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This is what lazy student communications looks like

06 Jun

Students tell us we send far too many irrelevant and impersonal emails to them each week. I can sympathise.

I see what you did there. You teamed literal coolness with over-used slang to relate to young people

I study a masters degree online with the University of Canberra, Australia (UC). I never read emails from UC, but thought I’d do a little research.

What did I find?

Emails that made me:

  • feel like a number
  • want to unsubscribe (but I can’t)
  • not want to read any emails from my university because it’s all spam, right?
  • go to rateyouruni.com.au and leave a negative review
    (okay, this was for academic reasons, but the day-to-day communications pushed me over the edge)

Some standout subject lines include:

“Quit Smoking Seminar”

I’m not a smoker (fact). I never have been (throwing in that line in case mum reads). Is it necessary to send this event out to the entire student body? Of coure not!

“UC NUTRITION & DIETETICS”

First, don’t yell at me. Second, the opening line in this email reads, “Want to know how to survive on a student budget without resorting to 2-minute noodles for every meal?”

I’m not 18. I’m 27. I’m an online, part-time student living in Canada. Thanks for getting to know me.

“2013 ACTPS Graduate Program – Applications Close 5pm Wednesday 23 May”

Wow, an acronym in the subject line! AYSOS?

The email advises me that in this acronym-heavy graduate program, I’ll “be placed in a real job that has real responsibilities” and “it’s a big step towards a career”.

I’m not about to graduate from a bachelor degree and if I was, I still wouldn’t appreciate you talking to me like I’m in high school.

“S1 2013 Study Abroad – Internationalise your Degree!”

By clicking on the “eligibility” link in the much-too-long email, the first two criteria jump out immediately. I must first be enrolled full-time and I must be an ungerdgraduate. Nope and nope.

“Are you wondering why is there a Cow walking around the campus? – sent by the Careers Service”

Curious? So was I, but the email was a total letdown.

Are you or someone close to you doing this to your students? Here’s my one-time offer. I’m about to give you, for free, the secret sauce to communicating to any audience.

It’s called “put yourself in your audience’s shoes”.

  • Treat students like the adults they are
  • Don’t mass email your student body for every, single, irrelevant event, service or program
  • Customise and personalise your emails

If you refuse to improve your email communications, allow students to opt out. And when they do, take it as feedback.

Only a handful of people should have access to the “all students” email list. When approached by Childcare Services to email a survey out to all students, that handfull should be asking “why?” (or simply saying “no” because that’s just a silly request).

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2 responses to “This is what lazy student communications looks like

  1. Katra

    June 13, 2012 at 7:30 pm

    Great piece Michelle! These emails feel like someone/s is always knocking on your door and you can’t stop them.

    Subject lines and segmentation are key to email communications as they lead to better targeted communications.

    Enjoyed it!
    Katra

     
    • pocketfullofchelle

      June 13, 2012 at 8:19 pm

      Hi Katra

      Very true! I can ignore vacuum salespeople knocking on my door, just like I can choose to ignore spammy emails (at the risk of missing something crucial, unfortunately).

      I did think I’d missed something crucial not long ago. I received an urgent letter in the mail telling me my student services fee was overdue and to pay immediately. I checked my student email account and there you go, I had a few emails warning me of the upcoming fee deadline, then one telling me I’d missed it.

      I logged into the student portal to pay my fee and the charge didn’t show up in my invoice. I emailed the student centre and after A LOT of frustrating back and forth, was told that because I’m living overseas, I don’t have to pay the fee.

      Incredible. If UC only had a brain … I mean CRM

       

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