Expertise At Your Service

Corporate alumni networks have been our focus from day one, starting more than 10 years ago. In fact, we live and breathe corporate alumni programs so that we can share our knowledge with you.

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.

What to measure

When 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.

Understanding 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.

Business 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 organization.

Talent 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

Conenza recommends 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.

Take credit

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.