While email marketing still factors highly in many university marketing plans, the old “batch and blast” days are gone, replaced by more subscriber-centric strategies. Boston College is working towards creating better personalized digital experiences for the school’s many constituents, including students, alumni, parents, and friends of the school. Boston College is a private Jesuit research university in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts. The university has more than 9,300 full-time undergraduates and nearly 5,000 graduate students.
But to create better experiences, the marketing team needed IT’s help. Jamie Manning, head of digital marketing for Advancement, spoke to Salesforce about how he’s collaborating with IT to build better digital experiences. With only a small team of four marketers and help from IT, Jamie turned limited resources into notable success. We asked Jamie to share insight into his approach. Read on to learn why thinking beyond email, starting small, and partnering with IT worked at Boston College.
Q: What is Boston College doing to build better digital experiences as part of your marketing efforts?
We’re improving engagement with alumni, parents, and friends of the school. Deep personalization is the key. It starts with capturing interests and likes, and understanding how individuals want to engage. Universities traditionally rely on email marketing, and we’re working on going beyond that. Email plays a role, but we want to engage people —not saturate them with emails that might or might not be relevant to them. We’re creating experiences based on interests. For instance, an alum may be more likely to engage via social than email. We build on that to help us reach them where they like to be.
Q: In what ways does a strong relationship with IT help you as a marketer?
So marketing and IT can clash at times, but it’s a relationship that really needs to work. When I came to Boston College, forging a great relationship with IT was a priority. It’s foundational to achieving marketing goals in the digital era.
Q: How can marketers forge those strong, collaborative ties with IT?
Start small and take the time to explain what you want to do and why. Getting everyone on board starts with mapping a path and explaining why it’s an appealing place to go. Then, start with small pilots. Going in with a big vision and saying you want to realize it tomorrow is not a great way to start a partnership. Instead, have a dialogue and make working together a human experience. Soon you have a partner. When that happens, any walls come down, and people bring their best talent to the game.
Q: Can you walk us through an example of what your strong relationship with IT has helped you build?
Absolutely. Working with our IT department, we've been able to extract attribute data from our CRM system and match that with behavioral data from Marketing Cloud to gain a complete understanding of each constituent. We use that information to personalize experiences.
Let’s say Mary graduated with a degree in biology in a specific year. We can look at the way she likes to engage —perhaps she views web pages that focus on health or science. On the other hand, Mary may have shown little interest in sports. We can share emails and content with her that focus on healthcare and science research. It makes for a better experience for Mary, and she can start to see that we’re sending the information that she wants. Engagement gains momentum. Over time, we’re improving the connection and emotional ties between our constituents and Boston College.
The right digital experience platform can help you connect people to more personalized content. Read why Gartner names Salesforce as a leader in digital experience platforms in the Gartner 2019 Magic Quadrant for Digital Experience Platforms report. Get the report.