Keys to Success: Email and Web for Organizations

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Presentation given to Leadership Institute students on using the web and email for success in legislative or political organizations.

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Keys to Success: Email and Web for Organizations

  1. 1. Keys to Victory: Email and the Web. Keys to Victory: Email & the Web.
  2. 2. Keys to Victory: Email and the Web. Quick Poll: Raise your hand if you have an account with: Flickr.com, Blogger.com, Wordpress.com, MySpace.com, Facebook.com, Digg.com, del.icio.us, YouTube.com, Gmail, Other social networking media site.
  3. 3. Keys to Victory: Email and the Web. Key lesson to walk away with…  We live in a world where “Google” is a verb. The question is not whether the message about your organization or issue is being sent; the question is who is saying it and what is being said!  If not you, then who?  In today’s world, a reaction can be much to late. You must be proactive.
  4. 4. Keys to Victory: Email and the Web. The key lesson: While you cannot prevent negative messaging, you CAN be proactive in populating the full “picture” about your issue or organization. Populate the search results with your content, rally “friendly’s“ to help. Create and optimize your message so it can be found on Google and other searches. If not you, someone else will!
  5. 5. Keys to Victory: Email and the Web. Email Publishing Best practices Here are 8 “Best Practices” to watch out for when publishing your email newsletter, (and what to stay away from)…
  6. 6. Keys to Victory: Email and the Web. Email Publishing Best practices  #1: What’s Your Agenda? Before your content, and before your subscriber acquisition strategy, you must think long and hard about who your target audience is and what your agenda is with them. Is this a customer retention strategy for your existing clients? Is it a call to action? Is it a fund-raiser? Is it an event promotional?
  7. 7. Keys to Victory: Email and the Web. Email Publishing Best practices  #2. What can you give them that they don’t already have? The trouble with many email newsletters is they try to do to much. Focus. Try to be fresh. Make sure you know what other organizations are using, and complement with your content or differentiate yourself all together.
  8. 8. Keys to Victory: Email and the Web. Email Publishing Best practices  #3. Shop Around for a good Email Service Bureau: Make sure they are solvent. Price is not the determining factor here. Before signing on with an email service provider, get at least three recommendations from that bureau. Try to locate some users or former users who will give it to you straight. Use a service bureau that has an established reputation. Also keep in mind the email service bureau business is complex, and only getting more complex thanks to anti-spam tools being implemented. Get someone in your staff to learn as much as possible to avoid being charged to much and so you know what can be done. You get what you pay for!
  9. 9. Keys to Victory: Email and the Web. Email Publishing Best practices  #4. Pay Attention to domain Reputation: It’s imperative you protect your domain name reputation. Consider publishing your SPF* records and look into a reputation service like Habeas. Such a service is quite likely to increase your email deliverability, open rates, click-through rates and so on. * The Sender Policy Framework (SPF) is an open standard specifying a technical method to prevent sender address forgery.
  10. 10. Keys to Victory: Email and the Web. Email Publishing Best practices  #5. Develop a Subscriber Acquisition Strategy: You need one. People leave their jobs and change their email addresses, too. The average email list churn rate nowadays can easily be higher than 30%. Tips for boosting your subscriber registration numbers. 1. Put your subscription box near the top of your home page. 2. Offer a juicy incentive, like an article, PDF download, etc. These also gets passed along and serves as your emissary, which causes more people to subscribe. 3. Only ask for the email address at first. If you want more information about your subscribers, offer additional incentives within the newsletter down the road. Remember, each additional piece of information you ask for up front severely cuts down on your acquisition rate. On the other hand, some newsletter publishers will ignore this sub-tip, since more information makes for a more qualified list. 4. Display your privacy policy clearly and prominently. This is one of the most popular links on my site, along with the next one… 5. Display a sample issue. People like to see what they’re signing up for before they hand over their email address.
