Alumni associations are tricky beasts to manage. When should you contact alumni asking for donations? How do you go about explaining those donations to students who might already be stressing about their loan repayments? An alumni association isn’t just about donations alone, or about pestering students, so how do you educate them on that topic? A lot of these questions are answered in the process of exploring how automation can be brought to bear for the association. How, why, and when to contact alumni can be as easy as identifying their areas of interest, targeting times that are better for them, and personalizing your communications with them. A personalized touch alone can increase the odds of interaction, and therefore donations, significantly.
The problem is that personalizing messages and researching the optimal window for things like donation requests, as well as spreading the word on the many other functions that alumni associations do is a cumbersome task. There are a lot of messages to be sent and details that must be edited each time they get sent out. It would be a simple matter to mess up a name here or send to the wrong address there.
With that in mind, let us walk through the process of setting up an automated alumni communication solution, and why each tool might be used.
Setting up an Automated Alumni Communication Solution
Step 1: Build your alumni database
Without a database of alumni to send your messages to, there is no point in an automated system. This allows you to tackle the first problem regarding alumni associations and the misconceptions surrounding them. The purpose of an alumni association is to provide networking, job opportunities, and career development for alumni while simultaneously raising money that can be put into scholarships, grants, and bursaries for the next generation of students. The association also provides a handful of benefits to alumni designed to make their transition from student to alumni easier.
Discounted services and access to unique training and tools are all part of the package. So, advertise that! Building your database by putting up a page that details this information is an effective way to capture contact information while also educating your students on just what an alumni association does. Even students who aren’t yet nearing graduation will likely see the page and be pre-emptively made aware of the services you offer.
Step 2: Create content
Once you have people signing up for the association, you want to make sure they have a good picture of what to expect, and make sure they know that donations will be solicited. This isn’t purely because of spam legislation or best practices stating that people should know what they’re signing up for, but because knowing what to expect will also make them more comfortable.
Creating the content ahead of time will allow you to manage your major events of the year, donation requests, and alerts for things like job opportunities and career development programs more effectively and minimize the time that you spend drafting emails. As well, an automated solution can pull data from the central database to personalize emails in real time based on the information the alumni give, as we’ll discuss in the next step.
Step 3: Personalize message templates
Personalized messages have been shown to higher open rate. So, it makes sense that you want all your messages personalized to maximize the chances that the alumni will interact with them, right? Message templates should be set up in your solution and connected to the central database, so that they can include specific alumni-related information and personal details. This minimizes the chances of your messages being ignored and provides a variable that makes it harder for scammers to replicate.
Your solution should include a low code, drag-and-drop editor that allows you to make changes that are visually enticing and consistent with your brand. It should also be scalable and allow you to create multiple templates that you can send to distinct groups of alumni based on their interests and majors. All this personalization can be done automatically and applied to the message as it sends.
Step 4: Leverage reporting
Your automated solution will compile reports for you as messages are sent out. These will contain information that is invaluable to you without having to do the kind of research we mentioned at the beginning of this blog. It will show you when your emails are being opened and viewed, so that you can adjust your send schedule to match the bulk of your alumni. It will also show you what kind of content the alumni are most interested in and allow you to shift your offerings to lean into that interest. Furthermore, if you are having difficulty reaching an alumnus, the reports will also tell you when contact information is out of date, and when a message prompted unsubscribes. All this information put together can be used to refine and retool your messaging until the alumni association is functioning efficiently and effectively. No extra research time needed!
This looks useful! What now?
This automated process is more than possible to build, but you might be worrying about the number of services you would have to pay for and set up to do all of this. Furthermore, if you were to build this solution yourself, it would take up a lot of time. Avoiding that and being more efficient with your time was the whole objective of looking into such a solution!
What can you do then, to achieve the benefits that the solution provides?
SimplyCast anticipated these issues and built a platform that incorporates all the tools you need to implement this solution in one place. With in-house technology, we streamlined all the tools you need and connected them together to provide an automated alumni communication system that is versatile and scalable.
The best part is that since the tools are all connected, there is only a single monthly bill to worry about and it will cost less than if you purchased each tool independently.
Our solution is 100 percent ready to go and fully customizable based on your needs. Depending on your business requirements, our consultants can help you design a perfect invoicing and reminder system using our automated alumni communication solution.
Why wait? Speak to our experts today! Click the button below to request a demo of the solution today!