Is it ever the wrong time to talk about how crucial data is when it comes to fundraising for higher education? At the fifteenth annual West Coast Meeting of the Minds, held earlier this year, Anthology’s Marketing Manager, Tessa Murphy Burke, did exactly that—discussing how good data and bad data could make a huge difference in an institution’s giving campaign efforts. And if you do have that good data, how can you make the most of it?
“When it comes to digital engagement, your institution wants to create these delightful, personalized experiences for your constituents,” said Burke, at the start of her 90-minute virtual presentation. “From your alumni’s perspective, your donors’ perspective, bad personalization is going to equate to a bad experience. So, what we really want to focus on is delivering a truly personalized experience, and we know that requires—first of all, knowing your constituents’ names—but we have to get deeper into that.”
During the lively and informative session, Burke highlighted historical alumni engagement and data trends, and discussed how to use data to positively impact the engagement experience. The presentation featured alumni survey data conducted by Anthology within the last two years and also included many examples of Anthology’s higher ed customers putting strategies into action. All customer data and examples were collected and powered by Anthology Encompass, which can be paired with the company’s advancement CRM, Anthology Raise (formerly xRM), to fill all a higher ed institution’s advancement needs.
In a combined study of alumni engagement by graduation year, the data shows that although recent grads are the most engaged in email communications from their alma mater, they are also among the least likely to give. Conversely, those from the 1960s are also fairly email engaged, and much more likely to give. Identifying trends like this, along with developing personalized messaging for each target group, helps institutions allocate their resources effectively. Identifying groups who are ripe with giving potential, whether by graduation year, school or program of study, or other on-campus affiliation, can make a big impact on fundraising efforts, especially when you deliver those groups personalized, relevant content. All email strategies are dependent on having the data to make them possible. Which is to say, having the correct data on file.
“That engagement data with email is directly related to the quality of your list,” Burke pointed out as she encouraged attendees to focus email acquisition efforts on other data points, such as groups who demonstrate high levels of engagement in other areas. “A list filled with really highly targeted prospects and customers is going to deliver you solid open rates and going to deliver you those great click-through rates.”
Among the tips for collecting better data, include collecting it as early as possible, even before students graduate. Capturing those non-institution email addresses before the students leave campus is essential to future engagement. Another easy way to enhance list quality—always include old contact information in communications, such as alumni newsletters, whenever possible. People are more likely to update outdated information than provide new information, plus it also helps to make the encounter feel more personalized. Most importantly, don’t miss any opportunity to seek an update.
Watch Tessa’s full presentation below: