing world, yet it’s an all-too-common practice in higher education. Institutions expend countless resources recruiting new students, but don’t put nearly the same energy into re-recruiting their current students. Given that dropout rates are holding steady and that this year’s FAFSA fiasco will have an enormous and negative impact on enrollment, it may be time for institutions to prioritize re-recruitment.

To some, the term has an alternative meaning. It was common in 2019, when the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC) changed its code of ethics and allowed institutions to more aggressively market to potential transfer students. In the case that we’ll be outlining, however, the term refers to a strategy for institutions to market to current students with messaging that reinforces the idea that their institution is the right fit.

Vice President for Enrollment Marketing and Co-Founder of Spark451, Steve Kerge, outlined five re-recruitment tactics institutions should be using right now to ensure their current students return to campus in the fall.

1: Identify and Engage With Parents of Continuing Students

We tend to draw a lot of lines between students and parents in higher education, but many parents remain critically invested in their child’s education. The more connected a parent feels to an institution, the more they champion that institution to their child. Kerge advises mapping out touchpoints around critical enrollment timelines, then sending texts and emails highlighting key events and successes throughout the years. Institutions can also invite parents onto campus for occasions other than Parents’ Weekend, such as sporting events or speaker series.

2: Extend Benefits to Families of Enrolled Students

Think about all the companies offering friend and family discounts. This is a great way to build brand alliance and is a tactic that higher education should consider. What benefits can you offer student families that will help solidify your brand? In many cases, institutions offer students deals on software or discounts at local restaurants and shops. Can these be extended to families as well?

Institutions should identify the benefits that draw parents onto campus and use them. Can families also access the school’s library? What about gym nights, parent/child yoga classes, or even discounted dining hall days? Offering these opportunities to extended family members can help an institution build brand equity with audiences beyond their students.

3: Lean Into Social Channels

Kerge recommends institutions harness social media channels and ensure that current students and influencers are on those channels. It’s common practice during admissions season for prospective students and parents to join a school’s admissions groups, but what about current students and parents?

Institutions should promote their brand to current students on social media. Find out where students and parents spend their time and invest resources into creating posts, videos, and other messages that resonate with students and highlight your institution’s brand. Keep in mind, too, that your students are probably creating their own social media groups and channels. These are as impactful in promoting school culture as anything official from your school.

4: Perform Regular Surveys

At least once a semester, survey continuing students as well as their parents to gain insights into what they feel is important, what the school is doing particularly well, and what areas could use improvement. Student and parent attitudes can change year to year, even semester to semester, and identifying successes and issues can help institutions address them quickly. If both students and parents know that they have a voice on your campus and that their voice is making a difference, the chances of retaining them increase.

5: Keep an Eye Out for Behavioral Cues

Watch for signs and symptoms that a student is disengaging from the institution and create a plan of proactive engagement. There are several ways to do this. Keep an eye on specific transfer-signaling behaviors like drops in meal plan utilization (food can be a huge motivator for students) or transcript requests. Also keep a close watch on stop-out or drop-out behaviors. Retention systems like Jenzabar Retention create student profiles and possess predictive modeling and early alert systems, allowing you to identify struggling students quickly and implement counteractive measures.

Don't Wait to Start Re-Recruiting

While some of these strategies might take a bit of time to set up, not all of them do. Start communicating, start reaching out on social channels, and start thinking about what sorts of events you can host between now and the end of spring semester that will heighten your brand, and better connect students and families to your institution.

Keep in mind too, that these are only a few strategies you can employ. If you’re looking for more detailed marketing strategies, reach out today !

How Gmail and Yahoo are changing the email ecosystem

How Gmail and Yahoo Are Changing the Email Ecosystem

Month: April 2024

Christina MaddalunaBy Christina Maddaluna|April 18, 2024

Gmail and Yahoo have recently dropped a game-changing announcement that’s set to revolutionize the way we send and receive emails, causing big changes throughout the entire email industry. What were once mere “suggestions” have transformed into mandatory requirements, which began rolling out in February 2024. These updated guidelines represent a change from the industry’s previous stance on email authentication and best practices. In short, all senders will soon be held to a new set of standards, which include maintaining low spam rates, incorporating a one-click email unsubscribe feature on all emails, and ensuring sender authentication.

In this blog, we’ll take a closer look at who will be impacted by these changes. We’ll also lay out the timeline, providing you with a detailed breakdown of when and how the changes will unfold. We’ll also unravel the specifics of these changes, and provide an email to-do list that will ensure your emails are sent without any error or delay.

Expected Impact

The changes are set to make a substantial impact, particularly on marketers and transactional email senders. However, this also includes any bulk email senders, which are email senders or domains that send 5,000 or more daily emails to personal accounts within a 24-hour period.

At Spark451, email communication is one of our main channels for reaching college students, and we’ve observed that most students use Gmail. For example, data from one of our largest university partners showed that 53.6% of students use Gmail. Following that, 8.3% of students used iCloud.


