Making Your Alumni Association Website More Effective
As an alumni outreach specialist, it’s up to you to meet your alumni where they are—online. Your school likely already has a website where its entire community, from prospective students to faculty, can come together to learn more about the school's offerings and important updates. All of your stakeholders (prospective students, current students, family, faculty, and alumni) visit the website to learn more about the school and see its updates.
Do you want the same success for your alumni website? Your answer is likely, “Of course!”
However, it’s certainly possible that your alumni site doesn’t get as much traction from your target demographic as you need to sustain growth. However, maintaining a wealth of online resources and tools for your alumni association is important to keep them interested in their alma mater and, eventually, give back to it.
Here are some tips to spruce up your alumni website and infuse school spirit into your alumni culture.
1. Offer a User-Friendly Interface
Web design is perhaps the most important contributor to engaging visitors with your site. Conversion rates suffer with longer load times and confusing web design elements. Luckily, there are many ways for your nonprofit to improve usability and offer a user-friendly website experience.
If you’re creating your alumni website for the first time, make sure you use a nonprofit website builder. These platforms remove the guesswork and streamline the website design process.
From there, optimize your alumni website with intuitive navigation, fast load times, and accessibility for people of all abilities. This will ensure that when alumni arrive on your website, they’ll be inclined to stay and explore your educational resources, sign up for an event, or complete another desired action.
2. Provide Valuable Connections and Resources
When your alumni visit your website, they need to find something meaningful, relevant, and valuable to them, not just information about your alumni association or annual fund. In fact, strong alumni networks are a major reason why students choose to attend your school in the first place. The best way to strengthen your alumni network is to create an online community for them to find and connect with each other. Alumni can use this network to access information about:
- Updates on your school’s academic accomplishments and community contributions
- Career opportunities
- Mentoring opportunities
- Upcoming events and fundraising opportunities
You can also use your website as a trove of resources for your alumni. For example, you can include content such as member directories, blogs, and calendars to keep your alumni in the loop about everything your organization is doing. These resources will attract alumni from around the world to your website and keep them involved with your school.
3. Make Your Site Discoverable
According to Cornershop Creative, there are numerous search engine optimization (SEO) practices you can use to make your alumni website more visible on search engines like Google. Industry-standard best practices have to be understood and included in your alumni website’s content. Research ways you can optimize your SEO strategy to get in front of your target audience. Here are some tips to get you started:
- Use highly relevant keywords in written content.
- Maintain header hierarchy in written content so that it can be easily read by search engines.
- Look for opportunities to gain backlinks to your site from other authoritative websites.
Incorporating these elements into your website will increase the likelihood of your page ranking higher on the results page, leading to more organic traffic to your site and engagement from your alumni audience.
4. Optimize Your Site for Mobile Users
There’s no question that mobile browsing is the new normal for surfing the web. Your alumni website should accommodate this huge traffic source by making your website mobile-friendly. Here are some suggestions for doing so:
- If you’re creating your website for the first time, use a website builder that offers automatic mobile responsiveness.
- Improve your website’s load speed by compressing images and cleaning up code.
- Make sure any pop-ups or buttons are finger-friendly.
Optimizing your website for mobile browsing is well worth the time and effort! Young alumni in particular comprise a huge portion of mobile browsers, so this is a great way to engage them.
5. Encourage Revisits/Subscription
Once alumni click on your site, you should provide them with reasons to revisit it again and again. While part of this is including worthwhile resources like the ones listed above, you can also encourage revisits with low-commitment subscription tools, like an email newsletter sign-up. This way, even your most passive alumni can get involved at their own convenience.
You can also leverage your social media presence to get your members to return to your site. By integrating your website content into your social media posts and bios, you’ll encourage alumni not only to follow you there but also to click through and explore your site. Plus, they can see new fellow alumni interacting with your social content, thus opening up more opportunities for connection within your network.
6. Add Virtual Events to Your Calendar
The pandemic has ushered in a new era of digital opportunity. Your website can become a hotspot for alumni involvement and appreciation through virtual or hybrid events. So, you should clear some space on your calendar for new events popularized through the uptick in virtual offerings:
- Informational webinars and panels
- Watch parties
- Walk- run-, and dance-a-thons
- Networking events with current students and faculty
- Giveaways from your alumni association
Virtual and hybrid events have numerous benefits. Not only will these events promote participation and increase member retention due to their flexibility, but it’s a great way to increase organic traffic, which will help your site’s performance on Google.
Your alumni all have something in common: their connection to your school. As an alumni outreach specialist, it’s your responsibility to leverage this commonality, bringing them together and making their experience as beneficial as possible.
Work with your team to analyze any ways you can improve your current website and implement these tips to see growth in your alumni involvement. Good luck!