  11. 11. Keys to Victory: Email and the Web. Email Publishing Best practices  #6. Subject Lines Are Critical: Your subject line needs to stop the reader from the repetitive motion of hitting that delete key. Keep you subject lines short. Many people are using the Internet to find something out or learn how to do something. Some have seen “How to” subject headers blow the doors off response rates. Real news works, too. The more specific, the better. In short, tell me something I don’t already know.
  12. 12. Keys to Victory: Email and the Web. Email Publishing Best practices  #7. Look & Feel: Make it easy for the reader to skim your newsletter. If your readers are slowing down and read your newsletter, good for you. But assume your readers are pressed for time every bit as much as you are. The more control you give them, the more they’ll appreciate it. If you force the reader into clicking too many times or filling out too many forms to get at what he or she wants, you will be dropped like a hot potato. It’s similar to being routed around and around on one of those annoying phone systems.
  13. 13. Keys to Victory: Email and the Web. Email Publishing Best practices  #8. Read Your Newsletter Out Loud: Unless you’re comfortable actually speaking the words you write, your newsletter “voice” will come across as phony. Have your newsletter come from somebody in your organization, instead of just your company name. It’s a good way to stand out is to be human, and have your emails sound like they came from one.
  14. 14. Keys to Victory: Email and the Web. Email Opt-In: A Key Thought Some thoughts from Politics Online 2007 Email Opt-In is not just about legal compliance; its about getting your subscriber to commit to your organization. On YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Ka9Yzw5VNc
  15. 15. Keys to Victory: Email and the Web. Email Technical Best Practices These are 12 technical related best practices for email communications:  Subject line use: Used personalization and action, conveyed information enticingly, short length, avoided bad practices such as all capitals.  Sender from name: Company or brand name, not email address, generic department or unfamiliar person’s name.  Sender line email address: includes company or brand name, not generic address such as reply@xyz.com or info@xyz.com.  Accommodates preview pane and blocked images: Key content displayed even with images blocked or only a portion is viewable; use of text links.  Link to Web version: Link provided, preferably near the top  Forward-to-a-friend link: Button or text link to Web form to launch a copy of the message to another recipient.  Profile/address update/change: Provide a link anywhere in the email to allow reader to change address or preferences.  Opportunity to subscribe: Provide a button or link to a subscription form.  Unsubscribe link: Provide a working button or link to an unsubscribe page.  Subscriber administration center: Block of copy containing crucial information including email address, unsubscribe link, contact information, privacy policy and any other standing information.  Display recipient’s email address: Display the subscriber’s email address anywhere in the email.  Request to add sender to safe-senders list: Text line, preferably placed at or near the top of the email.
  16. 16. Keys to Victory: Email and the Web. Some examples…
  17. 17. Keys to Victory: Email and the Web. Email Summary The Internet is not one medium--It’s a bundle of media. Email newsletters are one strand in that bundle. They’re an extraordinarily cost-effective way of disseminating information because just about anybody you want to reach now has an email inbox.
  18. 18. Keys to Victory: Email and the Web. Why use social networks & blogs?  Inexpensive way to reach and engage your audience. Q: Who’s your audience, and where can they be found?  People like to feel they are part of a community. Q: What are elements of your community you can leverage? Sports team, celebrity, renowned business expert, author, etc.  Your audience is already socializing and engaging through them. Figure out where they are, and take your message to them.  It gives you an opportunity to listen. Social networks provide a good avenue for feedback and conversation.
  19. 19. Keys to Victory: Email and the Web. Why use social networks & blogs? Fifty million Americans, or 30 percent of all American Internet users, visited a blog in the first quarter of 2005, according to a new report from Comscore, and sponsored in part by SixApart and Gawker Media. Traffic increased by 45 percent from the first quarter of 2004. The average blog reader viewed 77 percent more pages than the average Internet user who doesn't read blogs (16,000 versus 9,000 for the quarter), the report found. Blog readers average 23 hours online per week, compared with the overall Web user's average of 13 hours. Blog readers are 11 percent more likely than the average Internet user to have incomes of or greater than $75,000. Similarly, blog readers are 11 percent more likely to visit the Web over broadband either at home or the office. Blog readers tend to make more online purchases. In the first quarter of 2005, less than 40 percent of the total Internet population made online purchases. By contrast, 51 percent of blog readers shopped online. Blog readers also spent six percent more than the average Internet user.
