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Six Stories Your Alumni Newsletters Should Be Telling
Your alumni newsletters are one of the most powerful marketing tools available to you. So make sure they say what they need to say to increase your open and click through rates.
Since the early days, American marketers have created and published newsletters as a means to cultivate their audience, raise brand awareness, and build customer loyalty. Publications like John Deere’s agricultural magazine, The Furrow, have proved for over a hundred years that consistently publishing great content was the best way to engage an audience.
 The Furrow begins publication as “A Journal for the American Farmer.” The magazine’s distribution grows to 4 million readers by 1912. Today, it is published in 14 languages and read in 115 countries, making it the most widely circulated farm magazine in the world. — via Deere.com
Today, you want to use your e-newsletter to accomplish the same thing, even though you’re not printing it on paper and mailing it. (Of course, I’m a big fan of print marketing, so if you’ve got the budget and an understanding of what makes compelling print, then go for it!)
While there are differences between digital newsletters and printed newsletters, to be successful, you have to approach your alumni marketing e-newsletter with the same thoughtful commitment as you would a printed publication.
Alumni Newsletter Setup
Before you launch or relaunch your alumni marketing newsletter, make sure you take the time to…
Now that you’ve done your homework and set up everything for your alumni newsletters on the back end, it’s time to create engaging, consistent content for your alumni audience. Here are six things that all your alumni newsletters should say to increase open and click-through rates.
Outcomes and Successes
First of all, your alumni newsletters should focus on the outcomes and successes of your college or university. This is one of the first things on your alumni audience’s mind. They want to know, “How is my school doing?”
Now this can be tricky, because while you’re sharing about the success of your institute, you don’t want to write these stories in an organization-centric way.
Make your audience the hero of the story.
Fill your content with gratitude for your alumni audience and show them how it was alumni engagement and support that created the win, not your organization’s skill, prestige, or merit.
This might be obvious, but your alumni newsletter should feature alumni success stories. The reason I have to mention this is because the alumni success stories are not easy to capture.
Putting a web form on your website asking alumni to share their stories with you is just the beginning of finding the stories that your newsletter needs to feature. This is simply not enough. Your alumni are not coming to your website looking for a chance to share their story. Often alumni are humble and discreet folk, not wanting to show off their success.
You’ll have to dig deep into your alumni network to get to know your alumni and hear their stories. Then, you’ll have to ask them personally to share their story with you for the alumni newsletter.
This, coupled with the work necessary to schedule and perform interviews, can make the process long and drawn-out. But once you get your story workflow ironed out, you’ll begin to have a steady stream of stories for your newsletter.
Link to Your School’s Mission
Once you’ve conducted the interviews, highlight those making a difference in the world through the lens of the mission of your school. Your alumni newsletter stories need to create a connection between the success of the alumni and mission of your school.
Again, do not write an organization–centric way. Keep the alumnus as the hero of the story. But weave a thread in there that ties your college or university to the life of your alum.
As you craft in captured stories for your alumni newsletters, try to highlight various majors that your alumni might not be familiar with.
Sometimes it is easy to only highlight the successful business person, as it’s more challenging to find the golden nuggets in social realms. But do your best to look for stories highlighting your humanities and sciences as well as your business programs.
Your alumni newsletters should be speaking to your audience in a very personal way. Practically speaking, that means that you should organize your mailing list by affinity groups like business, sciences, arts, parents, etc.
If you have the bandwidth, craft several versions of your email newsletter for each audience segment. If you don’t have the bandwidth, continue writing one newsletter for all of your groups, but design one-off email marketing campaigns catering specifically to each affinity group that you have.
Variable Data Email
Yet another way you can get personal with your email is called “variable data email.” At first, the name might scare you—but don’t worry! If you’ve ever used merge tags to personalize emails with the recipient’s first name or last name, then you can do variable data email.
