Magazine & Blog

“We want the subscribers to determine what they want to read about”

  • Carmen Candinas

Time-consuming print production is a thing of the past for the Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Art (HSLU). By introducing a new blog infrastructure and email marketing concept, the HSLU has entered into a new era of digital marketing. With new software and customised templates, the HSLU wants to adopt a more individual approach in its communication with its customers. The university wants to learn from the recipients so it can react faster to their needs. An interview with Katharina Hemmer, former Head of Online & Digital at HSLU.

Catering to the Interests of Recipients

Ms Hemmer, the HSLU newsletter has been redesigned completely. How important is email marketing in the education sector?

Katharina Hemmer: Email marketing enables you to cater to the interests of individual people very specifically and offer them added value. At the same time, you can promote your brand with email marketing. This is interesting for educational institutions, because education and training are very personal topics. Students invest in their personal development. Educational institutions can pick up on those interests and respond to them. This is something you can do with very little wastage by addressing people directly – that is, via email marketing.

And how about the Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Art specifically?

We replaced our print magazine with a digital blog infrastructure. At the same time, we launched the newsletter, which will aim to cover key topics in university life.
The advantage of email marketing is that we can monitor what happens to the emails: Do people open the email or do they just delete it?

So, you are sacrificing haptics for addition information on recipients?

We don’t want to just accumulate data, we want to learn from our recipients. We want them to tell us which topics we should cover. We want the subscribers to determine what they want to read about.

The New HSLU Newsletter: Intuitive and GDPR-compliant

How did the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which was implemented in May 2018, influence your decision?

The GDPR initially influenced our choice of email marketing tool. We wanted it to be GDPR-compliant and intuitive. Currently, we are affected by the General Data Protection Regulation in our modelling of processes. We continually have to question where the data comes from and where it goes. Every company is currently dealing with these questions. It is not an easy task, but it is manageable if you have the right tools.

What are the highlights of the new email marketing in terms of usability?

Our internal stakeholders can use the tool intuitively. It is fairly easy to put the newsletters together, and there is a good overview. We were also able to restructure our data pool and assign responsibility for data maintenance. In future, we want to take additional steps towards usability and transparency to provide our recipients with more intuitive subscribe/unsubscribe options.

What is it that you find particularly innovative about the new email marketing concept?

In education, it is a big step from print to digital. However, we wanted to take it a step further and experiment with segments and target groups. We send different articles to different target groups, because we think some topics are more relevant to some people than others. This also reduces waste coverage.

Unic Supports With State of the Art Expertise

How did Unic support you in the development of the new email marketing?

Unic provided us with expert advice. We are very happy to have had Unic on board with all their expertise. Unic helped us evaluate which tools best meet our requirements. This was not an easy task, because in addition to our customers, we also had our many internal stakeholders to consider.

Were there any aspects to the collaboration that surprised you?

From my point of view, our work together went very smoothly. This is not something we take for granted, because for a large and relatively complex institution such as ours, collaboration with external partners is not always easy. Unic’s approach was a good match for the demands of our institution.

Using Data to Build Customer Relationships

What do you consider the future challenges for HSLU in digital marketing?

I see them mainly in the area of self-determination. Sooner or later, we will get to a point where our customers can determine for themselves what kind of content they want to receive from us. We don’t want to collect as much data as possible and just draw conclusions from that, we want to get our target groups to tell us their preferences. In my view, the challenge will be to make people aware of the options they have. We want them to understand that we can offer them captivating, relevant content if they are willing to tell us two or three things about themselves. The skill is not in analysing massive amounts of anonymous data, it is in using data to build relationships with our customers.

How is the new email marketing concept going to support you in addressing these challenges?

Well, we now have a tool that enables us to ask customers and prospective subscribers about their preferences. This means we can show them what we have to offer while also gradually getting them involved in the process.

The skill is not in analysing massive amounts of anonymous data, it is in using data to build relationships with our customers.

About the Interview

Andy Reutimann, former senior consultant at Unic, conducted this interview with Katharina Hemmer in Lucerne. At the time of the interview, Katharina Hemmer was Head of Online & Digital at the Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Art. He seized this opportunity to present her with the Email Marketing Milestone, an award presented to Unic customers who have achieved a milestone in company history with an email marketing project. We would like to extend congratulations to the Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Art for their pioneering role in the field of email marketing.

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