21 Tips: Use VIP Lists to Increase Your Reach

This is the eighth entry in our series of 21 Tips for Email Outreach.

If you have a meeting with prominent figure in your district, such as a business leader or advocacy group head, ask for their permission to include them in your newsletter list. 

Then, create a tag in Fireside Email for VIPs and flag them with that tag as well as tags for relevant issues.

Plan specific outreach for each targeted VIP list.  Use language recognizing their stature in the community, for example: “Considering your role as a leader on education in the 8th district, I thought it important to share my thoughts on the proposed legislation with you…  I hope you’ll take a moment to answer this survey…”

Encourage your VIPs to share your news and your surveys with their colleagues and communities.

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The Fireside21 team would like to welcome @bridg_eeee to our ranks! http://t.co/vQrmIs51

It appears we had some formatting issues- Thanks @NealKirby!

Welcome to Fireside21, @KennyAmes! http://t.co/RH01Ftc5

Just launched a completely redesigned website for @MacTXPress! Check it out: http://t.co/dQG2cHOh

Just launched a completely redesigned website for @TomLatham! Check it out: http://t.co/OYJ8AfAD

Fireside21 on Twitter >>

21 Tips: Get Ahead of the News Cycle

This is the seventh entry in our series of 21 Tips for Email Outreach.

Sending a newsletter that’s a wrap-up of the week’s or month’s news is great, but a more effective approach is to email your subscribers in advance of big votes and events.  Take advantage of public debate to draw readers to your website, solicit their opinions, and subscribe them to your email list.

21 Tips: Implement a ‘permission-based’ strategy

Buying an email list is fast and cheap, but you’ll get better results in the long-term from an organic approach to building your list of opt-in subscribers.  Constituents who have signed up for your newsletter, who expect it and know what to expect, are more likely to read it and feel engaged by it.  Not only that, these are the constituents you’ll be able to email during black-out periods, so it’s an important list to build.

Develop trust by asking readers for their opinions.  And thank them for their responses!

21 Tips: Spend Time on Your Subject Lines

Your subject line is the single most important factor in determining whether or not your email gets opened. You only have so much space (about 50 characters for most email readers), so every word should be carefully considered. Here are some do’s and don’ts for email subject lines.

Don’t: Include the Congressman’s name (it’s already in the “From” address)
Do: Choose a topic. Your newsletter might be about more than one thing, but try to narrow your focus and pick the most salient or relevant of those issues for your subject line.

Don’t: Include the date or week (emails are time-stamped!)
Do: Think like a reporter and write a good lede. The subject line is your front page headline. Make it stand out.

Don’t: include the newsletter’s name (it’s likely repeated in the masthead)
Do: Ask a leading question or make a call to action. Make the newsletter about your constituent – your reader – and engage them directly in your subject line. “How will the new health care legislation affect you?” “Share your opinion on last night’s address” “What’s your take on carbon trading? Tell your Congressman!”

Congressman Polis Launches New Web Site

Don’t miss Congressman Jared Polis’ new web site, complete with a green screen welcome video. Beam me up, Congressman!

21 Tips: Personal Email Signatures for Your Colleagues

Here’s another tip for growing your opt-in lists.  Ask all of your co-workers in both DC and district offices to include a link to one of the following in their email signatures:

  • Email newsletter sign-up form
  • Focused issue-based questionnaire (good for LAs)
  • The week’s featured legislative survey (a great technique, but it requires frequent updating)

21 Tips: Sign-up Surveys on Your Issue Pages

This is the second entry in our series of 21 Tips for Email Outreach.

Take advantage surveys; they are the easiest and most effective way to build your opt-in list and reduce email traffic to your office.

The issue pages are some of the most trafficked sections of congressional pages and the perfect place for surveys. Create one for each of your issues pages and start building your opt-in lists and target audiences.

And here’s some more information on creating surveys.

Congresswoman Waters Launches New Web Site

Representative Maxine Waters shows off the web’s best features on her recently launched web page:

Congressman Cao Launches New Web Site

Congratulations to Congressman Cao on his recently launched website:


21 Tips: Sync All Your Data

This is the second entry in our series of 21 Tips for Email Outreach.

