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Case Study: Saddleback College’s Career Education Email Campaign
Clients March 22, 2021
As we surpass the 1-year anniversary of this pandemic, we’ve begun to see the trends in enrollment. In California for example, enrollment at community colleges is down 12% statewide, twice what was expected according to EdSource.
But not all hope is lost! Working together with our friends at Saddleback Community College, we helped them create an email campaign that not only negated a decline in enrollment, but increased enrollment in Career Education courses by 12%. Read on to learn how we did it.
Increasing CE Enrollment in the Middle of a Pandemic…
Since 1968, Saddleback College has blazed the way for 500,000+ alumni and counting. Offering occupational skills awards in 190 program areas designed to lead directly to employment, Saddleback helps CE grads command $27,500 more than their counterparts earning general education degrees alone.
But with the pandemic throwing a wrench into higher education, and two- and four-year colleges seeing significant enrollment dips across the board, Saddleback reached out to Interact to help more stop-out students rediscover essential opportunities despite the dark hour.
Interact engineered a unique email campaign, and when 24,400+ students received the call to enroll, a staggering 14 percent re-applied.
While many other colleges’ enrollments dipped in Fall 2020…Saddleback’s CE courses were up by a whopping 12 percent!
When Opportunity Knocks, Enrollment Rocks
As their longtime lead writer, Interact’s senior copywriter, Dr. Michael Mahin, was well familiar with Saddleback College’s voice and style. So, when he tackled the challenge, he knew how to reach the audience. Using the new “Welcome to Opportunity” tagline that Interact had launched earlier that year, he crafted two emails that stop-out students couldn’t resist.“Saddleback students have spoken: Career Education means Career Success!” reads the headline, followed by incredible stats to entice learners to re-apply. To wit: 72 percent of surveyed CTE students got a job in zero to three months after completion, proving that with just a few classes, students could launch bigger paychecks and brighter futures.
The team also fashioned a corresponding media buy campaign on social networks, bolstering the story that career security, advancement, and opportunity were just around the corner with extraordinary career education.
The result? The campaign drove almost a million impressions with at least 5,000 website visits. Over 3,400 students didn’t just open emails, but also applied—and got on the fast track to a new career at Saddleback College.
Interact and Saddleback at Work
Research: In 2019, Interact helped Saddleback College perform a communication audit to help optimize how the school reaches students. So, when a challenge presented itself, Interact knew exactly how to react with a one-two punch of email and social media campaigns that made stop-out students finally say yes.
Writing: Interact’s expert created two unique emails to encourage students to apply, with matching messaging used across social media to drive home the call to action. Despite the sweeping changes in the world, he reminded students that “Career Education is still the best way to quickly enter the workforce and secure a better and brighter future for you and your family.”
Creative: Using photography of confident students, the creative team constructed a dynamic layout for email banners and advertisements with the College’s colors and branding. From carousel to story ads, the message was attractive, bold, and clear: new careers begin at community college.
“Interact’s help was invaluable in helping us boost our Fall 2020 Career Education enrollment by 12 percent despite the challenges created by the pandemic. Their emails helped us get the word out to thousands of stop-out students, and they heeded the call—14 percent of recipients re-applied.
“From the original communication audit Interact provided to help us fine-tune our enrollment messaging, to our Fall 2020 campaign to boost CE enrollment, we are grateful for Interact’s expert assistance in helping us reach more students so we can put them on the path to in-demand careers. We look forward to many more successful partnerships in the future.”
— Jennie McCue, Director of Marketing and Communications, Saddleback College
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