Capturing Alumni E-mail Addresses

E-mail is still huge when it comes to communicating and getting your message delivered.  Here are some thoughts / ideas / actions from schools on how each has successfully captured graduate e-mail addresses for their databases.  Not all ideas will work for your school, but perhaps you can find something that does.

From Lara Geragi, Director of Communications at Drexel:

We did a “Get Counted” campaign a couple of years back where we encouraged alumni to register for our Online Directory or update their current record in the Directory. If they did so during a certain period of time, they were entered into a drawing for a grand prize. I think we gave away 3 amazon kindles. The whole idea of “Get Counted” was to make our alumni feel like they were left out if we did not have their updated contact info in our Directory. We also tied it into our alumni population maps on our website which shows the different populations of alumni around the world and in the U.S. We encouraged alumni to “Get Counted” on the map by updating their info with us. This is an example of the language we used for that:

Get On The Map!
Click the globes below to view population maps of alumni across the United States and around the world. These maps reflect only the alumni with a current address as of February, 2010. Does that include you? To make sure, log into the Online Alumni Directory, and provide your most up-do-date contact information. Do it today and get on the map!

Overall the campaign was a success. I don’t have the exact numbers off the top of my head, but we got hundreds of address updates. I think it ran over a period of 3 months.

From Doug at Delaware County Community College:

Our school has tripled its email address database from 1,100 to over 4,600 by way of two main activities:

1) Is connecting with graduates on Linked In and when connecting, asking them to update their address and email information while also asking for permission to add them to our mailing list. This has accounted for about 2,000 addresses to date.

2) A new initiative is to have students fill out short surveys at graduation while waiting in line and one of the questions is asking for their preferred email address for future communication. Most provide it, its a captive audience for about an hour, so we get a decent response rate and this has accounted for about 1,500 address from Spring ’11 and Spring ’12.

Both techniques are somewhat time consuming, but the payoff is one to one interaction while also asking for which address they would like for us to use, avoiding spam and undeliverables.

From Jacob of Aarhus University, Denmark:

We also ask all new members of our Linkedin group for their e-mail – and we’ve also found it to be successful to include an extra question in the registration form when people sign up for graduation where we ask them for permission to register their e-mail in our alumni database and contact them afterwards.

From Anna at Georgia Gwinnett College:

We are working with our web team to develop an online form for our graduates to fill out. This form will feed right into Raiser’s Edge and dump their information in the records. We will be testing this for the winter graduates, so we will see how it goes!

In the past, I had the graduates fill out an information card at a graduation meeting and then we updated their records in RE.