Alumni Emails

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Alumni Emails

Hey… will you please put this fundraiser, sales pitch, newsletter, event notification, budget update, chancellor’s update, (insert whatever type of message you have for alums here) into an email and send it to our entire alumni base?

Let me first give some rationale for our typical response to this type of request. Based on market research of our alums, Alumni Affairs has set a communication schedule to accommodate the preferences of this target audience. Surveys of our alums indicate that they prefer to receive electronic communications from WCU on a monthly basis. Higher frequency of emails generally result in increased numbers of people unsubscribing from the entire database. Once they unsubscribe, we cannot send them any more messages from the university.

In light of this fact, and given the number of requests that the Alumni Director receives to send single emails to alums from units, departments, and divisions across campus, Alumni Affairs has created a vehicle that allows most university units to communicate their messages, on a monthly basis, to this target audience, in a way that resonates and enhances the alumni experience.

This monthly e-newsletter, Purple Pride, is completely customized to send to each alum information and messaging that is relevant on a personal level. So each month, each alum receives news of alumni happenings, big university news, Catamount Sports promotions, merged in messages from their particular college or department and class year, and other targeted messaging that might need to go to any specific group (based on geographic area, ethnicity, etc.) We have found that this personalized approach has increased open and click-through rates and decreased the number of unsubscribes received each month from our alums.

Each month, there is opportunity to send appropriate messages to your targeted alumni segment. We typically include a short blurb or captivating headline with direct links to the full content that you have placed on your website. Each month, we monitor the metrics, making note of the types of content with which alums mostly interact.

The system not only enables us to assess how well the emails are working and ensure a positive experience for all our alums, but it also helps us to maintain the email database and automatically manage subscribes and unsubscribes to keep us compliant with the anti-spam laws. Your message content becomes part of a coherent e-newsletter without you having to develop the entire thing, and we are able to manage all the database functions for you.

It’s a win-win-win situation. If you have content that you think is relevant to any segment of the alumni base, please contact the Alumni Affairs office and ask to have it included in the next issue.

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Personalized vs Bulk Communications Pieces

A fellow member of an industry list serve posed this admissions-related question for the group, “For Admissions recruitment these days, does a personalized letter carry as much weight as a pretty publication amongst the high schoolers who receive them?” Great question!

Personalized communications have a demonstrated higher ROI than bulk messaging. Doing some research on integrated marketing for higher education some years ago, I came across this in some CASE books on the subject. Personalized pieces do cost more to produce each piece, but the yield on prospect to matriculation is higher. If you do the math, your costs per … actually go down if you compare the cost per matriculant versus the cost per prospect. So make fewer, personalized and targeted pieces for high yielding prospect profiles.

Side note here and good example of the effect of personalized marketing… I’m taking my grand-daughter to Disney this month and reserved a motel on property. In the process of registering online, Disney collected basic demographic info of the folks in my party. I just received a personalized email with links to the exact motel where we’re staying – with pictures and highlighting activities for 4-year-olds (the age of my grand-daughter). There was also a link to a personalized video welcoming the Huff party and getting us excited for our upcoming trip. It showed a map with a balloon leaving our town and ending up in Orlando … and selling the Mickey Mouse hats and T-shirts with Huff written on it. This is brilliant!

What if we could take some simple info from our recruitment databases and merge in personalized info like this … getting prospects excited about our institution. Do we collect hometown info and areas of interest (clubs, programs, extra-curricular, etc.). Could we merge in personalized info into our emails that go out to prospects? What about print? What other ideas could branch off this?

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