3 Quick Steps to engage your alumni network
In the light of today’s tight economic conditions and competition for resources and income, it’s vital for any educational organization or common interest group to get their past students or members, their alumni network, engaged. Below the Online Sales Growth team describe three quick and cost effective internet marketing steps that can turn your alumni network contacts list into a dynamic, engaged support network.
In a recent discussion with a friend, the head teacher of a local independent school, he described how it had dawned on him that another independent school was doing very well financially by keeping their alumni network actively engaged, and that this was a lesson for other educational groups and common interest groups. This quick blog looks at some of the key lessons from internet marketing for business that can help these organizations take the pain out of engaging large alumni networks.
Step 1: Make Communication Easy, Sign Up With An Email Marketing Service Provider
The life blood of an active, engaged alumni network is regular, relevant communication, and in the age of the internet, this is typically done using e-mail. That said, anybody who has tried to send out regular e-mails to a large list of people knows how time consuming and laborious this can be, to the point where the administrative overhead can cause this process to founder.
So, what can we use from the mainstream internet marketing toolkit to help. The bedrock is to build the list of e-mail addresses of current and past students/ members and to ensure you have permission to use their addresses. To help manage this process it is absolutely vital to get an account with an ‘e-mail list manager’ company like Aweber or Mailchimp. If you try to send large numbers of emails from an organization’s email account on a regular basis you are liable to get your email blacklisted for potential spamming, and few things are going to be more crippling to you than this! However an AWeber or Mailchimp account will take this risk away as they use ‘confirmed opt-in’ systems to ensure that only people who have signed up will get on your list thereby giving security and safety to your organisation. In addition, these companies provide ‘easy to re-use’ templates for managing regular communications with large lists of contacts sitting in your ‘alumni network’! This takes care of the accepted protocols for communicating over the internet and helps you avoid unintended ‘internet misdemeanours’.
Step 2: Engage Your Alumni Network – Get a Regular Blog Cycle Going
Make a regular habit of writing blog articles relevant to your alumni network (have a look at this article for more info about why blogging is such a powerful tool) – keeping the network informed on topics that are interesting or relevant to them will make them want to keep coming back for more.
Another good area to write blogs on is on any topical news articles that might impact your network and how they might deal with the issues that arise from it. For example, Web Chemistry customers Greenfield Insurance were quick to spot the potential need of companies and home owners affected by the London Riots and had a blog article up detailing what those affected by them should do within hours of the riots starting.
Establishing a Facebook page and Twitter account for your organization will also help keep your network involved and engaged.
Step 3: Keep The Alumni Network Engaged – Keep Blogging, Keep It Regular!
Now the key thing to remember at all times is that it should be an on-going practice and keep promoting your blogs and articles. Every time you send a communication out you will get a few people un-subscribing from your list, but conversely to what a lot of people think, keeping the emails regular and often will hugely reduce the un-subscribes you get from any email you send out, as long as you keep those emails relevant.
You will need to experiment to find the optimal rate to send out emails for your particular network, it may be once every few days, or once a fortnight, but whatever you do, find a system that works and stick to it. Not sending your alumni network anything for months then suddenly hitting them with loads of communications will get you far more un-subscribes than a regular trickle of communication.
So there you go! Just three simple steps that will help you activate your network and keep them engaged. Do it all right and you’ll be surprised how often your alumni network helps your organization develop!
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