Very cool experience and something that is quite timely from my perspective
here in Atlanta.
So, before I came on, we had what in hindsight was a terrible practice (in
our implementation that is). We would give our new dancers "New Dancer
Cards" that also had a Get In Free (GIF) portion that the dancers could
return on their second visit. The dancers would fill out their name and
email address and would be given the GIF portion.
When I came on and another new board member looked at the data on these
cards for years, we found some unfortunate things. Our dancer return rate
based on returned GIF cards was <2%, i.e., only 2% of dancers who showed up
came back and returned a card (although that doesn't mean some dancers
could have returned but forgot their card). I believe we also did not
explicitly say that we would send people emails. So, when a new board
member attempted to send out emails to this huge list of new dancers
collected over the years (focusing on the most recent), Gmail's servers
flagged his account and blocked emails after the 2nd attempt at a mass
email. This very likely resulted from an excessive number of people
clicking "Spam" upon receiving them.
What we actually do now is use MailChimp and built our newsletter from
scratch. We provide a small tablet ($39 amazon fire!) with the MailChimp
Subscribe application up. It explicitly says we'll send 3-4 emails per
month. The dancer types in their name and email and clicks Yes/No to a "Do
you want to be emailed about Volunteer Opportunities?" question. It's still
a small emailing list (~70 dancers), but we have a read rate of ~50% and
have had 0 unsubscribes so far. As you hinted at, Mailchimp isn't the best
because it's not personal and even shows up in Promotions/Updates tabs in
GMail, meaning that it's more easily lost in alllll the promotional email
people get on their GMail accounts.
However, as a younger dancer, if I'm newly dealing with an organization,
the use of more professional tools like MailChimp sends a few good signals,
including "Hey, you are cool and hip and are more likely to value my
privacy/data integrity" (if I'm newly engaging with an organization, I find
that the less professional an organization looks, the more I worry that
they'll freely provide my info to others because we potentially don't share
the same privacy values) and "Hey, your organization is responsive to the
times" (not that following every trend is good, but when trying to build
communities of 18 year olds and 80 year olds and all ages in between,
there's always pressure to keep up with the times in terms of technology,
culture, etiquette, etc.).
Main take away (TL;DR): We use MailChimp, people sign up on tablets (oh
this also greatly reduces guessing at handwriting), and we are pretty
successful at getting newer and established dancers to view the emails
under this method, even if it is not as nice as the personalized
Fair Oaks Holdings, LLC
Cell: (470) 632-2523
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On Tue, Jun 12, 2018 at 12:03 PM, Emily Addison via Organizers <
I wanted to report on a new engagement strategy that we've been using in
Ottawa these past two months which seems to be working really well and I'm
excited about! It's sending a personal email to new people as we add to
our email list. (Full disclosure - this is an idea that Alex DL from
Country Dance New York mentioned at the dance organizers discussion at the
Dance Flurry in 2017. I loved the idea at the time but it took a while to
Before I get onto the idea and implemention ---> a question for the group!
Has anyone had success getting email addresses of most BRAND new people who
show up at their dance? Right now, we get new dancer email addresses in
1. They sign up on our email sign up sheet at the front table.
2. They put their email address on the second dance free card AND check
off the box saying 'add me to your email list'. (So they actually have to
have come back a second time and hand in the filled-in card for us to get
their email address.)
... ... ... I'd love to be able to figure out a way to collect the email
addresses of more FIRST TIMERS without it seeming creepy.
Anyway... here's what I wanted to share on adding new people to our email
WHAT WE DID BEFORE:
We would collect email addresses through one of two ways (see above). We
would then go into mailchimp and add those email addresses. The new person
would get a form welcome email from us (carefully worded but in mailchimp
format). They would have to hit 'confirm' before being added to our email
WHAT WE DO NOW:
I send them a personal email from my personal account (which looks very
different than a mailchimp message). I then go into mailchimp and add them
but check off that I already have permission to add them to the list. (I
also keep a photo record of them giving us permission)
WHAT WE ARE NOTICING:
- More email addresses are being added because people don't have to do
the confirmation stage. (Yes... we do have to keep proof of permission to
meet with Canadian email spam laws but the pick up is well worth it).
- We are getting a fair number of emails BACK from new dancers with
encouraging messages. They express how much fun they are having, offer
suggestions and even say they want to volunteer. For instance, I added
about 14 people last week and I got 6 responses back, two of whom offered
I've included the responses we got last week as inspiration for y'all. It
is work to send the personal message and to respond but it's also exciting
and is part of building that sense of belonging for those new folks from
I've also included a copy of the "personal email" I've been sending
Would love thoughts or suggestions!!!
in Ottawa, ON
Hi, we love to take part in your dances. It's a very fun way to exercise
and a great cardio workout. People are so friendly and supportive. The only
thing that I would suggest is adding a few more fans on the floor (or
walls?) Otherwise, everything else is great. Will be back for sure.
Hi, Yes, I did have a great time both times I went. Everyone was so
welcoming and I enjoyed the live band and the dancing was great. I have no
suggestions re improvements as I felt included in all the dances, even
though I was just learning. Have to miss the June 16th dance as I will
be in Victoria but plan on enjoying Contra
Dancing when it starts up again in the Fall.
Thanks for getting in touch. Appreciate the opportunity to provide input.
I love how friendly everyone is, how accepting and willing to teach.
Everyone has made me feel very welcome, I've been to 3 dances now and will
definitely be back. I should have listened to Jane sooner and gone out
when she first suggested it to me.
If you need another volunteer anytime, let me know, I'm more then willing
to help out.
Thank you for your warm welcome!
Unfortunately we will be out of town on the weekend of June 16th, but we
will look forward to the next season.
We have nothing but positive things to say – even though we were new to
contra, we felt confident after the excellent instructions plus we enjoyed
the happy friendly smiles from everyone, and loved the live music.
See you in September.
Thanks for all you do to make and keep contra fun.
I love how welcoming people are, the mix of ages and “types” of
characters, the non stop smiling.
Having zero dance or memorization experience, I would love if the calling
continued for the entire dance. Maybe for the first half of each event. Or
even if it tapered off starting with the whole first song being called and
then one round fewer each song, for example.
My fervent wish is to become very comfortable with contra Eventually and
to make it as absolute often as I can — and to stay the whole event. (Right
now I can only tolerate up to half of an event.)
I would be happy to volunteer either with set up or publicity committee
etc next season. Let me know how I can help.
See you June 16,
Thanks so much for joining us at the contra dance this past Saturday. We
hope you had a great time!
If you would like to share what you especially liked or didn't about your
experience, we always love hearing from new folks as we try to make the
dances as accessible and fun for new people as possible. (If we don't hear
feedback, we won't know what to work on!)
You provided your email and checked off that you'd like to be added the
main contra dance email list so I'll add you now. We send out one email a
week so just watch for those.
And here are few links in the meantime:
Our fun facebook group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/ottawacontra/
Our website: http://www.ottawacontra.ca/view/default.asp?home
I've also attached our beginners handout.
Our next dance is the last of this season.... it happens June 16th. We
start back up in early September for 2018-2019.
Welcome to Ottawa Contra and I hope you'll join us on the dance floor
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