University of Texas at San Antonio Alumni Retention Campaign - PODi Case Study
Vertical Market: Education
Business Application: Direct Marketing/Direct Order
The University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) is a growing college located in San Antonio. It has over 80,000 alumni with only 5 percent who annually renew alumni membership. The UTSA Alumni Association partnered with a local marketing company to develop a targeted cross-media campaign to:
- Increase Membership renewals—especially New Grads renewals.
- Increase commitment to the association through various renewal options.
Two campaigns were run that delivered the following results:
- 19 percent response rate for the personalized test campaign.
- 6 percent response rate for UTSA Alumni Association personalized postcard campaign.
New Grads renewal rates were highest in the test module while UTSA’s campaign resulted in more members increasing their regular membership to life level.
The campaign involved a highly personalized and targeted “test” promotion and a new personalized postcard approach. Both campaigns also used e-mail marketing to offer renewal options. While calls-to-action and promotional offers for the campaigns were the same, the purpose of using a test module was to gather relevant data to determine future marketing efforts.
The test promotion included a direct mailing with custom designed return cards placed in large #10 window envelopes that had name and offer personalization visible through the window. It followed up the direct mailing with a personalized e-mail campaign a week later, followed by a final reminder e-mail a few days before the renewal period ended.
The postcard campaign had postcards with name personalization and messaging based on renewal segment, gender and age. These were highly personalized with 36 variable data swap outs to target each renewal segment by age and gender categories with image and message personalization.
To maximize effectiveness, mailings were coordinated with current membership expiration dates.
Both campaigns drove recipients to UTSA-built micro sites for each alumni audience group. The sites showed renewal options and offers and allowed for easy online dues payments. Members visiting the micro sites could view the benefits of membership and renewal options, as well as update contact information and take advantage of their specific offer.
UTSA’s alumni retention database was segmented into three sub-groups:
- New Grads—Alumni renewing their annual membership for the first time.
- New Grads Renewals—Alumni due to renew for the second time.
- Regular Renewals—The rest of the alumni.
The offers varied by segment:
- New Grads and New Grads Renewals received a special promotion with a chance to win a $500 Apple Gift Card.
- Regular Renewals could select a free UTSA Inaugural Football Season T-Shirt with payment of membership fees.
Creative & Messaging
The campaigns highlighted UTSA’s new Football program, provided relevant membership benefits, and improved online access with micro sites for alumni membership renewals. Personalized micro sites showed membership benefits, renewal options, and a personalized offer. Visitors could update their contact information, select a membership level, claim their offer and easily make payments.
Mailings to the New Grads segment made an extra effort to get recipients, or their parents who might be receiving the direct mail, to update their child’s contact information which was likely to have changed since graduation.
Reasons for Success
Segmentation—Appropriate audience segmentation allowed relevant messaging and offers to be created for each group.
Personalization—Meaningful images and offers cut through the clutter in recipients mailboxes and grabbed attention.
Ease of Use—Multiple response mechanisms (response cards, online, or call) allowed recipients to respond in the manner they prefer. Having their information prepopulated on the microsite made it even easier to complete the process.
Timing—Mailing dropped near renewal dates with firm expiration dates brought membership renewals to the front of recipients’ minds and drove responses.
Due to the positive response to segmented messaging and personalization, UTSA Alumni Association will continue to solicit membership renewals with targeted direct mail and e-mail marketing.
“We learned that personalized direct mail does impact retention rates and acquisition campaigns.”
—Amber Phifer, marketing coordinator, UTSA Alumni Programs
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