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5 Ways to Make your Emails to Alumni More Genuine… and Increase Open Rates by 400%

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5 Ways to Make your Emails to Alumni More Genuine… and Increase Open Rates by 400%

Long after they leave campus, alumni want to feel like they’ve made an impact on their school. Taking steps to make alumni feel valued for more than just their financial contributions is important to the growth and future of a university. If you truly respect the relationship with your alumni and want to offer them value, personalizing your emails to alumni ways can help you better communicate your value prop as a resource hub, make your messages more genuine, and significantly improve metrics like open rates.

It’s hard to imagine that “tweaks” could have such a profound impact on the performance of an email campaign to alumni. It’s an art to balance writing a compelling campaign email, avoiding “spamming” your alumni base, and creating a clear call to action. In a series of tests with five partner institutions, the following revisions to a baseline alumni newsletter template boosted click rates by 900% and registrations by 400%.

Here are 5 Simple Updates You Can Make to Emails to Alumni:

1. Ditch the Newsletter Template in Favor of a “Personalized Email” Format
Think about how many “newsletter template” emails you receive. Young alumni, in particular, are highly desensitized to reading this content. Regardless of how well-crafted your message is inside the email, using a standard template all but guarantees your alum will send the email straight to “archive.”
2. Include the First Name of the Recipient in the Subject Line
This is an especially quick win. Unlike companies spamming your alumni base who have purchased email lists, you know their names. Add a personalization variable right in the subject line. That, combined with a template that makes your email feel like a personalized call-to-action, is a powerful combination.
3. Place a Photo and Signature of the Sender at the End of the Email
Put a face to the name! It’s harder to say “no” or disregard someone’s request if the reader feels that there’s a human on the other side making a compelling request of them. This is especially useful if one of your staff members is the point-person for your office. Give them an opportunity to build name recognition with alumni.
4. Have One Clear Call-to-Action
Make a compelling ask, and don’t litter the rest of the email with other buttons. This is a great place to A/B test WHAT your ask is. We’ve had great success by making alumni feel like experts. This could look like a subject line such as, “We need your expertise! Click to join a community of experts in your industry”. Or, create a compelling and visually appealing call-to-action button. When using Wisr, you can also leverage messaging about one-click LinkedIn signup. For example: “Sign in with LinkedIn in under 30 seconds”.
5. Use Technology that Enables an “Opt-In” Button Without the Need to Fill Out a Separate Form
Try to minimize the steps a person must take after an email click. Wisr has leveraged opt-in network emails that allow the member to activate their profile with one email click. If you’re using this advice to build a survey email, try to capture the response with an email click, rather than sending the recipient to a form.

Below is the before and after from our tests, after sending nearly a million emails to alumni. The winning template is so simple. You may think, “that’s it?!” Nonetheless, these tried-and-true methods by our partner institutions suggest that little changes in your marketing and messaging can make a significant difference.

Baseline “Newsletter Template” Email

emails to alumni


New and Improved Template:

emails to alumni

Co-founder & President

John Knific is co-founder and President of Wisr. An entrepreneur who is passionate about what education technology can do for students, John's on a mission to tackle the big challenge of getting students connected with jobs after college by engaging alumni.

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