Increase Alumni Engagement Through Texting

by Rachel Bishop | November 4, 2019
Increase Alumni Engagement Through Texting

Alumni engagement makes up an important topic for higher ed staff. Truly, alumni engagement begins before students even become alumni. Staff can conduct alumni outreach with students right before they graduate. They might note their desire to keep in touch with students far beyond the moment they cross the stage and get their degree. Because students are still just that — students — it’s likely outreach from their college will still mean something to them. This is why it’s crucial to lay the groundwork for a long-lasting relationship during this time, right before students graduate.

Alumni engagement: Framing the conversations

Just before students earn their degree, staff might consider reaching out to them via text message to help with their transition from student to alum. Staff can have fun with this. They can join in on saluting students for their achievements. Further, they can note the desire to keep in touch once students earn their degrees. They can inform students that their soon-to-be alma mater will always be there have their backs.

alumni engagement

Perks for alumni

Students are most likely to feel most attached to their alma maters right after they graduate. In fact, there are several perks for alumni in staying in touch with their alma maters. For example, alumni can network through their connections at their former college or university. To do this, they might attend alumni events hosted on campus. Further, alumni might call on their alma maters for help with transitioning to the working world. The perks go on for alumni to keep in touch, and staff can work to show recent grads the value of doing so.

alumni engagement

Planning your alumni engagement strategy

To plan a successful alumni engagement strategy for a text campaign, two crucial factors must be present. These factors are 1) an up-to-date CRM system and 2) personalization. These two components go hand-in-hand. Simply stated, no texting strategy will be as effective as it can be without a deep level of personalization. It's what makes a text meaningful rather than "spammy."

Staff might consider using a comprehensive data system, such as iModules, to capture and keep student and alumni data. Once this data is linked to Signal Vine, texts to recent grads can be relevant and personal.

alumni engagement

alumni engagement

Also, staff might consider text outreach to organize get-togethers for alumni. For instance, texting could be used to alert alumni that an event will take place in their city. By targeting text outreach to alumni in various locations, alumni will receive the texts most relevant to them to encourage event attendance. Again, this type of personalized, targeted message is made possible by an up-to-date data system.

Encouraging giving

A common form of alumni engagement is reaching out about giving back. Texting to encourage giving is an easy, convenient method for staff and grads alike. However, given the nature of these messages, we recommend only sending two to three of them per year.

A great way to preface these texts is to show alumni the direct impact of donations. While there are many ways to do this, here are a few ideas to get started:

  • texting a picture of a library built with donations from alumni
  • sending pictures of students who received an alumni-funded scholarship
  • attaching thank you letters from current students who benefit from donations

In action: The University of Pittsburgh

The University of Pittsburghalumni engagement used both iModules and Signal Vine to message young alumni and increase donations. The team at Pitt decided that texting would be the most effective form of outreach. Once they launched their campaign, they messaged 17,000 alumni. They used Signal Vine’s segmentation features to break their texts up to target five groups of alumni:

  1. Those who hadn’t given yet
  2. Alumni who had given before but their gift designation was unknown
  3. Those who had given a known gift designation
  4. Those who in the previous year gave but their gift designation was unknown
  5. Alumni who in the previous year gave and their gift designation was known.

As a result of their outreach, Pitt noted a 13x improvement in yield from previous email efforts. Further, alumni praised the text outreach:

Hi Sarah, I love this new texting fundraising!

I also donated a little $$, just what I could at the moment, because of your outreach efforts. Hail to Pitt!

Learn more

To learn more about engaging alumni through texting, visit our Alumni Engagement Solutions page.

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