If Listservs Aren’t The Answer For Email Marketing, What Is?

Spam is Garbage – Plain and Simple – Image Courtesy of Editor B

Yes, I know the listserv is cheap and easy.  And, last year, anyone could spam the entire university about their upcoming event, lecture or visiting guest.

And everyone did.

But what happened is that most people would not only ignore the listserv emails – they also started to despise the people (fellow employees) blasting them every couple of weeks about things they didn’t really care about.

35 Million Spam Emails in One Month via Fast Company
35 Million Spam Emails in One Month via Fast Company

Some people were even filtering other employee’s emails straight to their spam filters or deleting before they even opened the email from that person.

With a listserv there was really no way of knowing what was really happening with emails.  You couldn’t track what was going on.  You couldn’t see if people were clicking through or reading or passing the emails along to others.  And there wasn’t a clear way to “unsubscribe” yourself from the university’s all-employees list.

And if I “unsubscribed” from the listserv, then I might actually miss something important.

So the university challenged OPAC to come up with a better solution than the listserv spamming for letting people know what was going on around campus.  And the answer was “The Week @ ND”.

Now maybe you love “The Week” or maybe you don’t.  I don’t want to debate with you about whether it is fair or not or how it was all handled.  If you want to do that, please take that up with my bosses.

What I do want to talk to you today is about good email marketing – and how building your own list is more important than trying to just piggyback on the “The Week”.

Email marketing has one of the highest ROI’s of any marketing vehicle.  We also know it reaches almost all of campus and the students.  Virtually everyone uses email to communicate in some fashion and it is still one of the top things people do when they go online.

To me, every marketer on campus should be driving people to their own email collection tool.  If people are using your service, if they are interested in what you sell or do, or if you want an easy way to reach out to a lot of folks, you should be using email marketing.

And not a listserv, but a tool that can track what’s going on with your user lists.  You should want to know how often the email is open (open rate), if they are forwarding to a friend, if they clicking through to the content (if you’ve used “The Week”, we can tell you all the specifics for each email and how your content is being received).

We recommend several different third party providers.  Most are easy to set up and integrate with other online tools.  No marketer should be without an amazing email tool that can segment her audiences, do some a-b testing, as well as all the online tracking necessary.

So here’s the skinny on some of these tools:

  1. Campaign Monitor – we use this for big email sends like “The Week” and “Weekend at ND”.  It’s fairly simple to use and offers so great flexibility when it comes to doing your own code.
  2. MailChimp – very simple and affordable to use.
  3. MyEmma – another great choice and easy set up.
  4. iContact – I don’t know if anyone has used this here at the University but I’ve used it in a past life and it performed flawlessly.
  5. ExactTarget – These guys are the high end guys who do it right both with the tool and strategy but you’ll also pay for it.

As far as I’m concerned, every bit of your marketing or contact with a potential “friend” should be driven to capture their email so you can start a formal relationship.  It should be an obvious CALL-to-ACTION on your website.

The agency can help set stuff up but we are not the email marketing experts – we’ll direct to some we know if you want to take your email marketing to the next step.  What do you think?  Do you think email marketing is the way to go?


4 responses to “If Listservs Aren’t The Answer For Email Marketing, What Is?”

  1. What a great blog with some fantastic resources I’ve never heard of.

    One thing I noticed is that you failed to mention Aweber. I’ve been using them for years now & I’ve never had any problems at all. I am always open to new things & will be trying out some of the tools mentioned on this blog.

    Robbie Griffiths

  2. Don Schindler Avatar
    Don Schindler

    @Robbie, I didn’t forget. I just haven’t used you.

  3. […] to Notre Dame’s Don Schindler (2010), “If people are using your service, if they are interested in what you sell or do, or if […]

  4. Steve Owens Avatar
    Steve Owens

    I would add http://companyresponder.com. to the list.
    They allow for higher volumes when sending email.

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