Explorers Welcome: How a Custom Welcome Box Increased Enrollment At the University of the Ozarks

When a small private college in rural Arkansas needed to increase enrollment numbers they knew they needed to forget the traditional approach of sending out a printed publication or formal letter to prospective students.

The University of the Ozarks had to think outside the box about what made the school stand out. Given their location, they needed to play upon the strengths of all the great amenities that came with being a university in a rural setting. The university turned to CNP, a marketing agency in the heart of Florida, to help them create an amazing welcome experience for new students.

Creating a custom box was a new experience for both the university and incoming students. CNP partnered with Packlane to create custom packaging that showcased the school’s marketing message in a new way.

Leading the design on the project was Martin Corbin from CNP with help from his team: Victoria Gauthier, copywriter; Katrina Hill, account executive; Bobbi Zagrocki, print coordinator; and Shannon Viox, production designer.

The university was looking to use the theme “Explorers Welcome” in some of their marketing activities and their welcome box felt like a natural extension. As Corbin explained, “The concept really resonated with us, especially in terms of an admissions package”.

“By focusing on informative content,’ Corbin said, “an outdoor-themed design and the idea of a student starter kit we were able to appeal to the experience they would have at the university.”

“The results so far have shown a 29 percent year-over-year increase in student yield which shows that this appeal truly did resonate with the students.”

CNP’s research leading up to the project meant surveying current students to find common themes about concerns incoming freshmen had. It helped them craft a message that spoke to new students in an authentic tone. One key goal of the project was to find more “right-fit” students for the school. That meant CNP needed to pique their interest in not only the tight-knit community of a small, rural campus, but also play up the student’s interests in outdoor activities like rock climbing, camping, and kayaking.

The university saw an increase in student yield for the 2017-2018 enrollment cycle and Corbin attributes that to the quality of the communication in their box.

Using an enrollment tool like a custom mailer box created an immersive experience that left a memorable first impression for accepted students.

The box was really able to showcase the one-on-one attention and focus that students receive at the University of the Ozarks.

Corbin said students were excited about the box and CNP received a lot of great feedback from students. They found the entire package useful and were excited to show it off to their friends. A lot of former students and parents also said they were jealous that their acceptance package wasn’t this cool. It was an awesome surprise to receive a box in the mail instead of a packet or form letter. The unboxing experience for students was what really made the university stand out as the school they wanted to attend.

Inside each box were several branded items student could use in their UofO adventures: a canteen shaped water bottle for the classroom or on the train; a custom buff which can be used as a scarf or headband; and buttons commemorating some local must-see spots.

To go along with the custom box, CNP also created a 32-page Scout Book that helps students make their final decision. The Scout Book talks about campus life, financial aid, and sports and recreation. It’s an essential guide to help students prepare to make the final decision to enroll.

Corbin and his team were thrilled with the finished product. He said working with Packlane to create the box was an overall positive experience. He knew he wanted a vendor that was easy to work with, provided incredible value, and flexible when it came to production. Luckily, CNP found the right partner in Packlane.

As a designer, Corbin encourages others to consider the user experience when creating a custom mailer box like the one CNP created for the University of the Ozarks. It’s all about creating something unique that positions the user to be excited and amazed when it comes time for the unboxing experience.

This editorial series brought to you by our partners at Packlane


They say good things come in small packages. At Packlane, we believe great things come in custom packages, whether they’re small cartons, large printed shipping boxes, or anything in between. With a variety of shapes, colors, materials, and sizes, we give you the tools to create something exciting on the outside, thus exciting your customers about what’s on the inside.

As the only company that provides a custom design lab, live preview, and instant quote, we not only give you the freedom to unpack your creativity and develop your own design, but we also help you do it efficiently. And if you’re having trouble, we’re here to assist with anything from design to technical support.