In one database you’ve got your newsletter subscribers, in another your CMS contacts, maybe a block of data sitting on a hard drive and email lists from a dozen different sources in just as many places. It’s time to get it together, and it won’t be as painful as you think.

Sync all your data in Fireside Email™ and take full advantage of that mass of information without risk of sending duplicate emails to your constituents. And you can still use our tagging system to build different audiences, so you’ll lose none of the specificity of targeted email lists.

In fact, if you really want to streamline things, bring all your data under one roof with Fireside CRM™, a comprehensive system for handling the constant flow of congressional mail, email, and casework.

And here’s some information on importing email lists.

21 Tips: Establish Metrics, Set Goals, and Track Your Progress

This is the first entry in our series of 21 Tips for Email Outreach.

There are over half a million people in your district, and most of them use the internet.  How many are on your email list?

OK, 500,000 might be ambitious, but you should still set goals for your email outreach and determine metrics to measure your progress.  Take a moment to establish targets for your readership and subscription lists and block off time on your calendar for regular reports (in line with your newsletter cycle, for example).   Then, use these numbers to answer the question, “What works?” 

Here are some metrics to consider:

Track your list counts:

  • All emails vs. Opt-in lists: How many email addresses do you have and how many of those are subscribed?  What did you do in the last email to add subscribers and did it do the trick?  
  • Your VIP network: These are leaders in your community who could be useful in spreading your emails and growing your list. (More on VIPs to come).
  • Your targeted lists: By issue, location, etc… what audiences do you want to reach and what are your goals for those lists?

Track message performance:

  • Open rates: They read your brilliant subject line, but how many actually opened your email? 
  • Click-thru rates: Are your email links drawing traffic to your website?  Which links in particular?
  • Subscribe rates: Make it a priority to get more of your email recipients to subscribe.  These are your active readers and the ones you’ll be able to go on emailing during black-out periods.
  • Unsubscribe rates: Don’t forget to look at these.  Sometimes too many emails can drive your readers away.

These data are all available in real-time through Fireside Email™, providing you with the information you need to build your email strategy.

Announcing New Members of the Team at Fireside21

Since launching our Fireside CRM service earlier this year, we’ve been expanding our team to continue to develop great products and services while maintaining the best customer support on the hill.

Here are some of the new faces at Fireside21:

  • Mark Soldavini – Mark brings a load of experience to our product development team at Fireside21. The success we’ve achieved with the deployment of our new Fireside CRM has a lot to do with Mark’s hard work.
  • Michal Lyons – Michael joined our team on a part-time basis last fall. He has bolstered both our web support and software development teams. We are pleased to have recently welcomed Michael as a full-time colleague.
  • Andrew Edelen – Andy is the newest member of the team, but you have likely already talked to him on the phone! As an Account Coordinator, you shouldn’t hesitate to call Andy with any questions about any of our services.

If you’re interested in working for a growing company leading the effort to help Congressional offices connect with their constituents in new ways, send us your resume.

Developers day out

Last Monday was a rare opportunity to get all the developers in the office out on a field trip. We went to the highly anticipated DevDays DC which featured the popular programming blogger Joel Spolsky.

It was a great time to get out and hear some respected speakers and learn about new technology and techniques. Even though a lot of the technology, like iPhone apps and Google App Engine, were things we probably won’t get an opportunity to use with our product, it’s fun to learn about them, and who knows, maybe someday Fireside21 will “have an app for that”.

Big thanks to Ken for sending us to the event, and to the support team for going developer free for a day.

Here’s a great shot of the event.

21 Tips for Email Outreach

If you’re interested in fast, effective, and engaging outreach, email is not to be underestimated. This is an important time of year to put a little thought into developing your email list and newsletter strategy. With franking blackouts looming, now is the time to implement strategies to build your subscriber count and targeted audiences.

With this in mind, over the next several weeks we’ll be posting a series of 21 tips to help you grow, manage, and make the most of your email list. Keep an eye on our blog for ideas on adding subscribers, honing your audience lists, and crafting emails that your readers will open, read, and forward to their friends.

And, as always, feel free to get in touch if you have any questions about how to implement these ideas in your own outreach plan.