The college student population in the US is a lucrative target demographic. Young minds across the country are forming their consumer preferences alongside thousands of their peers as they prepare to step into their earning potential after graduation. If your brand isn’t taking the opportunity to make an impact on college students at their most impressionable time – it may be time to rethink your strategy. 

While there are many ways to target college students with your brand promotions, one keyway is through email marketing to college students. Email marketing is a key part of a successful omnichannel marketing strategy, enabling your brand to reach college students directly in their inbox and provide additional impact. 

The 2022 Refuel Agency College Explorer™ found that email can motivate college consumers to research products, visit a website, use coupons or make a purchase.

Refuel Agency College Explorer™ 2022 research results show email works for college consumers

Here are our best tips on how to advertise to college students with email marketing: 

1. Develop college student personas for email marketing

This is a test: Do you really understand your target audience? Buyer personas are descriptions of what your ideal consumer looks like, and you create them by understanding their key characteristics. Buyer personas can be very specific; often each will have a name (e.g. “Jim the Accounting Major”) to personalize the persona. 

You can create these personas based on the data you’ve collected through previous advertising campaigns. Personas will include wants, needs, behaviors, characteristics, challenges, and more—and your team will be able to leverage these personas as they create specific, targeted email campaigns in the future. According to HubSpot, targeted email marketing by persona can improve clickthrough rates by 16%. Not a strategy you’re going to want to ignore!

Read next: Meet the New Winners of College Advertising

2. Improve email campaign performance with A/B testing

A/B is a key part of any email marketing strategy, and college email marketing is no different. As you hone in on the types of college students that make up your target audience, A/B testing allows your brand to understand exactly which email marketing strategies are most effective at achieving your goals.

In email A/B testing, you can test everything from email subject lines, call-to-action language, email creative, copy, and more. The key is to ensure that you’re only testing one variable at a time to truly understand your campaign results. Most email marketing software has A/B testing functionality that will automatically send the winning email after a set amount of time in the testing phase. 

Over time, the data you’re able to gather will inform not only your future college email marketing campaigns, but your entire college student marketing strategy. 

Read next: Your Complete Guide to On-Campus Advertising to College Students

3. Nail your landing pages

Landing pages are often an overlooked part of your email marketing strategy—but they’re crucial. A landing is a standalone web page offering specific information and designed specifically for students to take a desired action. The more you leverage your college student personas and understand exactly what action you want your target college student audience to take, the better you will be able to craft these landing pages for optimal success.

First, your landing page should make it very clear what you want your audience to do. There should be a clear call-to-action surrounded by a clean design and simple information. Second, you should include social proof like testimonials and reviews. Third, entice college students with an incentive or promotion. And fourth, keep your signup forms short and simple—avoid asking for too much information or you’ll risk losing a lead. 

Read next: 5 Steps to Build A Student Brand Ambassador Marketing Program That Drives Results

4. Offer student discounts

College students are known for their knack for finding a discount—and your college student email marketing campaigns are the ideal way to promote yours. Eighty-six percent of students have said that they would shop at their favorite stores more often if they offered student discounts. And research from Refuel’s Gen Z Explorer Series™ shows that college students are actually loyal to brands that offer discounts to students. Student discounts are a way of showing your target audience that you understand them, and also rewarding for their loyalty. If you want to speak the language of college students, discounts is the way to do it.

Our research found that 43% of Gen Z consumers report being loyal to brands that offer student discounts, and 29% are loyal to brands that offer rewards or loyalty programs. Personalize your college email marketing strategy and let your college target market know that you’re tailoring your brand just for them. Not sure how to implement a student discount? Check out SheerID, a company that already handles that for some of the biggest brands reaching student consumers.

Read next: 5 Reasons Your Brand Should Offer College Student Discounts

Are you ready to get your college email advertising campaigns off the ground? At Refuel Agency, college audiences are our specialty, and we’ve been crafting strategic youth advertising campaigns for over 30 years, and we’re invested in ensuring your campaigns make an impact. Contact us today to get started.

Christina O'Toole

Christina is a data-driven, full stack marketer with over 20 years success leading marketing in technology, higher ed and publishing industries. Christina has developed hundreds of marketing campaigns and built all facets of programs including lifecycle journeys, creative direction and lead generation. She now heads corporate marketing at Refuel Agency.