The JustGarciaHill Email Marketing Project

About this Project

JustGarciaHill is a virtual community for minorities in science, committed to increasing the number of minorities entering science careers and to celebrating contributions to science by minority scientists. The Portal provides a supportive environment to stimulate underrepresented minorities to pursue and strengthen scientific output in the United States and improve the health and well being of minority populations. As a growing portal supporting events, recruiting and outreach, the JustGarciaHill director called for an easy to implement and utilize marketing strategy that was efficient, reliable and cost effective.  The site held over 8,000 active members which required new announcements and updated content delivered to their inboxes every 2-4 weeks.    A large percentage of emails bounced and were rejected by mail servers.  The administrative person in charge of communication and outreach did not have the expertise to develop HTML emails with the correct requirements to safely reach the user's inbox without being treated as SPAM. 

The first step in this project was to organize the content by year, month and even weeks.  This helped determine the type of  information delivered to users.  Most of the information was related to specific events, and all related to health disparities.    After this determination we then proceeded with developing custom HTML templates to brand the email content to the website.  These templates included the logo, URL, phone numbers and other identifiable information for the users.   Headers were properly used for titles, and the entire aesthetic of communication was constructed. Email templates where then imported into Mail Chimp to allow any user to work on them and populating these with updated content.   All HTML templates created were mobile responsive, and customizable using Mail Chimp's admin features in a modular fashion.   This feature was helpful for non-technical personnel in charge of communication and outreach.

An Opt-in form was placed on the website to attract more visitors which required authentication/verification by email confirmation.  This lead to a potential "clean" list that only contained valid email addresses.  

All emails where then categorized by their additional attributes and placed in various smaller lists based on gender, field of study, place of residence for event announcements, and graduation year.   This segmentation allowed for very targeted email messages sent to the correct recipient. 

A one-time email was sent to the entire list, now close to 9,000 members to know which percentage of emails were valid, active  and thus remain with only active email addresses.   18% of all emails in the database were no longer active or were incorrectly entered into the system.

The next step was to try out various subject lines, content styles, colors and layout to ensure we get the maximum exposure from our audience.  These test messages with valid content helped us determine which layout was more interesting and which subject lines drove the most open click thru rate on the emails.   We also tracked how many times our emails were forwarded to other users and the number of new subscriptions after each event.   We tracked open rate, and created a workflow to allow users who received the email but did not open it to receive the email again up to 2 times.    This helped us increase our exposure to only those members who did not see the message, therefore prevented other members from getting duplicate messages.

The unsubscription rate was less than 0.3% and never reached any significant number.  This was a good measure that users valued the content and did not find it irrelevant to their needs.

This project took 3 months to complete.   If you have a similar project, give us a call and we'll be happy to help you.

Additional Info

  • Skills: Email campaigns, HTML, Social media
  • Client: Dr. Robert P. Dottin, JGH Director
  • Date: July 19

posted by:

Carlos Lijeron

Carlos Lijeron is an Information Technology generalist and IT project manager.  He holds over 25 technical certifications and has over 20 years of experience in the field implementing solutions for network services, data storage, video conferencing, security, cloud computing, virtualization.  Currently he is managing a High Performance Compute Cluster at Hunter College, CUNY for Bioinformatics Analysis.