University of Southampton
Replay – Which track takes you back?
Campaign, Strategy, Design, Development
16,000+ member engagement
381%+ in email click rate
400%+ track uploads
Awards & Recognition:
Gold, CASE Circle of Excellence Awards
Reawakening relations with former students through a targeted digital campaign rooted in the power of musical memories.
One of the top 100 universities in the world, the University of Southampton is home to a growing global community of more than 230,000 former students, including notable names such as Justine Greening MP, naturalist Chris Packham and model Laura Bailey. But poorly targeted communication over many years meant the university was losing touch with this valuable audience and its core base of advocates was dwindling. It decided to take action by launching its first ever alumni engagement campaign.
Re-establish a powerful point of connection with the audience
To date, alumni engagement activities had been sporadic. They were not centrally co-ordinated, messaging was predominantly one-way, and there was little regard for an individual’s location, when they had graduated or, more importantly, how they felt about the University.
Of the various creative concepts explored, music presented the perfect solution.
Our first task was to develop a clear picture of motivating factors and barriers to engagement among the alumni audience. We augmented the University’s own research with our own one-to-one interviews, stakeholder questionnaires and competitor analysis to define key themes and identify key audience segments. It became evident that engagement was weakest among the valuable age bracket of 20 – 39-year-olds.
Our strategy, bravely adopted by the university, was to deliver a bold creative campaign that prioritised and targeted this group. We had to ensure other audience groups didn’t feel alienated but the previous one-size-fits-all approach to communication had to be abandoned if we wanted real engagement. Of the various creative concepts explored, music presented the perfect solution. For every student, there is a song that immediately takes you back, perhaps to Freshers’ Week, a night out you’ll never forget or a particular moment at that time in your life. Music is both highly personal but also taps into a shared nostalgia, giving us a powerful, universal point of emotional connection to engage this alumni segment. The ‘Replay’ campaign was born.
A campaign that resonates in more ways than one
The soundtrack to your university years is a doorway to a pivotal time in every graduate’s life. We created a campaign site that gave the audience a platform to upload their particular university song and become part of a shared alumni playlist on Spotify.
To drive awareness among the target audience and encourage them to get involved on the site, we developed a comprehensive communications plan as well as a range of templates and assets for the University of Southampton’s in-house team to deliver activities on email and social media.
16,000+Alumni engaged with the email campaign
1,211Completely new ‘engagers’ from email and social activity
71%Increase in email open rate; 381% increase in email click rate
400+Tracks added since launch against a target of 100
40%Of alumni targets interacted positively with the campaign who were previously identified as disengaged
The Replay campaign has become a template for engagement among a disengaged alumni audience. We have told the story together with the University of Southampton at leading industry events, including a talk at the annual conference of CASE, the global association for professionals in alumni relations. The Replay campaign continues to evolve, and we are now working with the University of Southampton to deliver phase two, which will look to engage an older demographic through direct mail activity alongside email, social media and the updated website.