Dream On

Digital Strategy Track

Maximize your institution's data assets and technology-focused initiatives in the digital world. Check out the sessions in the Digital Strategy track.

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Day 1, Tuesday, Feb. 27

10:15-11:05 AM
Dissecting Digital Donors What's New? What's Not?

There has been a massive surge in digital giving over the last three years, with more and more donors demonstrating a clear preference for giving online. This preference is most pronounced with newer, younger donors-the leadership and major gift prospects of tomorrow. What can we learn from these donors? Explore data and insights drawn from 500+ institutions and $100,000,000+ in digital giving over the last three years, including anecdotal stories from a diverse range of institutions, and a deep dive on data from College of the Holy Cross. Gain a better understanding of digital fundraising trends, the behaviors and preferences of newer and younger donors, and determine key questions to explore within your own data set to inform and refine your strategy and tactics.

Kestrel Linder, CEO, GiveCampus; and Samantha McGill, Director of Advancement Systems and Technology, College of the Holy Cross


11:25 AM-12:15 PM
Digging Into Digital Data for Enhanced Major Gift Solicitation Strategies

Major donors are more active online and on social media than the general population. A growing number of institutions are recognizing this and mining the social graph to better understand the affinities of donors and prospects. This innovative tactic is leading to big wins in the six- and seven-figure gift range.

During this session, Groundwork Digital President and Co-Founder Justin Ware will uncover this new approach to developing major donor solicitation strategies that are more personally tailored than ever before. Specifically, this session will:
  • Outline the multi-phase process for injecting social listening and digitally-mined data into prospect development
  • Cover case studies that demonstrate the real-world success that comes about when your institution goes digital to engage major donors
  • Offer tips for development officers on the potential for using video and social media to stay front and center in the minds of donors and prospects

Justin Ware, President and Co-Founder, Groundwork Digital


1:45-2:35 PM
Marketing Automation: Early Learnings for Fundraisers, Communicators and Researchers

Today's customer has high expectations-and may not even realize it: content is curated, activities are acknowledged and timing is fine-tuned. The online experiences commercial enterprises have been crafting for a decade have raised the bar, and higher ed needs to keep up to be competitive for wallet share-that is, applications, enrollment, engagement and fundraising. The good news is that there are tools that can help. Join us for a discussion on marketing automation, and learn how innovative marketing technologies can help advance your marketing and research efforts.

Mirabai Auer, Director, Analytics and Business Intelligence; and Samantha Morales, Senior Director, Marketing, ARD Communications, University of Chicago


Day 2, Wednesday, Feb. 28

10:00-10:50 AM
Connections and Clicks: Leveraging Big Data to Gain Engagement Insights

We are living in an era of data. At the University of Chicago, thousands of emails are sent to 200,000 alumni and friends annually, which accumulate more than 10M email activities each year, let alone data brewing from online learning and career mentorship platforms, as well as tweets and Facebook likes. Buzz has surrounded big data for some time, but many higher ed teams still wonder how they can begin to leverage the three "V's" of big data-volume, variety and velocity-to inform strategy and programming. Find out how the University of Chicago became an early adopter of digital engagement strategy and big data and in turn, is beginning to reap the benefits. Learn how you can leverage a big data environment to track the engagement progress, prospect and inform your communications strategy.

Xiaohong Zhang, Data Architect, University of Chicago

11:10 AM-NOON
Using Social Listening to Identify Alumni Engagement Opportunities & Influencers

How higher education engages with alumni is changing as more and more of our conversations occur online. While your alumni may not fill out career update forms or respond to your emails, they are celebrating their accomplishments on social media and would certainly appreciate a personalized response from their alma matter. Beyond engagement, influencers can play an important role in advancement, but you need to know how to find them. In this session, you'll learn how to find and analyze online conversations to identify engagement opportunities as well as strategic influencers for your institution (not just online celebrities). We'll also review metrics that can be used to determine influence (spoiler alert: it's more than followers). Liz will share case studies and best practices for campus influencer collaboration.

Liz Gross, Director, Campus Sonar, Great Lakes Educational Loan Services, Inc.


Tapping the Social Media and Text Data Fire Hose

With fundraising campaigns increasingly focusing on cross-disciplinary initiatives, prospecting traditional constituencies using typical statistical model scores is resulting in diminishing returns. Fortunately, we now have unprecedented access into the interests of prospective donors through social media platforms like LinkedIn and Twitter, as well as increasing amounts of text data stored in our own internal databases. Unfortunately, it has been difficult historically to utilize this information at scale. Discuss the analytical methods the University of Michigan has developed to tap this text data fire hose. Learn how text data can be analyzed en masse to identify prospects who are not only interested in giving, but who are interested in giving to a specific cause. Identify potential sources of valuable text data hidden within your very own database, and learn how to best utilize external sources of text data.

Brett Lantz, Senior Associate Director of Analytics, University of Michigan


Creating a Personalized Web Experience to Drive Enrollment and Giving

Personalization is the next tactic in your marketing toolkit, giving you the keys to make one-to-one marketing a reality for higher education. Many marketers are intrigued by the possibility of personalization, but wary of the content demands. But, marketers shouldn't be intimidated. If organizations have a good content strategy with solid content assets, personalization is all about leveraging and reusing these assets. Your higher ed website CAN apply techniques deemed successful by e-commerce and retail websites to engage prospects and alumni. Personalization can help by delivering relevant content and calls-to-action to your visitors based on their personal consumer journeys - even before they have identified who they are. And, personalization provides opportunity to enhance your user data, giving you more insight into their intent, behaviors, and motivations. From stealth inquiries to accepted applicants, learn strategies to develop effective, sustainable, and unobtrusive digital personalization experiences that provide relevance for your constituents and ROI for you.

Jason Smith, Managing Director and Founder; and Vanessa Theoharis, Director of Digital Marketing, OHO Interactive

Guiding Advancement Into A Digital First Mindset

Higher Ed holds on to its traditions and methods with an iron grip because it's what has worked for so many years. Yet, the digital age is changing the ways that we are able to engage with our constituents. Many Advancement offices understand the need to use digital tools but continue to approach their outreach to alumni with a more traditional mindset. Hear how the digital team in the Alumni Affairs & Development division of Cornell University is working on changing that mindset within Cornell's advancement office. Planning with a digital audience in mind from the beginning creates a better experience for everyone in the end.

Michael O'Neill, Associate Director of Digital Engagement, Cornell University

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