Prior to joining the team at MSM, I had the privilege of serving the University of Illinois Alumni Association as the AVP of Membership and Marketing. During my tenure at Illinois, I struggled with finding new ways to engage and activate the university’s alumni. It was a challenge to get them to participate within our association and consequently the university at large. The more effort we put into traditional marketing tactics, the more frustrated we grew with our declining revenue and participation.
Illinois’ direct mail investment was continuing to deliver poor response rates — declining to less than 1% for new acquisitions — and our new grad campaigns fell short with the bulk of alumni association emails going unopened.
When it came to the digital marketplace, our alumni association had difficulties navigating modern tactics even though we were maintaining a decent social media presence, producing electronic newsletters, and sending specialized emails. We were unaware of the technological advancements at our disposal to truly market a campaign and successfully reach alumni. It was hard to know where to start. That’s where MSM came in. With their help, we were finally able to make the transition into a more effective social marketing environment.
Running an engagement campaign was our first step. Without any expectations of what success might actually look like given our past failures, MSM’s first initiative for Illinois resulted in almost 7,500 new Facebook page likes with corresponding updated email addresses, increasing our outreach potential by 133%.
I get it. New digital marketing technologies can feel overwhelming, especially when implementing them at a university feels like turning the Titanic. But the power and impact of strategies like the ones MSM employed for Illinois are critical to reaching and engaging alumni today. I was so moved by the results I decided to revamp my career, becoming MSM’s Chief Strategy Officer with the goal of helping universities across the country advance their marketing.