The Importance of Outreach

Outreach has always been a key strategy in higher education.  Whether trying to attract applicants, all the way through to encouraging alumni participation, outreach is critical.  However, the methods of engagement have changed dramatically in recent years.  There are so many opportunities beyond print mailings and phone calls.  Methods of engagement have surpassed “traditional” email, as we find ways to reach people via social media, text, chat, web content, and more.  We can use data to inform engagement decisions and there are advanced tools to execute marketing plans.

As we all know from our own lives, it can be hard for messages to break through the clutter of the many communications that we receive.  As an institution, we can use technology to collect data on a constituent’s interests and behaviors throughout their entire “lifecycle”.  The challenge is to effectively use this information to reach people where they are, and to find messages that resonate.  The practical returns of successful engagement can mean more people attending events, more community involvement, more applicants, more donations, more internship opportunities…outreach applies to so many areas across an institution.

There are numerous tools to help with engagement.  Platforms that can “listen” and learn from social media.  Personalized marketing plans that can track responses and adjust next steps based on behaviors.  Analytics that will help to determine return on investment of communication methods.  The tools can seem overwhelming, but can also help us to analyze marketing programs in a way that was never possible before.

The Constituent Experience and Advancement (CXA) community realizes the critical importance of keeping up with the options available to all of us as we engage our constituents.  The CXA community represents many different business areas, all with a need to improve outreach, and we are continually looking at ways to learn and share best practices.  Please learn more about the CXA community at https://www.heug.org/page/cxa-constituent-experience-and-advancement.

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