Basically, instead of merging information from your contact database like a person’s name or address, you are using merge tags to tell your email management system to insert text based on merge tags that you’ve specified earlier. Here’s how this marketer describes it:
The system works with dynamic tags, which are specially formatted place holders within the email.
When the message is sent, a script looks for the tags and follows a set of rules to decide which block of code should replace the tag. Usually there will be a default block of content which displays if the rule doesn’t apply, and then one or more alternatives which are triggered by the values in the contacts database.
So by using variable data email, you can personalize each email based on the affinity of the alumnus, even if they’re all on the same list.
Your alumni newsletters should also feature the voices and life stories of long-term professors. Never underestimate the bond that your alumni have with their former professors. By interviewing professors and sharing about their work and interest today, you’ll rekindle those old feelings of connection within your alumni audience.
The real power in featuring your inspiring faculty within your newsletter is that more than anyone else in your organization, your alumni have connected with your professors.
Think about that.
They don’t know you. They probably don’t know much about anybody in the administration. But they know that professor who took the time to talk with them outside of class, helped them understand the subject, or encouraged them in their hard times.
Leverage these important relationships by featuring inspiring faculty within your alumni newsletters.
Showcase Alumni Engagement
Your alumni newsletters should be showcasing alumni engagement. This is a bit different than featuring the alumni success stories because with these stories you are showing how alumni have reconnected to the mission of your school.
Now, I know that our development buddies are going to want every one of these stories to feature an alumnus who made a gift…
But it’s important to show other ways in which alumni have been involved with your college or university like volunteering, recommending the school to prospective students, talking to prospects and parents, or hosting gatherings.
As you know, there are many ways in which your alumni can get involved to help advance your school’s mission. So illustrate to your alumni audience how they can get involved by featuring stories of alumni engagement within your alumni newsletters.
There are a lot of things that your Alumni Newsletters can say, but these six things should be the baseline for the content that you feature within your newsletter.
If your alumni newsletter strategy has plateaued or is failing, and you’d like an expert hand to come alongside you to get it back up and running the way it should be, we’d be happy to help!
We’ve got years of experience revitalizing higher education marketing content so that open rates, click through rates, and audience engagement go up.
So, get ahold of us. It’s free and there’s no obligation.
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The Chronicles of Life Coach
Therefore, coaching is an exceptional relationship reflecting a partnership that’s manifested through honesty, respect, and mutual objectives. Coaching is a collaborative process which demands specific abilities, including listening and questioning, to ease the approach. This form of life coaching is so straightforward and very powerful.
Coaching is all about empathy, asking the correct questions, listening. As soon as you get taking a look at life coaching you will discover there are life coaches in numerous niches. Life coaching is a quite an extensive term if you take a close look at it. Life coaching is about putting the of the particular person what is for him. It Is action-driven in that it helps you to look at where you are in the present moment, where you would like to be, and then helps you to bridge the gap.
A great coach has to possess the wisdom and experience required if he’s got to be credible for the others. An exceptional coach will work together with you in the identical fashion. Many coaches provide a no-charge, no-obligation exploratory coaching session, so make certain to use this to your best advantage. It takes a seasoned coach to be in a position to study clients and determine the driving force for every one of them, since no 2 clients are going to have the exact same driving force.
For this to be possible, he needs to have the ability to build and maintain a good rapport with the person. It is thought that becoming a life coach is fairly simple, and the pay is high too. For example, a life coach can’t prescribe medication or determine that you’ve a mental illness. It is possible to discover a life coach in any niche you require someone to aid you.
Next, you’ll want to make certain that you exercise regularly. To begin with, you’ve got to work out what energizes you and makes you truly feel alive. 4 tips on why you’re the way you’re. Suddenly, the requirements of the kids return into focus and you realize you’ll need to co-parent with an ex who may be even more troublesome to address than ever.
You may be confused about what you wish to do in life which is perfectly fine. It’s so very simple to be swept along within this life. If it were it would signify that each and every Life Coach needed to be a specialist on his clients lives and that’s obviously not possible.
