Many communication and marketing plans include email because of a misconception that it is quick, easy and free. A successful email requires time, resources and expertise to appropriately plan and execute. Outlining goals and defining the audience will support decisions in design, content and data. Consider the following best practices when email comes up in your planning sessions and especially before submitting an email request.
- What do you want to achieve via this email or email campaign?
- Can you articulate a quantitative goal?
- Examples include funds raised, referrals collected, website traffic and event registration.
- Can you articulate a quantitative goal?
- Who is your audience? This includes any pertinent demographic information such a age and city.
- Do you need to segment your data?
- Do you need to request this data or clean up existing files?
- Consider personalization variables to be included in the materials when pulling your data (e.g. first name, degree(s) earned)
- Is your audience active on social platforms such as Twitter or Instagram? Do you want to encourage them to follow you?
One Email or a Campaign?
- How many emails do you need to convey your message?
- Is this part of a larger promotional effort with direct mail or other ads?
- Think about social media as a way to reinforce the message.
- Example: If planning save-the-date, registration, reminder, and thank you emails, could the save-the-date, and reminder be sent via social?
- Will there be new content for each mailing? We suggest there should be something new to keep the audience engaged with each mailing.
- In general, keep your content to 200 words/20 lines or less.
- Consider letting your web page do the heavy lifting with the details.
- Every email should have a clear call to action (CTA). Make sure this conversion/action point is easy to find and appealing, like a button or similar graphic element.
- Avoid phrases like “click here” and buy/give now” as they are often flagged by spam filters.
- Consider presenting content in segments via headlines, subtitles and bullet points rather than paragraphs.
- If sharing an impact story or thank you message, can a few sentences or a video link tell the story with a link to a website?
- Strong subject lines and preview text are the first areas of engagement with your audience. On wearables it is the only information they see, to prompt them to open your email.
The recommended timeline from the day you request an email from Advancement to sending is at least seven weekdays. We recommend that project sponsors begin preparations at least two weeks in advance as the seven day timeline is contingent upon all materials — content, graphics, links — being finalized. We also strongly encourage project sponsors to refer to the communications calendar in case the preferred send date has high email volume. Project Sponsors are responsible for providing their own graphics.
Email campaigns requiring assets from UF Advancement Creative Services, segmentation, A/B testing and multiple sends typically require 10 or more weekdays. Please contact Monica Vosilla if your request includes any special considerations.
|7||Email request submitted to Quickbase project queue, www.uff.ufl.edu/commproject, for review by Digital Communications.|
|5||Project approved and assigned; notification email sent to sponsor with link to access project.|
|4-3||UF Advancement Digital Communications team builds email with the materials provided; email is tested via Litmus platform and sent to Digital Communications leadership for review; project sponsor receives a Litmus proof in their UF inbox for review.|
|2-1||Sponsor provides feedback for a revision and/or approves email via Litmus; project sponsor uploads data file to the project request; suppression list(s) must be uploaded by 3pm day prior of send for AM scheduling or 10am day-of send for PM scheduling.|
|0||Approved email is scheduled for send; project sponsor will receive a confirmation email with the scheduled send time.|
Submitting data for your email send ensures an accurate and timely delivery. Delays or incomplete files will require rescheduling your send date. This step is the responsibility of the project sponsor. The UFA digital communications team does not request data.
Obtaining and submitting data:
- Request data of DIS at least 3 weeks prior to your preferred send date.
- The final data file(s) must be uploaded to the request ticket a minimum of 48 hours prior to send date.
- Suppression lists for active campaigns must be uploaded by 3pm day prior of send for AM scheduling or 10am day-of send for PM scheduling.
- Once you’ve received the data file, please check for the following:
- Each data file submitted for the email send must be limited to one worksheet.
- The worksheet must contain a minimum of two columns for Alumni ID & Email Address; one entry per row.
If you have any personalization in the email, like first name, that field must also be included in the data file in its own column.
- Submit the data file as a CSV.
- Suppression and seed lists must be uploaded separately and labeled accordingly.
Example of formatted CSV worksheet: