Alumni Community Playbook (Chapter 4): Sample Rollout & Marketing Plan
Once you’ve set up your Alumni Community, it’s time to spread the word to your alumni body. We’ve put together a sample plan for a successful rollout.
If you have ideas to add, tell your Customer Success Manager. We’d love to hear what’s worked for you so we can share your advice with other schools!
Before you begin, walk through these FAQs about Alumni Community and share them with your team.
Choose a product champion (or champions) who is the primary point of contact for your Customer Success Manager for all-things Alumni Community-related. This team leader will stay updated on future directory enhancements and spearhead the initial rollout and ongoing promotion of the alumni directory.
- We can’t overemphasize the importance of choosing an owner. In order to have a successful launch and build a thriving alumni network, you need someone who holds ultimate responsibility for overseeing an ongoing marketing and promotional plan.
- You also need an operational plan with a person or team designated to manage helping users log in, responding to user questions, and processing suggested updates from alumni.
Set aside an hour to walk your team through a demonstration of Alumni Community.
- Discuss the benefits of the EverTrue directory:
- Enhanced career and location information via LinkedIn
- Mobile-friendly and easy-to-use
- It’s compatible with every device via Alumni Community Web and includes best-in-class apps on iOS and Android devices.
- On average, one of every five Alumni Community users submits new contact information to the institution. More users means better contact information for your alumni database.
- Help everyone sign into the directory either by setting up a password or connecting their LinkedIn profile.
- Show them how the search feature works. Look for specific alumni, check out search results in a city or two, and search for contacts by industry.
- Click into a couple alumni profiles and show everyone how they look. Note the career information visible on constituent profiles within Alumni Community via EverTrue’s exclusive partnership with LinkedIn.
- If you’re taking advantage of the mentorship features available in Alumni Community, show your team how alumni can register as mentors and how users can search for mentors in different industries or cities. For help, check out this article.
- Before your demo is over, make sure everyone has the web version bookmarked on their phones and desktop. If they have an iOS or Android device, they should also download the app for the best possible smartphone experience.
- Give a homework assignment! Have everyone look for the following information to help them better understand the platform’s capabilities:
- How many alumni are in the class of 2000?
- How many alumni work for Goldman Sachs?
- How many alumni live in Houston, Texas? How many live there according to the “LinkedIn Location” feature?
- Pick an alum in advance: Where does LinkedIn say they work? What career information do we have for them in our own database? (Hint: look for the LinkedIn logo.)
- Download the mobile app for your smartphone.
- Make sure you keep advancement services involved when creating and executing your marketing plan, as they’re typically responsible for helping new users access the app, responding to alumni questions, and updating the database with profile updates.
Before you begin, set goals that the team agrees on to help focus your promotional efforts:
- Adoption rate
- Ideally, this should be a percentage based on the number alumni for which you have a valid email address. Alums can’t access the app without an email in the system!
- While it depends on the institution, typical directory usage is anywhere between 4-9% of alumni with valid email addresses. If you currently have an online directory, you can pull baseline numbers from there.
- Data updates
- One of the best features of the EverTrue directory is that it’s a powerful tool for collecting new contact information from alumni. Set a goal (i.e. one of every five alums submits new contact information) and keep tabs on it as the months progress.
- # of mentors
- If you’re running a mentorship program in Alumni Community, shoot for a target number of mentors. You can track numbers of mentors within specific industries. Measure progress against your goal by running monthly searches.
It’s often helpful for your advancement services team if you stagger the initial promotion of the directory and app instead of publicizing to your entire community at once. Receiving hundreds of profile updates from your alumni is awesome, but it’s also a lot of work to get back into the database! Schools often announce the app to groups of volunteers first, then reunion year groupings (3s and 8s, 4s and 9s, etc.) to spread things out.
You’ll want to let your most engaged alums know about the new directory first. This is helpful for a number of reasons: it’s a special benefit in return for their help as volunteers, you’re giving them powerful tools to help get their jobs done, and you’re building buzz before a larger launch. Invite fundraising volunteers, admissions interviewers, trustees, alumni association leadership, and regional volunteers to sign in before you promote to the rest of the alumni body. Everyone likes early access!
- Class agents or volunteer fundraisers can track classmates’ career progress, obtain contact information, and help update alumni records—all from their mobile devices.