February 2024

Failing to meet the new requirements will trigger temporary email errors. To better understand these errors, you can find more information by checking out Google’s Email Sender Guidelines.

April 2024

Non-compliance with the requirements will result in the rejection of a small percentage of your recipients. An example from Google: If 75% of your email traffic aligns with their standards, Google will begin rejecting a portion of the remaining 25% that doesn’t meet the compliance criteria, and will gradually increase the amount of rejections over time.

June 2024

One-click unsubscribe requirements will be enforced.

The Top 3 Biggest Changes

1. One-Click Email Unsubscribe

The introduction of the one-click email unsubscribe is geared toward simplifying the process for users looking to opt out of commercial emails. Google and Yahoo have mandated major email senders to make it possible for users to unsubscribe with just a single click. The ultimate goal is to create a more user-friendly experience, reducing the likelihood of users resorting to the spam button.

2. Reducing Spam Complaints

Google and Yahoo are stepping up their efforts in the battle against spam, employing sophisticated algorithms for identification and prevention. Email senders should be vigilant about their spam complaint rates, as those surpassing 0.3% could lead to deliverability issues and a portion of non-compliant mail being rejected. To ensure optimal email deliverability and engagement, it is advisable to target spam levels of 0.1% or below.

3. Stronger Email Security

One pivotal improvement revolves around reinforcing email security, a necessary upgrade. Tightening security not only boosts overall email deliverability but also mitigates the risk of phishing attempts, thereby nurturing increased trust with our target audience.

4 Easy Ways to Reduce Spam Rate

Below are four tips utilized by Spark451’s email team on a daily basis to decrease spam rates, leading to enhanced deliverability. While implementing these strategies may require a fair amount of time, the outcomes will undoubtedly prove to be valuable.

1. Segment Your Audience

Utilize demographics such as academic interest or location to tailor your emails to specific segments, which will reduce the likelihood of your message being flagged as spam.

2. Optimize Sending Times

Conduct A/B tests to determine the optimal times to send emails to your target audience. This helps enhance engagement and reduces the risk of your emails being marked as spam.

3. Thoroughly Test Your Emails

Ensure all links are functional, and that the email renders correctly across various Internet Service Providers (ISPs). Regular testing guarantees a seamless experience for your recipients, minimizing the chances of your emails being flagged as spam.

4. Email Engagement

Segment your audience based on email engagement and implement a sunset policy to remove users who haven’t engaged after a certain amount of time.

Improving the Email Authentication Process & Stronger Email Security

The landscape of email authentication is evolving, and it’s now imperative to implement DomainKeys Identified Mail (DKIM) and Sender Policy Framework (SPF), as well as to set up a Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting & Conformance (DMARC) record for your domain if you haven’t already. As a quick reminder, SPF helps identify authorized mail servers permitted to send emails on behalf of your domain. DKIM utilizes a digital signature to confirm that the email has been sent and authorized by the domain owner. Meanwhile, DMARC acts as a crucial standard, providing protection against sophisticated threats that could potentially lead to an email data breach.

Email Tip: Take the initiative to talk with your IT team to ensure that all email authentication records are correctly configured. This proactive step significantly reduces the risk of mail being rejected due to not meeting standard email authentications. For those without a DMARC record, it’s critical to add one to your Domain Name System (DNS) records promptly. Gmail now requires DMARC to be configured with a policy of at least p=none. This, at the very least, instructs the receiving provider not to take any action on an email that fails an SPF/DKIM check. Stay ahead of the curve by fortifying your email authentication measures and safeguarding your communication channels against potential security risks.

Your Email To-Do List

Make sure to add the following tasks to your to-do list to proactively address these changes! By incorporating these steps into your email practices, you not only comply with industry requirements but also enhance the effectiveness and deliverability of your email communications.

Incorporate One-Click Unsubscribe

Make sure you set up one-click unsubscribe on all emails. Check with your CRM to see if this is already being done.

Update SPF and DKIM Records

Keep your SPF and DKIM records up to date. These authentication mechanisms help establish the legitimacy of your emails and ensure they are not flagged as spam.

Align DMARC Policy

Once SPF and DKIM are in place, ensure your DMARC policy aligns with your authentication records. This cohesive approach strengthens your email security measures.

Set Up Spam Rate Alerts

Establish alerts to notify you when your spam rates increase above the recommended threshold of 0.1%. Monitoring spam rates is crucial for maintaining a positive sender reputation and ensuring your emails reach their intended audience.

Email Pro Time

Make sure you have a Google Postmaster Tools account — this will be one of the only places you’ll be able to see the true spam rate.

Don't Hesitate To Ask For Help

The email team at Spark451 has been diligently striving to anticipate these alterations, in order to guarantee the seamless and timely delivery of our partners’ emails. If you need help making sure your institution is well-positioned to navigate these changes, feel free to reach out. Our email experts would be happy to help optimize your setup to ensure compliance and promote deliverability!