One of my clients recently launched a new community focused on a very small (but very important) sector.
We had done the surveys, interviewed dozens of members, and developed exactly the kind of community website they needed. We knew we had a concept which should take off.
Now it was time to get people participating.
The manager of the project wanted to send out an email to the mailing list of people who participated in the surveys and interviews. This would save time in the short-term, but the conversion rate would’ve been between 1% to 10% of the mailing list.
You need to work backwards in these situations and ask:
‘What kind of emails are people likely to open and respond to?’
The obvious answer is we open emails from people we personally know and we respond to emails that affect us emotionally.
Instead of a mass email, we began sending out thoughtful, personal, invites from whomever on the team had the closest relationship with the intended participant (often replying to a previous email thread – another way to ensure it gets opened).
The email explained exactly how their contributions so far had helped shape the project, what we felt they could contribute to the community (based upon their interviews), and what we would like them to do to get started. Our goal was to make them feel they could have a big impact in helping others.
As each person joined over the next two weeks, we ensured each person gained a quick response and we connected them to other members.
It took three weeks longer than a mass email, but so far almost 90% of our intended audience has joined and 50% have made at least three contributions.
Mass emails save time in the short-term, but can hurt you in the long-term. If your audience is small, or you’re just getting started, send a personal invite from someone they know instead.