Engaging Alumni Before, During, and After Homecoming

Written by Laura Thrasher on August 7, 2014

Posted in Education

The air is crisp, leaves are changing, and alumni offices are bustling: it must be homecoming season! Make it easier by using online tools to stay organized. Homecoming is one of the best times to capture alumni data and get them involved with their alma mater. Take advantage of the season and position yourself to engage alumni year-round.

Before:

Clean up your database
Before you start an amazing marketing plan to engage your alumni, you will want a strong email list. Update your database by cleaning out the hard bounces. For people who are not engaging with your email marketing, try a re-engagement campaign. This can be something as simple as offering a one-click opt-out. Remember, a good email list is not about quantity: you want quality. Starting your homecoming season with a clean database will help you engage alumni who want to hear from you.

Use event registrations
Homecoming is full of special events: class reunions, concerts, and more. Online forms let you create event registrations to capture up-to-date alumni information. If you need to sell tickets, simply add a payment processor. Integrate registration forms into your CRM to automatically update alumni information, such as email, addresses, and more.

During:

Hashtag it up
Take advantage of social media mania by designating a unique hashtag for your event. Publicize it on promotional materials. Use it on social media prior to homecoming. Chalk it on the sidewalk or put it on posters. An additional bonus to hashtags is that your social media team can easily monitor what’s going on. Retweet and repost pictures and posts throughout homecoming weekend. You can also use it during events to point alumni to brief online forms so you can collect even more contact information.

Raffles and contests
Give away school swag and collect alumni information at the same time. Have alumni sign up to win foam fingers, shakers, or t-shirts by filling out a quick online form. With mobile-optimized forms, alumni can sign up on their phones. (Just be sure they take off the foam fingers first.) Offer an opt-in for marketing emails at the time of the contest entry.

After:

Segmented email campaign
Once you’ve captured a bunch of alumni data, you need to act on it. Alumni will engage the most with emails that are relevant to them.  Segment your contacts based on graduating class, geographic location, or other information. Customized communications encourage higher levels of engagement than generic email-blasts. Use an email marketing client to make it easy to create segmented campaigns and measure click-through and open rates.

Surveys
A follow-up survey can help you gauge the impact of your homecoming activities. Send it 48-72 hours after the events end so it’s fresh in alumni’s minds. To encourage participation, offer a coupon code to your bookstore. An effective survey includes easy-to-select choices like radio buttons or checkboxes. This lets you analyze the aggregate opinions with charts and graphs. Always include one area where alumni can share their written thoughts, as well.

Don’t let homecoming season pass you by: it is a fantastic time to engage alumni. Take advantage of online tools that can help you capture and analyze data to optimize alumni engagement with your school.