Email Marketing for Educational Institutions

UK University Case Study

Higher Education Email Marketing

Vixen Digital already had a successful business relationship with The Education Group (London) across several services: paid social, paid search, and Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) when in February 2022 they approached us to expand into email marketing. We supported TEG with developing an effective email marketing for one of their university partners. And, the results so far have been amazing!

seo agency for education


student enquiries generated
highest campaign CTR
25 %

Email Marketing Agency Brief

There were  3 main elements to the email marketing brief, based on the goals TEG deemed as most important:

  1. Engaging the existing students via the company newsletter and the newly founded student membership club TEG club
  2. Engaging the non-respondents – those students who have not been at all responsive to the efforts made by the sales team after the initial enquiry 
  3. Engaging the future-prospects – those students who have expressed an interest in studying at their university partner but as part of the immediate intake.


TEG had implemented Hubspot as their automation platform but did not utilise it effectively for email marketing. They did not have any nurturing workflows built and other than the initial transactional emails sent at the point of enquiry, they did not have any other email automation. 

This meant that email marketing was not really used to drive prospects further down the funnel. It also meant that the company was not engaging the existing students of their university partner effectively. TEG was providing an exceptional student experience via their TEG Club – a members-only student club. What they needed is a bullet-proof email strategy to get students to sign up and participate in the student events.  This is where our email marketing experts thrived!

From April 2022 to April 2023

74 customers

Section 1:

Engaging the existing students

Email Marketing for Educational Institutions

Vixen Digital supported TEG to engage and delight the students of their university partner by shining the spotlight on their biggest USP: TEG club, a membership community open only to university students. 

The key performance indicators (KPIs) were set as:

  1. TEG Club sign-ups – the overall target of 2000 across all channels was set in the initial year – TEG club started in June 2022
  2. TEG Club event sign-ups – targets were different based on the event and in line with venue/team capacity. The goal was to oversubscribe the events by at least 30% to allow for drop-offs
  3. Newsletter – engage students on TEG Club but also beyond, providing them with useful information on live in the UK

TEG club sign ups

With the support of Vixen Digital TEG is on the way to reaching the target of 2000 students in the first year of TEG Club. 

The total number of students registered so far is 1795. 

Email marketing is also the primary channel driver for registration with 59% of sign-ups coming from email.

The initial brief from TEG included just a few ad hoc emails to the students’ database. This was then turned into a workflow strategy in January 2023. The impact of implementing the workflow was a 50% uplift in sign ups.  

Additionally, the TEG club campaign resulted in impressive click through rates with the average being 22.37%. And, the best performing email overall, out of the 5 campaigns that we ran for TEG since the start of contract.

TEG Club event sign-ups

Several workflows have been implemented to encourage students to sign up and attend the TEG club events. The goal was to oversubscribe the events which would account for the drop off  rates. 

Vixen Digital developed an SMS workflow template to engage the attendees. This template was then replicated as a time-based workflow for each event with positive effects on attendee numbers.


Since its beginnings, the TEG newsletter has undergone several optimisations and A/B tests.  

The current newsletter iteration is customer focused and the latest A/B test has allowed us to further focus the messaging. TEG newsletter continues to be one of the biggest sources of information for current students. 

A testament to this are this year’s results that are well above the average for the industry (benchmark 23.42% average open rate and 2.90% click rate for Education) . Continuous A/B tests also ensure we are consistently maximising impact and increasing all KPIs. 

This year’s results relative to last year.

Section 2:

Engaging the non-respondents

Higher Education Email Marketing

Vixen Digital supported TEG in engaging and closing students who have become non responsive to the sales team. The goal here was to re-engage this audience and move them towards Customer. 

The initial test strategy included building two workflows based on country of origin: 

  1. South American countries – the South American market has been historically tougher to crack for TEG than other markets. Students there were interested in specific information and had different reading habits. 
  2. Rest of the world (ROW) 

This was the initial testing strategy that would give us enough data to further segment the non-respondent audience in the next workflow iterations. And, the results so far have been very positive. 

