Email is often considered a rather archaic form of communication in the age of social media and mobile phones, but it still has a place in your digital communications toolkit. It’s still one of the most effective methods of communicating. It’s more cost-effective and environmentally sustainable than producing printed materials, more direct, more likely to be read than a leaflet stuffed into a letterbox (assuming the message is right) and can be measured. It also directly addresses a common perception of council wastefulness.
When used effectively, you can use email to inform and educate. You can conduct market research by asking opinions and encouraiging feedback – many local authorities used email as a means to take feedback and suggestions from citizens regarding priorities for forthcoming budgets and published the results.
Email offers a potentially powerful one-to-one-relationship when used in conjunction with segmentation and personalisation, masking its rather impersonal one-to-many, automated broadcast nature. Once you’ve established a relationship, it’s possible to deliver direct interventions by email. How many library fines have been saved by the automated process of sending out reminders of due dates on library books? Encourage your users to visit your website or other digital domains so that they can engage in richer experiences and benefit further from your message.
Another advantage of email is that it’s less intrusive than a phone call or a text message and can offer gentler prompts to the recipient when they’re ready to interact with your message. Beware of information overload though – if you email too often you can annoy and irritate, then you have to work harder to regain trust.
Remember that email is just a part of your overall digital communications strategy. In fact, email is experiencing a bit of a renaissance, with Facebook’s recent improvements to its Inbox and with the proliferation of smartphones, meaning that email is available in more places than ever before.
Next: How to run a social media campaign.