Best Practices for Email Marketing to Your Citizens

Written by Rachael Walker

Remember the days where the words “You’ve Got Mail” were a surprise and a thrill? Today, despite the widespread adoption of mobile devices, social media, and other digital communication systems, email is still one of the most effective ways to communication with any audience—and that includes local governments communicating important news and information to their citizens. To help you strategize an effective email marketing campaign for your community, read our email best practices, tailored for the public sector, below.

  1. Use Email to Solicit Feedback. To be successful, your community needs to initiate two-way dialogue with your citizens. Email is an effective tool to solicit citizen feedback in the form of surveys and polls. For example, ask citizens for their input on a proposed development project, or what summer activities they’d like to see hosted at your summer youth recreation camp.

With email, not only are you able to target citizens directly, and give them a convenient platform to respond, the simple act of asking for their feedback demonstrates that your administration values their opinion.

  1. Create regular newsletters. In addition to using email to communicate regular updates (such as scheduled road maintenance), and breaking or urgent news (such as an unexpected road closure due to a watermain break), plan to create and send regular community newsletters. Include content that you have already published on your local government website, such as blog articles summarizing town hall meetings, promotional information about the anticipated Fall Harvest Festival, and guidelines for the upcoming annual recycling event.

In order for your newsletter to be most impactful, utilize a mass email distribution platform that will allow you to layout your newsletter in an engaging format using photos, links to additional content, and other stylized elements.

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  1. Include Links to more information. Resist the urge to incorporate lengthy articles into each email communication. It’s estimated that 15 to 70 percent of all emails are opened on a mobile device. That means your citizens may not have time to read lengthy content if they are checking email while on the go. Summarize the key points of your communication in your email, and then link back to your municipal website for more information.

For example, if the purpose of your email is to announce the opening of ski season in your community, include links to your tourism site, a link to download your trail map, and a link to your parks and recreation page to view available class schedules and events.

  1. Promote community partners. A great way to engage citizens, while strengthening key community partnerships, is to create emails promoting partner initiatives. For example, work with your local school district to send email reminders regarding school budget voting, or work with businesses in your community to promote their upcoming events or community projects.
  1. Watch your subject line length. Don’t underestimate the importance of a catchy subject line to encourage citizens to open your emails. Be careful, though, because the length of your subject line can impact your number of opens. According to data from Return Path, the optimal length of an email subject line is 65 characters. It’s just long enough to communicate an enticing message, without being cut off due to limitations in mobile device screen size.
  1. Allow citizens to set their communication preferences. Today’s citizens want to be able to choose what information they receive, and how they receive it. By utilizing an email creation and distribution tool with a built-in subscription component, you can allow citizens to elect the types of communications they want to receive (e.g., community events, job alerts, breaking news, etc.), without needing to manually manage a variety of distribution lists.

Civic Tip: To help you manage your email communications and streamline your workflows, an email creation and distribution tool can help you create visually appealing communications that will help you engage with citizens and encourage their participation in community activities and events.

CivicEngage® Send from CivicPlus is the powerful CivicEngage communication creation and distribution module. CivicEngage Send allows you to send multi-channel citizen communications from one easy-to-use system. Craft your message and send to subscribed citizens via email, text, and/or social media), based on their pre-selected preferences.

Click here to learn how CivicEngage Send can help you manage your citizen email marketing strategy and meet your engagement goals.