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It’s so important for the university to speak as one voice. No matter the department, we all have the same goal—recruit students and help them get the education they deserve. When branding is consistent, it helps students feel like they are truly a part of the university as a whole, not just their specific college.


Like many higher ed institutions, the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (UWM) is learning the many ways they can bring together individual departments under one powerful brand.

Departments within the university, like the Office for Development and Alumni Relations, UWM Athletics, and UWM Communications, buckle-down each day to reach their individual goals, which all add up to the bigger picture: recruiting and retaining successful students.

How do three completely different departments, all with individual goals, unite under one brand? It’s the power of email that closes the gap and offers consistency across the board.

The Office for Development and Alumni Relations


The Office for Development and Alumni Relations keeps UWM grads and donors up-to-date with the latest word from the Vice Chancellor and a variety of newsworthy stories and updates. But when it comes to placing content within the newsletter, the team relies heavily on the Emma Click Map Feature.

The Click Map was created to help users like UWM see which pieces of content are driving the most subscriber engagement. Using the Click Map, the team noticed one major developing trend that would help them redesign their newsletter for even greater success.

They noticed readers were more likely to click through to the stories if they were were linked in the Vice Chancellor’s letter featured at the top of the newsletter. With this insight in mind, the team began moving those stories from their original placement at the bottom of the newsletter up into the Vice Chancellor’s feature. Now, with their new spotlight placement, these stories are seeing a generous increase in engagement—and the Development and Alumni Relations team continues to rely on Emma’s analytics to make game-changing decisions.


Development teams understand the importance of nurturing their audience and soliciting donations for the university.

Kari Pink, Director of Marketing & Communications – Donor Relations, says, “The secret to successfully soliciting donors is the perfect combination of your message, your timing, and your audience.”

When we asked Pink about her experience with these three soliciting ingredients, she recalled a campaign sent immediately following the COVID-19 stay-at-home mandate. Like their newsletter, this campaign featured a note from the Vice Chancellor. However, this letter was sent as a means to encourage donors to support emergency funds for UWM students.

Because their audience was already accustomed to receiving communications from the Vice Chancellor, a relationship had already been established. And this strong rapport yielded some pretty sweet results. The campaign benchmarked as their most successful email solicitation to date, raking in a 49% open rate and over $16,000 from 115 donations.

Any higher ed pro who is looking to bring in more donations can take the advice from Pink, a solicitation guru: “To be successful with donations, you need to make your asks personal. Anonymous or generic letters won’t do the trick. These solicitations need to be from an actual person and there has to be passion behind the ask.”

UWM Athletics


Similar to the Office for Development and Alumni Resources, UWM Athletics uses a similar storytelling approach to captivate audiences and ensure active engagement.

“I think it’s important for us to focus on the storytelling portion because it provides a different perspective to our subscribers. It’s also a way to humanize our student-athletes and even our staff. Plus, we know how much our fans love the insight and inside access to the student-athletes,” says Adam Schemm, Senior Associate Director of Athletics.

The department recently shared a story covering the state’s approval for the construction of a new basketball facility. Fans were ecstatic to hear the news and the engagement rates showed it. But it wasn’t just engagement numbers that caught Schemm’s eye—the team also received direct replies to the email, showing subscriber willingness to actively engage with the department and the story.

We asked Schemm what his secret to successful ticket marketing is, and he pointed back to email.

“The Emma platform is so easy to use and has become a tool that makes it really easy to be successful in this area. But what it all boils down to is finding the right audience and making sure you have a compelling offer.”

UWM University Relations and Communications Office


In the UWM University Relations and Communications Office, Emma plays a major role in driving and maintaining brand consistency across all communications. Before the team began using Emma, email marketing efforts were off-brand and disjointed, resulting in confusing messaging and disconnectivity between departments. With Emma, the team can create and set brand guidelines that serve as a standard for departments across the university.

Now, whenever a department or school is ready to deliver email communications, they simply plug in their personalized header and signature into a ready-made template and hit send.

And when it comes to brand consistency, designer Kendell Hafner in the UWM University Relations and Communications Office says it makes all the difference.

“It’s so important for the university to speak as one voice. No matter the department, we all have the same goal—recruit students and help them get the education they deserve. When branding is consistent, it helps students feel like they are truly a part of the university as a whole, not just their specific college.”


Aside from checking off all her brand-related boxes, Hafner says that Emma is a tool that expands beyond a technology platform. Emma’s Professional Services team acts as an extension to the UWM University Relations and Communications team, offering quick and expert guidance on any issue that may arise.

Recently, the UWM team collaborated with the Professional Services team to take their already-made templates and adjust them to fit ADA requirements. And now, the UWM University Relations and Communications team can confidently send communications that are accessible to everyone, no matter how they are reading or hearing their emails.

What can other universities expect from working with Emma’s Professional Services team? Hafner says, “I would recommend Emma’s Professional Services to other higher ed professionals because it makes everything so much easier. It’s one less thing we have to worry about since we have access to a team of professionals. Plus, they are so responsive and easy to work with—it’s such a great resource to have.”

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