Technology is supposed to make things easier. But sometimes – particularly in a large university where different departments oversee various aspects of the institution’s digital footprint – it can feel complicated.
In terms of alumni marketing, however, effective use of technology can make the difference between a successful campaign and one that falls flat.
I’m not going to bore you with the nitty gritty bits and bytes here. Instead, I’ve condensed the three key values that technology can infuse into an alumni marketing engagement program to make it stand out over traditional campaigns.
A university is a vast place – much like the universe itself. There is infinite news from all its corners that you’re eager to share with your alumni, but how many of those messages will truly interest each alumnus personally? Choosing the right conversation to have with the right segment of your alumni is a crucial element in capturing and keeping your audience’s attention.
Enter technology, which makes relevant communication possible. The first step is using digital data collection to understand the interests of each alumnus, then it’s time to create segmented content that lines up with those interests. When English majors get emails from you about campus poetry readings (and not March Madness), they’re more likely to stay tuned.
Imagine you run into an old acquaintance you haven’t seen in years. You wouldn’t ask for their hand in marriage. Nor should you ask your alumni for donations or membership dues the first time (or every time) you communicate with them.
A little goodwill and and stewardship goes a long way. So does a free alumni association sweatshirt or travel mug. Before you ask for a financial commitment from your alumni, help them remember why they love their alma mater so much – and get to know them in the meantime.
In 2013, a technology-driven campaign helped University of Illinois reconnect and engage more than 5,000 alumni over a five-day period, simply by reintroducing their alma mater on Facebook and giving them a chance to win one of five daily prizes that cost less than $50 each. These same alumni are now participating in Illinois’ vibrant social community on Facebook. Give a little upfront, and your alumni will be more willing to give back.
Your alumni use a wide variety of devices that connect them to the Internet and their world of communications. Computers, laptops, iPhones, Droids – even some still hanging on to flip phones and Windows 98.
A whopping 52% of all MSM driven alumni marketing campaigns reached in 2013 read our messages from mobile devices. That’s half your audience! This is critical information to consider when designing appeals for gifts or alumni association membership.
Take a few minutes to evaluate your giving and/or membership appeal website and payment form using your mobile device.
- Can you figure out how to make a gift or join from your phone?
- Is the website easy to read and navigate?
- How quickly can find the payment form and complete the transaction?
- Can you complete the transaction at all on a smartphone?
If your alumni can’t click a “Join Now” button in your email and complete the payment process in less than two minutes from a smartphone, you’re losing major money.
Technology is moving at lightning speed. It can be a challenge to drag your university along to keep up, but by aiming to integrate the three R’s into each of your alumni marketing engagement campaigns, you can certainly make some headway.