Group Email: A Start Guide
How-To Email on Alumni.Duke.Edu: A Start Guide
The Duke Alumni Association has launched a new communications feature on alumni.duke.edu, its exclusive site for more than 175,000 alumni: the ability for the network’s group administrators (DAA staff, Duke staff and assigned volunteer leaders) to email alumni.
There are hundreds of user groups—representing niche alumni communities part of diverse regions, Reunions classes, careers/industries and more—and the email feature will provide a quick and efficient way to deploy key messages to these specific groups of alumni.
In this guide, you’ll learn more about the new email feature and the types of email messages you’ll be able to send via alumni.duke.edu.
But first, a note: The email feature is not meant to burden group administrators with the marketing of DAA and school-specific events and volunteer opportunities to alumni. The Duke Alumni Association’s Marketing and Communications department remains the first and primary vehicle for email marketing and communications strategy. Rather, the new email feature is designed to help administrators take a more targeted approach in communicating with alumni as a supplement to DAA’s communications strategy and to move the needle on event attendance and engagement through more personal outreach.
Think of the new email feature as a way that you as a groups administrator can serve as a DAA ambassador—mobilizing your group members with a more casual, personal approach.
Are you ready to try out the new email feature on alumni.duke.edu?
Here’s how to get started:
Step #1: Learn About the Types of Emails You Can Send on Alumni.Duke.Edu
There are five main email types that group administrators will be able to send via alumni.duke.edu as follows:
- Event Reminders
- Monthly Events Compilations
- Group News Updates
- Event Recaps
- Requests for Help/Volunteers
As a group administrator, you will choose one of these five “email types” from the drop-down field under “Email Type” in the messaging tool in order to indicate what kind of message you will be sending.
- Use the Event Reminder type to remind your group members to register for an upcoming event your group is sponsoring. You might deploy this message if your event has low attendance or if you need to communicate extra or updated details about an event.
- Use the Monthly Events Compilation type to remind group members of a running list of upcoming events that are occurring within a month’s time period. You might use this as a way to communicate with a group at the beginning of the month.
- Use the Groups News Update type to alert a group of news more specific and/or germane to that group. Examples might include upcoming elections for an affinity board, the dates of open board meetings that all group members can attend and changes in group leadership.
- Use the Event Recaps type to send a personal thank you to group members for attending a recent event your group sponsored, to provide a quick recap of the event, to link to photo galleries and/or to provide group members with next steps—such as informing them of the next upcoming group event you hope they will attend.
- Use the Requests for Help/Volunteers type when you need to alert group members of a specific need the group has, such as help with a current project or volunteers for an event that is happening soon. This email template can be used as a catch-all for specific needs the group has in executing events and projects.
Now that you’re familiar with the five email types available to you, it’s time to do some prep work for putting together an email message and to learn more about what an appropriate group message looks like.
BREAKOUT BOX: Emailing about an event? If you are planning on sending a group email about an event, do a quick search on alumni.duke.edu to see if it is already listed on our website. Most of the time, all group emails will link to event content already pre-populated on our website. This saves you time so you don’t have to type out the event name, date, description or registration information in the body of the email. Instead, you’ll simply attach the pre-populated content to your email. Learn more about how to attach content on page X.
If you don’t see your event listed, then you’ll need to create the event on alumni.duke.edu before you can send the email message.
To create an event:
- Go to Admin Actions
- Click Edit Events
- Click Add new events
- Add all event information (Tip: If your event is a recurring monthly or quarterly event, indicate the month and year in the title to find it more easily in the event library later)
- Click Save
If you are an administrator of an industry group or school group, then your event likely will not be listed on our site and you won’t have the ability to create an event. In this case--and this case only--you can link to your school or department’s specific website or type the event information into the body of the email.
Step #2: Craft Your Email Message
From the email message page:
- Click on the dropdown box under “Email Type.” Select one of the five email templates:
- Event Reminders
- Monthly Events Compilations
- Group News Updates
- Event Recaps
- Requests for Help/Volunteers
- Write a subject line for your email in the field labeled “Email Subject Line.”
- Tips for writing a great subject line:
- Keep the subject line short (between 5-8 words). Long subject lines can get cut off—especially in mobile.
- Be clear and descriptive. Avoid clichés. Your subject line shouldn’t confuse readers or make them roll their eyes.
- Grab attention, but don’t over-promise. You don’t want to disappoint your reader with the actual content of your email.
- Okay: Register for the DukeNY Holiday Party!
- Better: Will YOU be at the DukeNY Holiday Party?
- Select the group that will receive the email by selecting your group from the section labeled “Email Recipients.”
- Note: If you are the administrator of more than one group and your message applies to several of your groups, you can select multiple groups to send your email to. Please make sure the content is appropriate for the multiple groups you have selected.
