Quality alumni video is a winning tool for HE marketing

Alumni stories offer a great way to provide rich and unique content for both potential students and their parents. Not only have they been there and done it already so they can talk about the experience, they also give tangible proof of the potential career opportunities future students could expect.

Testimonials work, according to BigCommerce 72% of consumers say testimonials make them trust a business more leading to higher conversion rates. For higher education marketing, they can perform a central role. A takeaway from the recent RNL 2021 study into first-year students and their motivations said that

Conveying the value of your organisation is more important than ever, this included “Communicating alumni outcomes such as job placement, earnings, and graduate degree attainment”

We know a key consideration for prospective students when choosing where to study are outcomes, and what better way to prove this than through your past cohort of students. This type of social proof is gold for marketing managers in higher education, but it can sometimes be challenging and complex to create these types of videos. Often, since leaving uni, alumni have relocated to new cities, or countries; their time is limited, having to balance demanding jobs and other life commitments; not to mention the difficulties of arranging to film in their place of work. 

The VAESE survey, which explored alumni relations in higher education found that 85% of alumni believe their organisation “does a poor job, or needs to do more to attract and engage alumni”. In addition, they also found young alumni increasingly want to communicate on their mobile or on social media – but few institutions are doing this well. Given this, there are clearly opportunities for universities to better work with their alumni community, and could do this by creating engaging video content.      

Graduates at university graduation ceremony wearing mortarboard and gown

So, should you be looking at alumni video testimonials? 

Every university uses their alumni community to support content. It’s a key media asset used throughout the student recruitment process, and a regular feature on multiple channels, from social media through to blogs and ad campaigns. Often this content takes the form of written interviews or quotes, but video can be an ideal medium, offering a richer and more convincing way to connect with your audience. Video is proven to be more effective, 72% of customers prefer to learn about a product through video when compared to any other medium. If you’re not considering video to capture your alumni testimonials, you definitely should. 

  • They build trust and credibility. People are much more likely to believe real people, particularly when they see them, so video is perfect for this. 
  • They’re more persuasive with viewers who retain 95% of a message when its in a video compared to just 10% when reading text.
  • Video allows you to fit much more information into a short 2 minute video than a full page article, this could be in what is said, but also what you show on screen in the cutaways or graphics.   
  • Videos trigger an emotional response in the viewer, you are much more likely to connect with the person on film than just by reading from a page. According to professor Gerald Zaltman at Harvard, 95% of our purchasing decisions are subconscious so it makes sense to factor this in.  
  • They are adaptable and highly shareable (can be used on websites, email and social).  
  • Finally, they can generate other media assets. If you’re taking a ‘video first’ approach to your marketing you can use transcripts from the video interview to also make accompanying written articles for very low cost – to produce multiple assets, and value, from a single project. 

How to approach alumni video?

So how can you approach alumni video testimonials, and what styles might you want to consider? There are a range of options, of varying complexity and cost. We’ve listed a few ideas and approaches below, including some examples which could offer some inspiration:  

Compelling and personal stories

You can meet them and film where they are, creating an in-depth story and compelling film. This can be more complex and costly if they don’t still live near campus, but allows the production of really high quality results. If you have some really standout stories, want to really show-off them in their life, or running this as part of a wider campaign, this can be highly effective.  

Here we have a nice example from Imperial College London showing this approach.

An example from Imperial College London

We also have this excellent video from City, University of London which links together the alumni, the university and the organisation they now work for in a very well produced video.

MA International Journalism

It could be an option to get your alumni to come to you

A simpler, and potentially lower cost alternative, but still allowing for good production values is to arrange interviews when your alumni come to you. You could invite them together on a single day, potentially on campus or maybe if you’re organising an alumni event it can be an ideal opportunity to arrange some sit down interviews beforehand. Although you won’t get cutaways of them in their place of work, you can still drop in shots of the campus and an added bonus is you can conduct a number of such interviews in a single day, so it’s much more cost effective.

This is a very high quality example, bringing together three alumni who were filmed in the same location for the ZHAW School of Management and Law:

Well produced video by ZHAW

Another nice example here from Talent Garden Innovation School, note the well made on-brand subtitles which adds a nice touch.

Some natural interviews with alumni from the Talent Garden UX Design Course

This example from Bayes Business School shows a scripted piece featuring a few alumni. Its fairly simple in its idea, with clips of the alumni mixed with some photo cut-scenes, so not overly complex to produce.

UGC video for alumni testimonials

Another option for produced content is to take a user-gen approach, and get the alumni to record their own content. This gives the ‘best of both worlds’, the ability to see them in their job and working life, and a more personal story, but without many of the costs and hassle associated with taking a camera team to their place of work. It also allows you to easily connect with Alumni who have moved abroad, and with whom it would be very hard to capture their stories.

When done right, this can produce some really effective and engaging video – that is even more trusted by viewers due to its user-gen style. In fact, 92 percent of consumers say they trust UGC, or “earned media”, over all other forms of advertising according to Nielsen’s Global Trust in Advertising Report. We’re specialists in creating this type of content, and even have a smartphone filming application, h10 studio, that is designed specifically for UGC filming.

92 percent of consumers say they trust UGC, or “earned media”, over all other forms of advertising.

Looking at some examples, this video was produced using our specialist h10 studio filming app and focused on the Journalism course at City, University of London 

Postgraduate Journalism Alumni

Another example here of a fairly low cost alumni video for ESCP Europe business school. This was one of four videos, focused on individual alumni based in locations across the world.

ESCP Europe – Masters in Energy Management Alumni

Longer format testimonial interviews

Finally, getting one, or more, alumni on ‘Zoom’ (or similar) and conduct an interview here – this is super low cost and although won’t have the impact of the videos above, which generally will work as shorter promotional pieces, for very cheap and longer form video – could be a good idea. This longer form content may be very useful for prospective students as you can go into much more detail.  If you’re doing this yourself, we’d suggest a service called Riverside to record with. It’s a vodcast style browser baed tool that does a great job of getting quality video over the web.

Mixing a Zoom style interview with some generic cutaways you already have in an archive could be a way to do this. Below is a short example showing this style, but could equally work in a longer form format.

Recording video over tools like Zoom can produce video at lower cost

What next?

If you’re only currently using written material you should look at how you can bolster the video content you have. Each university, and department, will have outstanding students in their fields. Some maybe even famous, who might agree to talk about their time studying. If planned and produced well, these videos will be a go to resource for potentially many years to come.   

72% of customers prefer to learn about a product through video when compared to any other medium

Each approach above has its benefits, but given Alumni testimonials are such an effective tool, you might want to consider creating a mix of different content. The key point to takeaway is that alumni videos are a highly effective and convincing way to show off the outcomes and success stories of an education at your institution. Done well they will be an ongoing resource for your HE marketing and across your channels. How you approach this is up to you, but the key is that you have a strong selection of well produced content across the different courses you run to inspire future students that your university is right for them.     

Need support with your alumni video?

At h10 agency, we specialise in creating video content for higher education marketing. This ranges from higher end promo videos, through to user-gen and social. We can help you create alumni testimonials that have real impact and perform.  

Click here to find out more about our unique h10 studio smartphone filming application, designed specifically to create controlled and quality UGC video content. You can also check our more of our work here.

If you’d like to chat about producing alumni testimonials, or any other videos for your institution, we’d be happy to have a call to chat. Drop us a message via our contact page.