Another session I took in while at the 2013 ACE-NETC conference was one put on by David Yates, an Extension Area Specialist with University of Tennessee Extension. Yates spoke about electronic newsletters. Because of budget cuts, they have had to look at different, more economical, ways of getting the word out.
According to Yates, newsletters do the following:
- provide follow-up to programs
- inform and advertise programs
- ask for feedback
- general public relations
Yates stressed that electronic newsletters were only one piece of the puzzle. Educators still needed to use:
- printed newsletter
- newspaper articles
- social media
- face-to-face contact
One of the keys to an effective electronic newsletter program is having a strong subscription base. Yates pointed out that we need to grab information from users and encourage subscription. However, managing a list in Microsoft Exchange or other email program is problematic. He recommends a subscription management system. A subscription management system should offer the following features:
- Templates for content
- Email list managed in cloud
- Link to social media sites
- Easy to subscribe and unsubscribe
- High receive rate
- Stats of readers
Here are the systems that Yates has explored and recommends:
- Campaign Monitor
- Constant Contact
- Mail Chimp – Mailchimp can do 2,000 subscribers for free. This is probably the best system, if you are just starting out.
Each system is based on a unique email address. Email addresses can be combined into different mailing lists. Each system also lets you expand your subscription base and subsequent costs as the need arises.
Yates recommends comparing features and trying to qualify for an educational non-profit discount.
It was an informative presentation. I certainly walked away with information that I could share with my team.