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How the UNB Alumni Office re-connected with 6500+ alumni

Author: Associated Alumni

Posted on Sep 6, 2018

Category: Brand , Web and Social Media

Losing touch with alumni after they graduate and leave campus is a common problem in higher ed. Particularly in the first few years after graduation, when alumni relocate, change their email address and often times their name. In many cases we still have the email address they used when applying to UNB – catgurl45@hotmail.com anyone?

The Alumni Office developed a comprehensive digital marketing campaign to re-connect with lost alumni using a character named Freddy John, who travelled the world in search of our alumni, engaging with them along the way, and putting particular emphasis on collecting updated contact information for our young alumni – aged 35 and younger. The resulting campaign spanned 11 months, 90 countries and over 6,500 contact updates.

Campaign overview

‘Where in the world are our #ProudlyUNB alumni’ was largely a digital campaign conducted through email and social media. Some small print pieces were sent to various alumni chapters, events and activities in support of the digital efforts. The primary target audience was our alumni population. Once connecting with Freddy John, alumni were directed to update or confirm their contact information through an online form. For the purpose of this campaign, ‘alumni’ was defined as anyone who had completed at least 30+ credit hours toward a degree at UNB and whose reunion class had since graduated. Faculty, staff and current students were not eligible to enter (aside from those students who had previously graduated from UNB and were pursuing another degree). We valued an information confirmation as much as an update.


We offered four cash prizes as incentives:

  • $2,500 grand prize
  • $500 prize from affinity partner TD Meloche Monnex
  • $500 prize from affinity partner MBNA
  • $500 prize from affinity partner Manulife

We knew that the prize would grab their attention – and we also knew that we had to maintain that attention.

Strategic messaging

Once the first email went out talking about the monetary prizes, we made it our mission to maintain a connection with alumni through various positive touchpoints over the course of the 11-month campaign. We developed illustrations of Freddy John traveling to different parts of the world, and we sent geo-targeted messaging via email and social media to our alumni living in those areas of the world. We also made sure to stay in touch with strategic emails once we had collected updated information. Our email schedule looked like this:

  • Contest launch
  • Thank you – those who updated
  • Touchpoint – six weeks after update
  • Why update your contact information?
  • Provide information on alumni benefits, UNB news, etc.
  • Generic reminder of contest
  • University points of pride
  • Share the things that make UNB special, and why our alumni should be #ProudlyUNB
  • Final chance

All of these emails were supported by social media content carrying a similar message.


We set a target goal of receiving 4,000 alumni entries into the contest, and we surpassed that by 63%, receiving 6,530 total updates from 90 countries around the world. Each entry was manually updated and specific campaign codes were placed on the files of alumni who participated. We were able to determine that:

  • 65% were already donors to the university
  • 38% confirmed existing information
  • 51% were young alumni
  • 11% updated all three pieces of contact info (phone, mailing address and email)
  • 62% updated at least one piece of information

Freddy John became the face of the campaign and many of our alumni became quite fond of him, writing and calling our office to ask for a cut-out of Freddy to tour around their home. Here he is at Cambridge University in the UK with Jackson Wo (BScChE, D-TME’14).

Lessons learned

While we were happy with the results, we did have a few lessons learned and recognize there is always room for improvement.

Staffing: We received over 800 updates in the first 24 hours. This set us back right out of the gate, as each update had to be manually updated and coded by Development and Donor Relations. Solution? Hire student employees at the beginning of the campaign.

Launching a primarily digital campaign was a limitation in some respects: We recognize that not all alumni are reachable via email and social media, yet print mail is very expensive. Solution? Bring in the help of annual callers who can update information over the phone, put more postcards promoting the program at various events and test a mail program with tracking links to determine uptake with a particular demographic.

Success: We excluded new donors from our annual giving call list for six weeks after an update. We wanted to be sure that their first point of contact from our office was not a solicitation for a donation.


We want to maintain Freddy John as a character and alumni ambassador by periodically bringing him back into the spotlight. We hope to use his popularity to continue to entice our alumni to remain connected with UNB. The success of this program will also be evaluated on an ongoing basis, as we track correlations between campaign participation and event attendance, social media engagement and giving.

Jenna Kennedy, Alumni Advancement Officer
Natasha Rego, Young Alumni Coordinator