Here’s a great story idea for NonprofitXpress. During the past four months, the University of Dayton has implemented a personalized, alumni e-mail newsletter that has produced an astounding 29.7 percent click-through rate with an unsubscribe rate of less than 0.3% per issue. Since last October, the number of alumni registered on the site has increased 192% — from 3,000 to 8,750. Here’s what makes our newsletter unique: Custom software allows us to code news stories in a database. Stories can be coded by graduation year, school graduated from, area to which a graduate has made gifts and geographic location, among other fields. Once coded, the software compiles a custom newsletter for each alum. By hitting a single button we can send 8,000 different newsletters in about 25 minutes. In theory, each newsletter could be unique. Alumni do not have to tell us their interests in advance — we already know them. Since they went to school here, we know their major, birthday, mailing address and which activities they participated in while at UD. We routinely collect information on 80,000 alumni. We know which events they’ve attended, what they donate to and which ones are married to other graduates, for instance. As alumni click on links within the story summaries in the newsletter, they are transported to complete stories on the alumni Web site. We know which alumni have read which stories. This helps us to target future stories. The results are astounding. We have sent four issues of the newsletter (a total of 29,300 newsletters) to an average 7,325 alumni per newsletter. We have had a total of 8,700 total click-throughs (29.7%). Our unsubscribe rate is less than 0.3% per issue. While the newsletter began in April 2000, the alumni Web portal has been in operation since October 1999. Since online giving was added to the site, we’ve had 34 gifts totaling $11,000. Most gifts were processed online using credit cards. A few donors printed out the giving form and mailed it to us with a check. Two $1,000 gifts and one $5,000 gift have been made through the site. We’ve had revenue of $1.26 per alum currently registered on the site. We save approximately $18,000 per year by having alumni update their own addresses (i.e., data entry, printing and postage savings). In fact, Web mailing address updates quickly became the most popular method. This averages savings of $2.06 per alum currently registered on the site. All of this was accomplished with no increase in budget or staff. Resource allocation was used to find the money and staff time to create the entire Web site development and e-mail marketing program. For more information, including samples of the newsletters, go to: http://www.udayton.edu/news/nr/060500.html Don’t just take my word that our e-marketing program is amazing. In the past months we’ve received considerable press about our efforts. The Web Content Report — August 2000 “We were impressed to find a content-heavy site dedicated to a targeted audience, rather than force the group to search through the academic site for relevant content…. Overall, the site provides a smart navigation scheme, compelling content, and sophisticated design — an easy A by our standards.” Read more: http://alumni.udayton.edu/rd.asp?cd=webcontent&rf=media 1to1 Direct — August 2000 “UD’s efforts exceed what most other universities are doing. ‘E-newsletters aren’t unique, but most universities haven’t taken the cutting-edge step of customizing them,’ says Anne Checkosky, former editor of Development and Alumni Relations Report…” Read more: http://alumni.udayton.edu/rd.asp?cd=1to1direct&rf=media The ClickZ Network — May 2000 “The University of Dayton’s (UD) alumni site has deployed an email marketing attack that has few equals in academia. By sending out targeted and relevant email newsletters to alumni (In theory, each individual could receive a unique email message.), the university is able to efficiently update subscribers. This prompts increased loyalty, leading to investment in the forms of increased donations, sales of school paraphernalia, as well as other savings.” Read more: http://alumni.udayton.edu/rd.asp?cd=clickz&rf=media I think the readers of NonprofitXpress would be interested in our story. What do you think? Tim Bete e-Marketing Manager University of Dayton firstname.lastname@example.org, e-mail 937/229-4960, phone 937/229-3063, fax
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