Duke University moves to the top of the
class with an engaging integrated effort
Client: Duke University’s Fuqua
School of Business
Objective: Build a robust data-
base of international and regional
alumni data to reconnect with
and educate graduates and
generic basis,” Raj says. “For anybody
to feel valued, you have to connect
with a shared experience, so what you
would create for Duke alumni is very
different from what you would create
for, say, a Stanford graduate.”
When it comes to CRM, you’d think a university has it made. Students spend
intense, formative years engaging with
their school, building memories, and
learning life lessons. But after graduation, when the geographical connection to the school is broken and alums
scatter to the winds, the most students
often hear from their alma mater is
an annual request to shell out for the
Duke University’s Fuqua School
of Business didn’t find that to be an
acceptable state of affairs—which is why
it called on digital agency SolutionSet
to put a virtual spin on Campout, the
time-honored on-campus Duke tradition of students sleeping outside, or
in tents or vans, for up to 40 hours
in the fall in the hopes of snagging
coveted tickets to Blue Devils’ basketball games before they sell out.
“We wanted to create a virtual way
to leverage that spirit and for alumni
to get connected with us and then take
positive actions to support the school,”
says Elizabeth Hogan, assistant dean
of marketing at the Fuqua School of
Business, herself a Duke alumna.
STRATEGY: Though Hogan and her
team spread the word via social channels, email, and digital brochures, it
took little prompting to get alumni,
recent graduates, and current students
alike to engage with the game, and
that’s because it was fun and geared
specifically to them, says Tim Ross,
president of digital at SolutionSet.
“A game like this can’t feel like work
or be cumbersome for the users, and in
RESULTS: Fuqua’s virtual Campout
was a slam dunk. In addition to a
significant increase in the average
amount of time spent on Fuqua’s
site—up 27% when compared to the
previous year—the average number
of site visits from key global markets,
including the China, India, Russia,
and the U.K. increased 40% after its
launch. Online media conversions
rose 4%, while the paid search conversion rate went up 4.6%.
Of the business school’s 14,000
graduates—the school was founded in
1959—a whopping 12,000 actively par-
ticipated and engaged with the game.
“We got people from every decade,”
Hogan says. “And we had representa-
tives from every program we’ve ever
run—even ones that don’t exist at the
Hogan received a deluge of positive
responses from the Duke community.
One alumnus, CEO of a large com-
pany, wrote to Hogan with a jokey
thank-you disguised as a rebuke.
“He told us we were personally
responsible for him doing nothing at
work that day,”
“He’d been play-
ing Campout all
work that day,”
this case, Duke took something very
salient in former students’ lives and
applied it in an online social environment,” Ross says.
Players could either go it alone or organize themselves into teams to fulfill
a variety of different tasks to earn
points and win prizes, including the
biggie: a trip to China with the Duke
men’s basketball team. For example,
users could post jobs, take a quiz about
the history of Fuqua, volunteer to interview prospective students, or host
an alumni event in their region.
The social aspect was built into the
fabric of the experience, with users
active on Twitter and Facebook. According to Zain Raj, CEO of Solution Set’s
parent company Hyper Marketing,
that approach was invaluable.
“The power of digital allows us to
constantly communicate and interact
with each other,” says Raj, noting how
Campout allowed graduates to reconnect with a powerful time in their lives.
“And the social infrastructure allows a
university to continue its relationship
with alumni in a fairly seamless way
over time,” he adds.
Part of the beauty of Campout was
the way in which it was specifically
tailored to interest a Duke graduate.
“You don’t build relationships on a
an 86% participation rate with