Issue #21

Welcome to the mycamp.rocks newsletter! I hope you are enjoying these as much as I am writing them! 😄 I try to be: (1) brief (2) ad free and (3) target to organizers, speakers, and/or attendees.

Feedback: (1) ping me on Twitter (2) email me (3) i’m going to leave comments open for now for approximately a week on the website posts if you want to leave your own feedback/$0.02.

Thank you! 🙏🏻

You can find this issue on the mycamp.rocks website: https://mycamp.rocks/issue-21

One of the changes coming to this newsletter in 2020 is guest contributors. With so much diversity in the WordPress community, it’s time to start highlighting in this space the great work and ideas being generated by others around the world. If you are interested in contributing to an upcoming issue, let me know by email.

The first official contributor for 2020 is Colleen Brady, a member of WordCamp Miami’s organizing teams in 2018 and 2019, among other conferences. (Speaking of #WCMIA, tickets are now on sale. Of course – the advice may include a tid bit from yours truly or at least I approve of these tips!)

Today’s Topic: E-mail ✉️📨📬

Let’s go.

Organizers 😊

  • Send a “Welcome Message” when new subscribers join your list. Let them know about the event, why you’re excited that they’ve expressed interest, invite them to become more involved, etc. Also ask for their help to make sure that your messages will not be marked as spam by moving messages out of the promotionals tab (if using gmail) and / or by adding you to the address book.
  • Use past messages as a foundation. Build on the lessons learned by past organizing teams. But don’t blindly update prior year messages. While past messages likely cover key information, some may be a Franskenstein-ish creation if they’ve repeatedly been tweaked over the years. Look to see if messages that can be combined or re-arranged to be even better for this year’s attendees.
  • Update the look and language of emails to reflect this year’s event theme. As much as possible, minimize obvious carry-over from prior events. A place to start is by updating fonts and colors so that the event’s overall communications and marketing materials look cohesive. But don’t do too much customization: There will likely be another team building on your work in future years.           
  • Create a content / send schedule. Minimize sending of one-off messages by creating a communications calendar, ideally one that also reflects the messages that will be shared on social media. The calendar should include key dates, like “One week left to apply to speak,” “24 hours left to purchase tickets.” (Stay tuned for a sample calendar to be shared in a future MyCamp Rocks Newsletter). It can also be helpful to let subscribers know that they will receive an update every Thursday afternoon, for example. 
  • Draft messages in advance. This is especially critical the closer an event approaches. As you draft messages, put safe-guards in place to not accidentally send a message with information that may be in flux. For example, if it’s not yet known if an event will start at time X or time Y, put that text in a BIG FONT surrounded by question marks.
  • Personalize emails. If you have subscriber first names and the ability to use names in emails, do so. But personalization is more than inserting a subscriber’s name into an email. It’s knowing the individuals behind the email addresses. Write your emails so that they feel personal. Use polls, surveys, Twitter chats, office hours on Slack, etc. to know your audience. Instead of thinking about sending an email to the “list,” write emails as if they were going to one person.
    Along those lines, since audiences are not one monolith, think about the different types of messages that may need to be sent. If you are offering programming for those new to WordPress, send a “If this is your first WordCamp.” message. Even better, add a post to your site and link to it. New attendees will not be familiar with Happiness Bars, the After Party, etc. 
  • Use visuals and text. We each process information differently. Combine text and graphics in emails. Also use headlines and bullets as some people skim while others are close readers.
  • Assign a proofreader for all outgoing emails. When proofreading, read emails quickly and slowly. If someone is skimming on a mobile device, are there important points that could be missed? Remember to double-check dates, times, and locations, especially when re-using an email from a prior year. Make sure to double-check how names are spelled and pronouns used.
  • Don’t silo key information in emails. Use the website as the master source of information that emails and social media reference. But don’t just say “Check the website for parking information.” Link to the exact place where parking information is on the website. Having one source of truth minimizes mistakes and is helpful when last minute changes arise. 
  • Create mobile friendly emails. Phones are the remote controls for our lives. Design appropriately.
  • Create a “Countdown to WordCamp” series. Plan a series of emails in the days leading up to the event with all the key information that attendees need to know. (We’ll share more in a future MyCamp Rocks Newsletter).
  • Provide links to past key emails and pages on the conference website. Don’t force speakers and attendees to hunt for key information, like the schedule.
  • Add a “Was this email helpful?” link to key emails to better understand how helpful outgoing emails are to recipients. If a message is receiving significant negative feedback, investigate why and look at sending a clarification message.
  • Include social media links and hashtags. Make it easy for attendees to follow and engage with others by including social media links in emails. Where appropriate, also link or embed key posts into emails. (Need an example? Keep reading).
  • Include testimonials. Include posts from those excited about attending this year’s event. If you’re just starting to market your conference, use posts from last year’s event. Twitter’s advanced search capabilities can help you pinpoint old messages for use.
  • Review metrics (if available). Are messages being opened? If not, look at segmenting your subscribers. If key messages are not opened, look at resending to non-opens after a few days. For those consistently not opening messages, consider a re-engagement campaign. Testing when messages are sent can be helpful too, as is reviewing past messages to see if they look spammy or are being sent too frequently.

Speakers 🎤

  • Read and respond to emails from organizers by stated deadlines. Don’t create extra work for organizers by skipping emails. 
  • Help promote the event. If you have an email list of your own, help promote the WordCamp to your subscribers. It helps WordCamps reach new audiences, demonstrates thought leadership, and shows you contributing to the community.

Attendees 🙋🏽‍♀️

  • Read emails at least twice. Inboxes may be overloaded, but since WordCamps are volunteer-powered, each email generally has important information to know.
  • Add the WordCamp’s address to your safe senders list. Think you’re missing something, check your spam folder.
  • Closely monitor emails as the event date approaches. Last minute changes can happen. Email will be one way you will learn of updates.

Misc. Stuff 🤷‍♂️

These tips were created by our guest writer Colleen Brady (the newsletter in general written and/or gathered by David Bisset someone who’s been helping organizing conferences such as WordCamp Miami for over a decade).