We direct general email communication questions and HTML email template requests to Marketing/University Communication. The information below is provided as a courtesy to get you started.
Selecting an Email Service
Not sure where to start? Here is some insight on which email service options are being used on campus already. Please note that this blog post is not intended to be an endorsement of any particular service or vendor. This is simply informational based on what is being done today.
For low budget e-mails that don’t track user metrics but allow people to subscribe or unsubscribe themselves, M/UC uses Lyris ListManager. This is the same tool that manages campus listserves. It’s not particularly intuitive, but the price is right and it works. Request a new list by contacting Patrick Goggins, the University email administrator. You build HTML files (using old school HTML coding circa 1995 with inline styles and table layouts) and copy/paste the code into ListManager. Run a few tests to make sure it looks okay in major email clients (each renders differently) and then send immediately or schedule it to send at a later time.
If you have a decent list and budget, you can purchase credits with MailChimp. MailChimp provides customizable templates and web-based archives as a part of their service. They also have a clear process for creating your campaign… from naming it, selecting your list, placing your content, scheduling the send, and reviewing reports that give detailed information of what list member opened which emails how many times and what they clicked on. MailChimp also offers A/B testing to find what subject lines get the best open rates, what FROM addresses perform better, what send time gets the best results, etc. Note: They’re particular about how clean your list is and that you used honest means to acquire the email addresses (opt-in).
MailChimp offers free service for up to 12,000 e-mail messages per month, and different pricing options for larger volumes. http://mailchimp.com/pricing/
MailChimp also has a lot of great resources: http://mailchimp.com/resources/
On Your Own
Some offices on campus use other email campaign services including JangoMail (Outreach), StreamSend (Weidner Center), and ConstantContact (possibly SBDC). Admissions has their CRM, which allows them to paste in HTML code for email distributions, but it doesn’t have an easy function to send test emails.
Email Best Practices
In general with mass emails, you want to…
- Comply with the Can-SPAM act
- Do not be intentionally misleading
- Offer a means to unsubscribe (and honor opt-outs promptly)
- Include a physical mailing address in the body of the email
These items will not only make you compliant with federal law, they’ll help prevent your email from getting filtered as junk or spam.
Provide a Subscribe Form
A subscribe page with information about the email, what it contains, what frequency it is sent out, and examples of previous issues can really be a valuable way to not only make the newsletter easier to find (search engine indexing), but also prepare the subscriber for what they can expect and generate interest before they commit to subscribing. (Including a subscribe form field right on your homepage is also a good idea.)
Think About Your Subject Line
The subject line is often your email’s first barrier to getting read… so it’s worth the extra thought. They’re quickly skimmed so it must be as concise and relevant as possible. Even better if it’s enticing. There’s plenty of articles about well-crafted subject lines that will come up with a quick web search.
It’s a good idea to include text reminding people why they’re receiving the email. This can help reduce spam complaints. A link for “Email not displaying properly? View it in your browser.” is also an appreciated item.
MailChimp offers a ton of free (sometimes humorously written) resources: http://mailchimp.com/resources/
We like the Email Marketing Field Guide: http://mailchimp.com/resources/guides/email-marketing-field-guide
Campaign Monitor is another provider that offers a ton of excellent free resources that we refer to often: http://www.campaignmonitor.com/resources/
They also have a guide to CSS support in email http://www.campaignmonitor.com/css/