In fact, the two initial workflows generated a total of 56 customers, among a group that was fully unengaged with the sales team.

Section 3:

Engaging the future-prospects

Email Marketing for Educational Institutions

The third primary audience detected for TEG was their future prospects. These are students who have expressed an interest to study at their university partner but decided not to enrol as part of  a particular intake. 

The key with this audience was to understand their main characteristics and their user journey. After speaking to the TEG team and looking at HubSpot data we discovered useful data points such as main blockers to  enrolment, overall interests and length of sales funnel.

This research allowed us to optimise and personalise the first iteration of the workflow. Additionally, we developed a testing framework to gather additional data around messaging eg. testing longform vr. short form email copy. 

The goal of the workflow was to keep the Future Prospects warmed up and nurture them back into continuing their funnel journey. And, with a 1.02% conversion rate and 67 contacts moving on towards later funnel stages, the initial results are positive. And, armed with a year of data, we are now in the process of optimising for the second iteration.


Key Takeaways

Email marketing is a great channel for a university or an educational institution to achieve their goals. And, while there are no “one size fits all strategies”, here are a few key takeaways every marketer working in email marketing for education should know.

The key lies in segmenting your database, automating without losing personalisation and reporting on success effectively. Plus of course always testing!!!

Segment your audience and use this to personalise your email marketing

In general, segmentation is the process of dividing an audience into smaller groups ( segments)  based on specific characteristics such as demographics, behaviour, interests, location etc.  In email marketing, segmentation is crucial because it enables marketers to tailor their messages to the specific needs and preferences of each group. This increases the relevance and effectiveness of their campaigns. Segmentation is super important in email marketing. That’s where it all starts. A great segmentation strategy, like the one we utilised with TEG, allows education organisations or universities to benefit from: 

Greater personalisation: Understanding your audience and segmenting them strategically allows you to take full advantage of personalisation. For example, if we didn’t segment the South American audience for TEG we would have not been able to tailor the message to their particular interest. 

More relevance: Sending relevant messages to each segment engages the audience better. It stops your audience from deleting your email or even worse marking them as spam!

Higher efficiency: Segmentation helps you send targeted messages to smaller, more focused groups. This improves your overall campaign performance and helps you save time and resources.

Always test, test, test and refine

Always have a test and learn approach to email marketing! Even when setting up workflows, never just set up and leave to run. Instead use the data collected to constantly optimise for success. 

TEG’s email marketing is in constant state of testing and improvements. Workflows are reviewed on a quarterly basis, emails are run using A/B testing…

A testing plan is critical. Some ideas what education institutions or universities can test include:

Experiment with send times: Test different send times and analyse email open and click-through rates to determine the optimal send time for your target audience.

Test visuals: A/B test emails that Incorporate high-quality images, videos, and interactive elements vs stripped down emails with text only. 

Experiment with subject lines: Craft subject lines that are clear, concise, and attention-grabbing. Create at least two and test which one performs better.

Report on success, successfully! 

Running email campaigns is just part of the story. All that effort can go to waste if you are not reporting on success successfully. 

Reporting allows marketers to measure the effectiveness of their campaigns and make data-driven decisions to improve. 

Tracking metrics such as open rates, click-through rates, and conversion rates, marketers can identify areas of strength and weakness in their campaigns, and adjust their tactics. This not only helps to improve the overall performance of email marketing campaigns but also maximises the return on investment (ROI). Reporting on success can also provide valuable insights into customer behaviour and preferences. This can in turn help optimise other channels and influence future marketing strategies and company messaging overall. 

The bottom line is, without successful  reporting, it’s impossible to know which strategies are working and which are failing to deliver the ROI. Plus, even if a campaign is bringing results, it’s always good to be pushing forward and seeing if results can be improved. For example, even a small difference in conversion rate can make a big impact on revenue.

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