It’s a new era for alumni engagement in higher ed. Is your college or university up to speed?
Marketers can now employ strategies to track every touch point, and follow prospects from the moment they become high school seniors through college graduation day, and after their 30th reunion.
The key to getting alumni buy-in is to start early. Implement marketing automation software to track students and collect data, and use digital marketing and advertising tactics to captivate your audience. Thread with brand messaging – and your alumni loyalty will strengthen.
Follow these 5 alumni engagement best practices to promote lifelong loyalty.
- Marketing Automation: Marketers using automation software generate 2x the number of leads than those using blast email software. (Autopilot) Marketing automation software enables your communications department to segment students by persona and provide data on their online behaviors. When universities understand who their students are and how they interact online, they can continually optimize all digital campaigns, email marketing and social media.
- Lead Nurturing: Nurtured leads produce, on average, a 20% increase in sales opportunities versus non-nurtured leads. (Demand Gen Report) With a marketing automation program in place, higher ed marketers can nurture their students along their journey. Content provided consistently over time will grow student relationships and prime them for giving as alumni.
- Mobile Marketing: Two-thirds of high school students would be willing to receive a text message from a prospective college. (Lawrence & Schiller) Marketing to Generation Z future alumni means marketing to their phones. All digital communications should be designed and written for mobile, with short, user-friendly web pages and landing pages. Text message marketing should be highly incorporated into marketing strategies.
- Video: 82% of internet traffic will be from video by 2021. (Cisco) With video as a necessary part of content marketing, universities should develop long-term strategies that integrate video in all social and digital channels.
- Social Media: Alumni who were marketed to through social media and gave to their school were almost twice as likely as other alumni to: 1) feel very close toward their alma mater and 2) have donated more than $250. (2015 Alumni Survey: Social Media Findings) Universities should use social media as a primary tool to connect with applicants, students and alumni. Gen Z prefers Snapchat and Instagram over Facebook, so your content should follow Gen Z on those channels now. After graduation these channels may change, so continually monitor where your alumni flock to online.
A successful alumni giving program unfolds over decades, not months, and starts by deeply cultivating and engaging students well before they graduate. With the data a university acquires from their students’ behaviors, as soon as those students toss their grad caps in the air, the university will know exactly how to reach them as alumni.
Lightstream can help your marketing team employ an effective engagement strategy. Contact us today.