How to drive action with your alumni relations email

Did you get the kind of engagement you really want from your latest alumni relations email or campaign?

If the answer to that question is “no,” you’re not alone.

Getting anyone to take action can be challenging at times, especially if you’re not using the right tools and techniques.

And it seems to be even more difficult for college marketers to get their alumni to engage with their emails.

The reasons are endless—everything from being busy to not being interested could be the likely culprits.

Despite this challenge, you shouldn’t give up. With a few adjustments to your alumni relations email campaign, you can increase engagement significantly. Today, you’ll learn how to create emails that will drive recipients to action.

Most people are proud of their alma mater, so much so that they often vow to support their school long after graduation.

Unfortunately, life gets in the way.

Everyone seems to be living their life at break-neck speeds, working long hours, and taking care of endless family and household responsibilities.

Sometimes, checking an email, supporting a fundraiser, or attending an event just doesn’t make the list of priorities. So when alumni receive an email that encourages them to do this, among other things, those emails are often left unopened, deleted, or simply forgotten.

However, that’s not the only obstacle standing in the way of getting the response you want from your email campaign. Other challenges can include:

  • Needing to wait for feedback from stakeholders

  • A longer, more difficult approval process

  • Creating a great alumni team

  • Finding sponsors/donors

Additionally, you face some of the same challenges of other marketers, namely:

  • Generating leads

  • Budgeting

  • Website management

  • Potentially targeting an international audience.

Fortunately, there are simple steps you can take that will cut down on the stress you might be feeling at the thought of creating yet another alumni relations email.

The steps you’ll need to take will require some time and effort, but it will all pay off in the end.

4 easy ways to drive action with your next alumni relations email

In no way are these steps designed to make your life more difficult. You or your team will need to take some time to put these steps into practice. However, once you’ve implemented them, you’ll end up saving time, reducing frustration, and finally getting your alumni to engage and take some action.

Don’t wait to get started until you have an alumni event or fundraiser deadline staring you in the face. Take action now so you’ll be ready to hit the ground running when the time comes.

1. Clearly define your targeted persona.

As an alumni relations coordinator, you have a unique challenge. You have multiple target markets, and you have to find a way to appeal to all of them.

Don’t worry, though—it can be done!

Why is it that you have multiple markets? Because you have graduates from various years. The alumni collective of your school consists of groups of people that graduated decades apart.

Just think about that for a second. Are the same topics or marketing approach going to work for a group that graduated in 2018 and one that graduated in 1988? Probably not.

This is why you have to do some target market identification and personal work.

To do this, you’ll need to create a list of identifying factors. These include:

  • Age

  • Location

  • Graduation year

  • Graduate level

  • Major

  • Information they might be interested in based on the classes they took while enrolled.

Once you get an idea of whom you’re writing to, creating engaging content for your alumni relations email will be much easier.

Take this email from 1973 Ltd. as an example.

Once you get an idea of whom you’re writing to, creating engaging content for your alumni relations email will be much easier.

Source: Really Good Emails

They make mention of the importance of helping each other—something that’s important to your alumni as well.

They go one step further, though, and focus on their audience’s desire to help others, particularly around the holiday season. They’re very specific about whom their donations will help: those struggling with mental illness. The team at 1973 Ltd. not only thought about whom they wanted to help but also whom their audience would want to help.

You can do the same thing. When you start crafting your email, think about your target persona. What would appeal to them? What language and tactics are most effective? What are their concerns?

This will help you create an email that speaks directly to the heart of the recipient of your alumni relations email.

2. Create something of value for those on your list.

It’s a good idea to vary your content a bit, otherwise, it may not feel as valuable to your audience. Once your content’s value starts to go down in the eyes of your email recipient, you’re in danger of losing them altogether. In other words, you’ll end up with a lot of unopened and deleted emails.

One way to add value is to let your audience know what’s going on with other alumni. For example, you could write about an alumnus who has an exciting, new career. Alternatively, you could write about charitable work that the alumni group or individuals are doing for their community.

Another option, which is particularly useful for newer graduates, is writing about how their major will impact employment decisions. Conversely, you can let everyone know about an alumnus that has gone in the complete opposite direction, taking work that has little or nothing to do with their major.

Human interest stories add value and make your emails more interesting. That, in turn, will improve your click-through rate.

If you’re not sure what you should write about, ask your audience as Referral Candy does.

Human interest stories add value and make your emails more interesting. That, in turn, will improve your click-through rate.

Referral Candy sends out a survey to their audience to get valuable feedback from their readers. Ask what your audience wants to read about or how they want to get involved in school fundraising events.

Getting this information will ensure that you create an alumni relations email that is bound to be opened and move your audience to action.

3. Make sure your tone is genuine.

At times, it can be easy to come across as salesy or borderline pushy to your audience. That doesn’t appeal to anyone. You wouldn’t be tempted to participate in an alumni event or school fundraiser if you were made to feel like the only thing about you that matters is your money.

The best way to combat this is by writing with an authentic voice.

The company Charity: Water does a great job of this.

At times, it can be easy to come across as salesy or borderline pushy to your audience. That doesn’t appeal to anyone.

Source: Pinterest

Charity: Water is a charitable organization. They need funds to accomplish their goals. Do they sound pushy, though? No.

Instead, they genuinely appeal to their reader’s heart. They outline the many benefits that will come from the donations they receive.

The image they use also helps. You can see people in the image who’ve been supported by donations in the past. The messages that overlay those images are simple and straightforward, but they also beautifully summarize some of the benefits of donations.

When writing your alumni relations email, remember:

  • To write with a genuine, friendly, compassionate tone

  • Use quality, real images that will appeal to your audience

Summarize the benefits of helping the alumni association and their school as a whole.

4. Always include a strong call to action.

Every alumni relations email should have a call to action, and it should be clearly visible.

Source: Really Good Emails

Every alumni relations email should have a call to action, and it should be clearly visible.

If you have a call to action, you’re more likely to drive your readers to carry out an action. People need to be guided. They might not automatically know what you want them to do. Having a call to action will be the guide they need.

Nearly every email you create should have one of these if you want to improve engagement. Some examples of CTAs you can add include:

  • Take our survey

  • Click here to make a donation

  • Contact us to volunteer.

Wrap up

Getting your alumni to engage can be challenging—but it is not impossible.

By implementing these strategies, you will start to see an increase in reader response rates.

  • Think strategically about the recipient and what would move them to attend an event or support a fundraising campaign.

  • Make sure your email contains valuable, useful, informative content.

  • Avoid sounding fake or salesy. Instead, create an alumni relations email that has an honest, kind, genuine tone.

  • Don’t just include a call to action—make sure it’s easy to locate and easy to understand.

Another tip: Use email analytics to your advantage. Check them after each campaign to see what worked and what didn’t. Then, make adjustments as needed for your next alumni relations email.

With a little time and effort, you can finally create an email campaign that will get results.

Would you like some assistance with your alumni relations email? We can help. Contact our university customer support specialists to help you craft an email that gets results.

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