In the last week or so, I’ve been working on switching my email list from a simple forwarding system to an email marketing service called MailChimp. So far, I’ve only been working on my local list so I can start sending my beginning of school-year email announcements. But I also plan to convert over my email lists for MysteryQuests, Lest We Forget, etc. This will make it easier for you to select which information/email ads you receive.
Why the Switch?
I’m switching two main reasons:
- Spam: Even in emailing my own teachers, I can get blacklisted for spam because it’s the same email going to multiple teachers in the same district. Mailchimp solves this problem.
- Targeting emails more specifically: with Mailchimp, my teachers can select their grade level(s) and subject area(s). This allows me to send 3rd grade information only to 3rd grade teachers, without a lot of extra work maintaining the list. Before Mailchimp, I had a K-5 list, a 6-8 list, and 9-12 list. When I told teachers about this possibility during workshops this summer, they were very happy!
Building the List
I know colleagues (maybe even you?) who can only email to tech directors, principals, and maybe media specialists/librarians. I’ve found people in these positions are often too busy to forward information to teachers. Ideally, you want to be able to get directly to the teachers, while still keeping tech directors, principals, and librarians in the loop if they so choose. My schools mostly have one of these scenarios:
- A VC coordinator (teacher, media specialist, or media aide) who forwards my email ads to specific teachers or prints the info and takes it down to their classroom.
- Most if not all of the teachers are on my email list as well as the VC coordinator. The tech director and principal only get involved if there is a problem or if money is needed.
- A mix of the above.
My best results are from teachers who check their email often. Sometimes “deals” that I send fill up within a few hours of sending it out.
My list currently has 795 teachers! No wonder we’re doing 800-900 VCs a year! I have a lot of interested teachers!
Here’s how teachers get on my email list:
- Every third year or so I send a paper sign up to principals and they fax it back.
- I add teachers to my list when they sign up for a VC. (I have never had anyone complain about receiving info about VCs. They only want off the list when they retire.)
- With Mailchimp, now they can sign up to get my email ads right from my website.
What Do I Send?
- During September, I send ASK programs for the year, information about our mini-grants, featured content providers, and reminders of our preview calendar with all the projects and collaborations for the year.
- After that, I send “deals” – i.e first 10 teachers to sign up for this program get it free; or free offers; or upcoming projects like Read Around the Planet. Mostly free things because by October, my mini-grant funding is usually used up.
- I sent 74 ads last year from September 2009 to May 2010, which is about an average of 2 emails a week.
How Do You Promote VC?
What methods do you use to promote videoconferencing to your schools? Please comment and share! What works best?