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Getting Started with the Constituent Gateway eNewsletter

The Constituent Gateway eNewsletter PLUS is an intuitive program that allows staff to easily create and send e-newsletters right out of the box. However, there is more that goes into a successful email campaign then just sending out a newsletter every week. A successful email campaign will thoughtfully implement best practices, establish clear goals, and regularly evaluate and refine strategies.

3 keys to a successful email campaign:

  1. Have a plan.
    You might have heard the aphorism, "Failing to plan is planning to fail." That statement couldn't be more true when launching an e-newsletter campaign. You need to set goals with actionable strategies and solid deadlines in order to achieve and measure your success. See our article on Establishing a Communications Plan.
  2. Do your homework.
    Stay informed about emailing best practices. Email changes daily, and you need to be aware of how those changes could affect you. Learn about the importance of IP Warming for new accounts. Research best practices for creating subject lines. Follow email delivery experts, check out iConstituent's blog for the latest news.
  3. Send audience-driven content.
    Any good writer will tell you before you put pen to paper, you must consider your audience and your purpose. The most important rule to obey with each email is to send content that people want to see to the people who want to see it. Even though sending to All Contacts again and again might seem like a good strategy to reach a lot of people, not targeting your audience can hurt you in the long run and actually decrease the number of potential viewers. This means building strong targeted lists and purposefully structuring your content for each audience.  Check out our articles on Optimizing Your Content for Deliverability and List Building. Incorporate Surveys to get feedback from your viewers and increase your subscriber base. The Constituent Gateway eNewsletter also has a number of detailed reports that help you monitor your readers' reactions via replies, surveys, views, shares, etc. Be sure to check the Executive Summary and other mailing reports regularly, and use the analytics to refine and improve your strategy.

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Assembling the pieces:

Before you can begin sending out your newsletter, several things must be in place:

  1. Templates must be loaded. Typically these will contain graphic elements, a headshot, contact information, and a navigation bar. You will work closely with the Design Team to set these up.
  2. Contact lists and suppression lists must be uploaded. All lists will be submitted to iConstituent in a csv file. Our Data Team will clean lists before uploading to remove invalid email addresses.
  3. Participate in a Constituent Gateway eNewsletter training session. After your templates have been loaded, the Design Team will refer you to the Training Team to schedule your training. At this point, you will receive your account login information. During training, you will learn how to compose and send out a mailing, how to access and interpret your Executive Summary, and how to manage lists.

Once you have completed the above tasks, you are ready to start mailing. Be sure to observe any rules and regulations that may apply to you and/or your specific mailing.

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Sending out your first mailing:

Log into your account at https://gateway.iconstituent.com with your username and password. Select Mailings from the top navigation menu. Click the Add Mailing button. This will start the mailing wizard which will walk you through the process of creating a new mailing. You will be able to track your progress with the Progress Bar that appears across the top. Your current step will be highlighted in blue, and you can access other steps from the bar, as well.

  1. Setup - You will need to give your mailing a name and a subject line. The mailing name is internal, so only those who log into the Gateway will see this. The subject line is visible to the public. Keep in mind that a well-written subject line will entice readers to view your newsletter. Click Continue to move on to the next step.
  2. Template - Select the appropriate template, and click Continue to move on to the next step.
  3. HTML - This is the step that you will spend the most time in. This is the step where you will create and organize your newsletter content. (Don't forget to employ best practices when setting up your mailing. See our article How can I optimize my content for delivery? for helpful tips.) You will see a representation of your mailing with empty content areas outlined in gray and a number of options to adding and editing your content.
    • Add Saved Content - Click Add and then Content to add saved content to your mailing. "Stock Content" includes your e-newsletter signup widget, tell-a-friend widget, and various social media options. (These items can be used to track viewer interaction.) Any content you save will be listed under "My Content." Simply select the item(s) you want to include, and click Add. They'll display in the main content area.
    • Create New Content - Click Create and select Content to create new content. A new text box will appear in the main content area. Click the Edit button to open up the WYSIWYG editor and add in your content. Be sure to click Save regularly. (See our articles How do I create new content for a mailing? and How do I add a photo with a caption to an e-newsletter? for detailed instructions.) 
    • Create Survey - Click Create and select Survey to create a new survey. (See How do I create an e-newsletter survey? for detailed instructions.) After you've added your questions, click Done to see your survey appear in your main content area.
    • Rearrange Content - You can drag and drop content into any content area and it will automatically resize to fit.
    • Preview - Click the Preview button in the upper right to preview what your finished newsletter will look like.
    • Continue - When you've finished setting up your newsletter, click the Continue button in the bottom right corner to move on to the next step. You will be asked if you want to edit your text version. Click Yes.
  4. Text - The text version is the version of the newsletter that people will receive when using devices that don't display HTML. Images, surveys, or other interactive items will not display. You can edit the text version so that it only displays readable text for your viewers. (It will not affect your HTML version.) Click Continue to move on to the next step.
  5. Mailing Info - This step is where you set up the delivery of your mailing.
    • Lists - Start by selecting your lists. If you know the list names, you can just type them into the field. You can choose multiple lists to mail to. You also have the options of prioritizing a list so these contacts will receive the mailing first and excluding lists if you want to ensure a certain list does NOT receive the mailing. If you're not sure of the list names, then click the Choose lists link to see all of your lists. (In addition to any lists the Data Team has uploaded, you will see several default lists that will be very useful to you. See our article Contacts, Viewers, and Subscribers: What do your eNewsletter Lists Actually Mean? to learn more about them.)
    • Schedule - You can choose to send as soon as possible or to schedule the mailing to go out at a specific date and time.
    • Options - You can choose to publish your mailing to a public newsletter web page that can appear on your website. This option is automatically selected, so if you opt not to publish this mailing, then uncheck the box. You can also elect to email a report to specified staff. (Keep in mind that you can access your reports at any time when you log into the Gateway.)
    • Continue - Click Continue to move on to the next step. 
  6. Summary - The summary gives you a quick break down of everything you've set up. This is a good opportunity to review and make sure everything is set up correctly. You can edit any section, and if anything is left undone, it will appear at the top in orange.
    Once you have completed all tasks, click the orange Approve button.

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An important note about sending a test mailing:

Test! Test! Test! You will not be able to approve your mailing until you have completed every step, including sending yourself a test. You might need to send multiple tests if you go back and make changes. It is extremely important to check your tests before approving your mailing. You will see that your mailing might look a little different than expected when it comes into your Outlook inbox versus your Gmail, for instance, so it is also a good idea to send a test to different different email accounts. 

  1. Click the Resolve or Send Test button.
  2. A small dialog will appear with your email address in it. If you plan to send your test to multiple email addresses (recommended), then add a comma with no space after it, and type in the second email.
  3. Click the Send Test button.
  4. A short time later you will receive both the HTML copy and the text version. Preview them both, test links, etc.
  5. Go back and make any necessary changes, and send a new test. Repeat steps 1-5 until you are satisfied with your results.
  6. Once you are satisfied with your tests, then click the Approve button.

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