If you aren’t offered paid vacation time via your employer, you might want to think about saving up some money so you find it possible to afford to take some time off anyway. When it may seem that the more time spent in the office, the more work you’re going to be in a position to receive done, that isn’t true in the slightest. It is crucial to plan in such a manner you do not lose out on some excellent time in your life.
If you don’t have enormous amounts of counseling experience or a sociological background, I wouldn’t suggest this method. It’s what you opt to do with these experiences that will figure out if it’s a good or bad choice. It’s been a great experience and I’ve benefited much from my relationship with this fantastic platform.
The 3 methods by which you’ll be able to develop into a Life Coach. Without changing your whole life, quitting your work and ending your marriage, you can start to live life on purpose, one small step at one time. Once you think that you’re qualified to become a Life Coach then it’s time to do it. There are 3 principal methods by which you may develop into a skilled Life Coach.
You can pick your life. These tips change my life, and I am certain they will change your life and mine. You shouldn’t decide to be a professional Life Coach until you do the complicated work of researching and deciding on a school, or other system of acquiring the required education.
Contact a Life Coach Connecticut
5 Irreplaceable Pillars of Alumni Digital Marketing
Alumni marketing is presented with significant and unique challenges that digital marketing is well equipped to solve. But you must have these five pillars in place to make it work.
There are several big hurdles for the alumni marketing department to jump over that are unique to alumni marketing.
For one, alumni don’t always stay in the same region. In today’s global economy, alumni are traveling more and moving to farther-off places in search of work.
Two, alumni don’t always self identify. Many times, alumni will go to different schools completing their degree, or they will go on to graduate studies in another college or university. And if the student services did not cultivate loyalty within the student during their studies, they may not put their school on their LinkedIn profiles.
Also, alumni are a very diverse group of people. The individuals in your alumni body have different experiences, backgrounds, and taste. It’s hard to serve all of them with the wide brush of being called or labeled “Alumni.“
That’s why having these five pillars of digital marketing in place is so important. They will keep you on track despite all of the distractions and possible pitfalls your marketing can experience.
Five pillars of digital marketing for Alumni
Pillar 1: Content
Digital marketing must begin with content. Great content attracts, converts, and cultivates your audience throughout the development cycle.
It’s also the building block of every digital marketing strategy or campaign you’ll launch. You can’t have a winning social media strategy without great content. Likewise, you can’t have a successful newsletter, blog, or video blog without great content.
It’s been said before, and here it makes sense to repeat it again: Content is king.
So what kind of content do you need to be creating to cultivate and engage your alumni audience?
The answer is simple, yet hard to execute. You need to create content that answers their questions.
What are your alumni asking from you that other content sources cannot answer? Or, what questions would they rather you answer instead of other sources?
Here are a few common questions alumni look to their alma maters to answer:
All of your content should be created with the goal to answer some kind of question that your alumni audience has and is seeking from you.
But you don’t want your content to come off as some kind of FAQ page. That’s why this next pillar that I’m going to show you is necessary to create the kind of content that will attract your alumni to you.
Pillar 2: Story
Great content is story-driven. By that, I mean every piece of content needs to be a story that fits into the metanarrative you’re telling alumni through your marketing.
What’s your metanarrative?
Your metanarrative is your brand. It’s the story you want your alumni and other audiences to be telling their friends about you.
So what story do you want others to tell about your school?
When framed in these story-telling terms, every piece of content you create (like a blog post, infographics, or video) is to be written as a mini-story that supports and illustrates the larger story, the metanarrative, that you are trying to tell your alumni about your school.
So if your metanarrative is that you are a school that embraces innovation, then tell stories that illustrate the innovation that’s happening in your organization, or stories that inspire others to innovate.
Make sure every content piece drives your metanarrative forward with your alumni.
