You want to connect with your alumni, but how do you know when you’ve succeeded? Alumni engagement isn’t just about a feeling of being connected. To measure the success of your engagement campaigns, you need to track metrics. What metrics should you track, and what do they tell you about your connection with your alumni?
1. Who Participates – And Who Doesn’t
Alumni participation is the holy grail of alumni engagement. These alumni not only talk about your university, they’re actively involved on the ground. They may be mentors, large donors, or fundraising volunteers. While it’s exciting to connect with these alumni, they’re not always an accurate indicator of overall alumni engagement. For example, showing up at an annual fundraising gala means that your alumni need to be in town to do so. Regular volunteer programs rely on those who have the time to spend between their other commitments to work and family.
Look at those who don’t volunteer or attend events but who are still interested in your university. A comment of “I wish I could volunteer, but…” is still a form of engagement. Look at alumni who express interest but don’t volunteer or attend events. Measure that metric, and then work specifically on engaging those alumni who’ve expressed interest but aren’t being captured by your existing events or volunteer opportunities.
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2. Social Media Discussion
We all love social media likes and followers. However, it’s not the size of your fan base that matters. It’s your engagement with those alumni. Measure likes and follows, but look more closely at the alumni who send you a tweet, share a photo of their university experience, comment when you ask a question, and share your post with others. Solicit their feedback, gather their stories, and encourage them to continue their engagement with your university.
3. Email Connections
How can you tell if the emails you send to alumni are truly encouraging alumni engagement? Like social media, you can’t brag about the size of your email list. Instead, you need to look more deeply, moving beyond the size of the list into the metrics within that list. You can measure email opens, but these can be deceiving, as some email programs don’t count an email as open unless the images download, and some email clients prevent images from automatically downloading. Instead of relying solely on your open rate, look even more closely at the clicks that those emails generate. How many of those who read your email go on to take an action, such as signing up for a report or donating online? That metric is more indicative of true alumni engagement.