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Audience Insights & Engagement

A company commissioned student project by Aalto University. My team carried out strategic design research to study persona & customer journey planning, audience understanding, and communication plan to improve corporate alumini engagement.

The problem.

Aalto Advancement and Corporate Engagement (ADCO) department wanted to carry out a study to better understand their Alumni audience and charitable donors and find ways to improve overall engagement in order to increase donorship in the long term. ADCO commissioned our student team of 4 members to explore how we can improve the overall relationship and experience when given to their current and future donors. The project required iterative strategic design research carried out.

The solution.

We identified key alumni segments and designed user personas and user journeys with actionable touchpoints, proposed communication guidelines, as well as gave workshops and presented to the entire ADCO department valuable insights, future recommendations, and provided an in-depth report to the commissioner. The results provided ADCO actionable insights, uncovering both pain points and future recommendations and opportunities to improve audience understanding and engagement.

Approach & methodology

Using a design thinking approach, we finished the business project in 3 design sprints which consisted of different stages of strategic design research. The first step was to do audience understanding research, followed by gathering data and insights.

We used qualitative semi-structured interviews on various stakeholders, both current students, alumni, and company staff. In addition, we conducted a survey that was sent to 4 000 alumni with equal distribution of people from all different age groups to get a representative set of responses. We received 400 responses to the survey, which were then connected to CRM data on the respondents.

The alumni survey focused on four main areas:

1. Previous participation in different types of alumni engagement.
2. Interest in participating in different types of alumni engagement.
3. What the alumni see as important regarding alumni engagement.
4. What should be improved to make them more interested.

Based on the survey data we created a segmentation of the different alumni groups and developed two tentative factors that we think define the behaviors of the segments: group-orientation vs. individual orientation and supporting the community vs. benefiting from the community.

Following this, we created user personas of the different alumni group segments. We then mapped out student/alumni journies and touchpoints for each segmentation, followed by communication guidelines to them. During this process, we also held in-person workshops with the company commissioner (ADCO) team. 

When the project was complete, we then presented our findings to the entire ADCO department of approx 20 members. With the outcome results of the project, Aalto University’s ADCO department can provide alumni with more tailored and engaging content, and various possibilities for alumni participation. Ultimately, this eventually creates a culture where alumni giving both their time and donations would be considered to be a common practice among the alumni and student culture.

Key deliverables.


Gathering data on alumni

Qualitative research obtained from stakeholder interviews and survey data.

Journey mapping (current & new)

Defined personas were given their own alumni journey map (pre & post studies)

Defining segments

Segments defined through behavioral factors, characteristics, and insights.

Identifying touchpoints

Touchpoints identified based on the journey map, e.g actions & comms.

Creating personas

From segmentation, we identified different key user personas and profile types.


Messaging and engagement opportunities

Lastly, based on what we discovered, we proposed communication guidelines.

In-depth user research


The main focus was to understand the importance of the persona. Based on the “market” and consumer research, each team went in full depth on understanding what the ideal user did for pre, during, and post studies, including what they do for a living, and how the user benefits from being an Aalto Alumni, types or likelihood of engagement within the segments.

User journey & timeline map

We wanted to get a better visualisation of the process that the persona(s) goes through in order to accomplish their goals and touchpoints pre, current, and post-studies. We designed user journey maps to get a better understanding of their typical thoughts, actions, and feelings throughout the journey.

Teamwork by: Eva Gallegos, Onni Anttoora, Lien Nguyen, and Matthew (Roblin) Presley.


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