Building the History Hub - Part 2 - Your Email List

The second element of the History Hub is an email list. It takes its place next to a fully functioning website and a strong social media presence, which are covered in the other two posts in this series.

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If you’re still mailing paper newsletters to physical addresses, it’s time to start transitioning to email. You may decide to accommodate a few loyal members or volunteers who insist that you continue to send them paper, but digital is clearly the direction things are headed.

Almost everyone is looking for ways to cut costs. Even if you work for that rare organization that is flush with cash, why waste it? Eliminating the production and postage costs associated with mailing traditional newsletters and other announcements is an obvious and easy step.

If you already have an email list, you’re ahead of the game. The question for you is whether you’re using email’s full potential. Some of the newsletters I receive are just digital versions of what’s being mailed to hardcopy subscribers.  It doesn’t have to be that way.

Regardless of what stage you’re at with your email list, just beginning or an old hand, I recommend you consider working with an email marketing service such as MailChimp, AWeber, Constant Contact, iContact or Infusionsoft.

The History Biz uses MailChimp and we highly recommend them. They offer both paid and free plans. Most of us can get by quite nicely with the free option. Click here for information on MailChimp.

Email marketing services not only maintain your list and send your emails, they provide attractive templates for your newsletters, invitations and other announcements.  And you’ll know how many of your subscribers are actually opening what you send because they collect all sorts of helpful information about what’s going on with your list.

By working with an email marketing service you’ll discover ways to connect with your audience that are simply not possible in the world of paper and postage. For example:

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  • You can add multiple colors, pictures, even sound and video, elements that are impossible or prohibitively expensive with traditional print mailings. Your emails will be engaging and professional-looking, a far cry from the faded black and white copies you may be producing now.
  • Your emails will be responsive, mobile friendly. They will look as great to people reading on their phones and tablets as they do to those accessing them on their laptops.
  • You can include clickable links to whatever you like. Send people to your website for details about an upcoming program or to read the fascinating article you just wrote. Send them to another organization’s website if there’s something there you think they’d like to know about.
  • You can send emails whenever you want. Something important you need to announce? You can have the news in your entire list’s inboxes within minutes.
  • If you already have an email list that you’re maintaining on your own, you do not have to start over. You can export it to your email marketing service provider with a couple of clicks. You will also be able to manually add folks when you collect email addresses at an event or in other offline environments.
  • You can add a sign up box or button to your website that will update your list automatically. That’s precisely what the button directly following this article does. No programming required.
  • You can add social share buttons to your emails. These encourage your readers to forward the email to a friend, share a link on Facebook or Tweet about it, all with just one click. It’s a great way to build your audience and to spread the word about upcoming events. 

And spreading the word via social media is exactly what we’re going to talk about in our next and final post in this series on Building the History Hub.