Using Email Marketing to Support your Online Community

By Lori Ely posted May 07, 2010 11:47 AM


Here at Informz, I’ve been hearing a lot from clients recently that they have lots of questions about how they can utilize their email marketing initiatives to better support their online communities and drive participation.  More and more it seems that clients are understanding that using the two channels together can lead to great results, but are struggling with where to start.  To help I’ve been doing lots of consultations to help them with strategy and developing other resources like case studies and webinars. 

I also have been spending time on strategizing ways to support our own online community for Informz clients that we recently launched in April.  So, as I was browsing the HUG site this morning for resources, I thought that this information would be useful to the HUG community as well!

Here are four of the top strategies that I recommend and that I also have been following to support our new community:

1. Start by utilizing email as the “announcer” to launch your online community. 
Break your launch campaign into 3 segments.  Start with targeting your influencers and those most involved in your organization.  Have those people access the site first to help you set the tone and provide content for the community as well as offering feedback for improvement.  Then do your general launch out to your larger audience.  In this email it’s a great idea to include a contest or incentive for participation.  The segment out the people that haven’t taken action, and set an automatic follow up email to go out to them a week later.  This time with a stronger call to action or different incentive.

2. Utilize email to promote your online community on an ongoing basis.
After the initial launch make sure that your online community is promoted in all of your emails.  You can do this by including a logo and link to your community in your email templates in a prominent area like the sidebar or below the header.  Try calling it out with text like “connect with us online” or “continue the conversation.”

3. Encourage conversation about your organization.
In emails or newsletter articles try posting a question or discussion topic with a link to discuss more in the community.  This is a great way to drive participation and also to increase results of your email by making it an interactive experience.

4. Use your enewsletter to highlight top contributors and top discussions.
Call out a section of your email to highlight and thank those people that are most active in your community.  This is a great way to give a special thanks to these people and to encourage them to continue participating in the community.  This also helps to encourage other people to become active in the community.  Also try devoting a section of your newsletter to “Hot topics on the community”.  This is a great way to promote the value of the community and to drive people back to the community to read more.

There are so many ways that you can use email marketing and social media together, these are just a few to get started with. 

Thanks to everyone for all the great Q&A’s on here – it’s all been so helpful!

1 comment



May 12, 2010 01:22 PM

Thanks so much for taking the time to document and share this very helpful information. Plenty of gems in there for everyone who uses Email Marketing at their association or those that would like to start. Here at Higher Logic we are huge fan of our partner Informz and really excited to be working with them on the creation of their new Infomz Social site.
Also in case you missed it Lori was kind enough to present for our Q2 Learning Series "Social Media and Email Marketing: A Winning Combination" on this topic. In case you missed her presentation take a look at the recording:
Community > Libraries > Learning Series
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