Keeping a “Constant” eye on e-marketing

As a “word” person, I have never been as intrigued by numbers and statistics as I have been during the past year. I have been pouring over bounce, open and click rates for dozens of targeted marketing emails sent to UW Oshkosh alumni across the nation and around the world.

Since May 2011, the Alumni Relation Office has been keeping a careful eye on our email marketing efforts through the use of the web-based, e-marketing vendor Constant Contact. Email has proven to be a cost-effective way to get the word out about upcoming events and campus updates.

We have learned a lot about this key University audience related to how alumni use and react to email from their alma mater. We’d like to share what we’ve learned so others on the UW Oshkosh campus who communicate with alumni can benefit and keep our graduates engage and informed.

First off, the numbers show that the best day to send out our monthly Alumni News e-newsletter is Friday. That’s the day we see the best open rates (greatest percentage of alumni opening our email messages).

This was not necessarily what we expected based on best practices in other industries that indicate Tuesday and Wednesday mailings yield the best open rates.

For alumni, however, we think that Friday may be the day that folks feel most comfortable opening emails from their alma mater at work. Others may be likely to open their emails from UWO at home on the weekend to follow.

We also have learned that alumni prefer to open emails from us that have straight-forward subject lines. When we start throwing in extra adjectives and exclamation points, our open rates go down. That leads us to believe our alumni respond more positively when we send them no-nonsense, professional email messages.

Another trend we have noticed is that the more targeted our audience is for specific messages, the higher our open rates climb.

For example, our overall open rate is at 16.5 percent. In March and April 2012, our open rates for our alumni newsletter—sent to more than 34,000 alumni and UWO friends and donors for whom we have email addresses—were 17.2 and 16.8 percent, respectively.

But when we target more specific messages to narrower alumni audiences, our open rates soar. Recent emails sent to graduating seniors, theatre alumni and alumni living in the New York City area reached 46.4, 29.9 and 30.3 percent, respectively.

Monitoring our e-marketing analytics has proven to be an invaluable tool for the Alumni Relations Office to get better results from our communication campaigns.

While different University audiences (students, faculty, staff, donors, etc.) may respond differently to email marketing from the University, it’s clear that keeping an eye on the numbers is crucial to delivering our messages effectively.

We’d be happy to exchange information and share more about what we’ve learned with others on campus who use e-marketing as tool to reach their key audiences.

Ready, aim, target your audience

In an editing class in college, my professor instructed us to always define the “reader, purpose and publication,” before breaking out our red pens and marking up our assignments.

By this, he meant that before editing any news or feature story, we should know who is the intended audience or readers of the piece, what is the goal or purpose of the article and where will it be published. His point was that the way the story or message should be conveyed varies depending on these three factors.

Although technology has changed over the years and many of the stories I write and edit now are not necessarily printed in a hard-copy publication, the lesson still rings true.

Before crafting messages to promote UW Oshkosh’s top-notch academic programs; community outreach; and athletic, cultural and educational events, it’s best to take a moment to think about:  Who is the intended audience? What’s the best way (or medium) to reach that audience?

If your message is on target for your audience, you’re more likely to have success reaching your goal (or purpose)—whether it is increasing enrollment for a new class or academic program, making the community aware of the University’s success as a green campus or motivating people to attend a cultural event.

A good example of how this works is to think about how Integrated Marketing, Reeve Memorial Union and Alumni Office staff members work to promote Homecoming to our diverse audiences. We all start with the same basic facts … a week full of Titan events culminating in a football game and an annual theme picked by the students. But from there, our tactics diverge.

To reach the Oshkosh community, we may promote the event on local radio stations, submit a story to the local newspaper and put up posters and yard signs around town that focus on the family-friendly events that citizens are invited to enjoy on campus. To reach students, we may send email announcements and post messages on our University’s social media outlets, encouraging them to come for the free food and to show their school spirit at the game.

Meanwhile, to reach alumni, the message may be delivered both via printed postcards and email invitations and is likely to focus on the nostalgia of meeting up with old classmates to share pride in their alma mater and to check out the changes happening on campus.  All three strategies are employed following the University’s brand guidelines.

