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E-Mail Marketing to College Students 101

  |  November 15, 2004   |  Comments

They’re online and big spenders, and they’ve been saturated with advertising since they were born. Some tips for communicating with the college demographic.

If you’re not marketing to college students, perhaps you should be. Today’s college students are one of the earliest generations that have had four to six years of Internet, email, Web, IM (define), wireless, and other digital experiences woven into their lives. Because of college kids’ unique nature (most are parent-supported, with plenty of discretionary income), this group is very attractive.

Witness these stats from the 360 Youth/Harris Interactive College Explorer Study (Fall 2003):

  • College students have $122 billion in on-campus spending power.

  • The average student’s family has an annual income of more than $89,000.

  • Almost 75 percent of students maintain jobs while attending college, earning an average of $645 a month.

  • 79 percent of all college students own cell phones.

  • 76 percent own DVD players.

  • 48 percent purchased something online in the past month.

    • 16 percent purchased 3-5 times.

    • 32 percent purchased 1-2 times.

And according to the Student Monitor Study, they spend almost 15 hours per week online, shelling out $11 million per year.

More important than what college students spend today is the fact they’re the consumers of tomorrow. Building relationships now could pay off in a big way down the road, as well as produce current sales and revenue.

Because many, if not most, college kids grew up living online in perhaps the most advertising-saturated time, they’re a very savvy generation when it comes to advertising in general, and online advertising in particular. Here are some key factors to bear in mind when planning an email marketing campaign targeting this group:

  • They’re bombarded with advertising and have been since birth. No other generation has seen as many ads as this one, both online and off-.

  • They can smell untruth, deceit, and hype a mile away, whether watching TV or scanning an email subject line.

  • They’re very focused on their education and, in many cases, are apprehensive about finding meaningful employment after graduation.

  • These college students have witnessed firsthand, via their parents, what money can buy. Those from affluent families know the value of money and that makes them serious about their futures.

Taking all this into account, some recommendations for email marketing to college students:

  • Be completely honest and forthright in communications. This doesn’t mean you can’t use tried-and-true methods to build interest in your product or service. But please, be straight.

  • Provide something of value that helps sell your company, products, or services. It could be a report on careers that will be in demand in the next one to four years or a review of the top 10 legal music download sites.

  • Take the time to speak with college kids and find out what’s on their minds. Then figure out how to incorporate what you do with that knowledge.

I’ve got a son in his first year at college. Between what he buys and what we as parents buy for him, it adds up quickly. Time to take a fresh look at this demographic.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Paul Soltoff

Paul Soltoff is the chief executive officer of SendTec, Inc., a direct marketing services company specializing in customer acquisition. SendTec combines extensive direct response experience with proprietary technologies to produce scalable results. Principal services include performance-based online marketing, offline direct response marketing and direct response television. SendTec represents advertising agencies and advertisers such as RealNetworks, AARP, Monster.com, AAA, Punch Software, MyPoints, Grey Worldwide, CosmetÍque Cosmetics, Columbia House, and Euro-Pro. Prior to starting SendTec, Paul was a founder and EVP of Saatchi and Saatchi's DRTV division in New York and has over 25 years of advertising, media and direct marketing experience.

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