1791 Delegates designed the following Distribution Plan as an extension of the strategic planning process for ReligionAndPublicLife.org. The plan details the process by which the data clerks at 1791 Delegates will harvest the contact information of college faculty and contact them. This plan answers the following questions:
What is the global objective? To design a relationship-centered campaign that empowers us to build collegial partnerships with college faculty around the country.
What will be collected by when? At least 12,000 faculty contact-cards will be harvested during a four-month period. Each entry will include the institution name, salutation, first name, last name, institution, email, mailing address, and phone number.
By whom, when? 1791 Delegates will hire and supervise twelve data-entry clerks (students from Rutgers University) to harvest 12,000 contacts.
From which colleges and universities? In this first phase, the clerks will collect data from the nation’s largest postsecondary institutions that enroll over 10,000 students or more. (In phase two we will focus on institutions with 5,000 to 9,999 students.)
In what order? Data harvesters will work laterally across the identified Classification of Instructional Programs.
For what measurable purpose? We will use this data to execute a comprehensive distribution plan that we refer to as our Seven Strategies: email, send postcards, and call 12,000 faculty; use their emails to sync their profiles with our Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook accounts; and create word-of-mouth buzz by leveraging our partners and investors.
For what rate of return? We conservatively estimate these efforts result in 1,200 users––a 10% return-on-investment based on industry standards.
Identify institutions of higher education
According to the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education, in 2017, there were 4,324 postsecondary institutions in the United States that enrolled over 20 million full-time-equivalent students (FTE). Aware that we cannot reach all those institutions in the next five months, how might public data about America’s higher education system lead us to focus our efforts and help us operationalize our plan? To answer this question, we turn to the 368 of the nation’s largest postsecondary institutions that listed an FTE count of 10,000 or more (Appendix A). These institutions account for more than 7.4 million students. Although these colleges and universities represent 9% of total number of the nation’s postsecondary institutions, they educate over 37% of America’s college students. Appendix A and Table 1 illustrate this first recommendation: To harvest one faculty contact-card for every 1,000 FTE students from these large institutions. For example: Boston University enrolls 29,000 students of which we will seek to collect contact information for approximately 29 faculty.
Sort by instructional programs
Now that the nation’s largest institutions have been identified, student harvesters will work laterally across the following list of Classification of Instructional Programs (CIP):
- Philosophy and Religious Studies
- Legal Professions and Studies
- Political Science and Government
- Liberal Arts and Sciences, Humanities
- International Relations and National Security
- Area, Ethnic, Cultural, Gender and Group Studies
Harvest contacts using Formsite
The clerks will insert the data into Formsite, which will automatically integrate with Google Sheets and ActiveCampaign. This will allow for seamless distribution of emails and mail-merges for printing postcards
Strategy 1. Email Campaign
ActiveCampaign integration and customization
Formsite, the platform that we will use to collect the data, will integrate with ActiveCampaign, an advanced email marketing, marketing automation, and sales automation platform. This will allow us to create custom templates based on the unique attributes of the entries. For instance, we will use the data to create a custom email to all professors based on their academic discipline.
Follow the legal parameters of the CAN-SPAM Act
All emails will follow the Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing Act of 2003 (“CAN-SPAM Act”) that sets the legal standards for “commercial electronic mail messages.” It defines a “Commercial Electronic Mail Message” as “any electronic mail message the primary purpose of which is the commercial advertisement or promotion of a commercial product or service (including content on an Internet website operated for a commercial purpose).” Emails sent to invite people to join ReligionAndPublicLife.org is considered to be a promotion of a commercial product, as a result, we are bound by the CAN-SPAM Act.
- Limitations on “Email Harvesting”: The CAN-SPAM Act prohibits email addresses from being harvested through “automated means.” (Note: The law does prohibit individually curated email addresses.)
- Ensure “Affirmative Consent”: The CAN-SPAM Act requires that “the recipient expressly consented to receive the message, either in response to a clear and conspicuous request for such consent or at the recipient’s own initiative.”
- Self-Identify as Advertisement: Our email campaign must prevent “materially false or misleading” language. Therefore, the “from” line and subject line must be accurate. The email must identify that this is an advertisement. The physical address must be included.
- Include Unsubscribe Option: All emails must include an active link to a timely unsubscribe feature that removes them from our list.
Managing expectations based on marketing trends
What is an appropriate benchmark for an email campaign? Mailchimp prepared the following data that compares the global trends in email marketing by industry. It includes statistics about the average open rate, hyperlink click rate, hard bounces (failed email addresses), soft bounces (vacation replies or mailbox full), as well as unsubscribe rate. See Table 2.