Another aspect of having story-driven content is that every story you tell (a.k.a. piece of content) should have an emotional driver behind it.
Stories are emotional. Stories stir our souls and our emotions. This is why they’re so effective at motivating responses and behaviors from the audience.
If you leave out emotion, you will suffer low engagement from your alumni audience.
Bland, dry facts, stats, and figures do not motivate us to do anything but sit and absorb the data.
Especially when you work in an academic institution, you must fight the temptation to default to an academic style of writing. Even if your alumni hold PhD’s, they don’t want to read a dissertation every time they open up your email newsletter.
Pillar 3: Goal-oriented
The best digital marketing for alumni has goals attached to it that clarify the objective of every content piece and identify the metrics that you will use to determine if the content was successful or not.
What are the larger organizational goals that you are trying to accomplish through your alumni marketing efforts? What are the key performance indicators that show you that you are hitting the mark?
These are key questions that can only be answered by having a pre-set goal for every content channel in your alumni digital marketing.
Pillar 4: Website-centered
All the various pieces of content you publish in your alumni digital marketing should drive traffic to your website. This could be your alumni microsite, or your college or university main website.
Digital marketing is like baseball. Your website is home plate, and your content should lead your audience (the players) there every time.
Your blog is not home plate. Your newsletter is not home plate. You don’t want your players to hang out at first base, or even third. You want to get them home.
And when your audience lands on your website, it should be written and designed to drive conversions.
In other words, when they land on the homepage, everything about that homepage should lead them to the behaviors that your school has decided are important for you to reach your ultimate goals as a school.
Pillar 5: Audience-centric
First and foremost, the alumni department is a service from the college or university to your alumni. This means that everything you do should be audience-centric.
This begins with identifying the questions that your audience has in mind, which we talked about earlier in the blog. It then goes to determining what channels are best suited for your marketing personas.
Different audiences prefer different channels of communication to get the answers that they’re looking for. Services like Instagram seem to do great with students, whereas social media platforms like Facebook and Pinterest do much better if you’re trying to reach out to moms.
Keeping your digital marketing strategy audience-centric is all about serving them.
So even if you’re not familiar with Instagram, you need to get your toe in the water and learn how to leverage this social media platform to reach your student audience. The same could be said for video content.
Audiences today show high response rates and engagement rates with colleges and universities that use rich content like video in their digital marketing. But sadly, many colleges and universities feel that content creation with video is too costly or complicated – so they simply miss out on a great opportunity for alumni engagement.
Holding it all together
There are lots of moving parts to Alumni digital marketing. But if you have these five pillars in place, you should be able to hold it all together.
These are the core concepts that hold up the entire strategy. They should also be somewhat of a roadmap for you to determine what is right for you and your alumni as you’re making decisions for your marketing efforts.
If there’s a pillar that you can use some help with, we’d be happy to help. With over 50 years of combined experience in marketing and development in education, the Caylor Solutions team is ready to help execute your digital marketing strategy.
Get a hold of us here. The call is free and there’s no obligation.
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Questions: The Key to Increasing Traffic to Your Education Website
Questions are a critical component of higher education content marketing. To increase traffic to your higher ed website, you’ve got to understand how questions make your content marketing work.
The beginning of everyone’s search on the Internet begins with a question.
It’s so deceivingly simple. Every time you and I go online, we’re trying to find the answer to a question.
When users go to Google, they literally type in the question they have in their mind. Google then finds the answer.
So if you want to rank higher in Google, you must answer the question that people are typing into the search bar. SEO really is that simple.
But of course, it goes farther than this.
Let’s say that the user arrives directly on your homepage. Perhaps one of your enrollment officers met them at a high school college fair and gave them a flyer with your URL. So now they’re on your homepage… and they’re asking a question.
“Is this the school that I am looking for?” Or maybe it’s even bigger than that. Perhaps they’re asking, “Do I even want to go to college?”