- Class correspondents can easily stay up-to-date on career announcements or new moves via our LinkedIn partnership.
- Regional volunteers have better insight into who lives and works in their area and can reach out to local alumni with a quick email or phone call to let them know about upcoming events.
Build Your Mentor Program
If you’re planning on using Alumni Community to power a mentorship program, you’ll want to recruit alumni to register as mentors first so that anyone looking for career advice has plenty of fellow graduates to choose from. (Here are instructions for your users.)
Pick the right alumni to ask to become mentors. This is a great way to offer current volunteers other ways to give back. You know they’re already engaged and love your institution, so ask them if they’re willing to provide career advice to other alumni.
- Look for alumni in the right cities and industries. Using Alumni Community search features, search in your top-10 locations for alumni in important industries such as finance, communications, legal, or education. You can even search quickly growing fields like sustainable energy, software, or technology. Ask alumni in these cities or fields who graduated 10 or more years ago to become mentors.
- Bonus tip: If you have access to the EverTrue platform, you can run these searches there and then create exports to use for email invites.
Asking someone to be a mentor is easy: “Are you willing to talk to young alumni or recent graduates who are new to the area or industry? Become a mentor in the (school name) network!”
Set a goal for the number of mentors you want to have before you start publicizing this feature and keep reaching out until you hit your target.
The mentorship features are active by default. If you want to turn those off, contact firstname.lastname@example.org and we can do that for you.
Regular email promotion is the best way to spread the word about your directory and help new users join your community.
- Plan regular touchpoints. At least once a quarter, send an email to your alumni body with a short note about the value of the directory and include an invitation to sign in.
- Update all email footers with links to sign-in to the community.
- If you have an e-newsletter, make sure there’s a regular callout to sign in.
- Add a line about the directory to follow-up surveys for event attendees or annual giving thank-you emails to spread the word among alumni who are engaging with you.
- We have sample promotional email templates here.
The directory is often the most sought-after feature of your alumni website. Make sure it’s easy to find and access for your alums! It should be prominently featured on your landing page (if not every page on your site).
- You should also create a page that explains the benefits of your Alumni Community and answers frequently asked questions. We have landing page samples for you to check out here and a template for a FAQ page, too.
Creating a monthly post or ad for your Facebook pages, Twitter accounts, and LinkedIn groups is a great way to grab the attention of your alumni. Sit down with your social media managers and work with them to plan out six months of regular promotions.
- We have sample posts for Facebook and Twitter.
- Don’t be afraid to spend a little money to promote the post to larger audiences, especially on Facebook. You can do this for as little as $5 and reach the news feeds of hundreds (or even thousands) of alumni.
- You can also create dedicated Facebook ads to promote your community. Here’s more information on how to do that along with examples from other schools.
Events are great because you have a captive audience of alumni who can sign into the directory on the spot.
Invite users to sign in before or after the event via email.
- If you send messages to attendees with details about the time and location in advance, add a line about the directory. And if you send a follow-up survey or thank-you message, be sure to promote the community there, too.
- Don’t miss out on a chance to talk about the power of the alumni network!
- Give away t-shirts, stickers, or swag to people who have the app downloaded on their device or use the app as a free drink ticket during happy hour.
- Be sure to mention your new EverTrue community at least once during every event!
Alumni Engagement Scoring
If you’re tracking alumni engagement or looking to build a engagement scoring system, your Alumni Community should be a part of the metrics you’re measuring.
- User activates first-time access to directory
- User downloads mobile application
- User accesses directory during fiscal year
- User becomes a mentor
- User submits profile update for themselves
- User suggests new profile information for a classmate
Promote the Evertrue Community During These Important Times of Year
- With hundreds (or thousands) of alumni moving to new cities over the summer or starting at college or graduate school, the fall is a great time to remind them to check the directory and connect with other graduates or mentors in the area.
- January and February can be a slow season in the advancement world. With a lull in communications from campus, this is a good time to promote the directory to new users.
- Before your seniors leave campus, make sure they’re connected to the alumni body. If you have an alumni initiation or “senior sunset” program, you can obtain up-to-date contact information and offer access to the alumni network in return.
- As the giving year comes to a close, sharing access to the directory is a great way to thank every donor. Share the news about your new network in your end-of-year thank you message and showcase the value of the alumni experience.
For Chapter 5, click here!