Friday, August 26, 2011

The reality of Click Through Capture Program

We have a click through program that allows Colleges and Universities to receive 100% of the click throughs when an e-mail campaign is completed. This is a wonderful time saving program that eliminates YOUR need to capture names and addresses on your end. But, there are a few limitations to this program.

First, and foremost, our e-mail files that we send to are double opt-in files. What this means, is that the person receiving the first e-mail (that generated the click through) has given permission for us to send them e-mail messages on a given topic (in this case educational opportunities). The difficulty with this is that when you take possession of the list you are not sending e-mails to them from an "approved" source, but from whatever source you are using to distribute your e-mails. (As a side note, do NOT send from your school's servers. This is a good way of having your school black listed and even though the people have created a business relationship with you by clicking through, you can be perceived by a machine as spamming.) Because you are not sending from our servers, you may, or may not get through the prospective student's firewall, or filtering system. In my experience you can see a 35% to 55% bounce rate for ANY e-mails provided to you using the click through program.

It is for this reason we provide the postal as well as e-mail address of all the click throughs. It allows you a secondary channel to reach these prospects.

Second, People have short memories. They may or may not remember requesting information, or confirming that they want to receive information if time has passed. So, you may have some issues with people complaining or expressing concern that they received mail from you. Out of 4 recent campaigns where we provide click through names/addresses to University clients, we found that fewer than 8 (out of an average of 1400 click throughs) complained. They may be vocal, but they are a very small minority.

Finally, for any given campaign, you need to offer them something substantial to peak their interest. Waiving application fees is nothing in this day and age. Find something of value that a prospective student would feel "supports" their educational goals. Scholarship, book discount for the first semester, free daycare if you offer it are just a few of the options available to you that just might set you apart.

Click throughs are a tool to a goal. Understanding their positive points and limitations will help you better achieve your recruitment goals.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Where do prospect names come from for e-mail campaigns

This is a common question I get from clients and prospects regarding where our prospect names come from for our e-mail campaigns. Eveyone has the preconceived notion that there are bots out there, combing every e-mail server harvesting names left and right. Those names are then placed in a massive database and sold. Actually, this does in fact happen and as you might know, these lists are garbage. We ONLY use double opt-in e-mail addresses. What is the difference between a harvested e-mail list and a double opt-in mailing list?

Basicially a double opt-in mailing list is created by someone REQUESTING information on a given topic not by them having their e-mail address "stolen" from them. Maybe they are interested in boating, hunting, cars, furthering their education, or changing careers. The process for obtaining these names is simple and straight forward.

People start by searching the web looking for educational opportunities, they find our web site(s) or maybe they receive an e-mail asking them if they are interested in getting a degree in xyz field. They click the link and fill out a form asking that they be put on the mailing list for educational opportunities in that field of study. There are over 60 fields of study that we track. This is step one in a a double opt in system.

For the next step they will receive a follow up e-mail asking them to confirm that they did, in fact, want to receive further e-mails from us that are related to educational opportunities. (Or any other of a hundred interest areas.) If they click accept, a cookie is placed on their computer so that further e-mails from us will bypass their filtering system and be delivered to their inbox. It's this confirmation step that makes our database a double opt-in program. This process also makes our lists Can-Spam compliant.

One other key factor to consider is that most  people own multiple accounts. These e-mail addresses tend to be home/personal addresses, but I know in the case of my wife and I we have 9email accounts between us. I have two business accounts and 5 personal accounts (Gmail, Yahoo, AOL) and my wife has two accounts (Yahoo, AOL). At any given time I use multiple addresses for form completion or when asking for more information. So it is very possible that someone may have filled out multiple requests using different e-mails. There is no real way of eliminating the duplicates, but where there are duplicates you are assured that they will be receiving your request. We typically e-mail 10% more e-mails than are ordered to cover bounces, but our bounce/non-deliverable rate is typically less than 10%.

One last thought. Many e-mail lists that are created by bots have an infinite life. They use them over and over and over again, even when the address has gone dead. We however, send a confirming e-mail every two months to every e-mail in our database (yes, millions of conformations) asking the recipient if they still have an interest in whatever topic they selected. If they say no, they are removed from the database, if they say yes, they stay. Each e-mail campaign also has an opt-out option at the bottom of the page. A recent campaign of 182,000 e-mails got 24 opt-outs. Not a significant number, and a testament to the quality of the names on the list.

I hope this helps! Contact us for your next e-mail campaign and we will help you reach your needed student prospects.