Engagement 101: How should we be recording alumni engagement?
Does jumping into the world of alumni engagement metrics and data seem too daunting? Do excel spreadsheets scare you? No worries, we’re here to help and let you know that it’s easier than you think to start tracking your alumni and using actionable intelligence to shape your goals, initiatives, and events.
Welcome to Engagement 101, where we’ll go over the basics of building an alumni engagement and metrics program.
Part 1: What should you be tracking?
Part 2: Today's Post - How should we be recording our data?
Part 3: What do use our data to build strategy and make decisions? (Available Next Week)
In Part 1 of our series, we talked about what you should be tracking for an effective alumni engagement strategy. When you really sit down to think of all the different engagements you have with alumni, the list starts to get a bit daunting! This typically leads to your next logical question - "how do we track all of this?". I know it's easier said than done, but having structure around tracking this engagements is critical to the success of an engagement office.
The Data Challenge
When I was the Director of Alumni Relations at Longwood University, I was maniacal about tracking engagements. The challenge I faced was I ended up doing all of this in endless amounts of excel spreadsheets. While it was great to be able to leverage the data and insights from this work, it was time-consuming, lacked transparency with the rest of the department, and just wasn't manageable over time. The term coined "shadow database" is the most official name for these rogue excel documents. Luckily, while I was able to take this data out of the shadows at my previous institution using Tassl - which is why I am here talking about it today.
The other part of this challenge is that the CRM system, like Raisers Edge or Advance, where you are trying to store this data is focused largely for advancement and not necessarily geared to track your umbrella of engagement. This leads to leveraging several other technology partners with different reports, export functionality, more excel spreadsheets, endless pivot tables, and probably some serious headaches along the way.
Tackling Data Head On
We all know this data is critical in developing out future strategies, evaluating current use of resources and staying relevant to our constituent bases. So where do you go from here?
1.) Create a Solid Process
In an ideal world - you would all have Tassl - a centralized data hub to make your life exponentially easier and see up-to-date metrics in real time - but in the situation that you don't - here are some tips on creating a solid process around your data.
- Determine all the Engagement touch points you have with your constituent base (see our 1st Engagement 101 piece for some ideas!)
- Create categories or buckets to group these touchpoints into
- Find out what information you already have and what type of information you can get from your different technology platforms or resources leveraged when engaging your constituents.
2.) Get Buy-In from your Peers
Your process is only as good as the team you implement it with. Make sure the whole team is bought in and think about ways that putting in the work and processes for collecting this data and positively affect each team member and their roles within your department. If everyone isn't accountable for their piece of the puzzle, then your whole process will fall apart.
3.) Leverage your Resources
There are a lot of out of the box ways to leverage resources internally to streamline processes. Leverage your student workers and interns to help support record keeping and data management of the programs and interactions you deem relevant to your engagement metrics. Tracking things like social media interactions or email actions is a great task for students, especially when they can learn how this data impacts engagement outcomes and future initiatives.
Interested about learning how you can implementing an affordable solution like Tassl in under a week to support your metrics? Schedule a one-on-one strategy session with the Specialists at Tassl.
Join us for a free digital workshop on October 31st to learn how to build a metric system custom to your strategy and explore more of the “outside the box” engagement metrics touchpoints. We will also share with you some of the most common pitfalls that lead to data overload and ways to simply metrics in your every day.