We Don't Know What We Don't Know

Production Solutions

We Can All Use an Occasional Refresher about Online Marketing and Fundraising

I used to think I knew all there was to know about emails.  How couldn’t I?  After all, I’ve been emailing and reading emails since the days when people were listening to Madonna every day on the radio and rushing home on Thursday nights to watch the latest “Must-See TV” episode of Friends.

As Friends went into syndication, live radio gave rise to iTunes and people started to write
about what they ate for lunch on “the” Twitter, I attended as many educational sessions as I could about the evolution and impact of social media, the rise of blogs, and the supposed death of emails.

I was confused…on one hand, people were saying social was set to unseat email.  But my gut told me that the future of email was still on the cusp of something big, whether it was because some people were, in fact still attracted to private (email) versus public (social media) communications, or the potential impact from pairing print and email platforms.  I kept hearing, about 4 or 5 years ago, at events such as DMAW “Lunch & Learns” that the results of integrated print and email campaigns were robust and the positive impact was promising.

So, I did lots more homework and followed my gut…and despite the naysayers, Production Solutions and launched PS Digital.

As we launched PS Digital in 2011, we sought out an email expert to be our senior digital strategist and manager.  I thought I knew everything there was to know about emails… until I met Leah Ibraheem in 2011.  Leah was doing emails “way back when” people were fearing and loathing the concept of anything other than print mail.  She taught us that emails were not dead, nor dying, and in fact, alive and well and living in the suburbs (on people’s iPads, Smartphones and other devices that our target audiences powered up after work hours. people were actively on after work hours).  She and I discussed emails vis a vis integrated fundraising campaigns (print meets digital) and the impact they have on strategically enhancing revenues and engaging donors where they live (on their mobile devices).

She reminded me about such things as what makes for a good or bad email subject line? How do you structure an online ask/offer? What graphics work best? What should we be doing to drive up engagement? What should I NOT be doing?

Then, after I humbly realized that the best way to master a technique might not always come from being self-taught or just following your gut…we hired Leah to lead us to the next level of email marketing expertise.   For clients who have since hired PS Digital to execute their email campaigns and digital projects, they have seen that it’s OK to know what you don’t know and that sometimes, you need to hire an expert to help make your hike up that new mountain a lot less painful and to keep you on course.

ChapterLogo_DC1You will have a chance to relive part of my original conversations with Leah at the upcoming February 25 AFP DC Educational Session called:  Make Your Email Program Work for You: Best Practices in Digital Cultivation & Fundraising Communications where she will speak to digital cultivation best practices, including a case study about AFP DC’s very own newsletter redesign that PS Digital spearheaded.   Karen Gallardo of AARP Foundation will discuss the global effects of AFP DC’s “digitally-altered” communications to more effectively reach and engage their members, and to round off this great line-up will be Moira Kavanagh Crosby of MKDM who will share best practices for fundraising emails and how to effectively coordinate efforts between communications and fundraising departments.

We hope to see you at the February 25 session so you can learn how much there is to learn you didn’t know and walk away much more prepared to put your new email powers to practice!