Citizen Space has a standard mailing list function which gives you the option of collecting the email addresses of respondents who select a specific checkbox at the end of the survey. It then provides these email addresses in a downloadable list, so that they can be contacted outside of Citizen Space. You can read more about how this works, and how to activate it per consultation, in this article.
Alternatively, you can choose to use our 3rd party email add-on (for a provider such as MailChimp) instead. Doing so adds a link to your mailing list sign-up page in the navigation bar across the top of Citizen Space. It also adds a link for your admins to sign into your email provider via their consultation dashboard, in case they plan to send emails to respondents.
(You might be wondering, why are we offering a third party plugin instead of our own, proprietary setup? Simply because there are already mailing providers that do everything you need at low cost with no hassle – so why would we make things more difficult or expensive than they need to be?)
Below is a brief guide to using 3rd party email signup with Citizen Space, using MailChimp as the example, but you can use alternative providers such as GovDelivery or Campaign Monitor.
How to get set-up
Step 1: Get yourself a 3rd party email account
If you don't already, you'll need to get your organisation set up with a 3rd party email account. MailChimp is a common one - you can visit mailchimp.com to read more about their pricing plans, terms and conditions, and features.
Step 2: Input your Citizen Space taxonomies
Once you've got an account, you can set up a list of "taxonomies" as MailChimp Groups. We recommend that this list relates to the taxonomies you use in Citizen Space - your Audiences and Interests. However, if the number of taxonomies you're using in your Citizen Space site exceeds Mailchimp's limit, you may need to arrange your Citizen Space taxonomies into more general groupings.
Remember - once you've set up your groupings in MailChimp, you'll need to manually update any future changes to your Citizen Space taxonomies.
Step 3: Create a sign-up form
This is the form that your stakeholders will use to confirm they want to receive updates from you. In this article, MailChimp walks you through creating forms and the different types.
Step 4: Tell us you're ready to go
Once you've created the sign-up form, you'll need to provide us with the link. It is at this point we will activate the add-on. Once this has happened, visitors to your Citizen Space site will see an additional tab in the site-wide navigation across the top of the homepage.
This tab will then show the sign-up form you created in MailChimp in Step 3:
Keeping people engaged
Here are a few of our top tips for effective stakeholder emails:
Who: Choose your audience segments carefully. Don't fatigue your list by sending everything to everyone every time.
When: Don't overdo it. Look out for trends that get particular success, such as the time of the day. Remember that different audiences will have different expectations and preferences – so full-time mums will be running to a different schedule than retired professionals or students. A pretty good approach is to send a monthly digest email, and then occasional emails for specific consultations.
How: People who've signed up to this list have inherently expressed an interest in hearing from you about these topics – so you don't need to be apologetic, or try super hard to make things interesting. You have space to be pretty matter-of-fact and get to the key information quickly.
The rule of thumb with all these things is appropriateness: if you have a high profile, highly significant public consultation that affects everyone, your stakeholders will probably be more annoyed if they don't hear about it. By contrast, if you email every stakeholder each time you modify any consultation, you'll quickly see the unsubscribe requests racking up.