So, the next time you get ready to promote a new program, offering or event on campus, think about your reader, your purpose and your mode of publication before even writing down the first word of your message.

And remember, we are here to help you stay on target.

Content first, then tools.

Social media is quite the topic of conversation these days, and rightfully so. There is no other medium that gives you the level of engagement you can get from social media. Because this has become such a phenomenon many on campus are getting started using it. I get a lot of questions such as “Which social media tools should I be using?” and “Do you have a social media strategy template I can use?” These questions provide a great opportunity to talk through the bigger picture.

I generally begin my response to these questions with “Let’s take a step back and discuss what content you have and what your goals are.” It is so important to realize that social media should be a piece of a larger strategy. Before diving into a tool you need to talk through the fundamentals of a marketing or communication plan. Start with your audiences. Who are you trying to reach? What content do they want or need? What is your department trying to accomplish with each audience? What content do you have, or could you have, to reach these audiences?

As you begin thinking through the fundamentals you will get a better picture of the tools that are appropriate to use. For example, if prospective students are an audience you need to reach then consider what would get their attention. Are you a department with interesting research going on with a student involved? If so, you could do a video profile of that student discussing their work. That video could then be posted to your website, posted on a Facebook page, pushed out on Twitter and uploaded to YouTube. Do you see? Once you have an idea of content the tools to use become clearer.

By the way, this is the type of content IMC would love to have too so we can put on the University social media which gives even more exposure to your content. In fact, there are times when it makes more sense to leverage the main University social media versus starting your own. For example, an annual event does not necessarily need its own Facebook page or Twitter account. This is the perfect example of working with IMC to use the main University accounts for promotion. It saves you the time of trying to build a following on your own accounts for something that happens once a year, and the University accounts already have a very large following.

Let us know if you need help!

Web redesign, collaboration results in three live sites this week

In addition to nearly 200 department websites having been redesigned or the Web template applied to their site, three more UW Oshkosh websites went live this week. The UW Oshkosh Foundation, Student Support Services and Head Start websites reflect and support the University’s brand through visual elements, such as the wordmark, top and bottom navigation. Our STEP website and graphic design interns as well as Web programmer have been collaborating with these departments to accomplish their goals and objectives by incorporating their own distinct look with fresh photography, color palettes, design elements, and more.

Foundation

UW Oshkosh Foundation ScreenshotThe UW Oshkosh Foundation, an organization committed to advancing higher education and ensuring that our students enjoy successful futures, wanted to focus on telling the stories of donors, legacies and those student, faculty, program and facility recipients.
Web Team: Kayde Kempen, Deb Pulvermacher, Joel Herron and Allison Reineck

Student Support Services

UW Oshkosh Student Support Services ScreenshotStudent Support Services is one of the federally funded TRiO programs promoting the retention and graduation of first-generation, income specific and disabled college students in their pursuit of a college degree. They requested new banners, copy and navigation as well as to incorporate their Facebook account and TRIO logo.
Web Team: Kayde Kempen, Brandon Kopetsky and Joel Herron

Head Start

UW Oshkosh Head Start ScreenshotWorking on a daily basis with children, families, staff and communities, the UW Oshkosh Head Start program wanted to provide their primary audiences with easily accessible information about their services, programs and facilities.
Web Team: Kayde Kempen, Brandon Kopetsky and Joel Herron

The IMC team and STEP interns enjoy collaborating with departments and units on campus to update their websites, whether it is with new research, text, photographs, design or programming. It provides wonderful learning opportunities for students as well as faculty and staff.

If you are interested in our Web and new media services, please visit the IMC website for further information or to fill out a project request.

American Marketing Association Webcast

On January 11, 2012 Alex Hummel and I were honored to present an online webinar for the American Marketing Association. The topic was “University Branding on a Decentralized Campus.” We discussed the integrated marketing communications strategy at UW Oshkosh, how we got and how we’ve come to truly unify our brand and messaging. Having been at UW Oshkosh for the large majority of this process it is really nice to discuss and reflect on how far we’ve come. Our campus has truly become a national model in how to effectively structure communication on a campus with an emphasis on collaboration. Alex and I presented on some of the tools we’ve implemented here such as Brand Review and Champion Chats as examples of how we work together at UW Oshkosh to make the most out of our communications efforts.