In light of these trends, when we send an email to 12,000 faculty, we can anticipate 2,546 people opening the email (21.22%), but only 314 faculty (2.62%) clicking on the link to visit ReligionAndPublicLife.org. It is unclear how many of those who clicked will become a user—possibly 120, or 1% of total emails sent? Because the return on investment for emails is so low and difficult to estimate, we are developing a “Seven Strategies” plan.
Strategy 2. Postcard Campaign
C.1. Printing & Postage for Postcards
It is estimated that it will cost approximately $600 to print 12,000 postcards ($0.06 each). The Foundation for Religious Literacy will use the nonprofit USPS Market rate for the bulk-mailing of 12,000 postcards, estimated at $0.138 each for a total of $1,656. We will use the Informed Visibility® Mail Tracking & Reporting (IV®-MTR) system—a “near real-time, single source for all mail and mail aggregate tracking information through USPS Postal Pro. The postcard specifications will follow the commercial standards: a maximum height of 4.25” x 6” length. In total it is estimated that it will cost $3,000 to print and mail 12,000 postcards.
Mailing will begin as institutions
of higher education re-open.
Strategy 3. Phone Bank
D.1. Host a Phone Bank
In order to call 12,000 contacts, 1791 Delegates will organize the necessary number of Clerks and/or volunteers to help execute a “Smile & Dial Campaign.” For example, 12 Clerks will each make 1,200 calls over an eight-day period. We anticipate that this will have six-times-more return on investment (ROI) than emails: 1% ROI for emails as compared to an estimated 6% ROI for phone calls.
To personalize the experience and to encourage authentic communication, students will be invited to craft their own call script. For example, a call may sound like this:
“Hello Professor, I’m calling to invite you contribute your expertise by participating in an online community at ReligionAndPublicLife.org. Scholars from around the globe are exploring a variety of contemporary issues about religion and how it intersects with the arts, business, education, global affairs, history, immigration, human rights, law, news, politics, race, and science. Given your expertise, we thought you would appreciate these online and onsite teaching tools. We look forward to being in collegial partnership with you. Take care.”
Strategies 4–6. Social Media Integration
Sync with integration apps
First, we will upload the database into ActiveCampaign account and our Google Suite account. This will allow the contacts to be viewed in the Google Address Book.
Second, we will integrate the Google Suite account with Contractually, a customer management system (CMS) that will sync our contacts with their photos and additional contact information found on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.
Said another way, this will give us direct links to their Twitter handles, Facebook account, and LinkedIn profile. Third, we will upload the contacts in a designated iPhone that will provide us with additional features and apps.
4. Integrate with Twitter
Once these preparatory steps are taken, we will sync the contacts with our Twitter account. This will allow us to see who on our list is already on Twitter. We will follow 100 of our contacts per day until all contacts are followed. We hope for a 5% ROI of return followers and a 1% click rate.
5. Integrate with Facebook
We will repeat this step with our Facebook page.
6. Integrate with LinkedIn
We will repeat this step with our LinkedIn page.
Strategy 7. Word of Mouth
Identify leaders in partner organizations
We will also invite our partner organization to advertise our services to their audiences by sending emails, posting social media ads, and adding a dedicated page to their website. This may include, sharing this information with their colleagues and partner schools. We will develop advertising swaps, featuring one another’s work on our websites.
Identify leaders at professional organizations
We will also identify leaders in professional associations (e.g., American Academy of Religion; American Bar Association’s First Amendment committees; and the Religion & Education and the Law & Education groups of the American Education Research Association). We will ask them to verbally reference the material when presenting at conferences and networking with colleagues.
Collaborate with funders
Our funders are connected with other stakeholders in the field. We will invite them to share the materials with their staff and grantees and feature our work on their websites.
Repeat and Refine
By refining and repeating this process three additional times, we intend to attract 4,800 users by the end of the third year.
Appendix A. Postsecondary Institutions with 10K+ Students
- “Classification of Instructional Programs (CIP)” of the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System. Washington, DC: National Center for Education Statistics, U.S. Department of Education. https://nces.ed.gov/ipeds/cipcode/
- “2018 Public Data File,” downloadable at The Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education accessed at http://carnegieclassifications.iu.edu/
- Email request sent to firstname.lastname@example.org, Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education.
- Email request sent to CIP2020@ed.gov, National Center for Education Statistics.
- “Request for Data” Form on College Board website. https://research.collegeboard.org/about-us/request-data