With an aging database on life-support (not mentioning any names… starts with “Acc” and ends with “ess”), and a desire to engage families with a more robust email platform than MailChimp, our office needed a tool that could better meet our needs.
One important requirement was the ability to include banner ads in newsletters, which is a critical component of our sponsorship/partnership program. When we initially signed with CampusESP, there wasn’t a campaign/ad feature available. However, they were able to accommodate our request and create a campaign and ad module that works for University of Maryland and several other schools.
The CampusESP team was great throughout the entire process. They built the feature based on our unique needs around parent and family engagement. I’m thrilled that our office was first to pilot this feature. It’s exceeded our expectations. After partnering with CampusESP, we’ve increased our overall campaign reach by 8x.
It’s really easy to use.
Since launching the Terp Family eConnection in March of this year, we’ve been able to run one to three campaigns at any given time. The ad campaigns are easy to set up and can be created in advance. It takes less than 5 minutes to set up a campaign, and then the campaign basically runs itself. Everything is automated, including the newsletter, which goes out every two weeks. In less than an hour, we can have our campaigns set up for the year.
Additionally, we are able to pre-sell ad space to our sponsors. This allows us to rotate the campaigns on a monthly basis, supporting our office through different campus partners who can choose which time of the year they’d like their ad to run.
With CampusESP, we also have access to more ad zones. We have the ability to run campaigns in the portal and newsletter, and can segment the ads for specific groups. I can simultaneously deliver one ad campaign for First Year Families and a separate ad campaign to meet the needs of Fourth Year families. The ability to reach multiple communities while delivering targeted messages has proven to be a powerful tool.
Ad clicks and impressions increase.
Prior to using CampusESP, we were using MailChimp for our campaigns--which did not generate nearly the level of engagement we see now and included a user-group of approximately 31,000 parents. Now, not only do have newsletters sent to more than 45,000 families, we can place additional messaging front and center in the portal. The difference is substantial.
The numbers of clicks and impressions are much higher with CampusESP than compared to our previous newsletter; from 104 clicks to 710 clicks!
Here's a great example of the difference CampusESP has made with specific ad campaigns:
Higher email open rates.
Our overall email open rate was around 31 percent. Since moving to CampusESP, it’s increased approximately 10%. Additionally, open rates for certain key segments have skyrocketed:
53% First Year Family
60% Freshmen Connection Family
71% Parents of First Generation Students
76% Families of International Students
Being able to access the statistics for the ads offers us additional leverage with sponsors by allowing us to know the ad impressions. With the huge increase in impressions and clicks, we'll be able to use these amazing stats to leverage additional sponsors.
Having CampusESP as a tool to engage families and partner with sponsors is a major win for our office. Families are excited about the portal, and we are excited to launch a pilot program this fall that puts several communities in the hands of various offices across the university so they can serve as content experts.
NOTE: Brian Watkins is the Director of Parent and Family Affairs at the University of Maryland and a former President of the Association of Higher Education Parent/Family Program Professionals (AHEPPP).