- Skip the next section for the moment, labeled “Email Message.” We’ll come back to this shortly.
- Type in a key word to the form field labeled “Linked Content.” This section serves as a library of pre-populated event content that already has been loaded into alumni.duke.edu.
Adding Pre-Populated Content from Alumni.Duke.Edu to Your Email
Let’s say you need to remind Duke Colorado members of an upcoming alumni event at the Denver Zoo.
- You’ll search for “Denver Zoo” in the “Linked Content” section.
- If the event entry has officially been approved and launched by DAA, it will pre-populate in the form field. Select it to tag it to your email.
- If you don’t see the event, then it may be too early for you to message your group about it. Reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org via your personal email to ask when your event entry will be live on the DAA website.
- If you have event creation rights, then you can create your event on alumni.duke.edu and attach it to your email message.
- Note that there are some events that will not be available for you to message about immediately because doing so many interfere with overall DAA marketing strategy. Please be patient if this happens.
- Now it’s time to go back to the “Email Message” section. Think of this section as your personal note to group members. Again, you do not need to retype any information that is already included in the “Linked Content” section, which includes the event date, description and registration information.
Instead, use this section as an opportunity to write a short, personal message to group members.
Using the example of the Duke Colorado visit to the Denver Zoo, your message may say something like:
Dear Duke Colorado,
I’m looking forward to seeing many of you at the Denver Zoo event this Saturday. If you haven’t done so already, please register below.
See you there!
Using another example: Let’s say you want to remind the Duke LGBTQ Network group about all of the events taking place over the course of the next month.
- Use the “Linked Content” section to add all of the related events to your email. You’ll search by keyword and then select the event entry. Use the button “Add another item” to add a second or third event.
- From there, craft your short, personal message such as:
Dear Members of the LGBTQ Network,
I’m excited about the many exciting events we have planned for August. Please read through each of them, mark your calendars—and don’t forget to register!
See you there!
- You’re nearly done now! The next section, “Email Opt-Out Codes” will be pre-populated with the opt-out codes for your group/groups. You won’t need to select anything in this section.
- Press the “Preview” button, and you will be directed to a new screen that will give you a preview of what your email will look like when it is sent to group members.
- Press “Save.” Your email now has been saved in the queue for a DAA site administrator to review. If your email is accepted, it will be sent to group members within 24 hours. If your email is denied, you will receive an email with the reasons within 24 hours and will have a chance to resubmit it.
Step #3: Making Sure Your Email is Approved
In the first iteration of the email feature on alumni.duke.edu, all messages will be put into a moderation queue and reviewed by a DAA site administrator before being sent to members of a group. This is a measure that will help DAA understand how group administrators are using the email feature and will help to ensure DAA’s high communications standards are being met.
Eventually, DAA hopes to dissolve the moderation queue and move into a real-time emailing process. However, that depends largely on group administrators learning and following the email policies protocols.
This next section will outline the “Dos and Don’ts” of emailing on alumni.duke.edu.
Please note that if you violate DAA’s email policies, the site administrators reserve the right to suspend your role and your ability to email.
Now it’s time to learn how you can make sure your email is approved every time:
DO: Follow this guide step by step.
DON’T: Feel like you’re on your own. We’re here to help. If you have questions in the process, email email@example.com
DO: Let the email system work on your behalf. It’s designed for the lowest lift possible on your part. Remember that the “Linked Content” section has most event and registration information already pre-populated. All you have to do is tag it to your email.
DON’T: Type any information that is already included in the “Linked Content” section, including the event date, information or registration information.
DO: Keep your message short and personal (150 words at the most). Think of your email as an introduction to the linked content and not the main content of the email.
DON’T: Type an unnecessarily long message. Your message will appear as a block of text in your members’ inboxes and is less likely to be read.
DO: Type an original message.
DON’T: Copy and paste text from another source—especially from an event page on the DAA website or from a DAA marketing email. If you copy and paste from these sources, you will lose your emailing privileges.
DO: Use the email types as your guides for the kinds of content to send to your group members.
DON’T: Email any content beyond the boundaries of the templates. Please no soliciting, requests for funding/donations or personal emails.
DO: Email about events sponsored by your group and needs for your group—such as volunteer opportunities.
DON’T: Email about large-scale DAA signature events including Reunions, Homecoming, Duke Alums Engage, Women’s Weekend and presidential events until they have been officially launched on the DAA website. Don’t email or copy and paste any internal emails from DAA or Duke staff—including President’s messages to the Duke community. If you have questions about what you should and should not email, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org. If you email about these events before they have officially launched or copy and paste an internal Duke email, you will lose your emailing privileges.
DO: Check for typos and grammatical mistakes.
DON’T: Submit your email without reading it through aloud at least once.
If you have further questions about using the email feature on alumni.duke.edu, please contact email@example.com.