Alumni Community Playbook (Chapter 4): Sample Rollout & Marketing Plan

Let's Go!

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!


Internal Rollout

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.
Give key stakeholders an overview of the marketing plan (sample below) so everyone understands the next steps for promoting the new directory.
  • 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.



Marketing Plan

Set Goals
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.

General advice
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.

Friends and Family First
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!
The Alumni Community helps volunteers complete their assignments, so it’s a value-add for everyone who’s already giving back to your organization.
  • 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 genius@evertrue.com and we can do that for you.

Email
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.


Website

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).


Social Media
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.


Events
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.
Have signage at check-in and on the big screen. 
  • Don’t miss out on a chance to talk about the power of the alumni network! 
Create giveaways for users.
  • 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.
Make the directory part of the program.
  • Be sure to mention your new EverTrue community at least once during every event!

Check out this blog post for more event promotion ideas.


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.

Every institution can track overall usage reports in Console. Those who have access to the EverTrue Platform can look at daily usage or run searches for Alumni Community users.
Assign values to the following community-enabled engagement points, all of which demonstrate a strong connection to your institution:
  • 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

  • Fall
    • 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.
  • Winter
    • 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.
  • Spring
    • 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. 
  • Summer
    • 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!

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