University Business May 2018 - 18

MARKETING

Getting to know you
Personalized marketing strategies grab the attention of donors and alumni
By Marc C. Whitt

N

o doubt you have received a
wall or desk calendar from
your alma mater. Such calendars often feature campus scenes that
trigger memories of student days.
Recently, my wife, a second-grade
teacher, received a desk calendar unlike
any I had seen before, from a nonprofit
education group she supports.
What caught my attention was that
the calendar's front cover featured my
wife's first name; so did each month.
Every page featured a photograph
with an object designed around her
name. One month had wooden building blocks stacked and arranged to spell
her name. Another showed a bundle of
yellow No. 2 pencils, each embossed
with her name.
I was struck by the way this organization used the simplicity of a calendar
to market its branding messages while
incorporating the member's name in
big, bold letters throughout.
Welcome to the new world of personalization-one of the fastest-growing trends in corporate and nonprofit
marketing. For higher ed philanthropy
or advancement communications, personalization is one of the best opportunities we have to engage our donors.
Just as Amazon and Netflix have
personalized the user experience, we
too must develop personalized communication and marketing experiences.
Web and digital
According to Adobe's 2017 Digital
Marketing Study, 62 percent of organi-

UBmag.me/know
18 | May 2018

zations are using automated personalization for the web. This is up a whopping
51 percent since 2016. And for mobile,
the growth is even more profound. Fifty-six percent of organizations are using
automated personalization for mobile-
up 115 percent since 2016.

The more personal the
messaging, the greater
the opportunity we
have to drive alumni
engagement and
philanthropic support.
Increasingly, these constituents will
look for personalized experiences when
visiting our philanthropy and alumni
websites. The more personal the messaging and images, the greater the
opportunity we have to drive alumni
engagement and philanthropic support.
Obviously, to improve website personalization strategies we must better
mine the analytical data of our website
users. This allows the philanthropy,
alumni and advancement offices to better tailor messages to users.
Website personalization can lead
to greater online giving. Also, various
CRM programs-when connected
with a website-can aid with personalization as the once anonymous visitor
becomes an identified, named person.
Video
Institutions can offer personal attention
to constituents by integrating video on
multiple channels including social media and stand-alone productions.
Both quantitative and qualitative

research have shown that personalized
video is an effective means of reaching specific audiences. In personalized
video, viewer details such as names and
class year are incorporated in scenes
automatically and at scale. In a recent
personalized campaign, one university's
advancement department experienced
more than a 70 percent click-throughto-open rate. The previous video campaign without personalization had only
reached 20 percent.
Email
Email as a marketing tool is making a
strong comeback with personalization.
Besides simply adding an individual's name to the communication,
successful email marketing campaigns
take personalization to a higher level by
sending birthday and anniversary shoutouts, announcements about specially
discounted ticket offers, or special messaging for class or constituent groups.
Print
Advances in digital technology and easily accessible data now permit a world
of opportunity to personalize letters,
postcards, direct mail, booklets and
brochures.
Colleges and universities have been
moving in this direction with their print
marketing publications-especially for
student recruitment.
For those of us who serve in a philanthropy or alumni communications
capacity, we must be ready for this exciting outreach opportunity.
Marc C. Whitt is director of philanthropy communications at University of Kentucky Philanthropy. Follow him on LinkedIn (linkedin.com/
in/marcwhitt) or Twitter (@marcwhitt).
www.universitybusiness.com


http://linkedin.com/in/marcwhitt http://www.UBmag.me/know http://www.universitybusiness.com

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of University Business May 2018

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