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