With the number of emails flooding students’ inboxes, you want to make sure your message stands out and gets across. Furthermore, when a student decides to open your email, how can they extract relevant information as quickly as possible? We are in an age of delivering fast updates in 140 characters or less; how will you make your point?
Some best practices to keep in mind when writing listserv e-mails are:
- Group listserv submissions by categories of relevance (e.g., volunteer opportunities, academic events, social events, association announcement, sponsors, etc.)
- Include a table of contents at the top of the email. If possible, use tags to allow quick jumps from the table of contents to the specific blurb
- Keep submissions short (under 150 words) and avoid long links and images, causing the e-mail to be blocked by spam filters
- Keep the name of the e-mail (i.e., the subject line) interesting and pertinent to the content for the week
- Try scheduling to send the listserv on the same day and time
There are many e-mail or campaign services that put the “serve” in “listserv”. They provide pre-made templates that are Smartphone and web-friendly. This makes it easy to organize your e-mail and deliver your message in style. It also allows the option for those on the email list to unsubscribe, so it saves the hassle of doing it manually (try finding one email out of thousands in Outlook Express). Using these services allow your organization to send out the email to thousands of students at once, without having the recipient restriction as with other email hosts.
Make sure you are using a service that does not store students' sensitive or personal information on non-Canadian servers. Some email services (e.g., Mailchimp) are blocked by McGill servers are emails sent from these services will not reach your members. McGill University has a partnership with Envoke/BetterMail.ca
How to get a list of your members
Student associations will get a list of their members (e.g., students paying their fee) via Student Accounts and only starting on the date agreed upon in your MOA (usually September). If you are interested in communicating with your new student members ahead of September, you can contact cle [at] mcgill.ca (Campus Life & Engagement).
Clubs can use a sign-up sheet or online sign-up system to gain members' emails.
If you are not using a mass-email server through a third-party company, but rather sending e-mails to your members through Outlook or Mail, please ensure e-mails are pasted into the BLIND CARBON COPY (BCC) field of the e-mail. This will ensure the privacy of your members and prevent bounceback emails being redirected to all students on the list. You may also include a "Reply-To" field within the e-mail settings to facilitate redirection of responses to the email.
Clubs also send listservs to their members. You may wish to do this on a weekly basis or less often depending on the information you have to disseminate. Whether your club accepts submissions for your listserv is up to your executive. Your submission process is up to the discretion of the executive.
Student association listservs are a great promotional tool for clubs! Whether you're promoting an event or campaign, listservs are a great tool for reaching a large student audience. When promoting through listservs, you should ideally start submitting your blurbs ~3 weeks before your event, or, for events with registration, the week registration opens.
Most student associations have a Thursday 5pm submission deadline for the following week's listserv.