How Stanford University increased alumni donations.
Seeing how I’ve already talked about how integrating video in your email marketing can increase your click throughs by 175% I thought I’d profile another success story I read about online. Much of the information on this is exerpted from a great blog post by Tyler Willis for MediaPost called “When Juggernauts Collide: Email Marketing Meets Video Marketing” Here are the highlights of what I found most interesting from his post.
“Recent grads are far more likely to give a valid email address than a number (93% of the captive population vs. 38%), meaning that email marketing gives Stanford a better and more widespread ability to connect.”
Snail mail and “dialing-for-dollars” are incredibly inefficient ways to connect with new grads. Namely because direct mail is assumed to be junk mail by most recipients and you only get a response of about 2% (if you are lucky). Phone calling on the other hand is incredibly interruptive, who knows what the end user was doing or what you interrupted them from doing. Email is passive and can be opened or read when the end user is ready to read or respond to it.
Scott Jahnke, the Director of Student and Young Alumni Development, explains why he chose to combine email AND video as part of Stanford’s new alumni drive “Technology gives us the ability to do so much more than just text. How then, can we most effectively tell our story to thousands of people and inspire them to give? I believe that a combination of using email AND video to answer our three questions (why are we asking you for a gift, what is going to change if you give, and how will our organization make that change happen) is the so-called ‘secret sauce.”
“At Stanford, the Young Alumni office produced several inspiring videos of students who had directly benefited from alumni contributions and attached a clear call-to-action to the end of each video, delivered via a Flash overlay that asked viewers to donate.”
This was key, by providing this call to action they were able to easily and effectively drive their alumni to take the steps they wanted them to take. Without a call-to-action, online video doesn’t effectively do it’s job.
“Calling out these videos, and providing a direct link to them in four out of five emails sent during Stanford’s fall campaign, helped increase gifts by 23% over the previous year’s fall campaign.”
This is a great first result and if they continue to refine their approach will probably become even more efficient. Couple this with the fact that they probably dramatically reduced their printing and postage costs from their direct mail campaign and/or their costs if they hired current students to do the telemarketing as part of a work study program. How does that affect their operational costs? Does it make their alumni gifts go longer.
If one of the most respected universities in the United States was able to buck the old trend of typical alumni gift campaigns and get these kind of outstanding results, what could combining the online marketing super powers of email marketing and online video do for your business or non-profit?