The most common question asked by attendees of the webinar was “Did we bring in consultants to implement this strategy.” I’m very proud to answer that question with a NO. The initiative began with a charge in 2005 to a task force on campus, they involved additional campus resources to execute extensive research both internally and externally, and it eventually evolved into an fully operational IMC department that continues to drive this strategy forward. We had, and still have, the expertise on campus to build and support this strategy, and most importantly this campus has the collaborative spirit that became the driving force behind its success.

The entire webinar is available to view here:

https://cc.readytalk.com/cc/playback/Playback.do?id=amciuq

Following the webinar we were given a list from the AMA of over 100 questions and comments from attendees. Questions ranged from finding out how we interact with specific areas of campus such as Admissions to what project management tools do we use to manage our workflow. People were very interesting in our Account Liaison System and Brand Review process, and also asked very detailed questions such as “Can I see your creative brief.” I would say 90% of attendee questions can be answered by looking at the IMC website, which we try to keep as a functional toolbox for campus to get the resources they need. http://www.uwosh.edu/imc

Thanks again to the AMA for inviting us to present on what proved to be a very important topic in the higher education community.

‘Tell stories, use all media’… kinda like we do

We consider it an honor when a University of Wisconsin Oshkosh student marketing, public relations or journalism groups drop the IMC team a call, email or Tweet and asks a member to share some perspective, career tips, war stories, recipes… you name it.

Invariably, the conversations reassure me the work we do in our shop is with it. 

I had the chance this week to chat with students in the UW Oshkosh student chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. It was a small gathering of about seven or eight. But was a neat opportunity to reaffirm with folks who could be future colleagues what most of us in this broader biz know to be vital these days: Make media; If you can creatively, confidently and with authenticity write, speak and tell/shout out stories in print, online, audio, video and social media formats, you’re golden. You can get hired. Your talents will be deployed. Be a storyteller and Swiss-Army-knife-of-media while remaining open to opportunities, and you will land a cool job.

One or two of the students I talked with are preparing to graduate and jump into the roiling sea that is the current job market and economy.

They seemed confident. I hope I didn’t change that.

What’s great about working in an integrated marketing and communications shop is that we truly live that multimedia, storytelling reality day to day. We are, at all times, dabbling in University news video production, juggling multiple print marketing projects that advance campus programs and events and tailoring our web presences. Our little wing of UW Oshkosh has all kinds of irons in the fire, and success requires a melding of the make-media talents of a band of former shoe leather news reporters and photographers, once-private-sector magazine marketers and (we say this affectionately) tech geeks.

The good news is our UW Oshkosh public relations, marketing and journalism programs get it.

While students are burning the midnight oil to crank out that ol’ weekly campus newspaper, they are also revamping its website, using Twitter to hook in more readers and, in their classrooms, delving into video production and social media marketing strategy, working alongside faculty members to promote the very programs propelling them.

You really know these students are primed for the modern media maelstrom, however, when, within minutes of wrapping up a career-advice chat, a guest speaker gets a thoughtful thank you in the form of a Tweet, graciously dropping his Twitter handle and a strategically placed @UWO_SPJ.

Right back atchya, @UWO_SPJ.

Can I have a logo?

I would say the most common question I get working in IMC is “Can I have a logo?” The answer I give to this question is generally not the answer the person is hoping for. I generally respond with “You already have one, it’s the University’s wordmark.” While I know this can frustrate people I wholeheartedly believe this is the best answer for the department or unit who wants to build their brand.

A brand, or a sub-brand in this case, is not a logo. In fact, a logo is a tiny part of what builds a brand identity. A brand for a unit, department or college is built on messaging. If you can answer the question “Why would somebody want to be affiliated by my department?” or “Why would a student want to be accepted into my program?” you are on your way to building a brand. A brand is what sets you apart from other schools. It’s the words you use to describe yourself, and the stories we tell that demonstrates it. This should be the focus when building an identity.

