As a higher education administrator, you already know that your alumni are your college’s biggest assets. Not only do these former students serve as powerful ambassadors for the school, but they are typically the university’s largest donors. In addition, they are often strong recruiters of new students, and they are first in line to hire graduates. The significant level of influential power offered by alumni should not be taken for granted by any university.
Instead, colleges must be proactive in nurturing this relationship and maintaining strong communication with their former students. Although most universities use several marketing strategies, e-newsletters are among the most common and the most effective. It's important that your college creates a dynamic e-newsletter that entices alumni to maintain their commitment to their alma mater. These five tips can help you create an effective alumni newsletter.
1. Determine the Purpose of the E-newsletter
The first step of any e-newsletter campaign is to identify the main objectives such as fundraising, awareness, relationship-building and communication. The primary purpose of your newsletter is likely multifaceted, but having these objectives clearly defined from the beginning is crucial. This helps your university determine vital components of the process, including who to put in charge of the newsletter, what information to cover, and when and how often to distribute it.
2. Include the Right Information
Many colleges spend too much time focusing on current school issues. While you want to share this information, you should focus on the most important issues such as awards received, sports victories, faculty research and leading student profiles. You should also use the e-newsletter to fortify your former students' connection and commitment to your university. Alumni profiles or achievement stories resonate very well with fellow alumni. Short human-interest stories and details about how alumni donations were used to improve the school are perfect ways to connect with readers.
3. Maintain an Up-to-Date Alumni Database
If you're going to create an e-newsletter, you must have a well-maintained alumni database. An efficient CRM software system can help with this process because it lets you update records instantaneously, providing an accurate database for when you send out the e-newsletter. You should also consider sending an informational postcard a few weeks before the newsletter is released to notify all former students that an e-newsletter is on its way and to request their updated information.
4. Involve Alumni
The best way to keep alumni members connected to their alma mater is to get them involved. Use your newsletter to invite alumni to upcoming school events, such as Homecoming or Alumni Weekend. An e-newsletter is also the perfect way to let your alumni know what your school needs. Including a wish list or details about a current or upcoming fundraising campaign in your newsletter can greatly increase donations. Most importantly, be sure to include specific contact information with each event or donation request.
5. Acknowledge Donors
An official e-newsletter should have a donor acknowledgment section so your university can acknowledge every alumni donor publicly as such acknowledgments may encourage future donations. The most important thing is to make sure your donation list is complete and accurate. Having a comprehensive donor database that is integrated with your accounting system can help with this process.
When creating your e-newsletter, look at things from the perspective of your alumni. Try to keep your stories as short and to the point as possible. Many readers may overlook lengthy newsletters.
Keeping these tips in mind when developing your e-newsletter campaign can help your university maximize its potential and strengthen its university/alumni relationships.