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How You Collect Your Education Leads Matters

How You Collect Your Education Leads Matters

When it comes to student lead generation, getting as many contacts into your admissions database is only part of the equation. The process of how these education leads end up in your database matters just as much in successful digital marketing campaigns.

Consent from your prospective student leads, it turns out, is not optional. Sending emails to prospects who don't expect to hear from you doesn't just risk those messages being marked as spam, but can have significant legal implications. 

This guide will focus on the compliance part of student enrollment leads generation, and what every education marketer and communicator should know. 

Table of Contents:

What is Compliance in Education Lead Generation? 

In lead generation and email marketing, compliance is a simple concept: you need to ensure your efforts are in line with the various data protection laws and regulations that might affect your audience. Those laws are plentiful:

  • CAN-SPAM, the American anti-spam regulation that has guided all email marketing in the country across industries. 
  • GDPR, the European General Data Protection Regulation has honed in on opt-in mechanisms, cookie tracking, and more.
  • CCPA, this California law aims to give consumers a higher level of control over the data businesses can collect and share about them.
  • PIPEDA, is a Canadian law introduced more than 20 years ago to govern the control that private corporations have over consumer data.

And these are just a few of the many examples. Which laws apply depends not just on your location, but also on your audience. In other words, if you are a college in California looking to attract international students from Europe, your lead generation marketing strategy needs to comply with CAN-SPAM, CCPA, and the GDPR.

The Legal Implications of CAN-SPAM, GDPR, and Other Data Laws

How schools get punished when they fail to follow these laws can differ widely. Fines for violating GDPR, for example, can range into the millions, while breaking CAN-SPAM can result in fines of up to $16,000 for every individual email sent. Colleges and universities unconcerned about these legal implications could find themselves in significant financial trouble.

Finally, the impact of these laws goes beyond potential legal implications. Email marketing platforms like MailChimp, Salesforce, and ConstantContact tend to penalize marketers who don't follow them to keep their platforms free from legal consequences. Compliance is critical, in more ways than one.

How Do Data and Consent Play Into the Equation?

Most of the data and privacy-related regulations mentioned above form around the consumer's right to consent to give up their data. If they don't, the advertiser might be in trouble. Consent can be either explicit (which consists of audiences specifically requesting the information they're about to receive) or implicit (which consists of audiences more generally agreeing to receive promotional content. 

In education lead generation, that consent can come in a few different forms:

  • Filling out a "learn more" form on your website or landing page.
  • Signing up for an admissions visit.
  • Completing a physical inquiry card at a high school visit or college fair.
  • Emailing your admissions staff.

Purchased names through the College Board, ETS, and other organizers of standardized tests like the SAT and GRE are a gray area of consent. Technically, students who take these tests check a box that states their information can be shared with other colleges and universities, making it an implicit type of consent. But it's so broad that some higher education experts no longer consider this lead generation practice ethical.

Beyond Legal Compliance: The Importance of Email Reputation

Even beyond the legal implications, sending your messaging only to audiences who may not have opted into receiving them can have far-reaching negative consequences. These users are less likely to open or click on your emails and become much more likely to mark them as spam. As a result, your sender reputation suffers. 

Think of your sender score as a type of credit check for the email credibility of your institution. If it falls below a certain range, email clients like Gmail and Yahoo will automatically start sending your messages to the spam or junk folder. Maintaining a high sender score or email reputation, in turn, is only possible when limiting your audience to those who want to hear from you.

How to Make Your Email Campaigns and Messages Compliant

The first step before launching any campaigns is to make sure that your system is compliant. That includes a few important steps: 

  • Create audience segments based on their location, so you know which data laws and regulations apply to them.
  • Check your opt-in boxes or form "submit" areas to make sure that you clearly outline what types of messages they can receive if they sign up.
  • As soon as someone signs up, set up an automated email that reiterates what they've signed up for.
  • Create a cookie consent management system on your website to ensure you only track the information your audience agrees to.
  • Create a privacy statement on your website that outlines what you will use audience data for, and that you will not resell it.

With these core systems in place, it's time to optimize your emails for compliance as well:

  • Be clear and honest in every message you send, focusing only on the topics your audience consented to.
  • Provide a clear opt-out link for future email communications at the bottom of every email.
  • Ensure the opt-out link is global, meaning your audience's action applies across your systems.
  • Create an opportunity for your audience to request that you delete all of their data, a core GDPR requirement.
  • Include a physical address and the school’s name that showcases in the footer of every email you send.

Check with your email marketing platform, as well. They likely have extensive guides on remaining compliant with all relevant laws using their tools.

Creating Effective, Compliant Education Lead Generation Campaigns

When it comes to lead generation, compliance with both data regulations and best practices is not optional. It's a crucial piece of the puzzle that cannot be neglected without suffering performance drops and potential legal implications. 

Fortunately, once you know the concept, staying compliant is comparatively straightforward. And the good news is you don't have to do it alone. Sonority Group has extensive experience in digital education marketing, including this sensitive topic. 

Ready to partner, or just want to discuss email compliance further? Let's chat! 

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FAQ Recap:


What is compliance in education lead generation, and why is it important?

Compliance in education lead generation refers to ensuring that marketing efforts adhere to data protection laws and regulations, such as CAN-SPAM, GDPR, CCPA, and PIPEDA. It's crucial because failing to comply with these laws can result in legal implications, hefty fines, and damage to email sender reputation.


What are the legal implications of non-compliance with data protection laws?

The legal implications of non-compliance with data protection laws vary, but they can include fines, penalties, and restrictions imposed by regulatory authorities. For example, violations of GDPR can result in fines of up to millions of dollars, while violations of CAN-SPAM can lead to fines of up to $16,000 per email sent.


How does consent play a role in education lead generation?

Consent is a central aspect of education lead generation, as it relates to the audience's right to choose whether to provide their data for marketing purposes. Consent can be explicit, where individuals specifically request information, or implicit, where they agree to receive promotional content more generally. Obtaining consent is essential for legal compliance.


What are some examples of obtaining consent in education lead generation?

Examples of obtaining consent in education lead generation include filling out a "learn more" form on a website, signing up for an admissions visit, completing a physical inquiry card at an event, or emailing the admissions staff. It's crucial to ensure that consent is clear, transparent, and obtained ethically.


How can schools ensure compliance with data protection laws in their email campaigns?

Schools can ensure compliance with data protection laws in their email campaigns by segmenting their audience based on location, clearly outlining message types in opt-in forms, setting up automated confirmation emails, implementing cookie consent management systems, creating privacy statements, providing opt-out links in emails, and including physical addresses and school names in email footers. Additionally, schools should check with their email marketing platforms for guidance on compliance.

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