Why You Need to Continuously Prove the ROI of Your Alumni Program to Senior Management
One of the first steps of establishing an Alumni Program is to get the buy-in of senior management. Without the support of this team, or at least one key high-ranking member, it is difficult to get funding and backing for all the elements needed to connect meaningfully with corporate alumni.
After the Alumni
Program is up and running, don’t assume senior management is automatically
going to champion your efforts down the road. Savvy Alumni Program managers know
that no matter how long the network has been in place, they must demonstrate
the value of their programs and its alignment to the overall goals of their
companies. Establishing – and
maintaining – executive support for your program requires that you are able to
prove the return on investment (ROI) of the program in the past, and projected
outcomes for the future.
Where to start
Alumni Programs are a fairly new
concept for many senior executives. Proving the ROI of your program is a great
opportunity to show the impact that engaging employees for life can have on a
company’s bottom line if relationships with corporate alumni are properly
cultivated and managed.
In Conenza’s 2018 Alumni Program Benchmarking Report, survey respondents ranked the
top three business drivers for Alumni Programs:
1. Brand advocacy
2. Business development
3. Talent acquisition
Conenza recommends centering your ROI metrics around these three key categories that resonate with senior management. You will also want to maintain your own ROI metrics that are specific to the Alumni Program that measure alumni engagement.
A yearly campaign with Net
Promoter Score® (NPS) enables you to benchmark brand advocacy or business
development opportunities with your enrolled alumni.
Setting goals for the number of
quality alumni referrals can paint an interesting story, especially as you look
at the business development impact in placing alumni at key clients and friends
of the organization.
Tracking which alumni are involved
at top deals with clients in a calendar year can also demonstrate tangible ROI
quickly and definitively.
you’re executing on your Alumni Program annual plan, it’s easy to let the
collection and analysis of data slide about events, alumni outreach and other
engagement opportunities. Fight the urge.
alumni demographics and motivators is an increasingly valuable part of
demonstrating your program’s ROI. Conenza
encourages our clients to do an annual alumni survey, integrate with internal
data sources (CRM, HRIS, ATS), update alumni key profile data, and leverage
metrics, e.g., NPS, to track and measure key goals.
These rich data sources feed into
the three ROI categories for senior management:
Brand advocacy – NPS and alumni surveys are the primary methods used to measure brand advocacy. You should be able to identify trends in the growth of positive opinions by members of the corporate alumni network and outreach activities. Aside from current employees, your alumni are the most vocal group and can be your most loyal allies. But if they had a negative experience at the company, it can go the other way. Even if your brand advocacy scores are lower than you want the most important thing is having the data to demonstrate change and improvement as needed. Unhappy employees and alumni will continue to go to Glassdoor and other review sites to demonstrate their feelings. Having an Alumni Program where the focus is brand advocacy and working to identify steps to raise the bar enables you to begin to turn detractors into promoters.
development – Look for opportunities to correlate business development opportunities or revenue with
alumni data. As data becomes less siloed through the emergence of cloud-based
solutions, such as data lakes, this task becomes simpler. Begin to track the
top deals your organization takes part in every year and work internally to
find out who was involved in making those happen. Do alumni work at any of
those places? If so, ask internally and suss out if they were a part of the
deal. If so, you have a direct tie back to alumni-generated revenue to the
acquisition – Work with colleagues in human resources to track referral sources
for new hires and the return of former employees, then correlate the data with
the alumni network list. It should be possible to assign a recruiting
cost-savings value to each referral or rehire based on your company’s average
spend per new hire. Another idea is hosting a career fair and invite alumni to
recruit other alumni to their organization. Capturing the hire and referral
data from such an event can be impactful. A formalized alumni referral program
can also be a great way to boost quality candidates for your business.
How to present the information
presenting the Alumni Program goals, progress and KPI’s annually to senior
executives, at a minimum. If the opportunity to have quarterly check-ins is possible,
that’s even better. Having senior leadership directly involved in the strengths
and challenges of the program allows them to feel more invested and can be a
wonderful resource. Also consider using executive buy-in as a means for
building additional rapport amongst the alumni community. Featuring
“Executive Connect” type marketing pieces in which key executives are
profiled or inviting an exec to do a keynote at an alumni event can be a
strategic and impactful message to alumni that the organization cares about
them and wants them to stay involved.
The power of anecdotes
Data is critical to
presenting ROI in a way that resonates with senior executives. But don’t forget
the power of a good story. In face-to-face presentations, pepper your narrative
with anecdotes that bring the connections built by your Alumni Program to life.
Help senior executives understand how the intentional relationships built with
alumni bear fruit in positive outcomes online and through word of mouth.
The work that goes
into analyzing data and producing ROI reports reveals the effectiveness of your
Alumni Program. Other teams in your company are happy to take full credit for
the outcome of your work to drive new business, establish partnership and
recruit new employees. Use this process to take credit for the positive impact
of your Alumni Program to the well-being of the company.