  20. 20. Keys to Victory: Email and the Web. 4 Tips for Winning in a Web World  Identify your audience. Who are you trying to reach and what do you want to achieve? Where are they (as far as online)?  Use viral friendly content. Photos, wallpaper, SHORT videos, songs, or audio, quizzes, anything that makes it easy to share your message, your culture, your community.  Keep it fresh. Update daily if possible, at minimum weekly. Staleness will kill your social networking program or campaign.  Re-circulate your own traffic, and utilize a number of different sites. Link, link link… send people around your whole network. From your main site, to your blog, to your Flickr page, to your Facebook page, to your YouTube page. Import your blog feed into your Facebook profile, etc. Remember: Cross linking increases ranking!  More Tips: http://www.josuesierra.net/?p=73
  21. 21. Keys to Victory: Email and the Web. Case Study: Oxfam America Search for Oxfam America on MySpace, and Flickr for more:  Oxfam used MySpace to embed videos, and they have had more than 1000 people sign up for emails from their sign up box in MySpace!  From experience, they say that MySpace doesn’t seem to be effective for fund-raising at this point. (probably the same for other social networking sites)  They are using Flickr.com to post pictures that link back to their main website. This is specially effective when you have pictures of a celebrity, since it will be higher on the search frequency.  http://www.flickr.com/search/?q=Oxfam%20America&w=all
  22. 22. Keys to Victory: Email and the Web. Case Study: Jet Blue  Great way to do Crisis message management  Can turn a lemon into lemonade, increasing visibility, and focusing your message against an onslaught of negative publicity.  Leverages negative news coverage to drive your own positive message through the use of tags and keywords.
  23. 23. Keys to Victory: Email and the Web. 10 Ways Nonprofits Can Use Blogs 1. To report back from an event or conference 2. To involve staff and take advantage of their knowledge 3. To involve volunteers and document their work 4. To provide resources and information to constituents 5. To provide resources and information from constituents 6. To give constituents a place to voice their opinion 7. To give constituents support 8. To create the media coverage constituents want 9. To give constituents the power and tools to create change 10. To reach potential donors Blogs are not replacements for paper newsletters or e-newsletters, they are an additional way to reach a certain audience.
  24. 24. Keys to Victory: Email and the Web. YouTube: The addictive, Must Play Game 5 Key Elements of Game Mechanics:  Collecting: items, artifacts, tools, friends…  Points: page views, comments, ratings…  Feedback: metrics, validation, tracking…  Exchanges: recommendations, “diggs”,  Customization: header, url, templates,
  25. 25. Keys to Victory: Email and the Web. Making your site addictive: GOP.com is a good example of the use of game play mechanics to develop an online community for a political organization.
  26. 26. Keys to Victory: Email and the Web. Starting tips…  Get top/executive buy-in: Make sure your efforts have tangible and measurable deliverables that are in line with your organization’s overall strategies and goals.  Establish responsibilities, recruit volunteers or/and interns. If the work load is shared among several individuals, it makes the campaign more effective. It has to be a chapter-wide effort.  Pick one or two social network sites that works best for your organization, audience or message.  If local, Think Local: Find local bloggers and other local sites to connect with and gain their support to spread your message. Let your email list know about your efforts on the web. Use local celebrities, sports stars, community leaders, etc. in your viral content, if possible.  Don’t SPAM: Ad value through your content, and engage in a two-way conversation by replying to comments, and posting relevant content.  Be patient, Plan Ahead. Give it time to spread and grow. Prepare for the future by propagating your message ahead of time when possible.  Commit to continual learning and accountability. Make sure your efforts (email, site, blog, etc) are measurable, so you can improve with each effort.
  27. 27. Keys to Victory: Email and the Web. Q & A Go to http://www.josuesierra.net and leave your comments about the presentation, or questions I don’t get to answer today. jmsierra@josuesierra.net Thank you for your attention.

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