What is CiviMail?
The CiviMail component is a sophisticated tool for handling mass email campaigns. It can reliably deliver a high volume of email and provide detailed reports on the results and effectiveness of those emails. CiviMail is often used to complement other CiviCRM components, for example to send emails to non-members to encourage them to become members or to send emails to people that are yet to register for an event.
CiviMail (like all of CiviCRM's mail features) interacts with your mail server. Configuring the mail server and properly setting up CiviMail are system administrator tasks and you may require professional assistance. You will also need to check with your web hosting provider to ensure that they meet the configuration requirements, and find out about any limits they may have on how many emails you can send per day. A misconfigured mail server is a liability and if you don't know what you are doing you could easily end up on a spam black list. Getting off a spam black list is much harder that getting on it. For more information about configuring your mail server, see the "Email system configuration" chapter in the Initial Setup section.
Scenario: managing email lists
St Ethelburga's Centre for Peace and Reconciliation uses CiviEvent to run a yearly event programme on a number of different themes. They have set up a mailing list page where people can sign up to be informed of events that interest them. They then use CiviMail to send out emails to those people based on those events. When someone unsubscribes from an event theme mailing list, CiviCRM keeps a record of the fact that they have unsubscribed.
St Ethelburga's also automatically subscribes anyone who has been to an event on a specific theme to receive emails about that theme. They don't have to worry about spamming people that have unsubscribed from a thematic event mailing list, as CiviCRM will remember that they have unsubscribed and not re-subscribe them.
From time to time, St. Ethelburga's sends out other emails to a mailing list that includes nearly all contacts in their database with personal messages from the centre director highlighting particular issues. Often, two similar versions of the same email are sent to different groups in their database to test which message formats are more effective. They can do this by sending the email to half the contacts in a particular group and then sending another email which excludes contacts that have already received the first email.
Scenario: mobilising with email
The Townsville Organisation For Tenants (TOFT) held a survey and petition to gather data and support for the campaign Demand Affordable Public Housing. The survey was undertaken by volunteers visiting selected constituents in their homes, and the petition was widely promoted to the public who could sign and answer questions online.
In the early stages of the campaign, the TOFT volunteer coordinator searched for contacts in the group Volunteers and used the Send Email action to send a general email asking for volunteers to help with the survey. From those who responded that they were available, a small group were trained to carry out the home visits and record survey responses.
Once the online petition had been created using tools in CiviCampaign, the TOFT communications officer created an email including text, images and links to promote the campaign and encourage people to click through to the site and complete the online petition. This email was then sent out to the entire database using CiviMail, including a forwarding link so that recipients could easily distribute the email widely through their own networks.
CiviMail enabled TOFT to track responses to this mass emailing; reports were generated showing that 89% of recipients clicked through to sign the petition, and 75% forwarded it on to others. This data was then compared with previous offline petition and survey efforts to demonstrate the increased reach of the campaign through using CiviCRM.