Maybe they’re asking questions that are specific to a particular department within your college or university:
There are all kinds of questions that people have when they go to the Internet.
But the bottom line is that every time an Internet user logs on, they are asking questions. So, to drive more traffic to your website, landing pages, and other content, you cannot afford to ignore or forget:
Write content for the web to answer.
Write content for Google or Bing or Yahoo to answer. Write content for your website to answer. Always be thinking of which questions you are answering when you are creating content for your website, blog, newsletter, videos, or any other type of content.
Because if you create content without clearly understanding the question you are answering, you’ll be answering questions your audience is not asking. And eventually, they’ll turn you off and go somewhere else for the answer.
And your website traffic will suffer.
That’s why it’s so important that your content answers the questions your audience is asking today. Specifically, your answers must be…
I’ve already covered this a bit in my introduction. But whatever question you’re answering in your content—whether it’s an e-book or a blog post—it needs to be relevant to your audience.
This is why I stress the importance of creating marketing personas before creating your content.
You need to know your various audiences so that you can understand the questions they’re asking.
Parents will ask different questions than prospective students. Current students are asking different questions than prospects. And alumni and donors are asking very different questions than all of the above audiences.
Make sure your content is giving relevant answers to your audiences. (Bonus Hint: Rarely is it relevant to go off touting your institute’s various awards and achievements. Let the relevance of your content speak for itself.)
Secondly, your answers have to be authoritative. This comes down to what answers your audience is looking to get from you.
Some private colleges and universities waste their time and resources creating content for questions that nobody is looking to them to answer.
An all-too-common example of colleges or universities going outside their area of content authority is when they become political commentators. Of course, you and your audience care about the current political climate—but putting your brand in the middle of the firefight is not always the best idea. Truth is, colleges and universities—on the whole—are not where people are going to get their political analysis.
Be sure to keep your content in the area of what people look to you to answer.
Like an ebook on how to pick the right major for your career goals or something of that sort. This is what you would expect, or hope, a university would talk about.
Thirdly, your answers should be timely. People rarely listen to answers that come before they ask the question. In the same way, people rarely listen to answers that come much later than the question.
It’s important to answer the questions that people are asking now.
I’ve written before about editorial calendars and how they can help your marketing team create the right content – at the right time – for the right audience. Editorial calendars are the tool you should be using to guide your content creation process so that you’re publishing content that answers the questions on your audience’s mind at that time.
The right time to release your ebook on preparing for dorm life? A few months before the semester begins. The right time to begin blogging about finding financial aid? About three months before the new semester begins.
These are the times when your audience is asking these questions. Do your best to answer their questions at the moment that they’re asking them.
Next, your answers need to be emotional. No, that doesn’t mean they need to be overly dramatic. But it does mean that they need to have a story-like quality that helps your audience see themselves in your school.
You are creating content for human beings, not computers. The old adage of “show, don’t tell” really applies here.
So tell them a story.
Tell them the story of a student who came to your school. Tell them the story of a donor who started a scholarship fund… or how your latest research is making a difference in the world.
Whatever question you are answering, make sure that you bring the answer to life in a way that the audience can see what it’s like at your school.
Lastly, your answers need to be purposeful. In order for marketing to work, the audience needs to know clearly what to do next.
Marketing exists to motivate your audience to perform behaviors that support the goals and mission of your organization. This is why your answers must be purposeful in how they guide your audience to these behaviors.
Earlier, I wrote about the various types of behaviors that you should be tracking among your audience. We call these key performance indicators. Some of them include…
The Core of Content Marketing
There are many components to digital marketing—which makes the whole thing a bit complicated. However, the core idea of it all is rather simple: answer your audience’s questions.
If you can keep this North Star in front of you, you’ll rarely go wrong with your content.
And if you’d like a hand in defining the key questions that you should be answering in your content, we at Caylor Solutions would be happy to help.
Just give us a call. It’s free, and there’s no obligation.
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