Best Practice for Marketing Emails


11 Dec 2017

Best Practice for Marketing Emails

The Penna team went to one of the UCAS Media Masterclass events last week – it was a really useful session full of insights and data into the undergraduate market. They are holding future events in Leeds, London and Edinburgh, so please take the chance to go if you can.  Details at:

One of the most practically-useful sessions was on marketing emails.  UCAS have used all their experience in sending emails to applicants to come up with advice and guidance on content and design for you to use.  So here are their main tips to make sure you get the best return on your campaign:


  • Remember that the email is ‘the invite to the party, not the party itself’. In other words, don’t include too much content in your email (no more than 50 words!).  The purpose is to excite, intrigue or engage the audience to the extent they will click through to your landing pages, where you can set out the main content.
  • Focus on the WIIFM (“What’s in it for me?) in your content - why should they click through?
  • Stick to one purpose in the email. By all means include lots of clickable buttons, but stay focused on one objective.  For example, if you are wanting the recipient to book onto an Open Day, then make sure all the buttons relate to that goal (e.g. Book Your Place Here, Directions to our Campus, View Open Day Programme, etc).



  • Position your logo on the left – UCAS data shows that it is more likely to get clicks
  • Make sure everything that is important is above the fold. This especially applies to your CTAs, which need to be as high as possible, along the main USP or message.
  • 40% of the UCAS Media emails are opened on a mobile device, so make sure your design is mobile optimised – this means using larger fonts, having a simple layout and a touch-friendly CTA
  • Use pre-headers if you can; these are seen in preview mode, so are another opportunity to encourage the recipient to open the email
  • And finally, neuro-linguistic programming suggests that curved corners on your ‘click here’ buttons result in more clicks.


Subject Lines

  • Ask your email sender to include the name of the recipient in the subject line – this can result in a 10% increase in the open rate
  • Include the course or subject area in your subject line too if possible – this results in a 30% increase in the open rate



  • Avoid weak, passive language on your CTAs, such as ‘find out more’. Instead, go for clear CTAs that have a purpose.  Alternatives are ‘start your journey’, ‘discover today’, ‘sign up here’
  • Subject lines and pre-headers need to be less than 40 characters, which make them more mobile friendly)


And our final Penna advice?  Test, test and test again!  Every university is different and will get varied results.  So the only way to find out what works best for you is to A/B test and track every single open and click.  Happy emailing!


Penna Education Team