Database Update

Why is it important to segment your alumni population to serve their needs more effectively?

Why is it important to segment your alumni population to serve their needs more effectively?




December 13, 2019

Last modified: 

December 13, 2019

Schools around the world invest greatly in building ‘personal relationships’ with alumni but, when it comes to outreach, many often overlook this critical aspect. 

Have you also been taking the umbrella approach and using generic messaging for your constituents?


In today’s digital age where we receive hundreds of spam emails daily, the chance of your generic email cutting through the clutter is low. 

Let’s look at another situation: would a 1970 grad feel the same way as a 2010 grad about your upcoming K-Pop music night event? 

You get my point.

So, what’s the best approach for reaching out to diverse alumni?

Alumni segmentation.

Instead of the usual marketing email blasts, we’ve witnessed schools achieve greater success by incorporating personalized email campaigns for targeted groups of alumni.

How Gann Academy achieved 40% email open rates

Why should you segment your alumni population?

To provide maximum value to alumni

Each segment of your alumni population will have different needs and would engage more with your institution if you catered to those needs. For instance, alumni who just graduated from the university might be interested in internship updates via emails but the same outreach will be ineffective for older alumni who are already well settled in their careers. 

To receive maximum value from alumni

Each segment of your alumni population can give back in different ways to the institution. Older alumni who are at respectable positions in their careers are more likely to respond to giving asks. On the other hand, younger alumni who are fresh out of college are more likely to provide value to their alma mater in the form of volunteer support. 

What are the different ways to segment alumni?

1. Class Year

Segregating alumni on the basis of class years is a common approach employed by institutions worldwide. Here’s how Samueli Academy, a free, public charter high school in Santa Ana, targeted its Class of 2019 alumni with a personalized email campaign and witnessed increased alumni engagement.

Class year
Samueli Academy targets its Class of 2019, inviting them back to campus

2. Industry

Creating content and valuable resources based on different industries or specialties alumni work in is a great way to keep alumni engaged. This allows alumni to connect and network with fellow alumni for professional development, new business opportunities, etc. Take a look at how Loma Linda School of Medicine creates groups based on its alumni’s work specializations.

Industry Connections

3. Affinities & interest groups

Another way to segment alumni is on the basis of shared interests. For example, all former football players can be engaged with content around the current team or exclusive fundraising campaigns asking for their contributions to the sports fund. See how Tennessee State University utilizes affinity groups to segregate alumni based on their interests.

Industry Connections

Industry Connections
The affinity group ‘ALL TSU Tigers Sports’ is a member-only group where news and updates about related topics are shared

4. Location

Alumni segmentation on the basis of the location is especially of great value when you want to do an event in multiple locations. Some institutions have formal alumni chapters but some also have regional alumni volunteers who help engage alumni in their location. 

Take a look at Archer Center’s city-wise alumni chapters below.

Archer Center has divided its alumni into multiple city-wise segments

A list of completed events shared and attended by Archer Center alumni located in the city of Dallas

How many alumni segments should you create?

While there is no limit to the number of alumni segments that can be created, it is vital to consider these two factors before you get started:

Availability of staff & resources

Some institutions might have a large staff handling advancement whereas some might just be a single-person advancement shop. The number of segments you can handle is largely dependent on the staff members and resources available to manage the unique engagement needs of these groups.

What your alumni relate to the most

The most important aspect of creating an alumni community is identifying what your alumni would benefit from. For instance, if your school had an active photography club, chances are, your alumni would love to reconnect with fellow alumni who were a part of that club. 

While all of this may sound overwhelming, alumni community platforms like Almabase can simplify the entire process for you.

Alumni Communities

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