Promoting the questionnaire

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Promoting the questionnaire

I am moving this thread from email (where it will get lost) to the Forum, where it can be tracked and joined by others.

Dudley Kay said:

I think Peter should do a Test Mailing to all known emails, both to catch the nixies (Undelivered) but also alert our classmates that the really, really important 50th Reunion email is about to hit their Inboxes, and maybe they want it sent to a different mail address.

We know we'll have to print this and the Questionnaire to go to the nearly 200 classmates who, incredibly, do not have an email address on file.

I replied:

In terms of the suggestion for a test mailing, I have the following reservations:

  • It constitutes noise rather than signal: “Next week I am going to send you an important email, not like this one which was a waste of your time and energy.”

  • The ‘nixie’ list is a moving target and useless prospectively. It is different with each email I send to the class. What we need will be the list of those the email was successfully sent to, which we subtract from the total list, giving us the list we need to contact with postal mail.

  • Asking them if they want it sent to a different email address is a non-starter. I can’t change their preferred email address. To do that they either need to login at Alumni Relations and change their preferred address, or contact Alumni Relations by phone or email and request that the change be made. 

Dudley replied:

Consider adding to the "signal" in the "test mailing" with an action item:

"Would you prefer to receive your Questionnaire by email and answer the questions online or to have it mailed out to you?"

This serves to let us know they received and read the email. Expect a very high "no response" rate, which would prompt us to both email and snail mail the information. This 50th Reunion item is too important to leave to chance, and the window of opportunity begins slowly but inexorably closing after March. 

Repetition and plugging of known holes is the only way we will attain a relatively high response rate for The Book. This could include turning to professionals for snail mailings and follow-up emails. I'm a bit discouraged that we want to rely solely on the College information for emails, nixies, and a known portion of classmates who will not furnish their email addresses if they will be used by the College for DCF solicitations and other unwanted messages. Do you REALLY think that nearly 200 classmates do not have any type of email address? I don't.


I still don't like the idea of a test email

Asking classmates if they prefer an email with a link to the online questionnaire or a paper questionnaire doesn't make sense to me:

  • It encourages classmates to consider a paper version which I don't think we want (and especially I don't think David wants) because it means someone has to transcribe them into digital format.
  • If classmates say they want a paper version, they are still going to get the email offering the link to the online version because I have no way to subtract individuals from the email list through iModules. 
  • We will know who *got* the email when we send it. We will not know who *read* the email, because the expected very low response rate will be too low to be meaningful.
  • I think our original plan makes sense both tactically and in terms of efficiency: send an email to those we have addresses for, send postal mail to those we have no addresses for, send a reminder email to non-respondents, and then send a repeat postal mail to non-respondents.

If the class wants to hire someone to chase down email addresses and then chase people down, I can't (and won't try to) block this, but it will be someone else's task. 

dudkay69's picture
Tracking Responses

Bearing in mind the old saw that "When the only tool you have is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail," we could indeed track individual information, but we would need a different tool and tool operator:

- Did they open the email?

- Did they clieck through to the Questionnaire or anywhere else?

- Was it Undelivered?

- By default from above, was it received but either not read or acted on?

I know a person who employs the widely used commercial e-marketing program Constant Contact in his job and would do this for us if we pay for a year's Constant Contact account and something to him. Is it worth it to us in order to maximize Reunion attendance and/or Book submissions? If it were just me, it would be a no-brainer because I see both of these as The Grandaddy of all Classmate convergences - so totally shoot the wad and go all in. I recognize that not everybody feels that way, and/or we are Ivy-leaguers who should be able to do this ourselves, by Gawd. 

As a Marketing Man by traiing and heart, I believe in targeting, repetition, options and alternatives, follow-ups, back-up plans, and culling out the virtually hopeless causes. "Finance" is, as a consultant once told me, the natural enemy of Marketing. In the name of efficiency, Finance wants to cut and hold down costs...and then lead the charge to fire the Sales and Marketing guys who didn't reach projections. Been there! 

Most of you know the rules for writing an academic paper: 1) Tell 'em what you're gonna tell 'em, 2) tell 'em, 3) tell 'em what you told 'em. Maybe the words "test email" is creating the problem here. Put another way, I'm asking for consideration of a SHORT advisory email telling classmates what we're going to be asking them to do...before sending them a ginormous email containing links to the Questionnaire, detailed instructions, and (maybe) examples to help guide them. Emails cost us nothing. "Time and energy" to predominately retired classmates is in long, not short, supply. 

Because I am a complex human being, I can also live with the "Ready, Fire, Aim" approach, which dictates we just send out said ginormous email, see what happens, and then adjust our sights and efforts.

Constant Contact proposal

Constant contact approach advantages:

  • Much more robust tracking of email opening, response rates


Constant contact disadvantages:

  • $500-$800/year (prepaid, more if monthly)
  • Doesn't use Dartmouth email address information, so we would have to maintain and update our own email address list, separate from that of the college. I did this (maintain the class email address information) for years. It is a great deal of work and we never had as many active addresses as the college has.
  • Requires the use of a second tool and communicator.

This has been suggested before (along with the suggestion that we hire a firm that specializes in finding addresses) but never formally discussed by the Executive Committee. It would seem that the next step would be to make a proposal to the Executive Committee describing how this would work, what it would cost, and who wold do it.

Dudley - In the actual

Dudley - In the actual questionaire instructions, under Step 1, please add: "Don't feel obligated to answer all of the questions. Answers the ones you want and skip those that might involve long answers. You can always address those in the Essay."


If a fellow Luddite wants to submit the questionnaire on paper, I volunteer to transcribe it in digital format as long as it doesn’t mean having to deal with some complex program.



I think that we really want to avoid transcribing.  Some of the guys are still attached to the Green cards in the newsletter, and a lot of the handwriting is terrible.  Just a heads-up.  

Also, yeah, the four page letter is a little involved, but we need to get it right.  I agree with David's suggestion to stew over it all a bit.  It's a whole life, at least this far.

dudkay69's picture
Transcribing? Nooo...

I'd venture to guess that most of the guys who don't have email addresses on file (with us, I mean) are still computer literate and would either use the online Questionnaire like everybody else or else fill in their anwers on a Word file we can provide. Yeah, Bill Lind is an exception, but that's deep within his DNA. Even he uses a typewriter! 

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