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Innovative or invasive? Striking the balance with your personalised marketing

There is a risk of being too much of a ‘try hard’ when it comes to marketing to Generation Z. In this blog post we explore how to market in a personalised way that resonates, rather than by invading your prospective students’ privacy.

Public vs Private Information

An easy way to make quick, snap judgements on whether your personalisations will be received well is to determine whether the information you’re using to personalise communications is common knowledge or available to the public in some way shape or form – for example, if it’s personal information posted on a student’s LinkedIn bio or they shared Tweets of their recent trip to Italy on a public, but personal account.

According to research by Quidco:

“the personal information that shoppers are most happy to share with retailers is their gender, followed by their name and brand preferences. Personal income, retail spending habits and address are the details people feel most uncomfortable disclosing.”

To play it safe, you can use only what information is willing provided to you

; otherwise, you can ask for additional information in the future and highlight the benefit to the student which could be limiting the number of or frequency of emails they receive by tailoring content to their preferences or offering better recommendations.

*|FNAME|* – First name automatic integration is not enough to make your content personal

Simply using a student’s name in communications isn’t enough to make the sharing of their personal data innovative; instead, marketeers need to get creative with their approach. Any data you’ve collected on your students that is relevant to your products and services is fair game as long as your messaging is interesting or useful to them. For example, taking note of a student’s comments on a questionnaire and providing useful information to them: If they state interest in two contrasting degrees, you could send an email or personalised prospectus providing information about the potential future they would have in careers based on the selected degrees as a way to help them decide on their course with your institution (and mitigate the risk of that student looking elsewhere).

Another example of using personalised marketing innovatively rather than invasively, is to phrase it in a way that shows you care. For example, you could send an email about a relevant event highlighting that you’ve come to them first before telling the wider community because you value them as a student at your institution.


Our three top tips:

Time it right, don’t ask for the earth on your first encounter and allow the relationship to build naturally. Gradually show them the benefits you can provide them with and they’ll be more willing to divulge more details about themselves in order to receive a completely personalised experience – so long as they deem the interaction and information valuable and beneficial.

Remember to fine-tune your approach, don’t get too eager to find out too much for the sake of it. Think about what’s useful to know and make strategic decisions based on their level of interest.

“Data has revealed that the more useful, the more people are likely to favour personalisation: for example, 44% of those polled found in-store location deals to be a significant use of personalisation, but 74% found the idea of a salesperson greeting you by name (not inherently useful) based on mobile information creepy.”

Consider individual preferences

These personalisation practices can be used beyond recruitment. You can implement the same tactics for your alumni communications to encourage donations, attendance to attend guest talks, and (of course) to help in the recruitment process.

Bottom-line, ensure students are receiving something useful or valuable in return for their personal data being used to provide a personalised experience through communications and marketing messages. If they can’t see the benefit for themselves, then your personalisation will likely come across as creepy and invasive.

At AlphaGraphics, we specialise in helping education institutions deliver data-driven, automated marketing campaigns with full-service strategy, design, print and more to improve student recruitment. To find out more, visit:


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