Writing Effective Responses to Student Enquiries: Tips & Tricks

By Ashlee-Maree Courtney-Eman
Copy of Anatomy of the Perfect Email Response to a Student (1)

Creating the perfect response to a student enquiry or request for information (RFI) can require a delicate balance of many factors. We've put together a list of top tips to help you craft the perfect email to your students, focusing on boosting engagement rates.  

Keep your initial response short: When it comes to initial emails, keep your first response short and sweet. Leave any overly detailed information or administrative specifics for future communications. Identify the main goal of each email, and centre your communication around that. If you have too many goals or points planned for a single email, it may be better to segment this content into a series of emails. Or better yet, use these emails to form a sequence of lead nurturing emails. 

Length of email:  Include no more than 100-150 words for an introductory email. If emails require more detailed content exceeding 200-300 words, consider using links instead. Emails are designed for transmit messages and key pieces of content, so ensure that this remains the key focus and refrain from large chunks of text. 

Use links, not attachments: If you want to share marketing materials such as a program prospectus or an application guide, it is recommended to upload the file/s online first and share as a link within the email to avoid spam filters. Attachments can significantly increase the size of your emails, reducing the time it takes to download the email and signalling a potential spam threat, making these emails at higher risk of ending up in the Junk folder. 

Capture them with a great title: A great title is key to a successful open rate. Think of ways you can incorporate text that will spark curiosity or be interesting to the recipient. Look at using words that prompt action or ask a question.

Don't let the title become too long as a long subject line will drop your open rate, and be more likely to get cut off when viewed on a mobile device. 

Optimize any images: In a world saturated with marketing emails, photo-heavy emails can be a big no-no for spam filters. Make sure to resize images if they are too big and keep formats to .JPG and .PNG file types.

Add that human touch: Some schools sign-off their official email communication in an undefined manner, often on behalf of a faculty, programme or the university itself. Doing so can make the email feel a little generic and impersonal, so always try to sign-off with a specific contact person when able, such as the program coordinator or enrollment officer. 

Ask questions and guide them with a call to action Rather than passively providing information, look to ways you can prompt a response from the student. Questions can be simple as "Do you have any questions?" or "Would you like to set up a call with a counsellor?" It can also be helpful to include a direct call-to-action or provide guidance regarding the next steps the student to take. Remember that the student doesn't necessarily have to take further action straight away, but let your communication get them on the right path. 

Include multiple contact methods: A student researching their education is likely to look in more than one place to find out about your program or institution. Make it easy for them to reach you, whether by telephone, email, Facebook Messenger, Skype, WhatsApp — whatever you have available! 

Share social media: Social media today is as important, if not even more important than providing a phone number. If you haven't already, begin sharing and including links to your social media in all of your emails and other communication. Maybe even consider incorporating it into your official signature.

Remember the AIDA model: Attention, Interest, Desire, Action — use these four stages as benchmarks to plan and match your email communication to specific steps and goals. Propel a student from the attention to interest stages with your initial response, then move them to desire with lead nurturing emails, followed by action with later application announcements and other call to action emails. Doing this can help steer your students towards an organic and natural conclusion —  application.

Take your communications further: Email is only one method of communication. Today's students are using many applications including Instagram, Facebook Messenger, WeChat and many others to communicate. Test them out, and see how your audience responds. 

Overall, these are just a few tips and tricks to help to make your emails more engaging and interesting for your student audience. Do you have more? Share with us here.

Topics: Student Recruitment