Email campaigns are a powerful tool for universities to connect with students and staff. How could Georgetown University monitor and encourage responses without adversely affecting business processes?
Georgetown University can now schedule targeted email messages and analyze their effectiveness, helping to ensure that messages seize the attention of recipients and get the desired reaction.
Boostsinsight into response rates to keep students and staff aware of announcements
Enhancessender productivity and satisfaction by streamlining the email campaign process
Fostersthe opportunity for greater faculty, staff and student engagement
Business challenge story
Opening up lines of communication
Today’s students are more discerning than ever about where they choose to study, so higher education institutions must provide great experiences in order to stand out from the competition. For Georgetown University, which prides itself on being an exciting place to be, one of the core values is challenging students – and staff – to engage with the world around them to form diverse and vibrant communities.
Jasper Saunders, Senior Product Management at Georgetown University, explains: “One of the ways that Georgetown University seeks to differentiate itself is by providing a network of resources to support our students, faculty and staff. We encourage all members to participate, investing in a continuously changing calendar of events.”
To raise awareness of opportunities for engagement and communicate vital information such as public service announcements from organizations like campus police, Georgetown University depends on email broadcasts. The university saw a chance to improve the approach it relied on to send out these emails.
“Previously, any email message went to several people for approval before the IT team sent it out,” recalls Saunders. “In today’s incredibly fast-paced world, this manual process simply wasn’t fast enough for our needs, and it was frustrating for everyone to have IT as a bottleneck – especially when the Georgetown University Police Department wanted to send out a time-sensitive message to all students and staff outside standard business hours!
“We also lacked the ability to target our messages effectively. There was a risk that we were over-saturating recipients’ inboxes with emails that weren’t relevant to them, and they would stop paying attention. To ensure our email campaigns were both efficient and effective, we began looking for a better way.”
Right time, right message
Georgetown University transformed its email campaign capabilities, embracing a cloud-based solution and enabling automation, segmentation, analytics and reporting, and scheduling of messages, all aimed at maximizing the impact of communications.
“We both simplified the email campaign creation and delivery process, and enabled a whole new range of abilities,” says Saunders. “In building our new approach, we involved a variety of stakeholders from across the university to ensure that their needs were met and they embraced the methodology wholeheartedly from the beginning.”
Today, some departments at Georgetown University have authorized senders that can develop and launch email campaigns with no intervention required from the IT department. The university further segmented its audience into groups including campus and student body (in addition to previous segmenting, into categories such as faculty and staff), thereby helping to better target emails.
Saunders explains: “In comparison to our legacy system, the sending process has significantly improved. Now, even our less technically savvy senders have minimal problems successfully distributing email messages."
Georgetown University has gained the ability to analyze the impact of its campaigns, learning who is opening emails, and when they do so. Senders can incorporate these insights into future broadcasts, using tools such as scheduling to maximize response rates.
“We discovered that students are most likely to check their emails after classes finish in the afternoon, so that’s the best time to send them a message promoting an event,” comments Saunders. “On the other hand, faculty tend to open emails first thing in the morning, so that’s when we would notify them of a new directive from human resources, for example. Soon, we plan to introduce time-zone targeting, which will enable us to stagger emails according to time zones, helping us extend these benefits to members of our study-abroad programs.”
Getting people involved
By taking a smarter approach to email campaigns, Georgetown University is seeing a more positive reception for its broadcasts from faculty, staff and students.
“When sending out email messages, having the ability to see response rates helps us determine if our methodology is working well,” elaborates Saunders. “When recipients receive messages with content that pertains to them, they are more likely to read what we send. As a result, it essentially aids in the prevention of information getting lost in the noise, keeping our faculty, students and staff aware of university wide announcements. We also have more insight into promotional success of campus events, ensuring more people take advantage of the many opportunities we have to offer.”
For the senders behind email campaigns, Georgetown University provides the tools for greater productivity.
“The email campaign creation and delivery processes are now much more efficient and streamlined,” says Saunders. “The feedback from users is overwhelmingly positive: they describe the approach as a million times better than before. Moving to a cloud-based solution enabled us to get rid of some obsolete servers, so we have seen efficiency benefits there, too.”
Crucially, Georgetown University has gained the ability to engage more closely with students and employees, helping to improve overall communications.
Saunders concludes: “At Georgetown University, there’s so much going on we don’t want anyone to miss out – our new communication capabilities help us ensure they don’t. There’s much more on the horizon too: we plan to take a deeper dive into analytics for our email campaigns, moving towards real-time insights into the impact of our marketing activities. We are also exploring integrating our email campaigns with social media, which is a huge area of opportunity for our user base. It’s clear we’ve laid the foundations for stronger engagement between our students and staff, helping Georgetown University continue to appeal to students from all walks of life.”
One of the world’s leading academic and research institutions, Georgetown University is the oldest Catholic and Jesuit university in the U.S. Established in 1789 and located in Washington D.C., Georgetown has nine schools, which provide a wide range of undergraduate and graduate degree courses to more than 4,700 students.
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