Email sending tools
Before anything else, you need an email sending tool – like MailChimp.
Why? Because regular email providers like Gmail or Hotmail limit the number of people you can email in one go. Also, email tools will make unsubscribing people really easy, which is important as by law you now have to remove people from an email list very quickly if they request being removed.
Email tools don’t have to be expensive. We love MailChimp because it’s easy to use, has lots of guides and is totally free if you have less than 2,000 subscribers and send less than 12,000 emails per month. (We also love MailChimp because we’ve always used their tools, and they sponsored some of our events when we were just getting started. They do not currently sponsor any of our work).
An email sending tool like MailChimp manages your supporter email list, sends your emails to them and gives you statistics on how many people have responded to your emails. Here’s a screenshot of the sorts of reports you’ll receive once you send an email:
Make it easy for supporters to join your email list
Once you’ve got your email tools setup, it’s time to get supporters’ email addresses and their agreement that you can email them to keep them up to date.
There are a couple of ways to do this:
- Create an email list ‘sign up’ form online (MailChimp has a great tool to do this called ‘Landing page’)
- Ask supporters for their email address in person
- Ask all petition signers if you can also stay in touch over email
No matter which you chose, you must include a box for supporters to tick that they agree to be contacted by you. It’s a legal requirement in the UK and across all European Union countries.
Here’s an example of the ‘sign up’ form Campaign Bootcamp uses on our website:
Keeping your email list ‘healthy’
After sending your first couple of emails, it’s a good time to set a plan to manage your email list over time. Here are a few tips:
Don’t send emails unless you’ve got something important to share
A big mistake is feeling obliged to send emails because ‘it’s been a while since we last emailed’. It’s good to send emails when you have something important or interesting to send. If you don’t have anything important to share don’t bother emailing your supporters as you’ll be wasting their, and your time.
Send good emails regularly
If you have something important to say it’s a good idea to send an email to your supporters at least every 1-3 weeks so they remember you and stay involved with your campaign. Supporters will be happy to hear from your campaign more frequently too if you have something important to say.
Welcome new supporters
Sending an email to new supporters is a great way to welcome them to your campaign and can make sure they read your emails in the future. Many email tools like MailChimp let you set up an welcome email that goes automatically.
If supporters aren’t opening your emails it’s a good idea to remove them from your email list so your emails don’t go to ‘spam’ for your all your supporters. A general rule is to remove anyone who hasn’t opened an email in the last six months.
These are the basics to running an email programme. But it’s important to remember that one of the most exciting things about an email programme is that there’s so much room to experiment and try new things and see what happens!