In light of recent comments I have received from parents in response to our new e-mail marketing program, I thought I would pop over to my blog and share my experience with selecting and utilizing an e-mail marketing program for anyone who might also be seeking new ways to communicate with their audiences.
As communications coordinator, I am primarily tasked with communicating with our audiences, which at any time can be parents, elected officials, donors, volunteers, news media, etc. This means I spend a lot of time drafting e-mails and other communications to make sure we are keeping everyone informed of pertinent events, issues, and opportunities. Recently, I noticed my alma mater’s e-mails to alums were quite snazzy and very effective in delivering pertinent information in an attractive, easy to use way. I did a little research (or I scrolled down to the end of the e-mail…) and found out that they were using Constant Contact, a program I had heard about vaguely and maybe see an ad or two. Before delving into the nitty gritty and shameless gushing about how much I love this program and how much easier it is making my life, let me go over a few key things here I think everyone should consider before making any attempt to utilize an e-mail marketing program.
- Is e-mail marketing something you can use? Because if it isn’t, don’t waste your org’s hard earned budget $$ on something that you don’t actually need. I’m sure about a hundred marketing professionals and PR pros would tell you OF COURSE you need e-mail marketing, but I don’t agree with this. It’s my belief that in all things, you need to evaluate your audience and what they need/want in terms of communication with and about your organization. In our situation, I find myself wishing I had a form or some sort of template for certain types of e-mails (like say, our calls to action for advocacy efforts, requests for volunteers, and invitations to events to name a few). I also found myself wondering if we were communicating effectively– is our audience getting our e-mails? Do they read them? Are they deleting everything I send because it’s boring? And last, but not least, one of my bigger goals in this position is to morph the bi-annual newsletter (aka the monster) into something more manageable and maybe one day electronic (save the trees!).
- What does your contact list look like? Constant Contact fit us because it’s prices for non-profits are based off of how large (or not) your e-mail list is. I would say if you are a mammoth non-profit (national, international, etc.), you might want to investigate designing your own program/templates/something more tech intensive since you probably would have the resources. We don’t, and I don’t need a custom template- but I do need quick, attractive, and efficient and that’s what was available for us through this program.
So I did some research, my lovely temporary intern Keisha did some research when she was here, and eventually the decision was made, and let me tell you, it is a purchase that I would liken to buying a pair of Jimmy Choos- it brings me continual joy. There’s something new I learn every time I send a new e-mail that just delights me and makes me want to call this company and thank them profusely for making this one aspect of my job easier, and we are getting constant compliments (ha, maybe they should change their company name) on the look of the new e-mails. Also, being able to see who is opening our mail, who isn’t getting our mail at all, and what links they are clicking is priceless information that helps me better tailor our communication efforts, which folks, is why I am here to begin with.
On another note (and probably another blog entry), I have much to share about my efforts to “shine while my light is on” (thanks to Rosetta Thurman, a great resource for all non-profit professionals, but specifically young non-profit pros!). Check back in a few days for more on that!