Once the key messaging has been identified then you can begin to look at visuals that support and enhance the message. Here is where we look at colors or photography that can visually differentiate a department while still leveraging the UW Oshkosh identity. This is so important. UW Oshkosh as a solid reputation that gets better every day. As a member of the UW Oshkosh community you can leverage that reputation to gain the attention of the people you are trying to reach. If a department had a logo of its own it would lose the recognition that goes along with being a part of UW Oshkosh, and therefore be more likely to lose the attention of those they are trying to attract. Let the UW Oshkosh brand get their attention, then wow them with the greatness of the department or college.

IMC can help a department, college or unit build a sub-brand. Let us know if you need help!

Champion Chat: Social Media

Last week we had a fantastic Champion Chat on Social Media. Sadly, the room was a little too full of people, but that is a good problem to have! Zack, the new IMC Social Media intern, gave a great overview on some basic social media tools as well as some ideas on how to better collaborate on campus. Here are some of the suggestions:

  • Creating a common social hashtag, i.e: #UWOSH
  • Subscribing and contributing to the UW-Social Media List by emailing join-social-media@lists.wisc.edu
  • Keeping our accounts fresh and active, while one compliments the other through actions like, Re-Tweeting, hash-tag collaboration and using @Mentions. Posting on other UW Oshkosh Facebook walls
  • Encouraging others to formally @Mention your organization (i.e: @UWOshkosh)
  • Using practical desktop and mobile applications to track and manage our following (i.e: TweetDeck)
  • Staying connected to the UW-Social directory.
  • Examine and evaluate your follower data, trends and conversations using tools such as Social Mention, iGoogle or NetVibes.

The turnout for the meeting certainly showed that campus is very interested in learning more about social media, and learning how we can collaborate more. With that, the goal is to find a more regular venue for campus to come together on this topic. We’ll keep you posted as this develops more.

Tidbits on Smartphone Usage

The core functionality of smart phones is essentially the same. They come pre-installed with an operating system and a stock set of programs or applications. These applications generally include an e-mail client, an address book, a calendar, a program for taking notes or saving text, a Web browser. With that it would be easy to assume that people look for app availability when making a decision on what phone to buy. This does not seem to be the case. According to the chart below, the primary use of phones is currently texting (Hubspot, 2011).

 

When looking at the chart you can see that the functions of the phone make up the primary usage, versus only 5% of a users time is spent using apps. A person’s mobile phone has become a critical part of our daily lives. With this, the daily functions we perform has to be easy and intuitive. I have no doubt that app availability is a factor, we discuss this on a regular basis in my office. I believe the reason Blackberry is losing market share is because the lack of availability of apps. Looking at the chart below, you can see the RIM is losing market share as Google and Apple are continuing to gain (Hubspot, 2011).

Ease of use and app availability are key factors, but not the primary decision factor. The final chart below shows the key factors in making a purchase decision on a mobile device. The brand, model and look/feel are the top reasons, followed by the operating system. The operating system relates directly to the functions available, while app availability tied (Hubspot, 2011).

References:

Hubspot. (May 2011). More than Talk: Action in Mobile Marketing. Marketing Charts Data Insights.

Evolution of Web

HighEdWeb-Colored-Logo-small

To get the IMC blog going I’m going to discuss some reflections having just come back from a conference. For the last several years I’ve been on the planning committee for the HighEdWeb conference put on by the national HighEdWeb Association. This conference is always fantastic, and a good reminder of how web has really shifted the way we communicate. At UW Oshkosh we have truly embraced the evolution of the web and incorporated it into our daily lives. Areas across campus are using social media, blogs and websites to engage students, to connect with alumni and the community, to collaborate with faculty and staff, to enhance learning in and out of the classroom.

I attended many sessions at the conference last week where I could sit in pride knowing that UW Oshkosh is already leveraging these powerful tools on a daily basis. Our next goal is to continue to grow our usage and learn how to collaborate and make the best use of these tools.  In November IMC will be hosting a Champion Chat to begin conversations around how campus can begin to work together with our online presence, learn from each other and find ways to help each other and the University reach its goals.

Here is a look at some of the ways UWO is using social media: http://www.uwosh.edu/stay_connected

The IMC website has a list of upcoming Champion Chats, hope to see you there!

http://www.uwosh.edu/imc/


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