Marywood University's Lacrosse Team Scores with Personalized Emails

The university's lacrosse team is using personalized communications in its recruitment process, leading to more tailored content and increased interest.

Email has become an extremely convenient and common means of communication. In fact, according to Source Digit, approximately 182.9 billion emails are sent and received around the globe every day.

While these numbers clearly indicate the prevalence of email for both personal and business reasons, there is the risk of email fatigue. With multiple emails hitting inboxes, how can organizations make their messages stick out? This is a problem that marketers have long been working to solve to make their messages resonate with receivers and entice them to open them.

Marywood University's lacrosse team was facing this dilemma. The lacrosse team was using email as part of its process to recruit new students. In fact, with about 1,000 students to get in touch with each year, email is the default mode of communication both to reply to inquiries and to proactively reach out to the most promising young athletes. But Scott Dalgliesh, who coaches the university's men's team, was aware that the university's email strategy at the time wasn't as effective as it could be because of low response rates and the inability to track metrics.

The first problem was that the best athletes were being inundated by recruitment-driven emails. "Every college is sending them an email," Dalgliesh explains. Further, without the ability to effectively personalize its communications, it was possible that Marywood's lacrosse team's emails were being lost among the rest. "We were sending generic emails, like the majority of other coaches, and in five years I never got an email back saying the information was helpful and unique," he notes. The second challenge lay with Dalgliesh's inability to effectively track the team's email campaigns, leaving him in the dark as to the root causes of un-opens or the factors that led recipients to click through.

Well aware of the importance of email in the recruitment process, Dalgliesh felt the need to implement a system that would allow him to improve his email campaigns, personalizing them to individual students, and also tracking the progress. In mid 2012 the team implemented engajer, with the goal of delivering students targeted and tailored communications while providing them with richer content, including video.

Today's emails are vastly different from the generic ones of the past. Apart from including the coach's business card, including a photo and links to social pages, they further personalize the experience by including the logo of the student's high school and, if possible, even an image of that individual student playing lacrosse, which Dalgliesh notes is downloaded from the Internet. The embedded video directs students to an interactive website where they can view additional short videos that provide information both about the team and the facilities, as well as the university's academic program.

The result has been positive. Dalgliesh notes that since starting to use the new system, the percentage of prospective students who committed to attend Marywood and play lacrosse after visiting the campus went up from less than 21 percent for the 2013 class to almost 26 percent for the upcoming scholastic year. The number of students visiting the campus is also on the rise.

Further, the trackable system means that Dalgliesh know what information each individual student accessed, allowing for a more interactive follow-up. "We now know what he's most interested in," he notes.

Dalgliesh is committed to continue leveraging personalized communications for his recruitment efforts. He notes that although these evidently work, many of his peers have not embraced technology to use such systems.