By Melissa Ward, Rotary Club of Twin Bridges, Southern Saratoga, New York, USA, a past district governor, and chair of the Rotarians on Social Networks Fellowship
We live in a world where email can quickly get out of control. Yet, for all its faults, it’s one of the best online methods of reaching your audience and getting them to take action. When a person signs up for your newsletter, odds are they are interested in your organization and what it has to offer.
There are many newsletter providers; look for one that gives you metrics. Open rate tells you what percentage of people opened your email. Click through rate shows you how many people clicked on a link in your email. These numbers are important and help you understand what type of content is working.
Providers (prices in USD):
- Mailchimp: Free for up to 2,000 contacts and 12,000 emails per month. Packages start at $10 per month.
- Constant Contact: 60 day free trial, starts at $20 per month.
- Get Response: Packages start at $15 per month
- (I did not include Club Runner or DacDB. Although these are great tools for clubs, I am not aware of any functionality that allows for emails to non-members.)
I suggest starting with a monthly newsletter. If the need arises, you can always increase to twice a month or weekly, and send out extra emails when something special is going on.
Here are some ideas for getting the most out of an e-newsletter:
Give non-members the ability to sign up. Most newsletter providers have code that you can embed on your website that allows anyone to sign up for your newsletter. Those providers also have tabs that can be added to your club Facebook page. You can also use your Facebook page’s call to action button to link to the signup information. This is the most important first step in reaching out to your community.
Share your club programs for the month. Pre-plan your club speakers at least a month out and share them through your newsletter. Creating a call to action button like “register for our luncheon” allows you to gauge what topics people are most interested in and also gives guests an opportunity to check out your club without feeling pressured.
Share upcoming projects. Promoting your projects through your newsletter gives community members a reason to be excited about your club. Inviting nonmembers to take part in your projects allows you to enlist extra help, and also gives the volunteers a chance to see how your club takes action to improve your community. Include a link to where readers can find more information about your projects on your website.
Share Rotary stories: Highlight a member, share their background, why they joined and why they stay.
Share Your blog: If your website has a blog or other content that is often updated, share the first few lines of the posts and use a link to drive traffic back to your site.
Email is not intrusive if someone has requested to be added to your newsletter list. And providers offer excellent tools to measure the effectiveness of your content.