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Automate and Personalize Alumni Outreach

Learning Objectives

After completing this unit, you’ll be able to:

  • Utilize Campaigns for more effective outreach.
  • Assess your marketing automation needs.
  • Identify how marketing automation works in conjunction with Campaigns.

Now that you know your way around EDA, it’s time to get personal. Salesforce has many marketing tools that help you streamline your own alumni and volunteer outreach, making each communication personal and relevant. Let’s take a closer look.

What Are Salesforce Campaigns and How Do You Use Them?

You may be familiar with the term “campaign” as it relates to a capital campaign, for example. But in the Salesforce ecosystem, it means something a bit different. A campaign is an engagement initiative that you can plan, manage, and track within Salesforce. The Campaigns object can be used to track any outbound marketing project that asks a contact for a response. Want to send a series of emails to recruit alumni volunteers for an upcoming admissions event? Campaigns can do that. Looking to distribute direct mail to promote this year’s reunion weekend? You guessed it—campaigns can do that, too.

Alright, so campaigns are a great way to group people together in Salesforce. That’s impactful, but what if you want to engage with groups of contacts in multiple ways as part of a broader effort? That’s where the Hierarchy feature comes into play.

Cloudy College Homecoming banner against a gray brick wall with icons for a calendar, mobile phone, envelope, and paper mailers
As you’ll recall from the previous unit, planning for Cloudy College’s Homecoming weekend is in full swing. The communication strategy the alumni engagement team has in place includes a direct mail brochure, a save the date email, and an email with an e-brochure and video. Campaign Hierarchies allow your team to link each individual outreach effort to the overarching Homecoming celebration. They create a sightline into the success of the top-level initiative as well as the efficacy of each smaller engagement effort meant to support it.

Campaigns are the gift that keeps on giving when it comes to organization and analysis of your alumni engagement endeavors. Once your campaigns are entered and linked, you can run reports and create dashboards that provide a visual representation of how your work is impacting achievement of your overall goals. You can compare response rates on different outreach methods, see ROI vs. costs, and so on. When you’re empowered with data that shows where you’re crushing it and where you may need to make some changes, the possibilities for stronger engagement are limitless.

Marketing Automation for the Win

Maybe you’re thinking marketing automation isn’t relevant to folks who aren’t members of the institution’s marketing team. The truth is, marketing = engagement. So if you like the idea of automating redundant, time-consuming tasks so your team has more time to do the stuff that really puts your collective skills to use, keep reading.

Salesforce’s marketing automation tools allow you to automate activities like emails, forms, landing pages, and nurture programs. These types of communication are critical to staying connected to your alumni base with timely and consistent outreach. They can also be incredibly tedious to do on your own. Salesforce has two options for marketing automation: Marketing Cloud and Pardot. Both empower you to stay engaged with your contacts without spending all day sending emails and posting messages, but each has its own unique qualities. Let’s do a little compare and contrast, shall we?

What Salesforce’s marketing automation tools do

  • Marketing Cloud and Pardot both have the capability to manage email and social channels
  • Marketing Cloud can send SMS messages and display advertisements
  • Pardot provides scoring and grading features that allow you to figure out which donors are most interested and a good fit for your institution

How Salesforce’s marketing automation tools work

  • Marketing Cloud is extremely flexible and can be configured very precisely to fit the exact needs of an institution. However, that flexibility is a natural byproduct of increased complexity
  • Pardot is generally regarded as more intuitive and user-friendly, but is less customizable

Check out the diagram below to see more similarities and differences between the tools.
Venn Diagram with Pardot features, Marketing Cloud features, and shared features
So how do you choose? It’s a great question, and one to be considered with care. While there are many deciding factors that may be unique to your school or team, here are some questions to consider.

  • What is the scope and timeline of your project?
  • What is your team’s bandwidth? Do you have a Salesforce admin on staff?
  • What are your outreach goals?

Having a strong sense of your answers to these questions is great prep for a deeper conversation about selecting the Salesforce marketing automation tool that’s right for you.

Put it All Together

Great news! Regardless of which tool ends up being the best fit for your team, Salesforce Campaigns are compatible. When they join forces with analysis, campaigns and marketing automation reveal their full potential.

Campaigns hold and organize all the data; marketing automation is the key to execution. And once you’ve configured your automation tool to send those promotional emails or texts, post on social media, develop segmented lists of your most receptive donors, and so on, your campaign reports and dashboards let you see the success metrics of your efforts. Blending your marketing automation data with Salesforce data helps you see the whole picture of your alumni engagement with better, more complete reporting.