8 Ways to Engage Alumni in Higher-Ed Marketing

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By Chris Rapozo — Sep 7, 2023 11:00 AM

Blog post image - 8 ways to engage alumni - COVER.png

Amidst the changing landscape of higher education and the need for sustained growth, engaging alumni in marketing offers several promising benefits, such as fostering a strong sense of community, amplifying the success of recruitment efforts, stimulating philanthropic contributions, and nurturing a culture of trust and support.

Through their lived experiences and successes, alumni underscore the true worth of their alma mater's education. Their active participation not only elevates the institution's image but also propels revenue streams via improved recruitments, increased donations, or deepened community connections.

This week's blog post unpacks eight strategies to integrate alumni in higher education marketing, each aimed at boosting enrollment, enhancing institutional prestige, and charting a confident path forward amidst prevailing uncertainties: 

1) Testimonials and Case Studies

Use alumni stories as testimonials or case studies to illustrate the real-world benefits of the education provided. This can be in written form, video interviews, or podcasts.

Testimonials and case studies genuinely reflect an institution's impact through the lens of its alumni.

These narratives are invaluable for higher-ed marketers, providing tangible evidence of the institution's promise in action. Prospective students and their families often seek proof of outcomes, and who better to provide this than successful graduates?  

These testimonials and case studies create a compelling and relatable narrative by showcasing alumni experiences, accomplishments, and the transformative power of their education.

They humanize the institution, build trust, and give prospects a tangible vision of their potential future, making them powerful tools in higher education marketing.

Blog post image 1 - 8 ways to engage alumni - Testimonials - Auburn


2) Ambassador Programs

Initiate alumni ambassador programs where alumni can represent the institution at various events, engage with prospective students, or share their experiences on social media.

Ambassador Programs harness the credibility and enthusiasm of alumni, positioning them as authentic representatives for an institution. 

In higher-ed marketing, establishing trust is paramount, and alumni, having personally navigated the academic journey, naturally exude this trustworthiness.

Prospective students relate more easily to ambassadors, seeing them as tangible proof of the institution's potential. These programs also cultivate community, with alumni feeling valued and engaged long after graduation. 

Their firsthand experiences and genuine advocacy for their alma mater resonate deeply with potential enrollees, making Ambassador Programs a potent strategy in higher education marketing. 

 Blog post image 2 - 8 ways to engage alumni - Alumni Ambassador - Mount Mary


3) Host Alumni Events

Organize networking events, reunions, or webinars where alumni can connect, share experiences, and reminisce about their time at the institution.

Hosting alumni events bridges past graduates with the institution's evolving narrative, fostering a dynamic community of shared experiences and aspirations.

For higher-ed marketers, these events rekindle alumni loyalty and transform alumni into living testimonials, actively showcasing the enduring value of their education. 

When prospective students witness this vibrant connection, they perceive a university that genuinely invests in long-term relationships, promising an education and a lifelong community. 

These events also generate stories, interactions, and endorsements that can be leveraged in promotional materials, amplifying the institution's reputation through authentic alumni engagement.

 Blog post image 3 - 8 ways to engage alumni -  Host Alumni Events - Emory


4) Alumni Social Media Takeovers 

Allow alumni to take over the institution's social media accounts for a day. They can share about their day-to-day lives, how their education benefited them, and offer advice to current and prospective students.

Alumni Social Media Takeovers offer a raw, unfiltered window into the lived experiences of graduates, making higher-ed marketing more relatable and authentic.

Alumni steering an institution's social channels provide a refreshing shift from conventional marketing messages.

Prospective students gain insights from someone who's walked the path they're considering, thus facilitating trust.

This strategy also underscores the institution's confidence in its outcomes willing to let alumni narratives speak for themselves.

Such takeovers foster a sense of community, showcasing an institution that celebrates its graduates and values their stories, resonating deeply with potential enrollees.

Blog post image 4 - 8 ways to engage alumni -  Social Media Takeover - UNC Wilmington


5) Alumni Spotlight

Alumni Spotlights testify to an institution's education's real-world impact and potential.

By highlighting graduates' successes, journeys, and endeavors, higher-ed marketers create a compelling narrative that underscores the value and possibilities inherent in their programs.

For prospective students, these spotlights offer inspiration and a tangible understanding of what they might achieve post-graduation.

At the same time, featuring alumni fosters a sense of pride and connection among past students, strengthening the alumni-institution bond. 

This dual benefit — showcasing success to prospects while re-engaging past graduates — makes Alumni Spotlights a potent tool in higher education marketing.

Blog post image 5 - 8 ways to engage alumni - Alumni Spotlight - Seminole State College


6) Mentorship Programs

Pair alumni with current students for mentorship opportunities. Alumni can guide students, offer career advice, and share their experiences.

Mentorship Programs uniquely intertwine current students' aspirations with alumni's lived experiences. 

For higher-ed marketers, this demonstrates the institution's commitment to holistic student success, both academically, professionally, and personally.

Alumni mentors embody the tangible outcomes of the institution's education, while their guidance ensures that prospective careers are realized more effectively.

For potential enrollees, seeing a structured pathway where past graduates actively assist in sculpting the futures of current students is profoundly appealing.

This continuous cycle of giving back reinforces the idea of a tight-knit, supportive community, making mentorship programs a compelling facet of higher education marketing.



7) Alumni Surveys

Conduct surveys to gather feedback from alumni on their educational experience and how it has impacted their careers. Use this data for both improvements and promotional content.

Alumni Surveys empower institutions to capture their former students' post-graduate experiences, insights, and sentiments. For higher-ed marketers, this feedback is gold.

It provides authentic data to shape promotional narratives and identifies areas for institutional improvement. Showcasing positive outcomes and testimonials from these surveys offers compelling evidence to prospective students of the institution's value proposition.

Seeking alumni opinions underscores the institution's commitment to continuous growth and valuing its graduates' voices. By integrating alumni perspectives into their strategy, marketers foster trust and showcase a responsive, evolving educational environment to potential enrollees.

Blog post image 7 - 8 ways to engage alumni - Alumni Surveys - U of Vermont


8) Lifelong Learning

Offer special courses, workshops, or lectures specifically for alumni. This engages them and reinforces the value of continuous learning from the institution.

For higher-ed marketers, offering advanced courses or workshops to alumni emphasizes the school's commitment to its graduates' evolving needs and aspirations.

It presents the institution as a continuous resource throughout one's professional journey rather than a mere stepping stone.

Observing this extended bond, prospective students perceive a richer, long-term value in their educational investment.

Additionally, alumni engaging in continued learning often become ambassadors, sharing their refreshed experiences and reinforcing the narrative that learning doesn't end at graduation, thus amplifying the institution's holistic appeal.

Blog post image 8 - 8 ways to engage alumni - Lifelong Learning - Duke



In the ever-changing world of higher education, leveraging the rich tapestry of alumni experiences is more than a strategic advantage—it's a lifeline. Their stories, achievements, and enduring connection with their alma mater illuminate the true essence and value of the educational journey offered.

Alumni are not just past students but pivotal partners in shaping an institution's future. By intertwining their narratives with higher education marketing efforts, institutions not only bolster their brand but also fortify their financial foundation.

In these transformative collaborations with alumni, colleges and universities discover a resilient path forward, ensuring sustainability, relevance, and continued excellence in an ever-evolving field of higher education.

Photo of Chris Rapozo

Chris Rapozo
Marketing Specialist


Content Marketing