Alumni marketing social leaderboard - MSU and NCAA Tournament

Engaging Alumni Now: Michigan State University’s NCAA Tournament Bids

March Madness Alumni Marketing Campaign
Amplifies the MSU Spartans’ Drive to the Final Four

Now through April 8, the Michigan State University men’s and women’s basketball teams will be competing in the NCAA Division I Basketball Tournament, aiming for a trip to the Final Four. The MSU Alumni Association is activating their alumni base with a social leaderboard, which is designed to bring attention to the teams and inspire alumni to follow their alma mater’s tournament progress.

Alumni Marketing Campaign- MSU Basketball Social Campaign During NCAA Tournament

Alumni and friends predict the score for each game, and points are awarded based on accuracy. The user who accrues the most points will rise to the top of the leaderboard and win an MSU basketball autographed by the men’s and women’s coaches. 

During the course of this three-week alumni engagement drive, smaller daily prizes also will be awarded randomly to those who enter predictions, encouraging entries even from those who know they won’t earn enough points to win the grand prize. Through the use of organic Facebook posts, tweets, and reminder emails, alumni are encouraged to enter a prediction for each game to increase their chance of winning a prize. The emails and post-entry app screens soft sell a university giving campaign. 

Maryland Alumni Marketing Program - Days of Giving Facebook

Engaging Alumni Now: University of Maryland

#LoveTheTurtle Alumni Marketing Campaign Launches

Now through February 14, 2014, University of Maryland is engaging alumni with our #LoveTheTurtle five-day giveaway social marketing program. With more than 250,000 living alumni, Maryland’s primary goal is to activate engagement among lost and lapsed graduates while collecting updated contact data.

During the course of this week-long alumni engagement drive, University of Maryland branded prizes will be given away daily to randomly selected alumni who enter to win via our Facebook app. Through the use of organic Facebook posts and daily reminder emails, alumni are encouraged to enter once a day to increase their chance of winning a prize. The daily emails are sent to all entrants, announcing the day’s prize and softly introducing the benefits of alumni association membership.

With our progressive profiling feature activated, each time a graduate enters the giveaway, he or she will be prompted to answer a different question – for example: class year, mobile phone number, favorite professor. This allows us to to capture unique data each time the same person enters without increasing the length of the entry form, resulting in more daily entries.

At the end of the five-day campaign, we will email all engaged participants, making a direct appeal for membership in the alumni association.

2/17 Update: Campaign Results

We reached over 102,370 UMD alumni during Maryland’s five-day #LoveTheTurtle social marketing campaign. Here are a few initial key results from the alumni marketing campaign:

Total UMD alumni reached: 102,370
Total UMD alumni engaged: 2,378
Five-day email nurture average open rate: 61%
UMD alumni participants who clicked to become a member: 27%

Learn more: alumni membership and fundraising campaigns




Three Key Values for Alumni Marketing in 2014

Three Key Values to Activate Your Alumni Marketing in 2014

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.

– Josh

Don’t Waste Your Marketing Dollars on Social Media

Right now, there are a lot of blinking lights and distracting excitement surrounding social media. Businesses are throwing ad and management dollars into social with the broad hope that customers will come stampeding through their doors. For most businesses and institutions, this just isn’t happening.

Social media isn’t a magical way to gain new business with a few ads and aggressive networking (e.g., posting on your wall, tweeting about your organization). Remember in the late 1990s when the Internet became widely adopted and businesses threw big money into hollow online ventures with no revenue model? The same will occur in social media without a true marketing plan.

If you don’t have a true marketing process attached to your business’s social environment, save yourself some time, money and headache and move your investment somewhere else. Why?

Social networks such as Facebook are platforms for people to connect with one another based off of their common interests, location, connections, and other personal attributes. Nobody I know goes to Facebook to see what ads are showing on their wall – they go there to connect with their friends and share their lives with other people they care about. I don’t log on and say, “I wonder what Ford Motor Company is talking about today.” I log on to see what new photos my family has uploaded or what movie my sister is recommending I see this weekend.

With the sheer number of marketing messages the average person is bombarded with each day, it is becoming progressively more difficult to capture someone’s attention long enough to effectively present your brand, especially when they are not focused on seeking out your brand in the first place.

When a business does capture a Facebook user’s attention, shouldn’t there be a process to draw them in and engage them in a way that moves them closer to becoming a customer? Shouldn’t it be fun, easy, and casual for the user? Yes. And yes.

I see many businesses on Facebook today making a major mistake. They spend ad dollars to drive potential customers to their wall, get them to like their page and then expect the conversational nature of Facebook to take over and provide free nurture marketing all the way to checkout. The number of fans you have doesn’t mean a thing unless it’s attached to a solid marketing environment – one that moves each fan closer to a sale.

Yes, you can use Facebook as a highly effective way to generate revenue.

Here are the basics:

Define your audience.
Don’t waste your time with people who will never become paying customers. Take advantage of Facebook’s ability to hyper-target your audience based on traditional demographics, interests, and their connections with other brands. The more defined your audience, the better the response measurement will be and the more accurate your Facebook Ad ROI will be.

Make a compelling offer to capture their attention.
Most people don’t go to Facebook to seek out offers from your company. You must influence their behavior by putting a compelling, relevant offer in front of them. Understand the difference between committal and non-committal offers, and use them appropriately to maximize response.

Collect the right amount data and usable customer feedback.
There is a direct relationship between the number of data collection fields and the form completion rate. The more fields a form requires, the fewer people complete it. Only collect the data that is necessary to move the prospect to the next step. Collect data that will allow you to segment the prospect into a specific type of customer. Make it easy for the customer to get to the information they are requesting in as little time as possible.

Take it beyond Facebook into a cost effective nurture marketing process.
Just because someone has shown interest in your product or service by liking your Facebook page doesn’t mean they are ready to buy. But, once they’ve liked your page, you’ve earned permission market to them. Educate your prospects about the value of your offerings by putting them on an email nurture marketing track. Change it up each time you communicate with them – people have different reasons for buying your products. When they do move into the decision making part of their buying cycle, they’ll be educated on your products and you’ll have top-of-mind consideration as a result of your nurturing.

Test. Analyze. Refine. Repeat.
A high performing marketing process is not typically achieved right out of the gate. Identify bottlenecks in each step of the overall marketing process through testing and simple data analysis. Make adjustments to resolve bottlenecks and move further down the funnel to the next one. A simple, defined testing and refinement process can reduce prospect acquisition costs by as much as 60 percent.

Contact Us

Activate Alumni by MSM
438 Main Street, Suite 201
Rochester, Michigan 48307

Phone: 888.714.7814


MSM – The Alumni Marketing Experts

MSM offers technology driven social media, marketing, website development and business analytics built specifically for higher education. As early adopters of all new technologies, we enjoy finding alumni marketing applications for emerging social and mobile platforms.

We know how to adapt to the rapidly changing social landscape — and how to lead our clients through successful transitions into new opportunities as they become available.

For more information about MSM’s full suite of technology driven marketing solutions, visit our agency website at