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The Power of Mailing Branded Merch at Four Key Enrollment Points

As college admissions plan for the next class, it is a perfect time to step back and review marketing tactics. The goals of recruitment marketing include building affinity, creating emotional connections and influencing the decision. Physical interactions are a powerful way to accomplish this. Mailing in the Enrollment Cycle

Mailing in the Enrollment CycleTrend: Branded Merch in the Physical Mailbox

There has been a resurgence of marketing towards the physical mailbox as marketers are seeing higher ROI on direct mail than on digital and social. Consider that today’s consumer gets about two pieces of direct mail each day, compared to dozens (or hundreds) of emails each day. Direct mail offers a less competitive channel with higher open rates than email, making it an ideal tool to create a powerful multichannel approach. 

Now combine direct mail with the excitement of branded merch and the power of this approach is amplified. We can all identify with the anticipation of finding out what is inside the package! And as a physical marketing tool throughout the enrollment funnel, branded merch can evoke emotional reactions, influence the student, foster a sense of belonging to a community and have a long-lasting impact.

Recruitment Mailbox Merch Strategies

We’ll focus on four key points in the enrollment funnel where mailing branded merch is a surefire way to engage and excite students.Mailing in the Enrollment Cycle

  1. Inquiries – When a student shows interest in your college, reciprocate excitement through branded merch. As this can be a large population, keep the branded merch simple and inexpensive to mail. Popular options in this stage include stickers (either on a sticker postcard or included in a folded mailer) because of their low cost, ease of mailing, long-term application and ability to generate excitement. Other ideas include keychains and embroidered adhesive patches.   
  2. Admit Packs – With the move of admitting students through email, the purpose of the mailed admit pack has shifted. With the important information sent digitally, the main purpose of the mailing should be to give tools to the student (and family) to amplify and extend the celebration of this momentous moment. Nothing does that better than branded merch! Start with the packaging and carry the excitement through with smart and appreciated branded merch. Or use an online store for admitted students to choose their own branded merch like Missouri S&T did.  
  3. Influencing Yield Actions – The most important part of the enrollment funnel is to get the students to commit. Use the power of branded merch to encourage students to take action during this crucial period. A few strategies here include:
    • Mail merch to incentivize an action (see this Carthage College example).
    • Use merch to invite students to key events like admitted student days (for example sending sticker postcards).  
    • Reward/incentivize key actions with branded merch. For example, send branded merch to students who register for an event, fill out a form or complete their FAFSA.   
    • Engage parents with branded merch to build their affinity and momentum towards a commitment.  
  4. Deposit/Commitment Celebration – Branded merch has a unique ability to help celebrate a student’s commitment for the student and the family. Since most commitments are done online, mailing a “welcome kit” can be extremely impactful. There are three marketing opportunities to consider with post-commitment mailings:
    • Summer Melt – Help reduce summer melt by continuing to build affinity through branded merch and keep the student on track to register and attend.   
    • Community Influence and Awareness – When the student displays and uses the merch, the college brand expands its reach within their community. This includes posts on social media, friends and family seeing college merch at the high school graduation party to yards signs in the surrounding community. Through this strategy, the student becomes a defacto “influencer.”   
    • Early Commits – When a student makes an early decision, it can be upwards of six months before the student arrives on campus. Keep them engaged and continue to show excitement by mailing merch.  

CRM Integration (Slate and Others)

Since most of these touchpoints can happen in waves or be ongoing, integrating the actions to fulfill these mailings into a CRM (like Slate) can automate this process. The result is that it reduces staff work and can provide a more timely fulfillment.  

When planning strategy for the enrollment funnel, never underestimate the physical connections that happen through mailbox strategies that include branded merch.Mailing in the Enrollment Cycle

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Postage Permits

We are happy to mail using a client’s USPS non-profit number. Here are a few best practices for this to go smoothly. Let our team know up front on the project so we can make sure to get the information we need right away. 

While our mail house does prefer to use their permit number for the mailing, we can use the client’s permit, If using their permit number, ensure there is enough postage to cover the mailing.

The information we need to in order to use a client’s nonprofit number includes the following:

Formatting the Mailing List

Our account team will advise on specific requirements for your project’s mailing list.  We generally recommend these best practices to format the mailing list: