University of Idaho Doubles Email Open Rates by Adding Personalized VideosRESOURCES

University of Idaho Doubles Email Open Rates by Adding Personalized Videos

XMPie Video Services lead to a higher degree of engagement with prospective university students at top US College.


University of Idaho | 

The University of Idaho (U of I) in the United States opened its doors in 1889. It specializes in awarding advanced degrees in water resources, environmental policy and resource management, fish, game, and wildlife management.

The U of I has used the XMPie platform to deliver all its variable data print communications since 2014.


How to increase engagement and maximize student recruitment rates at a US College.


Adding personalized video to the customer journey at scale powered by XMPie’s Video Personalization Service (XVS).


With over 5,300 colleges and universities in the United States, The University of Idaho needed to get ahead in the race to attract prospective students to enrol in its degree programs. 

The higher education market is tougher than ever, and educational institutions like the U of I face many challenges, including more competition for international students, rising student expectations, increased student mobility and availability of online learning, and the COVID-19 pandemic. 

U of I had already switched to individualized messaging in its print and email campaigns. Now, it wanted to stand out and achieve even higher engagement and conversions by adding personalized videos to the marketing mix. Through these videos, students could make a personal connection and feel excited at the possibility of becoming part of the U of I community. 

It needed a solution that: 

  • Prioritized quality with innovative and engaging personalization. 
  • Integrated with its Slate admissions and enrollment management software for delivering the emails. 
  • Linked real-time campaign data with the videos so that up-to-date information could be guaranteed. 
  • Used a video editing tool familiar to the team’s video designers, with a fast learning curve. 
  • Allows many students to view their own video concurrently with no latency, no matter where they are in the country. 


We went to XMPie first when looking for a video solution because the XMPie Platform is robust, and the team understands the challenges we face in student recruitment.
John Barnhart
Senior Director, Marketing and Creative Services, University of Idaho


The U of I selected XMPie’s Video Personalization Service (XVS) for the creation of personalized videos for prospective students who have expressed interest in its courses. 

Sent via email and streamed automatically when each recipient clicks his or her unique link, the videos are personalized with content provided when the student fills out a request for information form. Data collected includes the student’s name, hometown, and academic interest and is used to ‘tag’ or populate the messaging in the recruitment videos. 

XVS is a new offering from XMPie and weaves the data into a video using the same techniques and expertise obtained from over twenty years of personalization. Whereas for print, the data is added using a plugin to Adobe InDesign. For video, the data is added using a plugin to Adobe After Effects, the industry-standard motion graphics and visual effects software. ‘Tagged’ text, images, and clips are linked to the data source to create many versions of the same video template. 

The solution uses a technology patented by XMPie, which avoids any re-rendering of shared segments. No resources need to be allocated on-premises for the rendering process. Instead, the designer can focus on creative design work. 

Like all XMPie’s solutions, XVS is highly scalable, and the videos can be produced either on-demand or in batches, one for each record in the data source. No matter how many videos are required, the students can view them simultaneously and experience a fluid and rapid viewing experience. 

The U of I designed a variety of campaigns to target different student audiences. One campaign highlighting the relatively short distance between Idaho and California was delivered to five thousand prospective students in California. Included in the customer journey was a personalized email with the enticing subject line 

‘Watch This Personalized Video Made Just for You.’ Inside the email was a link to watch the personalized video – and these emails had a very high open rate of 45% compared to the emails without videos which achieved an average open rate of 24%. 

Each video was designed to demonstrate that the U of I understands what the student is looking for from higher education. By addressing him or her personally and sharing engaging messaging about their preferred school. For instance, “[First name] the experience you want is closer to [hometown] than you think!” and “So, you want to be an [engineer/doctor/farmer/designer]?”. And because the videos were created with Adobe After Effects, the video editors could be creative with their personalization effects; anything possible out of the box with Adobe After Effects is possible with XVS. 

XMPie was with us every step of the way... Both the local XMPie Rep and Support Team were committed to our success.
John Barnhart
Senior Director, Marketing and Creative Services, University of Idaho

The Personalized Videos


  • Since switching to a personalized video strategy, admission rates have increased across all student categories. 
  • Emails with personalized videos had a very high open rate of 45% compared to emails without videos which achieved an average open rate of 24%. 
  • Click rates were between 40-50%. 
  • Over ten personalized video campaigns have been launched. 
The XMPie Video Service is very simple to use; the videos are fast to generate and effortless to deliver. It’s the perfect way to get students excited about the prospect of being accepted to our university.
John Barnhart
Senior Director, Marketing and Creative Services, University of Idaho

Critical Success Factors

  • The local XMPie representative helped get the U of I up-to-speed with the service and assisted with the initial implementation. 
  • XMPie Video Service is a microservice that integrates with third-party software. The U of I could integrate the platform with its admissions and enrollment management system (Slate) to embed personalized links and manage the data. 
  • XVS is built on Adobe After Effects technology, so any designer familiar with the software can become proficient in XMPie video personalization in no time. 

Lessons Learned

  • Experiment with the content to see what works. Video content geared towards life on campus and success footage had better results than a focus on academic highlights. Students are looking to get a sense of whether they will fit in at the university. 
  • Tight collaboration between the marketing team and the In-house video production team was essential. 

Want a demo of XMPie’s Video Personalization Service (XVS)? Get in touch using the form below!