Do you want to build a list of supporters, spread the word about the good your CRA is doing and keep your local community informed about your activities? If you answered yes to any of these questions, you should consider an online mailing list.
Email marketing is a powerful tool that your CRA can use to involve your community and keep them updated on CRA accomplishments. With a few easy steps, you’ll be on your way to becoming an email marketing expert.
Set up an account
First you will need to select an email management site. Two of the most popular sites are MailChimp and Constant Contact. The cost of these subscriptions depends on the number of email addresses you have. MailChimp is free to use for under 2,000 contacts. After that, they offer a few different plans on their website. Constant Contact is free for the first 60 days; plans start at $20 per month; consult their website for a full list of pricing options. Compare these platforms to see which is best for your needs. Once you’ve selected the best email management subscription, create an account and get started!
Build a list
Once your account is created, you can start populating your contact list with email addresses. There are laws governing who you can add to a mailing list, MailChimp provides a good overview of the rules here. However, it’s generally safe to add other people directly involved with your CRA. From there, spread the word about your new mailing list on social media and get your community to sign up for updates. Both sites allow you to share a link for easy sign-ups. You can also have people sign up at events and openings by offering simple sign-up sheets. Every local gathering is a new opportunity to grow your online mailing list. Once you’ve acquired some contacts, you can organize them and create specific lists for public officials, businesses, conference attendees, developers and others to help you target your campaigns and communications to specific audiences.
Draft Your E-Newsletter
Drafting an e-newsletter is a creative process, but some important decisions need to be made first. Will your e-newsletter go out once a week? Every other week? Once a month? What layout will you use, and what fonts and colors will it incorporate? Whatever you choose, it’s important to be consistent. MailChimp and Constant Contact provide simple email builders, allowing you to drag and drop elements like text and photos. Add important information and share photos from events and redevelopment efforts around town. You can also share updates about recent and upcoming CRA projects, community news and more.
Once you’ve created your e-newsletter, it’s a good idea to send a test email to yourself and at least one other person helping with your efforts. If your e-newsletter looks professional and is free of typos, follow the website’s instructions to send it out to your contact list. E-newsletter sites automatically send to entire lists, so no need to worry about manually sending multiple emails. You can send mail to all of your contacts at once or select specific lists. Click “Send” or schedule your email to go out at a specific day and time and watch your marketing efforts go into action.
Analyze the Results
The good thing about MailChimp and Constant Contact is that they both allow you to view stats about how many people received, opened and read your e-newsletter. This lets you show off your campaign results to your colleagues and gauge how well you are doing and what you might be able to do better next time.
Follow these steps and you will be on your way to having an effective e-newsletter marketing strategy. Work consistently to grow and manage your list and soon you may have a few thousand email addresses of dedicated supporters.
Need more advice about using e-newsletters to grow your base of supporters? Please see the samples we’ve included below.
For help developing or implementing an e-newsletter strategy for your CRA, please contact Jessie Johnson, FRA’s account executive at RB Oppenheim Associates. RB Oppenheim Associates is an integrated marketing and communications firm located in Tallahassee, Florida. RB Oppenheim Associates can provide numerous services for your CRA such as advertising, social media management, web development and more. Public relations counseling and advice is included in your FRA Membership. You can also ask a question on MyFRA to get quick answers to specific problems from your peers.