When communicating with college-bound Gen Z’ers is direct mail obsolete? Given the plethora of digital media available every day, it’s easy to believe that direct mail has gone the way of the dinosaurs. Not so fast, research continues to tell us that every brand’s success, regardless of industry category hinges on the emotional connection created with the audience and printed materials provide not only a tactile experience lacking in a digital interaction but also create longer retention. Recent studies have shown that people of all ages absorb and retain more information when they are reading directly on paper versus a screen. This is particularly important in the Higher Education sector where the admissions recruitment cycle can be a year or more and involve multiple communications.

A recent RNL Marketing & Recruitment report indicated that in 2020 96% of the public and private institutions who participated in the survey consider direct mail to be one of the top 10 most effective strategies for student recruitment and marketing. Outreach to high school counselors, while rated slightly lower than student outreach, was still an impressive 83% for public institutions and 89% for private institutions. As students and their parents navigate the college search process, it is easy to become overwhelmed by information overload. Digital, text, and video outreach all continue to be vital tools for student recruitment, particularly over the last two years. Yet, despite the explosion in digital outreach, there is still a robust place for direct mail where the response rate can be up to nine times higher than email, especially for follow-up correspondence with interested students, making it very cost-effective. The tangibility of print lends itself to a longer shelf life than other marketing channels, setting an institution apart from the competition who have opted for a strictly digital approach.

Marketing and recruitment practices will continue to evolve as new technologies become available. Successful recruitment campaigns will utilize an integrated approach throughout the recruitment cycle with printed materials supporting the personalized digital outreach through powerful visuals, meaningful content and greater longevity. Rapidly changing technologies can be as challenging as they are beneficial. The RNL survey reported that 96% – 98% of the public and private institutions who outsource their print and digital campaigns find it makes sense to work with agencies who specialize in providing these solutions. Effective management of recruitment marketing produces a positive ROI and improved student yields. GMLV has decades of experience in the Higher Education sector having worked with large and small schools in both the public and private domains.